When Kennywood and its sister park, Sandcastle were purchased by a European amusement park conglomerate, there was outrage and fear. What would become of Pittsburgh's beloved park? Happily, two years later, not much has changed on the park operations to the outsider.
For the bike community, the sale of the amusement parks may have been the best thing that could have happened. For years, the old local park owners had refused to allow the Great Allegheny Passage, the bike trail that starts in Pittsburgh and ultimately connects to Washington, DC by way of Sandcastle, through their property.
Today, Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato and James Judy, vice president of operations for Palace Entertainment, who manages the park, have both been quoted that they're shortly announcing an agreement to allow the trail through Sandcastle. This isn't the first time close talks between the park and the county have been announced. Back in 2008 when Pittsburgh was celebrating its 250th anniversary and clamoring for the completion of the trail as a birthday present, there were similar talks which fell flat after the celebration. Now, however, with new international management the trail issue has become more than a provincial argument. Even Newsweek took up the case of the trail, and helped apply the pressure to this decades old effort.
Congratulations to the Pittsburgh bike community and Dan Onorato for not giving up on this project. With this latest almost-announcement, I fully expect to see the trail completed by the new goal: 11/11/2011. See you in Washington, DC!