The future of the bankrupt Ghost Town in the Sky theme park hangs in the balance this week as creditors vote on whether to liquidate the park or allow it to continue operating.
Dozens of businesses are owed money by the park in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, which suffered a further blow recently when a landslide caused damage which could prevent it from opening for the 2010 season. They face a choice between forcing a closure of the park and a sale of its assets, or accepting the owner's plan to pay back debts over a period of 7 years using operating profits.
Ghost Town in the Sky plunged back into bankruptcy in November, just two years after reopening following a previous bankruptcy. It suffered continuing losses, and failed to pay staff on time on several occasions during the 2009 season. The park's debt totals $13.5 million.
The Smoky Mountain News reports that the 200 local businesses who are owed money by Ghost Town in the Sky are divided on the best course of action. Although some are keen to recoup as much of their losses as possible, others point to the overall importance of the theme park to the region's economy as being more important than their own struggles.
Several creditors have criticized the park's management for showing a lack of good faith in their dealings prior to the bankruptcy. Mike Plemmons of Plemmons Plumbing and Heating has accused the owners of promising to pay money owed for parts right up until bankruptcy proceedings began.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that the park was 3 months behind on payments to its liability insurer at the time of the landslide. It is not clear whether the park was insured for the event, with the the finance company responsible for paying the insurance bills having filed papers with the bankruptcy court on January 28 stating that the policy had been cancelled. The park disputes this.
Ghost Town in the Sky previously went bankrupt in 2002 and remained closed until new owners revived it in 2007. It subsequently struggled to reopen its headliner attraction, the Cliffhanger rollercoaster, finally managing it in October. However, it the ride closed again before the end of the 2009 season.