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Etna to host open house for riverfront plans

| Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015, 4:39 p.m.

Plans will soon be released for the Etna Riverfront Park and Trail along the Allegheny River.

Borough officials are hosting an open house from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 22 at Fugh Hall, 23 Crescent St., to show people the design for the proposed park and trail.

Mary Ellen Ramage, Etna borough manager, said the former industrial site will become a quiet place to relax for residents and visitors alike. Environmental Planning and Design,, based in downtown Pittsburgh, created the design.

The park will have benches, overlook areas, a small amphitheater and a water feature, she said.

The Three Rivers Heritage Trail, which covers 24 miles on both banks of Pittsburgh's three rivers, also will run through the park and connect it to the trail in Millvale.

Etna had a community meeting in January to get residents' input on the design for the park.

More than anything, Ramage said, people wanted a tranquil area to sit and reflect on the river and its scenery.

“The area has a fantastic view,” she said. “That's probably the outstanding feature of the area.

“It has a fabulous view. Right where the river bends a little bit, you can see into town, and you can see up river toward Aspinwall. (Residents) wanted a lot of focus to be on that.”

Friends of the Riverfront, the group that maintains Three Rivers Heritage Trail, purchased the former cement-plant property along the river several years ago to extend the trail from Millvale and develop a park in Etna. As part of the purchase, Etna officials agreed to take over ownership of the site and develop the park and trail.

“This is what people are demanding,” said Thomas Baxter, executive director of Friends of the Riverfront. “They want to reconnect to their riverfront … That's why Etna is one of a great number of communities who are really looking to the future.”

The proposed park site also includes a parcel owned by Etna that houses water wells, which now are managed by the Hampton Shaler Water Authority, Ramage said.

The Allegheny River Town Enterprise Zone secured $250,000 in funding from the state Multimodal Transportation Fund to help Etna develop the park.

In order to secure more grants and funding, Ramage said, officials wanted to have a design in place to answer questions about engineering and environmental issues with the brownfield site.

“It puts you in a better position with funders to have addressed all these issues,” she said.

Rachel Farkas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or

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