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Friends of the Riverfront relocates to Etna

Tawnya Panizzi
| Tuesday, June 26, 2018, 2:51 p.m.
Friends of the Riverfront volunteers clean a trail under the 40th Street Bridge in Lawrenceville.
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Friends of the Riverfront volunteers clean a trail under the 40th Street Bridge in Lawrenceville.

Friends of the Riverfront, steward of the 25-mile Three River Heritage Trail system, announced June 26, its headquarters will move to Etna.

Current offices are along Preble Avenue in Pittsburgh's Chateau neighborhood.

The move is a significant step in the group's effort to extend the trail through the Allegheny Valley, leaders said.

On June 21, a portion of the trail opened in Blawnox.

“Our mission is to ensure residents from all over Allegheny County are able to access and enjoy the riverfronts,” said Valerie Beichner, executive director.

The Triboro Ecodistrict – an initiative of Sharpsburg, Etna and Millvale to promote sustainable community development — fits well with the mission of Friends of the Riverfront, Beichner said. Last month, it was awarded $2.3 million from the Hillman Foundation for solar panels, student-led art installations and a riverfront park.

“The Triboro Ecodistrict shows a commitment to bolstering the quality of life, health and wellness and the revitalization of an entire community,” she said.

Stacey Vernallis, board president for Friends, said she believes the trail system will be one more asset in achieving the shared goals.

“It's long been a goal of (ours) to extend the Three Rivers Heritage Trail through Etna,” she said. “This vibrant community is going through a true transformation, and we're excited for both the trail and our new headquarters to be a part of it.”

The new offices will be at 12 Freeport St.

A public open house will be scheduled once the move is complete in early July.

Last month, a $250,000 state grant was announced for trail planning at the Riverfront 47 property in Aspinwall and Sharpsburg. The property represents more than 75 percent of the uncompleted Three Rivers Heritage Trail segment between Aspinwall and Millvale. It nearly abuts another trail section planned for Etna Riverfront Park.

The newly opened Blawnox trail connects with Chapel Harbor at the Water in O'Hara.

Etna Manager Mary Ellen Ramage welcomed the Friends announcement.

“Their effort to promote trail development in our region is in line with Etna's ongoing efforts to build a park and trail along the Allegheny corridor and connect with our neighboring communities in Allegheny County,” she said.

For more, visit friendsoftheriverfront.org.

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

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