GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. — A day after the company that owns Fantasy Island Amusement Park confirmed its plans to close the park down, questions have risen as to what the future holds for the 85-acre site on Grand Island that Fantasy Island has occupied for nearly 60 years.
As he has been unsuccessful as of yet in getting his calls returned from Apex, the California-based firm that owns the park, Grand Island Town Supervisor John Whitney is as much in the dark as anyone as to their plans.
At the same time, he can’t rule out the possibility of the site being an amusement park again, having heard from parties interested in taking it over, whom he declined to identify.
“We've been contacted by interested parties that want to open it as an amusement park,” Whitney told WGRZ-TV. “Some of these people I have some prior knowledge of, and I think they have the wherewithal to pull it off, so that's a possibility."
However, if the site is to be eventually re-purposed, Whitney and NYS Assemblyman Angelo Morinello, who represents Grand Island, are already sharing ideas.
At a breakfast meeting Thursday morning they discussed the concept of the Fantasy Island site becoming what both described as a “center of community.”
“Grand Island is a great place to live, but it has no center of community,” Morinello said. “It’s more or less a bedroom community.”
Amid residential subdivisions and scattered shopping plazas Grand Island, he noted, has no bona fide "downtown" district, nor even an official Main Street within its bounds.
The two wonder if there should come a day when it does, if the possibility exists for creating such an area on the land occupied by Fantasy Island.
“We’d be talking about putting in some streets, and stores and restaurants along with some residential above them,” Morinello said. “It’s a concept of a community that people would be able to go and walk through … and so there would be a center.”
In the meantime, Whitney has real concerns about the impact the park’s closure will have on the town’s economy, noting that it currently pays over $700,000 annually in property taxes, approximately one third of which goes into town coffers.
In addition, there is the impact on the rest of the town’s economy.
One example he cited was a KOA located just north of Fantasy Island, a favorite among summer campers because of its location next to the now shuttered amusement park.
“Those campers might make a day trip to Niagara Falls, and spend another day in the park,” he said. “And then after that they're going to one of the local shops to get dinner, and maybe even to a gas station to fill their RV’s and stuff, so there is an impact."
RELATED: Fantasy Island is permanently closed