The "Black Widow" flies through the air at Kennywood Park.
By Nikita Lalwani Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Kennywood Park, home to the Thunderbolt, Exterminator and Phantom's Revenge, is one step closer to adding a "beer garden" to its list of permanent attractions.
Kennywood's ongoing quest for a liquor license faced its biggest roadblock in state Sen. Jim Ferlo, D-Highland Park, who in a June 1 letter to the Liquor Control Board called the proposed park feature detrimental to the "family and historic nature of the park" and asked that people be allowed to express their support or opposition at a public hearing in Pittsburgh before the board considers granting a license.
But after more than a month of discussions between Mr. Ferlo and park officials, the senator is ready to withdraw his opposition -- provided the board honors a list of conditions, signed by both parties, regulating the sale of alcohol at the park. Among the conditions, the park would cap sales at two beers per person, enforce legal consumption with the use of an electronic ID scanning device and confine beer sales to a garden near the lagoon.
The agreement also would clear the way for the sale of beer, wine and spirits at catered events in the Jack Rabbit and Log Jammer picnic areas on the outskirts of the park.
"I continue to have reservations about the sale of beer and liquor at the park, about the changing nature of its family environment," Mr. Ferlo said. "But I recognize that it's difficult to completely block their license approval, and I appreciate the Kennywood officials working with me to ensure that we maintain a great entertainment venue with maximum safety."
Stacey Witalec, a spokeswoman for the Liquor Control Board, declined to comment on the future of the park's pending license.
If accepted by the board, the conditions will be a legally binding reminder of the park's responsibilities in selling alcohol, Mr. Ferlo said. For example, on School Picnic days, which run from May to the end of June, beer would be sold only from 1 to 5 p.m.
Kennywood spokesman Jeff Filicko said the park is grateful for the senator's support and awaits the board's decision. Kennywood first contacted the board in April to request a license transfer from Cavanaugh's, a McKeesport restaurant owned by the same company as the park. The decision to pursue a liquor license stemmed from a desire to give Kennywood an edge in an increasingly competitive market, Mr. Filicko said.
"This is something that guests have been asking for more and more in recent years," he said. "One particular guest has been calling us regularly to ask when we are going to start selling beer. He's planning his trip around that."
Kennywood's petition for a license transfer was approved in April by West Mifflin council.