Harrison supports nonprofit's effort for kayak launch parking lot grant

·3 min read

May 7—An effort to get state money to build a parking lot for a kayak launch on the Allegheny River in Harrison will go forward.

Township commissioners voted unanimously at a special meeting Wednesday to support the nonprofit Friends of the Riverfront, which will work with the township to apply under its name to the state Department of Community and Economic Development for a $100,000 grant.

The money would go toward building the parking lot on a now-empty lot at River Road and Sycamore Street. People would be able to park there and go across River Road to the kayak launch a short distance away at Veterans Way.

The launch was built in 2013 and is part of the Three Rivers Water Trail. Allegheny Technologies gave the lot to the township in 2017 to be used for parking for the launch and a future bike path.

Courtney Mahronich-Vita, director of trail development for Friends of the Riverfront, said they may not know until fall or next spring if the group and township are successful in getting the grant. The application is due by May 31.

The grant would require a 15% match from the township. Mahronich-Vita said her group would work to find other funding sources to cover the township's share.

The parking lot is currently estimated to cost nearly $95,000 to build. That includes about $75,000 for construction and almost $20,000 for design, engineering and permits, if needed. The cost is based on a concrete surface. An asphalt surface would cost lost.

Mahronich-Vita said the parking lot would serve as a gateway to the Natrona neighborhood. She said it would have seven or eight parking spaces, improved sidewalks, crosswalks and greenery.

During the special commissioners meeting, Mahronich-Vita also addressed concerns of residents about the Three Rivers Heritage Trail and its potential future use of Veterans Way, a narrow alley between River Road and the river that is currently a dead end.

She said plans for the trail along the Natrona riverfront are now only a concept. There are no plans to change access to Veterans Way or narrow it with a separate bike lane.

If anything, she said the road would be resurfaced for shared use, and that property now owned by Commissioner Chuck Dizard at the road's end could allow for access out to River Road.

Building the kayak parking lot may deter some vehicles from using Veterans Way, Mahronich-Vita said.

Elsewhere, work is proceeding at various stages on the trail in Etna, Aspinwall, Blawnox, Cheswick, Springdale, East Deer, Tarentum and Brackenridge, she said.

A shared-use path now under construction on Springhill Road is also part of the trail.

Before anything is done in Harrison, Mahronich-Vita said community meetings would be held to inform and get input from residents and property owners.

Tricia Ritchie, of The Building Block of Natrona, asked that some meetings be held in the Natrona community park, since some residents can't get to the township office.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, brittmeyer@triblive.com or via Twitter .