John L. Thompson, head of Nature Preservation Foundation (NPF), says the deadline for bids for the renovation and operation of the Coconut Park attraction has been extended for a month to the end of August.
"We have had some serious offers and so we have extended the time to allow them to do the required due diligence," said Thompson. The original deadline was at the end of July.
Thompson declined to identify the parties but said they were already engaged in the amusement industry in the island.
He said as well that the NPF - a non-profit company set up to operate the Hope Gardens property - was close to signing a deal for the reopening of the restaurant on the property, as well as a gift shop located near to the entrance of the zoo.
NPF has a 49-year lease from the Government for Hope Gardens and part of its business plan includes the recreation and recommissioning of Coconut Park under partnership. As a non-profit, NPF cannot directly operate a profit-making venture.
It is expected that the revived attraction will generate enough money - either by lease or profit share - to reduce or even wipe out big deficit which the 230-acre Hope Gardens property runs from year to year.
Nature Preservation's annual budget runs to J$80 million, of which the Ministry of Agriculture provides half. This year's subvention amounts to J$44 million.
NPF's budget is otherwise financed from corporate donations, plant sales, and one-off fund-raising events.
The reopening of Coconut Park is expected to revive traffic which peaked at 250,000 annually.
Fair Share Foundation once owned and operated the park until it was closed in June of 1997 due to financial difficulties and concerns about the safety of rides on the bumper cars, roller coasters, trains, merry-go-rounds, and other attractions.
NPF has indicated that the cost of renovating and reopening the park will range between US$1 million and US$2.5 million.