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Difficult topic of renaming Aspinwall playground on council agenda

Tawnya Panizzi
| Thursday, May 31, 2018, 12:27 p.m.
New playground equipment at Aspinwall Community Park marks the final phase of a six-year project to upgrade the facility.
New playground equipment at Aspinwall Community Park marks the final phase of a six-year project to upgrade the facility.

The proposal by Aspinwall Neighborhood Watch to rename the fountain playground for a young resident killed in a 2012 car accident has reached a hurdle.

Longtime resident Sissy Powers spoke out on the emotional topic during council's most recent meeting, saying the name of a park shouldn't be determined by the amount of money someone donates.

“Not to take anything away from the Straws, because I am so sorry for their loss,” Powers said, referring to the family of Elijah Straw, the 6-year-old whose life was cut short in a Route 28 car accident.

The Straws donated $50,000 to the effort by Aspinwall Neighborhood Watch to raise more than $120,000 for new playground equipment at the popular park along Field Avenue.

The project is the final phase of a six-year campaign to upgrade the park, replace equipment more than three decades old and provide wheelchair access.

Powers held back tears when addressing council, reminding members that her oldest son died in 2016.

“We have wonderful memories of the playground,” Powers said. “All my children played there and for many years, I ran an arts and crafts program there.”

Donations for the new playground equipment should not include naming rights, she said.

Council member Lara Voytko thanked Powers and said she “hadn't thought of the renaming from that perspective.”

The Straw family was not able to be reached for comment. When the donation was made, the family said it was a way of thanking the community for its support.

If council moves forward with a vote, it would be at the June 13 meeting, Manager Melissa Lang said.

Powers offered a solution that she said might satisfy everyone, which would be naming a piece of the new playground equipment for Straw or erecting a plaque in his honor.

“Maybe Aspinwall can come together to choose a name for the playground that all of us can love,” she said.

Council will meet at 7 p.m. June 13 in the municipal building, 217 Commercial Ave.

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for the Tribune-Review. Reach her at 412-782-2121, ext. 2, or via Twitter @tawnyatrib.

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