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Riverfront 47 open Saturday for walking tour

Tribune-Review
| Friday, November 16, 2018 1:21 p.m
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Riverfront 47 developers are seeking public input on the park and trail design.

Riverfront 47 developers last week opened the site in Aspinwall and Sharpsburg for a public walking tour to seek input on future construction.

The design team, Balmori Associates, discussed five specific topics: ecology, connectivity, community, water and topography.

The group exchanged ideas as it walked a portion of the site, which stretches along the Allegheny River.

“We are in awe of the forward thinking of Riverfront 47’s new approach to city-making — one that starts with landscape, trees, wildflowers and paths,” said Javier Gonzalez-Campana, a Balmori principal.

Final plans are expected to be completed in April.

The New York-based firm was chosen after a national search to lead the Riverfront 47 park, trail and open space planning project. Balmori will provide landscape and urban design, public realm and sustainability services during the six-month process that officials said will result in enhanced connections between people and the waterfront.

Civil and environmental engineering firm Sherwood Design Engineers also is part of the process, as are transportation specialists Mobility in Chain and economic strategists 4ward Planning.

Balmori’s past designs include the Grand Connection in Bellevue, Wash., and Beale Street Landing in Memphis, Tenn.

“We want our work to create a different relationship between humans and the rest of nature,” company founder Diana Balmori said.

Riverfront 47 selected Balmori with input of a team of advisors that included Davitt Woodwell, president of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council; Darla Cravotta, manager of special projects for Allegheny County; Trish Klatt, Aspinwall Riverfront Park board president; Tim McLaughlin, Aspinwall council president; Brittany Reno Sharpsburg council president; Julie Jakubec, O’Hara manager; and Susan Rademacher, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy curator.

Earlier this year, Riverfront 47 was awarded a $250,000 planning grant from the state Department of Community and Economic Development. The R47 development team is putting $50,000 toward the design cost.

The park and trails at the property, which spans a mile and a half through sections of Aspinwall, O’Hara and Sharpsburg, will nearly abut the planned Etna Riverfront Park section of the Three Rivers Heritage trail.

“The site is complex and faces most of the issues that riverfronts in Pittsburgh do, including sewer overflow problems,” said Susan Crookston, who is spearheading park and trail design.

“But it’s also exceptional in that it’s a complete watershed and the natural edge of the site is still intact.”

Tawnya Panizzi is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tawnya at 412-782-2121, ext. 2, tpanizzi@tribweb.com or via Twitter @tawnyatrib.

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