A 6-acre expansion of Allegheny RiverTrail Park in Aspinwall is officially underway with the park’s multi-use trail to be extended 1.5 miles to 13th Street in Sharpsburg with dreams of a connection to a trail in Millvale.
“It really is tremendous, ” said ARP Executive Director Dee Stathis. “There’s not many places that you can actually be along the river in Pittsburgh in this way. It really is an impressive piece of land.
“The mission of the organization is really trail access and connecting communities, and preserving the waterfront property and being able to connect to the river in ways people haven’t.”
The Aspinwall park currently encompasses 10 acres, including a fishing dock, a dog park and a garden-lined trail. Officials broke ground June 16 on the park and trail expansions, with shovels in the dirt that morning at what was dubbed “The Front Yard.” A celebration with live music, games, drinks and treats took place in the evening.
The estimated $8 million project includes hillside slides, a recreational lawn, a riverside deck, a wildlife viewing platform, food truck parking and other improvements.
The goal is to have most, if not all, of the work done by the end of September.
“It’s been a long road, but it’s been really great to get the support of this community and basically all the Pittsburgh region behind us to try and turn what was once a scrap yard into great community park space,” Board Member and Treasurer Rich DeFelice said.
“It’s been amazing because we’re bringing more and more people from outside of the community all together in one place and bringing all walks of life. We have small families, kids, seniors. Every time I’m here I meet new people and it’s really be quite a treasure to have that space.”
Buffalo Township-based Holbein is the contractor for phase one of the project, largely land preparation for further construction. Phase two, which includes paving and concrete work, was yet to be awarded as of presstime.
Expansion of the recreational site, formerly known as Aspinwall Riverfront Park, was first announced in July 2021 along with the park’s name change.
Officials at the time said the new name reflected a more inclusive identity and was selected largely because of the park’s gateway service to the Three Rivers Heritage Trail and beyond.
The additional park land is part of an agreement with Mosites Company, owner of a 47-acre tract that stretches from the park to Sharpsburg.
”It’s going to change the footprint, to extend further down the Allegheny (River) toward the other municipalities and be a gateway to the region,” park Board Member Trish Klatt said. She also commended Mosities founder Steven Mosities.
“(He’s) a phenomenal guy and really loves the park,” she said. “He has really been partnering with us and still has a lot of acreage. … He had a lot of very specific wants and wanted to make sure that we were being a good neighbor and we wanted the same thing. We’re excited to have more people to use the park.”
Funding for the landmark purchase came from a $1 million grant to ARP from the Colcom Foundation and a $750,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Tim McLaughlin, former board member and current Aspinwall council president, said the park organization has come a long way since acquiring the site’s marina in 2011. The park hosts more than 400 programs yearly including concerts. It is open daily from dawn till dusk.
“To be able to turn it into this as a true hub and destination, not only for Aspinwall but the entire region, is amazing,” he said. “It’s everything that we could envision (in the beginning). Adding the expansion of it will allow even more usage of it and not be as condensed.”
The park also received $300,000 to construct a pedestrian walkway and wildlife viewing platforms, as well as stream bank stabilization and other stormwater management measures.
Those funds were among more than $805,000 awarded from the state’s Keystone Fund through the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources that was announced in September.
By Michael DiVittorio