TEAM INSPECTS LAKE COMPOUNCE
LORETTA WALDMAN; Courant Staff Writer
The Hartford Courant
7 SPORTS FINAL
Grease spots on the ground are something Jack Silar likes to see when
he inspects merry-go-rounds. The presence of a blob or two tells him
the machinery is well maintained and is likely to have been lubricated
A can of degreaser perched beside the electric motor of the carousel
at Lake Compounce Theme Park Tuesday provided another valuable clue.
The motor, which is showered with grease when a giant turning gear
rotates above it, had been regularly cleaned, Silar said.
Silar and the two other inspectors from Florida-based MAH Consulting
are mechanical sleuths hired by Lake Compounce to identify any problem
that might affect the safety of patrons and workers at the
156-year-old amu***t park . In the second day of a week-long safety
review, Silar combed the carousel, jiggling stirrups on the horses in
search of loose ones, checking the cleanliness of the brakes and
making sure the electrical box was labeled.
By the end of day, he and colleagues Anthony Rossi and Jim Barber
expected to have checked about half of the park's 40 rides. Besides
the carousel, they looked at the Boulder Dash roller coaster , a flume
ride , a haunted house, train and kids' rides.
The team had turned up no major problems by Tuesday afternoon, Silar
The consultants, who between them have decades of experience
inspecting and running rides, also are to review safety policies and
procedures and worker training. Silar, a former general manager of
Hershey Park in Pennsylvania, sat in a general worker orientation
session Monday evening. He planned to observe one for ride operators
The arrival of the inspectors, announced Monday, is part of an all-
out effort by the park to dispel a perception that the rides at Lake
Compounce are unsafe. Officials blame the media for creating that
perception through coverage of the June 13 death of Wilfredo Martinez,
a park maintenance worker who was struck and killed while working near
the Boulder Dash, and the malfunction the next day of another coaster,
the Zoomerang, that left 26 passengers stranded 60 feet above the
ground for about 90 minutes.
No inspection by a state or federal agency has ever found any ride at
the park unsafe, park officials say, but they wanted to reassure the
public the rides are "as safe as they possibly can be," park general
manager Tom Wages has said. Wages said the park would modify training,
safety and other policies if inspectors recommend it. MAH had already
been scheduled to inspect Lake Compounce but officials decided to move
the visit up after the incidents involving the two coasters. All rides
at the park are inspected annually by the state fire marshal's office
and an outside engineering firm, and park operators check the rides
Tuesday, inspector Anthony Rossi looked for hints of weakness in the
wooden supports that hold up the Boulder Dash tracks. He also looked
for cracks in the wheels and inspected bumpers, safety cables, seat
belts, lap bars and even upholstery. Then he rode the coaster.
The team will submit field notes and recommendations to park officials
when they complete inspections Friday, Silar said. A final report
summarizing the team's findings will be submitted within a week to 10
days, he said.