Park users in Aspinwall and O’Hara will benefit from a round of state grants aimed at green space upgrades.
Sites in both communities will see significant benefits thanks to grants from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources announced Sept. 7.
O’Hara Township will receive $62,500 for development of the township’s Community Park hiking trail off Fox Chapel Road.
There, money will be used to rehab .04-miles of trail, bridge and stream bank. It also will be used to improve access for the disabled, landscaping and signs.
“The trail was built years ago by the Boy Scouts and has fallen into disrepair,” township Engineer Chuck Steinert said.
“This grant will allow the township to reconstruct the steps that climb the hill to improve safety.”
The project targets the section of trail that starts at the bridge over Sycamore Run and winds up to Rockingham Road.
There is also a gabion basket wall below the lower portion of the trail that has collapsed and needs replaced, Steinert said.
Allegheny RiverTrail Park will receive $300,000 for land acquisition to expand the site off Freeport Road in Aspinwall.
“We’re just thrilled about this grant,” said park Founder Susan Crookston.
“The funding will be used take land that was an afterthought, a scrapyard for more than 50 years, and make it in to a regional gem — our community’s very own front yard with its gorgeous views of the river.”
The park draws people from across the region for its free, public access to the Allegheny River, a fishing dock, playground, dog park and garden-lined walking trail. Open from sunrise to sunset daily, the park hosts concerts and more than 400 yearly programs.
The park is expanding by two acres. The newest parcel includes an easement to allow construction of a multi-use trail to link to 13th Street in Sharpsburg.
It also includes a key portion of land that abuts the Brilliant Line, a vacated four-mile rail line from Sharpsburg across the Allegheny River to Pittsburgh’s East End that is being eyed for public recreation.
The trail corridor and land still have a number of safety hazards and is not yet permanently open to the public.
“DCNR’s investment in the ecology of our riverfront is an investment that will pay dividends for generations – not only for our local communities but for the habitat for native plants and animals that is so needed,” Crookston said.
The DCNR grant is only for the land acquisition, not the trail easement. It is part of a state round of funding that totaled $805,600 and was made available through the state’s Keystone Fund.
Sen. Lindsey Williams, D-West View, whose district includes Aspinwall, said, “We can conserve the environment and improve our quality of life by investing in our shared parks and green spaces.
“This funding goes directly into community assets that people care deeply about.”