News

Hersheypark to Expand?

By Robert Naeye

Following Park Boulevard ‘Realignment’

Big plans are afoot at Hersheypark.

At the June 5 meeting of the Derry Township Planning Commission, officials described plans to expand the park westward into the property that once included the Parkview golf course. If the township’s Board of Supervisors ultimately approves the plan, construction will begin early next year so the new section will be ready when the park opens in 2020.

The expansion plan comes on the heels of the “realignment” of Park Boulevard, which once marked the western edge of the park. With the old road gone, more than 20 acres became available for expansion.

Planning Commission chairman Glenn Rowe said this park expansion is important because it will enable Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company (HE&R) to remain competitive in the amusement park industry. But he also voiced concerns that the area encompassing the park, the stadium, Chocolate World, and Giant Center will be even more disconnected from downtown Hershey.

“Hershey Entertainment and Resorts needs to address this problem, so we don’t have an isolated island from downtown,” Rowe said.

Rowe added that the company might be able to resolve this problem by increasing the number of shuttle buses, especially during special events at the park complex.

Garrett Gallia of HE&R acknowledged that the company needs to do more work to address this situation but he added that the planned walkway will actually shorten the distance from downtown to the attractions by 25 percent.

“We want to stay closely connected to the downtown,” he said. And he added, “We intend to plant trees to improve the aesthetics.”

Rowe said the Derry Township Board of Supervisors will need to look closely at how this proposed development will affect downtown traffic and parking. He expressed optimism that solutions could be found to make downtown Hershey and the pathway to the attractions more walkable.

Gallia said HE&R looks forward to having those conversations. “We want to make sure we’re good partners with the township and community,” he said.

The Planning Commission voted 4-0 to recommend that the project be approved by the Board of Supervisors if the company adequately addresses stormwater management and other concerns. Commission secretary Joyce St. John was not present for the vote.

No specific details about rides or attractions were announced at the meeting. However, Gallia told The Sun, “We are excited to share our plans with the public once we have completed the approval process.”


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