Now more than ever, the value of nature and outdoor public spaces is clear, and we look forward to welcoming you to enjoy Aspinwall Riverfront Park. Before you visit please be sure to abide by Pennsylvania Health Department and CDC rules, including wearing masks and social distancing.
Where is the Park located?
Aspinwall Riverfront Park is located on the Allegheny River near the Highland Park Bridge in Aspinwall. Our address is 285 River Avenue, Aspinwall PA 15215.
What are the Park’s hours?
The Park is open daily during daylight hours. Due to insurance and safety reasons, Bill’s Dock, our fishing dock, as well as Boo Boo and Tiger’s Playground, our small dog park, are also open only during daylight hours.
What amenities does the Park offer?
Aspinwall Riverfront Park is a place for all ages to enjoy all seasons. In the winter, we offer sledding and free ice skating (weather permitting) with free skates to borrow on weekends. In the other seasons, visitors can enjoy the Park’s flat quarter mile walking trail, native gardens, a fishing dock, and a most unique playground in the region – a unique play sculpture by world renowned artist Tom Otterness. During this pandemic, we are working hard to keep things clean – but surfaces, like the sculpture, our swings, benches and other equipment and doors may retain viruses. Please bring hand sanitizer, wash your hands frequently, and avoid touching your face.
In the summer, we offer kayaking through our partnership with Venture Outdoors/Kayak Pittsburgh, Saturday Sunday from 10AM to 8PM. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, you must register with them in advance. If you have your own kayak, you are welcome to launch from our Park anytime during Park hours. (Our launch is for non-motorized boats and marina customers only.)
The Park is roughly one mile upstream from the Highland Park dam, which is difficult to see and very dangerous. Kayakers are only permitted to travel away from the bridges and the City (upstream). Given that our Rivers are still used for commercial purposes, we strongly advise non-motorized boats to stay out of the middle of the River. As with other activities in the Park, kayaking is at your own risk.
On Sundays and Tuesday evenings through October, we host $10 classes from Yoga Flow (11AM). Advanced Registration is required. Most years (but unfortunately not this year) The Riverfront Theater Company offers two theater camps for Middle Schoolers and a play for High School Students.
Year round, we host a free drum circle on Sundays, and Kindermusik classes for babies and toddlers. During the school year, Fox Chapel High School Crew practices at the Park. Please check out our calendar for more details on all activities and events at the Park.
One of the goals of the Park is to be a catalyst for the trail system. We can’t wait to be able to get on our bikes and ride all the way downtown! For now, biking and walking is limited to the quarter-mile Highmark trail within our Park.
Can dogs visit the Park?
Yes! We have a small dog park, called Boo Boo and Tiger’s playground which is open during daylight hours. The maximum number of dogs permitted in this area is ten, and all dog visitors must be up to date on their shots and non-aggressive to enjoy this space. We hope to add playground equipment for dogs as we raise more funding to support the dog park.
Dogs on leashes are also allowed in the Park and should stay on paths. Dogs are not permitted to roam free, be in the pavilion or building, or in the mulched area the play sculpture. We have river otters and rare birds, including kill deer which nest on the ground, that live in the Park. Dogs are not permitted to chase them.
Our staff is very small. Many municipalities with larger staffs have found it difficult to manage dogs. Plus, because we are not a municipal park, we cannot be protected by the same type of insurance. So we need pet owners to be especially responsible. In other words, we need help managing dogs in the Park! Interested in helping our Park be a dog friendly place? Please email email@example.com to help.
How large is the Park?
The park is ten acres in total, eight from the original purchase (marina and surrounding land) and two added by the Borough of Aspinwall.
What animals have been seen?
Visitors have seen a great horned owl, river otters, beavers, raccoons, deer, garter snakes, and Canadian geese. Even a bear was spotted at the Park in 2013!
How can I help?
Volunteers are critical to the Park’s success. Help is needed with garden maintenance, fundraising and many administrative tasks. To volunteer, please email Susan Crookston at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How is the Park managed?
Aspinwall Riverfront Park is an independent nonprofit and a Pennsylvania State Certified Land Trust. The Park is unaffiliated with Aspinwall Borough. We have a very lean staff. The Park is managed by an independent, very dedicated, all volunteer board of directors. To carry out the Park’s mission the board engages Susan Crookston, the Park’s Founder and Executive Director. Carolyn Sauer is the Park’s Business Manager and Brian Sink is the Park Manager.
Are the Aspinwall Marina and the Aspinwall Riverfront Park both non-profit organizations? If they are each separate entities, who owns each?
The Aspinwall Marina and Aspinwall Riverfront Park are one organization. ARP is a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation. We are also a State certified land trust. Aspinwall Marina offers summer dockage for small boats (25 feet or less). The profits generated from the marina are used to help fund the maintenance of the Park.
Who pays for the upkeep and maintenance of the ARP physical facility and how is it funded?
Unlike the vast majority of public parks, Aspinwall Riverfront Park, Inc. pays for all upkeep and maintenance of the Park. For our 10 acre Park, just utilities and insurance alone cost us over $40,000 annually – and that’s before a single blade of grass is cut, bag of garbage is taken out, weed is pulled, plant replaced, trees inoculated and trimmed, sculpture maintained, geese poop scooped up, mulch around the sculpture replenished (bi monthly), limestone path replenished (annually). We could go on and on. These items bring the annual total to well over $100,000. Current Park maintenance is paid for through privately raised funds.
What is the relationship between the elected Aspinwall Borough Council and the elected Mayor of Aspinwall and the Aspinwall Riverfront Park?
Since its inception, ARP has been an independent self-sustaining nonprofit corporation. It’s creation, management, and finances are not part of the Borough, and there is no relationship beyond mutual good will.
In late 2010, when Susan Crookston thought of the idea to create the Park, she approached the Borough about purchasing the marina property to create a park. The Borough indicated it did not have the financial wherewithal to do so, but it was very supportive of the idea.
The property purchase was made possible by donations from individuals, corporations and foundations with residence and offices throughout western Pennsylvania. $250,000 of the $2.3 million that was raised for the purchase came from tax payer funding (a CITF grant). Aside from a $70,000 grant from the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to help transform our parking lot, a $500 donation from Fox Chapel Borough and Aspinwall Borough’s contributions (see below), no other tax payer funding has been used to create the Park.
The Borough has contributed $3,500 in total to the Park since 2011 and made available some property for use as part of the park. Aspinwall Riverfront Park, Inc. contributed $92,475 to the Borough to enable it to replace the municipal works buildings which were sorely in need of replacement, as well as contributions to help the Borough improve access to the Park. The Park also paid for the painting of the existing building which did not need replacement.
The support and effort of the Aspinwall Borough government and the citizens of Aspinwall were critical to the acquisition of the property for and developing of the park but it would be disingenuous not to acknowledge that the park is a regional asset and that in excess of 98% of the funding for the park was generated from individuals and entities siding or having offices outside of Aspinwall.
Does ARP, Inc. publish an annual financial statement and who audits the statement?
Yes. It is available on Guidestar https://www.guidestar.org/profile/45-3071366 (and please read the footnotes). We also distribute pie chart annually to our donors describing the year’s accomplishments and how money was spent. We are audited by Hess and Company.