Former Kentucky Kingdom operator questions new owners decision

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - We're hearing from the CEO of Bluegrass Boardwalk for the first time since they announced they cannot get the park back open under their original timeline.

Natalie Koch, CEO of Bluegrass Boardwalk, says they want the park open as much as anyone, but right now they just don't believe they can do it safely. Louisville businessman Ed Hart, who tried to get a lease for the park before the Koch's and used to run it, says he questions what the Koch's are saying about the state of the park's rides.

The Koch's built one of Southern Indiana's most beloved amusement parks from scratch. Now they want to take that experience to revive the former Kentucky Kingdom, but they're running into setbacks. There's still no official lease signed with the state. Something they had hoped to have in April. Since there's no lease, they can't start work on the park. "To start doing something without a signed lease doesn't make much sense. We want to know the people of Kentucky have confidence in us that this is what they want," she says.

It's something Ed Hart did not have when he spent 18 months fixing up the abandoned Six Flags. He says the park would have been ready to go in 2012 when his negotiations with the Kentucky Fair Board ended in September. That's why he doesn't understand the Koch's announcement that the park is in such disrepair they have to push their reopen date to 2014. "I'm watching this circus. I'm on the sidelines like everyone else watching the circus. It is a circus because you're not really seeing fundamentally accurate statements. It will not take 11 months to get a small water park up and running."

Koch says they plan to have a mix of rides open when the public first steps in Bluegrass Boardwalk. They did their first walk through in the winter and knew there would be things to fix, but right now they don't know which ones that will be because they can't get in. "We're not going to get into any kind of pointing fingers war. What we see is what we need to fix and we want to do that properly. We have our opinion. Someone can have a different opinion. That's totally fine."

She says even though the park sat in disrepair, when it was originally built, it was done well. It's those bones they want to start building on. It's a start that's already been delayed, so how long will they wait? "We're willing to wait. We are willing to wait until all parties can agree and until all parties are satisfied this is the right thing for Kentucky for Louisville for Bluegrass Boardwalk."

She believes the Koch family is the right group to get the rides running again. Right now, it's only a matter of when.

As someone who's been through it, Hart says Mayor Greg Fischer should get involved, saying this is a big attraction for the city that a lot of people notice considering it's right in front of the airport. He says he doesn't understand why Mayor Fischer hasn't said something.

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