Archive for Wednesday, October 17, 2001

Oz seeks new home for park

Rumors stirring about county site

October 17, 2001

The Oz Entertainment Company, which had planned to open a theme park near De Soto, has decided to set its sights elsewhere.

Rumors surfaced last week that "elsewhere" could mean southern Leavenworth County.

Gary Carlson, executive director of Leavenworth Area Development, said he believed the company was interested in purchasing land north of Interstate 70 along Leavenworth County Road 1, in an area about three miles south of Tonganoxie.

Carlson said he believed the property under consideration is owned by Paul McKie, and a part of Tailgate Ranch.

When contacted about a possible sale of land for a theme park, Paul McKie said he didn't plan to sell the land to the Oz Entertainment Company.

"First of all, the place is not for sale," McKie said. "And second of all, I don't know that they're trustworthy because of the way they've treated Johnson County."

Because Oz's negotiations, first in Wyandotte County and later in Johnson County didn't pan out, Carlson said he thinks southern Leavenworth County may now be all the more desirable to Oz because of its proximity to Kansas City, and its access, or potential access, to major roads.

"In the southern portions of the county they would have major access from Interstate 70, 24-40 highway and K-10 highway," Carlson said.

Leavenworth County has no turnpike entrances or exits at this time, Carlson said, but he said that could change.

"KTA is already committed to building an interchange on County Road 1, subject to improvement of County Road 1 two miles north and south of K-32," Carlson said.

Overall, Carlson said he would be in favor of having an Oz theme park in Leavenworth County.

"Sounds like a natural to me," Carlson said. "Given the fact that Wyandotte County is not an option, given the fact that Johnson County is not an option, this would be the most logical location."

Kristin McCallum, spokesperson for the Los Angeles-based Oz Entertain-ment Company, said Monday that the company is considering various sites.

"We haven't ruled anything out," McCallum said. "People have contacted us over the years in regard to many different locations throughout the county. As far as this particular one in Leavenworth County, I don't know if it is true and I don't know if it is a rumor at this point."

Don Navinsky, Leavenworth County Commission chairman, said he first heard of Oz's possible interest in the area when contacted last Friday evening by a member of the news media.

Navinsky said he would be open-minded if Oz were to approach him.

"I would listen to them," Navinsky said.

"Am I chasing them? No. But if they want to come up I'll listen to them, as long as it doesn't cost the county a dime."

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