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Plans call for more green space at Aspinwall Riverfront Park

| Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015, 11:45 a.m.
Submitted
At Aspinwall Riverfront Park, there are plans to pull up the concrete and create river access.

Plans are under way to convert three acres at the Aspinwall Riverfront Park, currently covered by concrete, into green and usable space.

The land now is occupied by the Aspinwall Marina and a parking lot.

“We want to renovate the buildings and we envision space to hold camps and events,” said Aspinwall resident Susan Crookston, whose Allegheny Development Partners oversee the 10-acre park along the riverfront.

“We want to concentrate on green space and river access.”

Costs are expected to be about $500,000.

Park leaders are relying on donors to assist with the goals for 2016. The park does not receive municipal funding. Income is generated by rental space at the marina.

With that building now limited to services for small boats, Crookston said there may be other potential uses for the facility.

Aspinwall resident Nancy Stack, head of the park's design committee, said plans will focus on river access and green space.

“We want to make the best use out of the existing space with an eye toward as much green as possible,” Stack said.

Plans include a welcome center, adequate parking for future amenities and handicapped-accessible restrooms, which are lacking in the park. Educational space and event rentals could help generate income to maintain the park.

Stack is planning to meet with architects next week.

It has been five years since Crookston spearheaded the $2.3 million purchase of the land. An early survey of about 1,800 people indicated interest in trails, nature and a play area.

Three acres in the western portion opened last year to offer passive recreation such as gardens and a walking trail. Three acres on the opposite end opened this summer with a playground.

It's time to capitalize on the “beautiful river views,” she said.

Crookston said public river access is the most significant offering missing.

“We should be able to grow up doing things on the water,” she said. “That was our primary motivator in recapturing this property.”

Currently, park users can't launch a kayak or cast a fishing line into the water from the park. Or, “simply dangle their feet in the water,” Crookston said.

“If we can get the funding, we will change that this year. Our focus is to create a simple river access to enable people to start enjoying our river as soon as possible.”

Crookston said the cost of utilities, insurance, maintenance and taxes reaches about $100,000 each year.

The board has committed to building a $2 million maintenance endowment, of which $1.4 million is already in place.

“Maintaining a park is very expensive and we are planning for it,” she said. For details on donating to the park efforts, visit aspinwallriverfrontpark.org/donate.

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or at tpanizzi@tribweb.com.

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