It's where Kennywood is
A while ago, Jason over at Tube City discussed what he perceived was the shabby treatment that Kennywood Park has received at the hands of the West Mifflin Borough government. Here is an excerpt:
I don't think that local government should be in the business of real estate development (for more information, see also, "City of Pittsburgh, bankruptcy of" or "City of Pittsburgh, failure of Fifth and Forbes"), but I have to wonder if better zoning and traffic and infrastructure improvements along "Kennywood Boulevard" would attract some private investment.
To put it another way: Since 1999, West Mifflin has collected $3.5 million in tax revenue directly from the sale of tickets at Kennywood. Does someone from West Mifflin care to show me the $3.5 million in zoning code changes, tax incentives for commercial development, and improved signals and lighting on Kennywood Boulevard that have been made in that period of time?
Or is the borough balancing its budget (including the cost of that spiffy $2 million three-story municipal hall on Lebanon Church Road, formerly a taxable privately-owned office building) on the back of its only tourist attraction and one of its few claims to fame?
I may be way off-base here. Perhaps there are more costs to the taxpayers of West Mifflin caused by Kennywood than I'm aware of. Perhaps West Mifflin is acting solely in the best interests of its taxpayers. As a West Mifflin taxpayer myself, I sure hope so.
Jason raises some interesting points. I don't believe that governments should coddle large employers, but nor do I think they should exploit them. Personally, I don't understand why West Mifflin wouldn't want to spruce up the corridor leading into Kennywood. Think of the thousands of people who drive into the community each year to go to the park, and think of the impression of West Mifflin they are left with.
My wife and I grew up in Westmoreland County, and we know that many people there regard Kennywood as something of an oasis in the midst of urban decay -- a perception that I suspect is not limited to the hinterlands. Is that really the image West Mifflin wants to project?