Grassroots effort trying to build skatepark in Sharpsburg
An art class assignment at Shaler Area High School has turned into a community initiative in Sharpsburg, thanks to the grass-roots efforts of community residents.
Community members are working to raise money to turn a seldom-used parking lot under the 62nd Street Bridge into a skate park, and they celebrated their progress during the June 27 62nd Street Boogie community event with food, music and skate demonstrations.
“It's an exciting project,” said Jan Barbus, Sharpsburg's borough secretary. “Eventually, we're hoping it will be one of our public areas.”
The idea for the skate park started in Chris Lisowski's Shaler Area High School art class.
When Lisowski asked his students to recreate a two-dimensional representation of their “safe place,” either real or imaginary, one student submitted a painting of a parking lot, which got Lisowski thinking about the lack of recreational areas for teens.
“There is nothing for kids down there to do unless they like to shoot basketball or are on an organized team,” said Lisowksi, a Sharpsburg resident and member of the borough's planning commission.
He proposed transforming the parking lot under the 62nd Street Bridge back into a park for skateboarders and BMX riders. The area formerly was Foerster Park and had play equipment and basketball courts, but was turned into a parking lot when required improvements became cost-prohibitive.
Sharpsburg Council members support the plan and have included it into their recently adopted comprehensive plan.
The Allegheny River Towns Enterprise Zone, or ARTEZ, an economic development agency serving seven riverfront communities, also is supporting the proposed project by offering advice and direction.
ARTEZ serves Aspinwall, Blawnox, Etna, Millvale, O'Hara, Shaler and Sharpsburg.
“The skate park is a community-based project, a grass-roots project,” said Iris Whitworth, executive director of ARTEZ. “We are supportive of it and the community and what the residents want. We are a vehicle for helping facilitate community conversations about things.”
ARTEZ also commissioned and supported the installation of a public-art piece, “Directions,” created by artist Will Schlough, which is installed on the chain-link fence at the site of the proposed skate park.
Initial estimates to install the skate park are about $200,000, and organizers hope future plans might include a shared parking lot between the proposed skate park and proposed riverfront park in Etna.
As fundraising efforts continue, Lisowski is hanging onto his student's parking lot painting as a reference for “why we need to make a place for kids.
“What are we going to do to make these towns better?” he said. “For me, it's focus on the kids.”
Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Vincentian Home lets residents stroll down Memory Lane
- Photo Gallery: St. Teresa of Avila School Christmas pageant
- Unused classroom space in North Hills could serve hundreds of students
- North Hills teen shows it’s better to give than receive
- Board approves purchase of 120 computers at Pine-Richland for 66K
- Shaler students invest in green activities
- Popcorn sales a blast for Ross Cub Scout
- Pine-Richland’s Hance Elementary students to pitch Thanksgiving Day parade balloon idea
- Hampton students grill Rothfus with policy questions
- Shaler students collect personal-care items to help homeless
- Photo Gallery: North Hills High School gingerbread houses