Aspinwall Riverfront Park expands, changes name to Allegheny RiverTrail Park

Tawnya Panizzi | Wednesday, July 21, 2021 2:02 p.m. E

Aspinwall Riverfront Park, the recreational gem off Freeport Road with a fishing dock, dog park and garden-lined trail, has expanded by six acres and has changed its name, officials announced.

The site will be called Allegheny RiverTrail Park (ARP), largely because of its vital gateway service to the Three Rivers Heritage Trail and beyond.

“We wanted the name to better reflect an identity that is inclusive to everyone and welcomes a larger, regional community,” said Bill Strome, ARP board chairman.

An agreement with the Mosites Company, owners of a 47-acre tract of land that stretches from the park to Sharpsburg, will allow for the acquisition of six acres of property in Aspinwall adjacent to the park, as well as an easement that allows for the construction of a multi-use trail connecting the newly acquired property to 13th Street in Sharpsburg.

The Mosites project, called Riverfront 47, plans for a mixed-use development with 500 housing units, light manufacturing and retail.

Susan Crookston, ARP founder, was once also part of the Riverfront 47 development team but no longer is.

The Aspinwall park currently encompasses 10 acres. Leaders are also working on a proposal to purchase the vacated Brilliant Line from Allegheny Valley Railroad to create a four-mile trail from Sharpsburg to Pittsburgh’s East End.

“We are celebrating the park’s 10th anniversary in 2021 and it is so exciting to highlight this year with a new name and a new footprint,” Crookston said.

“The property expansion adds great potential for the future of this special park which is already such a huge asset to the community.”

Growing the riverfront park is a rare opportunity, organizers said, noting the scant availability of shoreline property.

“It has been 20 years since the Millvale trail opened, so we’re happy to have the chance to complete a significant link,” Strome said.

The new property will not be immediately accessible while upgrades are completed to make it usable by the public.

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 (DCNR).

“The covid-19 pandemic showed the vital importance of parks, trails and recreational water access for mental and physical well-being,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said.

“DCNR is proud to support the Allegheny RiverTrail Park, which provides so many wonderful outdoor recreation assets for the Pittsburgh community.”

Park supporters matched the state grant, including a $300,000 contribution from the Babcock Charitable Trust.

The park will continue to provide free public access to the Allegheny River, including a fishing dock, playground, dog park and garden walks.

Open from sunrise to sunset daily, the park hosts concerts and other programs regularly.

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Tawnya Panizzi is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tawnya at 724-226-7726, or via Twitter .