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Council seeks more info about Oakmont kayak park

Michael DiVittorio
| Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, 4:03 p.m.

Oakmont Council has sent plans for a kayak park in the borough back to the drawing board.

Jeffrey McCauley hoped council would grant approval of the park's designs this month so his Pittsburgh-based nonprofit could move into the engineering phase for the access point to the Three Rivers Water Trail.

What the Friends of the Riverfront director of stewardship received instead were questions about public input on the project, space between its parking lot and launch site, and why it's necessary to cut into a wall built to prevent erosion.

“I can't imagine exposing that wall and not having erosion issues,” Councilman Tim Favo said at a Monday council meeting.

Council Vice President William Benusa suggested creating a shortcut so people wouldn't have to haul their kayaks 500 feet from a parking area to the river.

McCauley noted the borough's planning commission recommended the project for approval last year, and nearby property owners were contacted.

Pittsburgh architectural firm Environmental Planning and Design is designing the park that would be at a 1.53-acre lot owned by the borough along the 1000 block of Allegheny Avenue, near the Brenntag Northeast facility.

The park would serve as a launching point for kayaks, canoes, paddle boats and other non-motorized watercraft into the Allegheny River. Water features in the area include Sycamore Island in Blawnox and state park islands north of Oakmont.

Councilman George Coulter said the kayak park will be a good thing for the borough.

“I like the plan you put together,” Coulter told McCauley.

After more discussion, council invited McCauley to present updated plans for public review at a 7 p.m. workshop Feb. 6 at the borough building.

“I think it's great council's willing to work with me,” McCauley said after the meeting. “We will certainly work diligently and take a long look at the design.”

EPD officials were not at the council meeting, which is something Tom Bland, Oakmont parks and recreation chairman, said he hopes to correct for the workshop presentation.

“I think they're valid,” Bland said about council's questions. “I think there needs to be better clarification of the plan.”

The Water Trail has 23 access points for nonmotorized boats on the Allegheny, Monongahela, Ohio and Youghiogheny rivers. All the access points are public, free and require no registration or launch permit.

Friends of the Riverfront received a $40,000 from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for the Oakmont project.

Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2367 or mdivittorio@tribweb.com.

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