Archive for Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Group trying to restore Wichita park disbands

June 17, 2014

— A group that has worked for three years to restore the Joyland amusement park in Wichita has announced plans to disband because of a lack of time and money.

Kira Johnson, president of Restore Hope Inc., a nonprofit effort to restore Joyland, said the nearly $10,500 raised by the group will be reimbursed and then donated to Botanica and the Historic Preservation Alliance of Wichita and Sedgwick County.

Joyland operated for more than six decades before closing in 2006. Johnson said group members have become too busy to continue the renovation effort, which would need millions of dollars, The Wichita Eagle reported.

“We’re not 100 percent sold on the fact it couldn’t be done,” she said Monday. “It’s just that all of our lives have taken on separate directions, and we’re so busy we’re not able to give Joyland what it needs to be successful.”

Joyland owner Margaret Nelson Spear donated the merry-go-round to Botanica in May. The preservation alliance bought several items from Spear, including the animated neon clown sign that greeted visitors.

Restore Hope’s efforts began after Alex East of Wichita asked the City Council in 2011 for $10 million to bring Joyland back to life. The council declined. But the movement grew to a handful of participants, including Johnson.

Greg Kite, president of the preservation alliance, said it was bittersweet to see Restore Hope fold.

“The last thing we like to do is feel like scavengers that are picking up the remains. We detest that. But that’s better than having the items lost to the four corners of the Earth,” he said

Kite said the alliance would eventually like to see the establishment of a “Lost Wichita” museum, which would display many of the Joyland items and artifacts from the city’s past.

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