Many local fans of the Bowcraft amusement park in Scotch Plains have found themselves on an emotional roller coaster of late.
Customers were at first saddened by news that the park would close, then elated to hear it would remain open, then ultimately saddened again — or perhaps just plain confused — to hear that the park should be closing eventually, contingent upon approval of a 200-unit housing development, but, even in that case, not for a couple of years.
The upset began when NJFamily reported that the amusement park, in operation on Route 22 since 1946, would “be closing its doors after this season” and that “[t]he land was recently sold to a developer who plans on turning it into apartments and townhouses.”
However, Bowcraft’s owners said that rumors of the park’s demise are premature.
In a communication sent to customers, the owners stated that “[n]ews of the park being sold and that the park is closing for good in the coming weeks” were “not TRUE! Bowcraft is open for the remainder of the 2016 season, and will re-open for the 2017 Season in April of 2017. Also, the property is not sold. The property is owned by the same family since 1995.”
That communication did leave out some important information, however: the owners of Bowcraft along with ATA Development will be presenting a housing development plan to the Zoning Board of Scotch Plains on September 26, according to a report by John Mooney of TAPinto.net. Mooney wrote, “The plan calls for the development of 200 housing units, 40 of which will be designated as affordable units in an effort to meet COAH (Council on Affordable Housing) requirements. The Zoning Board is scheduled to discuss the Bowcraft redevelopment plan at its next meeting on Monday, Sept. 26.” Read Mooney’s full report and see photos of the plans here.
Scotch Plains Building and Zoning Official Bob Lacosta confirmed directly to Village Green that the town is in receipt of the application and plans from the Bowcraft owners and ATA Development. “I’m sure that there’s a contractual agreement between the two,” said LaCosta in a message. He noted that the approvals and permitting for such large-scale, complex projects are “sometimes a lengthy process” and that, if approved, the new development “probably will not get into the ground until sometime in 2018.”
Long story short: Bowcraft may be closing, depending on whether or not the project is approved, but, even in that case, the park will at least be open through the end of the 2017 season.
If you want to get your rides in at Bowcraft, visit www.bowcraft.com for hours, rates and packages. The 2016 season runs through October 31 and will include a new Halloween-themed Zombiescape Haunted Attraction and a Pumpkin Express Train Ride with partner Pantophobia.com.