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Columbian Park Waiting On Penguins, Carousel

The new carousel building sits empty because the company hired to build the ride unexpectedly went bankrupt due to the pandemic, taking a $60,000 deposit with it.

Posted: Jul 9, 2021 2:37 PM
Updated: Jul 9, 2021 9:23 PM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Columbian Park is nearly unrecognizable following the completion of several major projects.

Park officials are coming fresh off Memorial Island's dedication and grand opening, but they say there's still a lot of work left to be done and they're still waiting to finish some key attractions.

"It has been an amazing transformation," says Lafayette Parks Superintendent Claudine Laufman. "We still have a lot of landscaping ... some plants and trees really cant be planted until the fall but in total we're planning a little over 450 plants but we'll be stocking the lagoon later on this year with fish."

The Jenks Rest building is demolished with a new restroom facility filling its footprint by the end of the fall.

"With all these improvements, certainly having a new restroom facility is something that's very important," Laufman says.

As News 18 previously reported, the pandemic has put a pause on some park attractions, two of which are about a year behind schedule, including the zoo's penguin exhibit.

"Trying to transport birds across state lines, just delay with paperwork, so on and so forth, all attributed to the pandemic, really pushed back the arrival date of these birds and then of course everybody knows by now that penguins molt and we have to wait for them to molt," Laufman says.

Meanwhile, the new carousel building sits empty because the contractor hired to build the ride unexpectedly went bankrupt due to the pandemic.

"With that particular contract, there was a deposit situation," Laufman says. "That contractor did go bankrupt so I think there's some legalities that are being worked through right now."

Lafayette Parks Foundation President Rachel Hazaray says officials won't pursue legal action for the $60,000 deposit because it's unlikely they'll get the money back.

Instead, they've selected a new contractor: Western Train Company, which specializes in amusement train rides and carousel restorations.

The carousel will be finished by spring next year.

Once everything is in place, Laufman says the marketing team will take over.

"The physical side of it is done but now it really becomes a fun challenge for our marketing team to really bring in a lot of programs and activities for our community to enjoy," she says.

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