The Ghost Town in the Sky theme park in Maggie Valley, North Carolina will not reopen during 2010, with work yet to begin on repairing damage caused by a mudslide earlier this year.
The bankrupt park was granted permission in May to reopen for the 2010 summer season, after a court approved a rescue bid from owner Al Harper. However, damage from February's mudslide will prevent Ghost Town in the Sky from operating until 2011 - with the park being blamed by some local residents for a delay in the start of repair work.
The federal government has agreed to pay for the majority of the estimated $1.4 million cost of repairing the damage caused by the mudslide, which sent a 30-foot-high wall of mud down onto homes located further down the hillside on which Ghost Town is located. The park's owners have verbally agreed to contribute $25,000 towards the cost of the work.
Two plans have been put forward for preventing further debris from raining down on the town of Maggie Valley. Plan A would see some of Ghost Town's property being grated, while Plan B would see the construction of a new retaining wall or slope fabric (to replace the previous wall, which failed during the mudslide). The park prefers the second plan, claiming that it will cost less - but some residents claim that this will result in further delays to the bidding process for the repair work, according to the Asheville Citizen Times.
When the problems caused by the mudslide are fixed, Ghost Town in the Sky still faces further challenges before it can reopen. The park's incline railroad requires repairs, as does its headline attraction - the Cliffhanger rollercoaster. The chairlift that links the park to its car park also requires a safety inspection to check for faults.
The takeover offer which was approved in May will see Harper's newly-formed American Heritage Family Park LLC pay $7 million to the park's largest creditor, Branch Banking & Trust, while leaving smaller creditors with just a fraction of their total owings. The park will walk away from nearly $5 million in debt - much of which is owed to local small businesses. Instead, it will pay a total of $300,000 to small creditors, plus $105,000 to Haywood county in back taxes.
Harper was one of the three owners who bought Ghost Town in the Sky in 2006, some 4 years after a previous bankruptcy forced its closure. However, the park plunged back into bankruptcy in November 2009, just two years after reopening.