Etna breaks ground on its Riverfront Park and Trail |

Etna breaks ground on its Riverfront Park and Trail

photos: Erica Cebzanov | For the Tribune-Review
Officials break ground June 3 on the Etna Riverfront Park and Trail.
photos: Erica Cebzanov | For the Tribune-Review
Breaks ground Thomas Hill Jr. of the Etna Pedestrian Alliance speaks about the Etna Riverfront Park and Trail’s impact while Pete Ramage, Etna Economic Development Corp. chairman, listens during the groundbreaking for the Riverfront Park and Trail. Story, photos, Pages 8, 9
photos: Erica Cebzanov | For the Tribune-Review
Etna Mayor Thomas Rengers speaks at the Etna Riverfront Park and Trail’s groundbreaking June 3.
photos: Erica Cebzanov | For the Tribune-Review
The Etna Riverfront Park and Trail is 24 feet above the Allegheny River and at the base of the 62nd Street Bridge.
photos: Erica Cebzanov | For the Tribune-Review
Officials break ground June 3 on the Etna Riverfront Park and Trail.

Etna Manager Mary Ellen Ramage recalled a meeting long ago when the term “river town” had negative connotations, she said, speaking to a crowd from inside a tent at the foot of the 62nd Bridge, overlooking the Allegheny River.

“Here we are today, and it’s an awesome thing,” she said.

The group gathered June 3 for the groundbreaking of the Etna Riverfront Park and Trail. The project will provide a connection for the Three Rivers Heritage Trail — a multi-use, 24-mile trail with riverfront segments — and the Erie to Pittsburgh Trail.

In addition to the trail, a grandstand and scenic overlook with a potential entertainment venue could attract visitors. Furthermore, the park may contain a water wall circulating potable water from the Hampton Shaler Water Authority, located in an adjacent building.

The panels’ ambient light and sound would add to the display, according to the Etna Economic Development Corp. website.

Architectural firm Environmental Planning and Design, and Frank Zottola Construction are responsible for the project, with Phase I slated to open at the end of September 2019 and Phase II scheduled to open summer 2020.

“This is not just a great day for Etna, and for the adjoining members of Sharpsburg and Shaler, it really is for the entire region. This is a major part of an economic strategy, of a quality of life strategy and an improvement of the environment strategy. This is what they call a win, win, win down the line,” Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said.

“This is a symbol: I think that this is a start for Etna to become a community where everyone of every age, ability, walk of life, has a safe space to get about our town,” said Tom Hill Jr. of the Etna Pedestrian Alliance.

“We have great businesses, we have great things going on and this park now represents a chance for all of us to get from point A to point B safely because safe mobility and safe accessibility to our resources is not just something that we can show off, but it is a right of every citizen of Etna and every citizen of the area.”

Ramage shared the property’s history. In 2009, Etna joined 16 other communities in the Allegheny County Community Trails Initiative to connect Millvale to Freeport.

The area was a sand and gravel plant, prior to its abandonment, Ramage said. A nearby building housed the Etna Water Treatment Plant until 1984 when Hampton Shaler Water Authority gained operations.

In 2014, Friends of the Riverfront purchased the plant with the stipulation Etna Borough secure ownership within five years for the purpose of a trail and park.

Ramage said Etna encountered a major obstacle regarding the construction of a costly overpass.

In Etna, rail lines run parallel to the river.

The track’s owners, Norfolk Southern, said the crossing was its private property, meaning cyclists and pedestrians could not use it to cross the tracks to gain trail access.

If private, access would occur by constructing an overpass or flyover, which would have cost an estimated $2.3 million.

Darla Cravotta, county community relations and special projects director, discovered an Etna deed from the 1800s listed the crossing as public, not private. Additionally, there was a similar note on the Federal Railroad Administration website.

“We took Norfolk southern to the PUC (Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission), and it was confirmed on this very site in August of 2017 that this was indeed a public crossing. That act alone saved $2.3 million. So, hallelujah,” Ramage said.

Meanwhile, Etna and Shaler are partnering on plans for a Pine Creek Connector Trail, which will allow people to park at the Shaler Kiwanis Club and ride to Etna.

Categories: Local | Hampton_Shaler
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using 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.