Concerns have risen lately about the financial state of the Arnolds Park Amusement Park and the Maritime Museum. Some say the future of the Arnold's Park Amusement Park is in hands of the voters this weekend.
These difficulties fall into the laps of the members of the Maritime Museum Board. Four new members took office last Friday, and six seats remain up for grabs Sunday." It could be a whole new board after the election," said Tom Kuhlman, executive director of the Maritime Museum. Some see this "whole new board" as a good thing, but others are more leery of a potential new line-up of board members.
Museum Director Steve Anderson is one of those concerned about the upcoming vote. "I don't think people understand what's going on here," he said. "I worry that there's manipulation of the vote."
Anderson worries that there is a plan to oust current amusement park management, and that voters are being encouraged to vote in favor of candidates who will encourage a turnover. So far, two mass mailings have been sent out in an effort to encourage voting in the upcoming board election. One mailing is signed by the original Save the Park campaign chairmen: Berkley Bedell, Mickey Landen and Sue Richter.
That letter points out that the amusement park and green space are in significant financial difficulty and suggests that a museum board must take action to change that direction.
"Nothing is to be gained, by dwelling on the past," says the letter. "We need to look to the future. If the park and the Green Space are to succeed, we need a strong Maritime Museum Board of Directors that can chart a new course, institute proper financial controls, and establish a plan for the future."
The letter goes on to remind people to vote at the upcoming annual meeting.
"We sent it out just to heighten the awareness so that people can make their choices," said Richter. The letter was targeted at original Save the Park donors.
A second letter surfaced earlier this week, signed by four individuals - Becky Batcheller, Jennifer Brown, Mary Kay Peck and Nile McDonald. Batcheller, Brown and McDonald resigned from the museum board in June.
Their letter names the six candidates they recommend for the board of directors.
Batcheller said the letter was sent out to help voters determine who will best fill the gaps on the museum's board.
"We've sent out this mailing because we really care about the park and the Iowa Great Lakes Maritime Museum," Batcheller said. "The individuals we've recommended will create a very strong board that specializes in the areas of expertise the board needs."
Both groups of individuals sending out letters are pushing for changes that they believe would better serve the museum and amusement park.
While most agree that the park needs to see some sort of change, they disagree on the changes that need to be made. Batcheller said she resigned from the board because she needed to be a part of a board where accountability in management is important. Berkley Bedell told the board at their meeting last Friday that they need to create a united board and possibly look at what he termed "radical reorganization." Anderson and others worry that potential changes may upset the financial status of the park even more.