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Freeport take another step toward courtesy dock with Army Corps permit

| Monday, Nov. 11, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Freeport Borough recently received the Army Corps of Engineers permit it needs to build a courtesy boat dock on the Allegheny River near Riverside Park.

It's one of the major permits needed for the project that has been talked about since at least 2007. Permits from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and the state Department of Environmental Protection are in the works.

The borough has received about $88,000 in grant funding for the estimated $107,000 project.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission awarded $68,000; the Port of Pittsburgh Commission committed $10,000; and the Freeport Renaissance Association has raised money for the project, said borough council president Don Rehner.

The Freeport Renaissance Association is spearheading the endeavor, including working with Senate Engineering on the design.

With some permits pending, the association is cautiously optimistic that the dock will come to fruition.

“Rather than splashing through shallow water to reach our festival in the Riverside Park, boaters will be able to tie-off at the dock and walk safely onto dry land,” association president Mary Bowlin said in an emailed statement. “Since our inception, we have envisioned opportunities to bring a positive impact to our business community. The dock truly will create the results of which we have dreamed.”

If all goes well, the dock could be in place for the 2014 boating season, said Marce Urbanski, a volunteer with the association and owner of the Canvas Art & Gift Shop on Fifth Street.

“As a business owner in Freeport, I find the opportunity for boaters to have free docking opportunities provided for them at our river park very exciting,” she said.

The proposed dock would be 180 feet long and will be designed for larger boats traveling the river, she said.

Rehner said the dock could be a big benefit to boaters if the Army Corps decides to keep Lock No. 6 at Clinton and Lock No. 7 at Kittanning closed to recreational traffic.

The locks were opened to recreational boats on two weekends this summer. The Corps initially closed Lock No. 5 near Gilpin to recreational traffic, but later expanded hours.

“If they close locks 5, 6 and 7, we're the farthest point on the Allegheny you can travel to,” Rehner said. “There's very few courtesy docks up the river. We want to draw people into the borough if they are out by boat.”

Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or jweigand@tribweb.com.

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