Photo by Richard Rutter
The Neville Island riverfront where a dock, canoe and kayak launch will go for the proposed Riverfront Park.
By Elizabeth Perry
Neville Island’s long-sought Riverfront Park is closer to becoming a reality.
The township has recently been awarded three grants totaling $1 million to begin construction on the project.
Richard Rutter, president of the board of commissioners, said the idea for the project came about 20 years ago after residents were surveyed about what they'd like to see in the area.
"We live on an island and there's no public access to the river," Rutter said.
Riverfront Park will be located on Grand Avenue behind the Speedway. Roughly 13 acres are dedicated to the project, with between nine to 10 of those being in the river.
There are plans to remediate the site along the Ohio River back channel. A concrete boat ramp with a dock, gravel drive, and parking area are planned for the site. There are also plans to populate the park with native plants, trees and shrubs, according to State Rep. Anita Kulik’s office.
“We're planning on tying it in with the bike trail that goes along Grand Avenue and Neville Road, so you can bike to the park," Rutter said.
He estimated the project would be completed in 2024. A concept plan for the space should be forthcoming in the next month or so. Surveys are being done now, and the township is in negotiations now with the railroad to afford better access to the park, Rutter said.
On May 26 the township was awarded a $250,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. In September, the township was granted $220,000 in state funding from the Commonwealth Financing Authority, and $500,000 in funding from the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County.
“I would like to thank (County Executive) Rich Fitzgerald along with Senator (Wayne) Fontana and Representative Kulik for their help and advice and also my fellow Neville Township board members,” Rutter said.
Rutter has been involved in the project a long time; he worked for the nonprofit which conducted the survey two decades ago gauging interest in such a park. Since he began on the board 17 years ago, Rutter has had the idea for a park along the river in mind.
“We had (the) property donated to us 10 years ago, it was held by a nonprofit,” Rutter said.
About five years ago plans for the park fell apart under the old board. The new board has made the project a priority, Rutter said.
There are three parks in Neville Township, two of which have playground equipment and bathrooms.
“This park would be a wonderful addition to Neville Township that provides a dedicated space for boaters to access the Ohio River,” Kulik said via press release. “This project will build on efforts to enhance the area and bring more recreational opportunities to the island.”