Allegheny County Executive Fitzgerald pursues business in parks
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald's push to open county parks to more public-private partnerships will continue on Tuesday when county council considers a plan to allow a company to construct a treetop zipline course in North Park.
It's one of four items on council's agenda involving private operations in the parks.
“There's times when we feel the best solution is contracting with private companies rather than using our own employees,” said Councilman Nick Futules, D-Oakmont, who chairs council's parks committee.
Fitzgerald proposed a 10-year contract with Derwood, Md.-based Adventure Forest LLC, which will build the treetop adventure and zipline course known as Go Ape North Park.
The county would collect $20,000 in the first year, topping out at $40,500 by the last year of the five-year contract.
The move occurs two months after council approved a Fitzgerald-backed plan with South Side-based OTB Bicycle Cafe to renovate the North Park Boathouse and open a restaurant and bar. That agreement will net the county annual rent starting at $36,000 in the first year and reaching $60,000 by the fifth year.
Fitzgerald said he wants to expand private business in the parks. Spokeswoman Amie Downs said he asked all department heads to look for creative ways to raise money.
“Partnerships like this provide a return to the county while offering something for residents and visitors alike that the county hasn't been able to do on its own,” Downs said.
Park backers said they favored opening the parks for more uses.
“I suppose it might be good for family fun. I know the county is into these public-private partnerships. I think a lot of it makes sense,” said Gary Rigdon, 51, of McCandless, chairman of the Friends of North Park. “These partnerships do tend to be pushed more by Republicans rather than Democrats, but I think it shows Fitzgerald is a centrist and is looking for ways to generate revenue from the park system.”
Fitzgerald, a Democrat, also will seek the renewal of three agreements in South Park. The South Park Theater will continue to operate and manage theater in the park, South Park Youth Football will continue to use the concession stand above the oval, and the South Park Area Radio Kontrol Society will continue to operate the model aircraft field.
“All I've heard is positive things about it,” said David Buchewicz of South Park, head of Friends of South Park.
The Go Ape course would provide visitors with the chance to explore North Park from otherwise unobtainable vantage points while navigating through treetops using ziplines and Tarzan swings, Downs said.
The course would be located between Pierce Mill Road and the tennis courts to the east of the boathouse.
Fitzgerald is reviewing recommendations from a vision team, from which he sought ideas to improve the parks system. Among those recommendations were: developing a countywide riverfront park; moving park workers under one department; renting cabins and RV spaces; improving trails; and asking voters to decide whether to raise the real estate tax to finance parks.
Bobby Kerlik is a staff writerfor Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
- New Monroeville Mall policy aims to tame teen shoppers
- 3-alarm fire burns Hill District row homes
- Pittsburgh police chief: Officers, public must unite against violence
- Black Pittsburghers still challenged in education, workforce, housing
- Port Authority focusing on natural-gas bus fleet for proposed rapid transit line
- McCandless mortgage broker company president charged with bank fraud conspiracy
- Officials investigating fatal Shaler house fire, working to identify body found in rubble
- Pittsburgh councilwoman Rudiak announces bid for city controller
- PennDOT to replace drivers licenses issued since November without proper security features
- Easter Seals merger in Pennsylvania raises ethics concerns
- Gun-free school zones cut number of Mt. Lebanon baiting sites for deer culling in half