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Work on kayak launch begins along Allegheny River in Natrona

| Tuesday, May 7, 2013, 12:51 a.m.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Preliminary work on a new boat launch to the Allegheny River in the Natrona section of Harrison was started last week. The work is being coordinated by Friends of the Riverfront.

A construction crew has begun preparation work on a kayak launch in Harrison's Natrona neighborhood.

The kayak launch, which was approved by township commissioners in July, is being built by the Friends of the Riverfront at no cost to the township. Friends is a nonprofit organization based in Pittsburgh that promotes public access to and appreciation of the region's river resources.

The launch will be located off River Avenue near the foot of Linden Street. It's on an alleyway that runs down to Allegheny River Lock and Dam No. 4. It will be situated on a stretch of riverbank owned by the township, downriver from the dam.

“That is the prep work,” Tom Baxter, Friends executive director, said of the recent site work. “All the permits, all the funding is in place. We hope to move ahead with construction and have it done within a month or so.”

The kayak launch will be part of the Three Rivers Water Trail, which the group is trying to establish from Point State Park in Pittsburgh to the Schenley section of Gilpin.

Baxter puts the project cost at about $150,000.

“It's a reasonable investment for something so important,” Baxter said. “This is the first opportunity for the community to get back down to the riverfront. For years, the riverfront was inaccessible.”

According to Baxter, the landing will provide an area for people to launch non-motorized watercraft, such as canoes and kayaks, to fish or just to enjoy the river scenery.

He said the Friends of the Riverfront has several partners in the project including Natrona Comes Together; Harrison Township; state Sen. Jim Ferlo, D-Pittsburgh; the Pennsylvania Environmental Council; the Allegheny Regional Asset District; and The Pittsburgh Foundation.

Bill Godfrey, president of Natrona Comes Together, which is a grassroots neighborhood improvement group, said the launch entrance will be marked by a metal sculpture by New Kensington native Stephen Paulovich. It will be located along River Avenue.

“When you are coming into town, you are going to be greeted by something really beautiful,” Godfrey said. “It's important for many reasons, but I think the main thing is it is another cog in the wheel of what we are trying to do in Natrona.

“We're hoping that it will help with economic development, because the boat launch is going to draw a lot of people to Natrona.”

Baxter said there are additional facilities planned elsewhere along the Allegheny.

He said more information is available on the Friends' website: http://www.friendsoftheriverfront.org/files/trail_status.html

Tom Yerace is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4675 or tyerace@tribweb.com.

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