By Karen Carr Keefe
Grand Island Supervisor John Whitney said talks on reopening Fantasy Island are still at the “hopeful” and “tentative” stage.
But work is ongoing behind the scenes to initiate an incentive package to make the purchase of the 85-acre park more doable for Chicago businessman Gene Staples.
“Angelo Morinello, our state assemblyman, was here and he talked about maybe there’s some money available through NYPA (New York Power Authority), through their Power Points program,” Whitney said.
A call to Morinello was not returned.
The NYPA website states: “There are incentives and grants available for clean energy investments that support the growth of jobs and capital investment in New York state.”
The power authority also says: “The Western New York Power Proceeds Allocation Board reviews applications for funds to support eligible costs and capital investment for economic development projects within a 30-mile radius of the Niagara Power Project.” The board then makes recommendations to the NYPA board of trustees to approve funding from the Western New York Economic Development Fund.
Whitney said another politician is working on obtaining financial incentives for Staples’ proposal.
“The representative from Congressman (Brian) Higgins’ office was here, Chris Fahey, and Chris was going to talk with his contacts at Empire State Development and see if there’s anything they could do there. And that’s kind of how we left it,” he said.
Whitney and Staples met this past Friday and toured the amusement park that has been closed since 2020. They talked about the potential deal Staples is working on with Store Capital Real Estate Investment Trust Co., owner of Fantasy Island, for a long-term lease to operate the park.
Staples and his company, Niagara Amusement Park Holdings LLC, have a track record of restoring and operating Indiana Beach Boardwalk Resort in Monticello, Indiana, last year, as well as acquiring Clementon Park and Splash World in Clementon, New Jersey, earlier this year.
Whitney said he was favorably impressed with Staples’ credentials and what he’s done so far.
“He seems very upfront and very knowledgeable about what he does. So, we’re very hopeful at this point in time that it can actually work out,” Whitney said.
As to news of any more progress on the negotiations this week, Whitney said, “I think it’s going to be it for now, till he gets things together.”
“I got the impression that he was very happy with the things that we were telling him. But I don’t think that it’s a done deal at this point,” the supervisor said.