On behalf of the Aspinwall Riverfront Park Board, I want to thank Councilman Mark Ellermyer for encouraging The Mosites Company and our Board to consider an alternative to the highly-debated Eastern Avenue access point through the park to connect pedestrians and motorists to the R47 riverfront development. We appreciate his advocating for community partnership as a priority in decision-making, and he has been passionate and unrelenting in guiding a collaborative, deliberative process among the park, city leaders and the developer.
The Park Board listened to the councilman’s concerns, which reflect the voices of Aspinwall families and small business owners who believe that an entrance at Brilliant Avenue would better connect the park and development with Aspinwall’s business district, be safer and less disruptive for traffic, and perhaps most importantly for park-goers, provide an access road that skirts the park’s edge instead of going deep into its green spaces.
We’re also excited about the possibility of a third access point to the development via a Route 28 on/off ramp near the Highland Park Bridge. This could mean better connection with our neighboring municipalities and, ultimately, minimal additional traffic through Aspinwall.
We recognize that the Park Board previously voiced support for an entrance at Eastern Avenue, and I want to explain why we are supporting both Brilliant Avenue and the exploration of a third entrance. Three key things have happened, resulting in a position that has adapted to new information and community input:
- PennDOT traffic engineers in March presented to Mosites the state’s requirements to avoid having traffic stack at the railroad tracks. When Mosites showed our design committee schematics for two entrances that met PennDOT requirements, it was clear that Brilliant Avenue’s entrance is safer and less disruptive of the park’s core property.
- We are all sensitive to the community’s concerns and, over the past six weeks, the Park Board has concluded that the Brilliant Avenue entrance is the best solution for everyone, including Aspinwall families who look forward to the day when they can bike from our park to Downtown Pittsburgh.
- Aspinwall Borough’s zoning regulations require developments to tie into the existing street grid, to connect economic development with business districts. A Brilliant Avenue entrance would help to ensure the greatest benefit for Aspinwall’s businesses. In addition, Mosites has offered the park 1.75 acres of green space and access through its property for the regional trail system.
Let me reiterate our support for this sustainable riverfront development. It’s hard to imagine that seven years ago, Aspinwall residents lived a stone’s throw away from the river but did not have access to this wonderful amenity. The property was a private marina with abandoned buildings and mostly overgrown acreage. The neighboring parcel that Mosites proposes to develop was a scrap yard.
The hard work of volunteers, community support and private donations have brought us to the point where we can proudly invite families from Aspinwall and throughout the region to share the green space, recreational areas and waterfront access we’ve created. We continue to make improvements and are eager for the warm weather season to open next month. With Mosites proposing a development that will have park-like qualities, our park will gain a safer entrance, additional riverfront property, an extension of the bike trail, and a good neighbor.