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Kayak rentals coming to Aspinwall Riverfront Park

Tawnya Panizzi
| Tuesday, May 24, 2016, 2:42 p.m.
Erin Christoforetti (left) and Tiffany Buchanan stand along the white pier at the Aspinwall Riverfront park. Both girls are chairs for the upcoming event 'The River Rocks' helping to raise funds for the riverfront projects.
Jan Pakler | For the Tribune Review
Erin Christoforetti (left) and Tiffany Buchanan stand along the white pier at the Aspinwall Riverfront park. Both girls are chairs for the upcoming event 'The River Rocks' helping to raise funds for the riverfront projects.
Eva Owings (left) and best friend, Ava Snyder, run along the boardwalk at the Aspinwall Riverfront. Activities this summer include free art classes and a Stage Right Theater camp.
Jan Pakler | For the Tribune-Review
Eva Owings (left) and best friend, Ava Snyder, run along the boardwalk at the Aspinwall Riverfront. Activities this summer include free art classes and a Stage Right Theater camp.
Docks along the Aspinwall Riverfront Park will soon be filled with boats and kayaks for the June 25, 2016, Venture Outdoors festival celebrating the first week of summer.
Jan Pakler | For the Tribune Review
Docks along the Aspinwall Riverfront Park will soon be filled with boats and kayaks for the June 25, 2016, Venture Outdoors festival celebrating the first week of summer.

The shoreline at Aspinwall Riverfront Park, flush with green banks, bird activity and wildlife, soon will be available for kayakers to enjoy the view.

“We've long wanted to offer the public the chance to enjoy our beautiful river,” said Aspinwall resident Susan Crookston, who five years ago spearheaded the $2.3 million purchase of the Aspinwall Riverfront Park.

“Being on the water should be something every Pittsburgher can experience as a birthright.”

Crookston on Monday announced a partnership with Friends of the Riverfront and Venture Outdoors to offer kayaking.

The group will staff kayak rentals from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

“Offering kayak rentals at this location will provide residents within walking distance of the park the option to enjoy on-the-water recreation without the need to drive to the North Shore,” said Joey-Linn Ulrich, executive director of Venture Outdoors. “It also offers unique views and a different skyline from the downtown paddles.”

Ulrich said the riverfront along Freeport Road in Aspinwall provides a unique view of the Chapel Harbor at the Water residential community before reaching the Fox Chapel Marina.

The park's proximity to Sycamore Island, three miles upstream near Blawnox, provides paddlers with a new way to see the city, Ulrich said.

It is the third Pittsburgh-area location for Venture Outdoors.

Aspinwall Riverfront Park will kick off kayaking with a festival June 25 at the park, to coincide with the first week of summer.

Dock fishing will open to the public the same weekend.

Access will be locked at 8 p.m. nightly.

Park board members agreed to pay $50,000 to cover fencing, signs and the kick ramp.

Venture Outdoors charges $16 an hour for solo kayak rentals; tandems cost $21.50 an hour. Member discounted rates will be honored and bike rentals are not currently planned for this location.

Anyone who owns a kayak can access the ramp for free.

Crookston said exercise, art and theater classes will round out the new summer programs.

Stage Right, the theater company based in O'Hara, will offer a junior theater camp June 27-July 1. Director Bill Ivins said the camp will include a combination of improvisation games, a short play, or scenes from a collection of plays.

“Campers will get to play and perform in a lot of cool places in the park, along trails and in the playground,” he said.

Park board member Trish Klatt said she looks forward to seeing people of all ages enjoy the park in a new way.

“And finally having access to our beautiful waterfront,” she said.

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

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