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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Diana Nelson Jones’ Walkabout: Aspinwall Riverfront Park a testament to tenacity

Aspinwall Riverfront Park Playground
Photo: Diana Nelson Jones/Post-Gazette



September 22, 2015
By Diana Nelson Jones / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

In just five years, 10 acres of land between the Allegheny River and Freeport Road in Aspinwall have gone from a concept to an extraordinary amenity for the borough. That’s an amazingly quick turnaround and can be explained in large part by an all-for-one mentality that gripped its populace when in the summer of 2010, resident Susan Crookston proposed a use other than a UPMC parking lot.

At Sunday’s grand opening of the Aspinwall Riverfront Park, I considered the power of collective enthusiasm.

The place attracted thousands who turned out on a gorgeous day to take it all in. A playground covered with mulch was crawling with kids. Blackened railroad trestles looked sculptural in the setting, like majestic ruins straddling a loop of trails. The trails do not link yet to the regional heritage trail, but Ms. Crookston said that connection is a goal.

Several stormwater retention gardens show us beautiful solutions to our sewage overflow problems. A large part of the park is a nature reserve.

Allegheny Riverfront Park Inc. is an independent 501(c)(3) that owns the park, which is meant for passive use, with dawn to dusk hours.

“Isn’t it amazing what a dream can become?” Ms. Crookston said on Sunday. “My husband heard a little boy say, ‘Look what I bought!’” The boy was referring to the birthday money he had donated to the park during the fund-raising drive. “What I love about that is how people think about what they can accomplish.”

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Diana Nelson Jones’ Walkabout: Aspinwall Riverfront Park a testament to tenacity