BURLINGTON, N.C. — Two rides in the Burlington City Park remain closed down for repairs and restoration, and at least one resident with a season pass is upset with how long the work is taking.
"I feel like that's just not really fair to the children, and especially if they have a season pass," said Candace Johnson, who visits Burlington City Park with her 5-year-old grandson.
Burlington City Park has five amusement park rides in total: a carousel, miniature train, planes, cars, and boat ride. Each ride ticket costs $1 per ride or $8 for 10 tickets. Season passes cost $100 each, or $60 if purchased on or after August 1, according to the city website. But currently both the carousel and plane rides are not operational, which Johnson says is not fair to children visiting the park.
"The helicopter airplane ride is [my grandson's] favorite ride. Currently he just goes between the cars and the boats, because the train is not one of his favorite rides. He likes little kiddy rides, and there's no carousel so that eliminates that of course," said Johnson.
WFMY News 2 spoke with Rachel Kelly, assistant city manager of administrative services with the City of Burlington, on Saturday for an update on the repairs. Kelly said the historic Dentzel Carousel Ride closed down in August 2018, and is schedule to re-open during spring 2021.
The Burlington City Park carousel is more than a century old, and has been operating in the park for about 35 years. After years of use, the rare carousel was in need of mechanical and artistic work, Kelly said. The restoration was originally planned to happen in phases, but in August 2018, the top bearing broke.
"You have to disassemble the whole thing to reach (the part)," Kelly said.
The carousel was packed up and shipped to Ohio in June 2019 for repair. A company called Carousel and Carvings, one of few in the country of its kind, is performing the repairs and restorations, Kelly said.
“As far as the carousel goes, it is a beloved and a historic piece of art," said Kelly. "It’s unfortunate that it will be closed down for a couple of years, but that will be a worthy investment for future generations."
Kelly pointed WFMY News 2 to a website where the public can track the repair status of the carousel, including pictures of the repair progress as it's made.
The restoration includes hand carving and repainting the carousel animals, repairing and fabricating new mechanisms, upgrading our drive unit, and adding an ADA accessible chariot and ramp, according to the city's website.
Once the carousel is returned to Burlington City Park, it will be moved to higher ground to keep it out of the creek flood zone.
Regarding the airplane ride, Kelly said electrical issues over the last couple of years led to the ride being offline from time to time, and then closed down for repairs October 2018.
It has been difficult to find a qualified repair technician for the decade-old airplane ride because it is Italian-made and has Italian parts and wiring, Kelly said.
Kelly said the City of Burlington has a couple of leads for repair technicians, but there is no timeline right now for when it will re-open.
"I appreciate people’s patience with us," Kelly said about the airplane ride repairs. "We don’t want anything running unless it’s completely safe."
Kelly said about 21 people hold season passes, and some have been offered partial compensation because of the carousel and airplane rides' closure.
As for Candace Johnson, she said she is not satisfied with the city's explanations.
"I just feel like the length of time that the airplane and helicopter ride has been down has been more than sufficient time that it could have been fixed. And it's not going to be fixed unless somebody gets behind it and pushes until it is fixed," said Johnson.
Johnson said she would like to see the rides fixed more quickly so that children can enjoy them.
"You would think in almost a year, with the right person behind it, pushing to get this ride fixed, that it would be fixed by now," said Johnson.
"I recently retired from the school system, so the kids have always been number one with me. I always tried to fight for them. And for what I thought they would enjoy or what they needed or just whatever. If we as adults don't stand up for the children, and try to advocate for them, then they're too young to do it for themselves," said Johnson.