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Foundation gives parting gift for park along Ohio River

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Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

The foundation spearheading development of a new Allegheny County park that will straddle three communities along the Ohio River has made what likely will be its final donation toward the project, according to county officials.

In 2008, the nonprofit Sports Legacy Foundation deeded to the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County 78 acres it assembled for the proposed Montour Junction sports complex on former railroad property in Coraopolis, Moon and Robinson.

On Friday, the organization gave the Redevelopment Authority $500,000 toward the project, said Dennis Davin, the authority's executive director.

“During the past several years, the foundation has been instrumental in getting this project to the point where we are ready to begin construction within the next several months,” Davin said. “The money we received today will go toward building the first field on the site.”

Paul A. Heasley, founder and former owner of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds soccer club, chaired Sports Legacy Foundation. Davin said it is being dissolved to allow the authority to serve as the main developer of the complex, which will have a focus on “nontraditional” sports including rugby, soccer, lacrosse and Gaelic football.

Because Montour Run, which is a trout stream, traverses the property, part of the facility is expected to be reserved for fishing, Davin said, adding that the foundation paid for much of the initial environmental clean-up of the brownfields on the site.

Davin said the authority wants to take a nontraditional approach to raising the $15 million to $18 million that will be needed to complete the project.

“In addition to seeking grants, we would like to have corporations sponsor fields or perhaps work with Robert Morris University, which owns the nearby Island Sports Complex” on Neville Island.

Davin believes the sports complex, which will be the only one of its kind in the area large enough to sponsor major soccer tournaments, could lead to economic development, such as a hotel and retail businesses.

“Attracting people here by creating jobs is very important, but we also have to work on quality of life issues if we want them to stay,” state Rep. Mark Mustio said. “Providing places for people to play like this project will do is a great way to get them to stay.”

Tony LaRussa is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7987 or tlarussa@tribweb.com.

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