Losing a landmark? Enchanted Island Amusement Park in danger

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Enchanted Island Amusement Park at Encanto Park is a favorite of many Phoenix residents, but it soon could be going away.

Popular with families, Enchanted Island has been part of Encanto Park for nearly 70 years.
The private owners of the amusement park have a 10-year lease agreement with the city.  It's up at the end of May and as of now, Parks and Recreation Department is not going to renew it.
Kraig Lyon, who has owned the park for the last 25 years, said he can’t understand why the city isn’t going to offer the five-year extension option in the current contract.
"All the terms of the agreement are open for negotiation," he said. "So if there's something the Parks Department doesn't like, it's all open for [negotiation]."
The Parks Department said there has been interest from other potential park operators and, therefore, the city would like to shop around for the best deal in an open-bidding process.
“What we're looking at is, it's been 10 years and competition - we're definitely looking at that,” said Esther Avila, deputy director of the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department.  “I think it's a good thing for people, too, for us to see what we can provide for the community.”
Avila said Lyon would be eligible to participate in the bid proposal process.  
Lyon said there are financial concerns that could keep him from bidding if the park is forced to close at the end of its contract -- June 1.

Located at Seventh Avenue and Encanto Boulevard, Enchanted Island features a historic carousel, pedal-boats and canoes for the lagoon, bumper boats a splash zone, a train and arcade games. Admission is free, but there is a charge for the rides.

The park opened as Kiddieland in 1948. It closed in 1986, changed hands and then underwent major renovations before reopening several years later.

The historic carousel was part of Kiddieland. While Lyons owns most of the rides in Enchanted Island, the city says it owns the carousel and has no plans to move it.

"Enchanted Island Amusement Park at Encanto Park is not closing, and the historic carousel, which is owned by the City, will remain in that location regardless of the operator," according to a statement from the city.