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Effort to build trails, add waterway access seeks support from towns on Allegheny River

Tawnya Panizzi
| Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015, 7:24 p.m.

The co-founder of Friends of the Riverfront is seeking support from local governments to provide residents even more access to the local waterways.

John Stephen encouraged Blawnox Council last week to support the Allegheny Blueway Coalition, a group of local municipalities working together to make the Allegheny River shorefront accessible.

“It's just a sign that we are agreeing to work collaboratively to build trails and improve resources,” said Stephen, an Aspinwall resident who in 1991 helped found Friends of the Riverfront, a group that works to provide public access to the river by improving the 240-mile Three Rivers Heritage Trail.

Penn Hills, Verona, Oakmont and Plum already have pledged their support to the Blueway Coalition.

Stephen plans to visit O'Hara to suggest collaboration for its riverfront area from the edge of Blawnox to the Hulton Bridge in Harmar.

Blawnox Mayor Anthony Gross appeared to favor the plan.

“I think the borough is in synch with the broad goals of the coalition,” he said.

Manager Jack Nolan said council received a copy of the resolution last week and will take time to review it.

“We would like to receive funding to pursue a comprehensive plan, which would demonstrate our vision of how land should be used in Blawnox and the Allegheny Valley,” Nolan said.

Stephen said there already is much cooperation among the communities of the Allegheny River Towns Enterprise Zone, or ARTEZ. There currently are plans to study the possibility of a bike trail through Blawnox. There also is ongoing work to connect the Millvale Riverfront Park with the newly-opened Aspinwall Riverfront Park.

“We think that being part of a larger vision will make way for grants and services from groups that are interested in communities working together,” Stephen said.

“We should all consider the river a common park space and we think both sides can work together to improve our resources.”

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or at tpanizzi@tribweb.com.

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