Trinity — The future of the deteriorating Trinity Loop Park is looking brighter. Owner Francis Kelly, who lives in St. John’s, said he’s currently in negotiations to sell the business.
Kelly said last week the deal is in his lawyer’s hands.
The Loop gained made headlines earlier this year when local railway buffs began wondering whether the historic section of track would be maintained, refurbished or scrapped.
Kelly built a tourist attraction near the loop in the 1980s, securing federal government funding to build an amusement park.
The section of track that makes up the loop is original, and is the only section of railway track left on the island of Newfoundland after the provincial government agreed to take up all railway tracks in the province, under the Roads to Rail Agreement signed in the mid 1980s.
The loop was a key attraction, and Kelly built a small train to take visitors around the loop.
Over the years, he laid additional track, allowing the small train to continue along the loop to circumnavigate the amusement park and wind up back at its starting point.
The amusement park hasn’t been open for nearly a decade.
When hurricane Igor tore through the area in September, much of the track — which Kelly had installed during the heyday of the park — was ripped up.
The original loop remains mostly intact, although the forest has started to encroach on the rail and some of the wooden ties are beginning to deteriorate.
While the loop section of the track is designated as a provincial heritage structure, the province’s Department of Environment and Conservation has said it would be up to the owner of the property to apply for funding to carry out repairs.
Tourism Minister Terry French said his department is not interested in taking ownership of the original loop.
Kelly could not say whether the person interested in buying the property would do that either. However, he did say the sale should be finalized soon and he would be able to offer more information after that.
Meanwhile, if the business is sold, the new owner will have to apply to the province to lease the land the buildings are on.
According to Trinity North MHA Ross Wiseman, the land reverted back to the Crown more than five years ago after Kelly failed to make payments.