Non-profit is conducting study to look at land development for Kennywood

Posted Thursday, April 5, 2007 9:53 AM | Contributed by Jeff

West-to-West Coalition, a Mon Valley nonprofit organization that works on problems associated with redeveloping former industrial sites, is ready to move ahead with a study of an industrial brownfield next to Kennywood Park in Duquesne. The amusement park would like to expand its facility onto a neighboring 48-acre parcel that was once home to Union Railroad operations, pending the outcome of Phase I and II environmental site assessments to be administered by the nonprofit.

Read more from The Post-Gazette.

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Thursday, April 5, 2007 12:36 PM
The brownfield cleanup would be the first thing that would have to be done to get the new area ready for a park expansion. After that, the layout of the expansion area would be a major concern.

Access to the new area would a major concern. The easiest way to provide this access would be to remove the old Pastime building and the adjacent food stand between the Jack Rabbit and the Racer. Getting in and out of the ravine would be another concern and a transport ride would be desirable here while leaving open a way to get there on foot as well.

There are the matters of the new rides as well. The new coasters would probably make use ot the terrain and one question involving them is, where should the stations be? They could be at the top, part way down into the ravine, or at the bottom. This could depend upon what kind of coaster layout is desired. At the bottom of the ravine there is that old building and the issue here is whether it could be used for a new darkride, enclosed flats, or as a place to pass one of the coasters through. Others things that could be at the bottom of the ravine would be several flat rides along with food and game stands and, of course, rest rooms. .

The best first step would be to add the new wooden coaster with the station somewhere near the top of the ravine. This would allow this first addition to be done before the big commitment to the overall plan is made. Even if the highway is not built, the wood coaster would be desirable since the park has not added a new coaster in a while and a major wood coaster is not nearly as costly as a big steel coaster. If the highway doesn't get built this would be the only major change.

What should the other rides be, assuming the highway is built? A major steel coaster is the main thing. Currently there are no plans for inversions but this might be worth reconsidering if it broadens the park's appeal and the ride can operate with a 48" minimum height. The other things that should be considered are an interactive darkride (with 4 passenger cars), at least two high-thrill flats, and at least 2 family-friendly flats.

The expansion could also lead to more shows, something that is in short supply at this park. Some of them could be in the new area and room for others others could be provided by moving a ride or two to the new area.

As for the other area with the shopping center, this would be for the hotel, the indoor waterpark, and more parking.

The end reault would be a park comparable to Hersheypark in size, a large park but not a megapark.

One thing important, keep the features that make Kennywood special. The admission price would be expected to rise, possibly into the mid to upper 30s and free parking may ultimately have to be eliminated. What is important is to retain the good operations, landscaping, cleanliness and friendly staff. Also this park should keep its reasonable prices for food, drinks, games, and merchandise along with the food quality. Also, because the picnics are so important to this park and its attendance, the picnic shelters and the permissive outside food policy should also be retained.

*** This post was edited by Arthur Bahl 4/5/2007 1:10:05 PM ***

Thursday, April 5, 2007 12:48 PM
Aren't you putting the cart before the horse? Kennywood doesn't have the capital to make a big bang expansion, unless they're sitting on some enormous pile of cash. I'm sure it would be staged.

Is the land they're talking about toward the river or the stuff to the southeast of the park?

Thursday, April 5, 2007 1:20 PM
As I mentioned, one of the coasters could come first if the station is near the top of the ravine. Later, a major attraction could be added at the bottom of the ravine along with several new or relocated flats (as was done with Lost Kennywood). Finally the second major coaster could be added. Additional flats could be added during years between the major changes.

The main thing about that ravine is that if you put rides at the bottom, you have to have enough things there to make the trip down there worthwhile. Moving some existing rides might be the key to doing this.

This all might take place over a 5 or 6 year period. That way, the impact and drawing power gained from having new attractions is maintained over a number of years.

The land mentioned is in the SE area as opposed to the river area.

Thursday, April 5, 2007 1:28 PM
I'm sure Kennywood already knows what they're going to do if they get the land. All you're doing is throwing a huge wish list at us--Kennywood is NEVER going to add two or three major roller coasters at one time, even within a decade. Reality check, aisle one...
Thursday, April 5, 2007 2:23 PM
What they won't do is what Six Flags did at GL. 4 coasters at once. If the highway goes in, and that is a big IF, then 2 coasters in 5 or 6 years IS a possibility. Whether they actually do this will depend upon how much attendance boost can be expected from the highway and the coasters. KW is not going to overextend itself. Also they will very likely be making major additions to LC during the same time period as well. There's so much potential for future growth at that park because of NYC and Boston.

Thursday, April 5, 2007 3:45 PM
I don't really think this area is a large as people think it is. This is a few acres of flat land some 250 feet BELOW the level the Jackrabbit/Racer midway. And if you look on this map:


You can see that the actual flatland at the bottom is not much wider than that area. The areas that you see that are tree filled are VERY steep -- There's a reason why there's nothing built there already!!! Of course, earthmoving equipment can do wonders, but since it's a natural drainage area, it won't be cheap to make more land. In fact, most of the sides of the area bordering the current boundaries of the parks are near-vertical.

What I can see them using this area is for a very large and statement making coaster, and possibly space for a picnic grove. (I thought they owned/had rights to most of the buildings along hoffman rd as well, where the fast food resturants are.) I could see them moving some of the picnic grove buildings and the maintenance buildings down into that space, then using the rest of that space for major rides to fit over/go through. Moving those two areas from their current locations gives them just as much room without having to divide up the park.

Heck, one of these days when they do build that hotel/indoor waterpark, maybe all that happens with that parcel of land down there is employee parking with some nice terrain effects for coasters to zoom off cliffs and through the trees.

-Chris*** This post was edited by Isca 4/5/2007 3:57:41 PM ****** This post was edited by Jeff 4/5/2007 4:08:50 PM ***

Thursday, April 5, 2007 4:57 PM
An interesting alternative is to move some of the picnic areas behind Garfield's Nightmare and use that area for flat rides and/or roller coaster stations. If another darkride is desired, one interesting possibility is to build it underground or on the side of that slope leading down to the ravine.. Kennywood has done unusual things in the past to make better use of space. They used to have the Swing Around over the lake. They intertwined Phantom's Revenge and Thunderbolt. They built Gold Rusher on the second level of a building that has games on the ground level. They once had a Trabant (an earlier, smaller version of the Wipeout) inside the helix of the Thunderbolt. If KW wants to add more flats some day, they should be able to find some way to do it. Then that ravine can be used primarily for the new coasters.
Thursday, April 5, 2007 6:10 PM
Arthur, what are you talking about?

You seem to have some odd mix of a wish list, common knowledge, and misinterpreted facts.

There's way too much to go in to detail about since you have every other post above me, but I've heard of many different alternatives for that land, and none of them resemble the RCT ideas represented above.

Thursday, April 5, 2007 11:37 PM
There probably won't be any major changes at KW until 2010 or 2011 at the earliest. If the highway is canceled, than the most that it is reasonable to expect regarding major additions is one coaster, probably a wooden one. This might be done because there hasn't been a new coaster in a while and other parks are adding them. It's just a matter of not falling behind.

In the years to come, there will probably still be some flat ride changes as happened this year and last year. A newer flat comes in and an older one is sold off, put in mothballs for a while or sent to another park. Also, there is all that speculation about Bayern Kurve and Swing Around. What will become of them?

If the highway is confirmed, then bigger things are possible. The biggest changes would occur once the highway is completed. This would probably involve that second coaster, the hotel, and the indoor waterpark. Other rides might be added as well either at this time or just before. The use of that ravine bottom would indeed be an ambitious project because of the need to have enough things down there and because of the transport concerns. It might well turn out that such a plan may not be feasible and that keeping the midways on the level may be the best thing to do.

Friday, April 6, 2007 8:36 AM
I am glad to see some sort of movement from the West to West Coalition on this area of Duquesne, however they are involved with many other projects around the region. With that said I want to make many aware that without any highway expansion near the park any growth plans for the park will go by the wayside. Several recent facts of this region, Pittsburgh and the surrounding region saw the largest population loss only second to New Orleans. Recent study showed Pittsburgh loosing 60,000 people since 2000. This study was with the top 25 most popluated areas in America. What bothers many the most is that there is a massive loss of young people in the region, you lose the young and you lose potential business. My current employment involves dealing with local groups and the decline of school age people is very high. Many local school districts have been reporting major declines in population, which is having a major impact on their budgets. This decline will most likely have an impact on business' like Kennywood. Back in 1976 when Kennywood installed the Jog Jammer there was plans to remove the building next to the Racer and build back into that flat area of the park. Those plans changed due to the lack of space for storage and other needs. In 1985 another plan was reviewed for the removal of the picnic area located near the train ride, that was scrapped for whatever reason. Lets look at reality here, if Kennywood expands it will be slow, very slow. Will you see another coaster at the park maybe, will there be expanson maybe, will there be enough people to visit the park on a consistant basis, that is the question that needs to be answered. Some local groups have been trying very hard to come up with some sort of solution to stop the bleeding but so far only minimal sloutions have been discussed. Recently there was 4 full pages of foreclosed homes listed in the local newspaper just within Allegheny County alone and that was for the last quarter of 2006. Again expansion will be great for the park but I dont know how they will sustain operations if the numbers are not there. Take care
*** This post was edited by 4/6/2007 9:10:56 AM ***
Friday, April 6, 2007 1:09 PM
Both the "phantom poster" and Isca are right. They have to have the numbers coming in through the front gate to justify a large expansion (although there is something to that old addage 'build it and they will come'). The area in question is extremely steep and I don't know anyone who would want to walk down there, even if the slope is graded properly. I could see them placing another attraction there, such as a coaster, but they would have to put the entrance to the ride in the existing area of the park.

The whole area is so landlocked that "fast" expansion wouldn't be possible simply due to that. I would like to see them buy the 35-plus homes along Shadynook and Valleview streets. This would be easier to expand "into" but it's a huge logistical problem and you can bet many of those folks would not want to leave.

Saturday, April 7, 2007 5:14 PM
Out of a grant for $175,000, $40,000 will be used for "administrative costs." Doesn't sound too efficient, does it?

Don't forget, this is only a study. All the studies will do is document as best as possible what contaminants are present and to what degree, and recommend the best course of action to take to remediate the situation. Sometimes that can be as simple as don't disturb it, or very complicated and expensive.

Sunday, April 8, 2007 8:56 PM
Just about everyone here except Arthur are right...I work at the park and we have been discussing the expansion in small tlak for 4 years now and a rapid development is not going to happen i can guarantee we have the money but its just not logical plus the ravine will most likely be filled in for the most part perhaps a small portion being lef for coaster purposes...the maintanence area for the park is between the racer and jack rabbit behind the games building and anyone who knows kw history will remember that area was once just like the ravine and it was back filled also so its not impossible to do expenseve sure but not impossible.

As for numbers kennywood has the numbers we saw the busiest year at the park in more than 5 years with parks like geauga lake failing and losing popularity kennywood is booming with new guests eager to see what we have and arthur although you made some good points about moving some flat rides yes its possible but doubtful like i said the expansion isnt going to happen over night or in 5 years look for more lik 10 or 15 expansions are a painstaking process it has to be planed and done right orelse you have a geauga lake/six flags all over again.

Kennywood is also looking into the kennyvill homes on shadynook and and valleyview and actually do own majority of the homes back there and expansion will occur in that direction once purchasing is complete. One of two things will occur back there either the hotel and water park back there or moving the maintanence area back there. As for Kmart shopping center wich ever doesn't happen in kennyvill will happen up there. Arthur your RCT. dreams/wish list is not going to happen the park isn't going to move any picnic areas that what 80% of the parks business comes from and underground rides is not going to happen either so you can keep dreaming and maybe do that on your game because its not going to happen here.


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