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Northern NY couple plans cafe at site of old theme park - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Northern NY couple plans cafe at site of old theme park

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JAY, N.Y. - A popular northern New York amusement park closed in the 1970s and floods from the Ausable River did in what was left. Now, a local couple has bought the land and plans to build a cafe on the site of the old theme park.

Years ago the Land of Makebelieve in Upper Jay, New York, was a popular tourist attraction with rides and all sorts of things for kids to do. After multiple floods it closed in 1979.

"It was a favorite spot for me when I was a kid and I remember taking kids there for baby-sitting. It's magical," said Lynn Edmonds of Jay.

Tropical Storm Irene destroyed what was left of the old amusement park and the land sat unused until recently, when a couple who own a coffee roasters company wanted to do something with it.

"We are in the process of expanding into what used to be the gift shop at the Land of Makebelieve so we can open a café," said Michelle Axtell of Adirondack Mountain Coffee.

The Axtells bought the property from the Historical Society for $100 and are paying for the repairs themselves. Some memorabilia from the Land of Makebelieve was saved from floods and will be on display in the cafe.

"I think it meant a lot to the people of Jay and I think it'll mean a lot for them to see the building restored even though it's going to be a restaurant-cafe instead of the Land of Makebelieve," said Gene Nolan of Jay.

The Axtells are building their new café on the bank of the Ausable River where the Land of Makebelieve used to stand and at quite the risk. The river has flooded numerous times over the years.

"When Tropical Storm Irene came through, the building needed to be gutted. So now we need to redo the flooring and the walls. We're going to raise 3 feet to hopefully avoid flooding in the future," said Axtell.

The café will serve breakfast and lunch.

"It'll be nice to keep it alive so all the locals and the people coming through know what used to be here and how it used to be," said Axtell.

The Axtells hope to have their café up and running this fall and make the Land of Makebelieve a reality once more.

The creator of the Land of Makebelieve, Arto Monaco, worked on numerous amusement parks including helping design Disneyland. He was born and raised in Essex County.
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