Will Indiana Beach, central Indiana’s beloved summer attraction, open next summer, as it has every year for the past 87 seasons?
The company that purchased the amusement park in 2008, Morgan Recreation Vacations, says the answer is an unequivocal “yes,” the Lafayette Journal and Courier reported.
“I’ve only been there as general manager a couple years, but these rumors crop up every year at this time,” Indiana Beach General Manager Bob Gallagher said. “We’re planning for the 2014 season and actually looking forward to announcing some expansions.”
But some Monticello business owners and former employees of the park — including relatives of Tom Spackman, the late, longtime park owner — aren’t so sure. They tell of layoffs of non-seasonal employees inside the park, utilities shut off for lack of payment and souring relationships between the park and Monticello-area businesses. Across the country, other Morgan RV-owned parks and facilities have been sold or fallen into foreclosure, raising local anxieties even further.
“They destroyed, in one year, what the Spackmans developed in 85 years,” said Steve Juntgen, a former park employee and one of Tom Spackman’s sons-in-law.
“It’s a hard time for us as a community because we lost (Tom) Spackman this year,” said Janet Dold, executive director of the Monticello Chamber of Commerce, referring to Spackman’s death in November at the age of 100. “The tradition of Indiana Beach and the legacy of it is in the forefront of our minds. When we do hear rumors, it’s unsettling.”
Despite those rumors, Morgan RV CEO and owner Bob Moser, of Sarasota, N.Y., said any talk of financial trouble related to Indiana Beach or Morgan RV is false.
Part of the concern is fueled by perceived financial troubles with Morgan RV. The company is a division of Morgan Management LLC.
In 2011, Morgan operated 42 RV resorts in 14 states and billed itself as the largest privately owned operator of RV parks and resorts in the country, according to an archive of the company’s website.
Flash forward to present day and, after several foreclosures and the selling off of properties, the company counts just five remaining RV resorts in four states among its portfolio — including Indiana Beach.
So what happened to the other parks? Some are easier to account for than others. In recent years:
. Seven Morgan RV resorts entered foreclosure after the company defaulted on a $36 million loan, according to a May 8 article in the Saratogian.
. Three Maine resorts were foreclosed this year after Morgan RV defaulted on a $38 million loan.
. Thirteen former Morgan RV resorts were sold to Sun Communities Inc., according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In all, 16 former Morgan resorts are now owned by Sun.
. Twelve former Morgan RV properties were auctioned off and acquired by Janus Hotels.
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