Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Redskin Owner to Move Coaster to Backyard

Washington Redskins owner and Six Flags chairman Daniel M. Snyder will be moving an unused roller coaster from Six Flags America to his Potomac Maryland residence at the end of Six Flags' season. The dormant coaster, named Two-Face, has been gathering bat droppings and closed due to a history of serious accidents. Snyder's neighbors are livid over this development, citing the unsightly coaster's move is retaliation for their protests against the billionaire's home landscaping projects.

The diminutive businessman has been deemed "the devil" by many of his wealthy Potomac neighbors since Snyder hired workers to take chain saws to several acres of park protected woodlands, to give him a panoramic view of the river from the $10 million home he purchased from Queen Noor (the widow of Jordan's King Hussein). "In the otherwise unbroken ribbon of forest separating his and other handsome estates from the old C&O Canal, there is suddenly a yawning gap.", wrote Washington Post reporter Matthew Mosk at the time. The National Park Service, which has long had a reputation for zealously enforcing scenic easements that protect the woods along riverbanks, instead offered a sympathetic reaction to Snyder's landscaping. A spokesman in Washington first said that Snyder cut the trees "by mistake" and that he failed to notify the agency.

Then, the Park Service suddenly announced they had approved the logging plan all along, claiming Snyder's case was unusual because his lot has been invaded by non-native flora species, and the agreement called for Snyder to replant the hillside with native (and presumably shorter) ones. C&O Canal Park Superintendent Kevin D. Brandt said he recognizes that the gash in the forest left by the clear-cut is unsightly. But he said, "We looked at the arrangement with a long view. A decade from now, the site will be markedly improved. We think this was in the long-term best interest of the national park." It is unclear if Mr. Brandt is now a Redskins season ticket holder.

Neighbors are enraged. According to long-time Potomac resident who wishes to remain anonymous, "Snyder thinks he is above the law, and he loves to stick it to his neighbors. But hey, many of us have the same money he does, and he will always be shorter."

This was not Six Flags original plan for the coaster. Theme park officials admit they have been actively trying to unload the coaster to another park, with little results. According to sources inside the Redskins organization, Snyder was considering giving the ride a burgundy and gold facelift, renaming it Hog Wild, and moving to a parking lot at FedEx Field for fans to enjoy (at a price). Insurance liabilities and ride weight restrictions (typical tail-gators are on the heavy side) however, made that idea unworkable.

The Two-Face "inverted boomerang" coaster, built by Netherlands company Vekoma, has a long history of accidents. In July 2003, a safety sensor detected a problem and stopped the trains in midair. About 25 passengers were stuck on the coaster for over two hours while engineers manually brought the trains safely back into the station. In September 2007, the coaster stalled 100 feet in midair for about 30 minutes with 28 passengers on board. One rider did suffer trouble breathing, but no injuries were reported. In October 2007, riders were in the air for almost two hours. Then, the train rolled back to the platform and slammed to a stop. Over a dozen people complained of neck and back pain, and many were
sprayed with hydraulic fluid. Finally, in late October 2007, Six Flags employee Shadell "Funnel Cake" Washington reported the condom she and her boyfriend were using behind the ride, had in fact, broken.

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