Fall Run Park in Shaler re-opens with $1 million in renovations
Fall Run Park in Shaler has reopened with $1 million spent on the replacement of wooden stairs and 12 pedestrian bridges, trail improvements, stream restoration and erosion control.
From July 24, 2017 through Jan. 25, Butler County-based Gregori Construction Inc. worked on the project to repair damage sustained during September 2015 rainstorms. The inclement weather had made two of the park’s bridges impassable while damaging six others, according to township Manager Tim Rogers. Gateway Engineers, with Green Tree, Butler and Celil offices, assisted with the project.
Township engineer Matt Sebastian said the project’s environmental component, such as erosion control, accounted for approximately $200,000 of the spending.
The township received a $260,000 grant for the renovations from the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County through the Gaming Economic Development Fund in 2016 and $300,000 from the fund in 2017.
“Rep. Dom Costa and I worked together to secure this much-needed funding. Fall Run Park is home to the largest waterfall near Pittsburgh, and I look forward to seeing the park repaired so visitors can once again enjoy this great attraction,” said state Rep. Hal English in a statement regarding the $300,000 grant’s acquisition.
The 94-acre park features a mile-long nature trail from Fall Run Road leading to a waterfall. Visitors may climb the newly installed stairs and hold a hand rail for stability during their journey up the slope to a new viewing platform overlooking the waterfall and its approximately 30-foot drop, Sebastian said.
Sebastian and Rogers are confident the new infrastructure will have a greater chance at withstanding the elements. Rogers mentioned in September 2017 that the contractors replaced bridges “mounted on wood in the creek base” with structures cast to bedrock foundations. “This is much more permanent,” he said.
Similarly, Sebastian recently said the contractors replaced the bridges at the “100-year flood” level, or the stream level that would occur during a flood with a 1-percent statistical likelihood of occurring in any given year. Stream restoration items also were implemented to prevent storm damage and the loss of stream banks and bridge embankments, he said.
During a November 2017 meeting, Rogers said that people viewing photos of the park construction on the township’s Facebook page commented that the updates “diluted some of the pre-existing natural confines.”
Rogers noted that officials want to protect the park’s bridges and preserve its streams.
Furthermore, Sebastian said that the photos posted online only highlighted the areas that involved construction, whereas other portions of the park remain untouched.
“And, the overall environmental features of the park take some time to implement, and within a growing season or two, those items will look a lot more natural.”
Fall Run Park was Pennsylvania Game Commission land until 1966, according to a township document outlining the park’s history. Since Judge D.M. Miller — park signage bears his name — had donated the land to the state in 1940, the township couldn’t directly purchase the park from the state. Therefore, the Kiwanis Club of Glenshaw traded 72 acres in Greene County with the Game Commission in exchange for Fall Run Park. Thereafter, the Kiwanis Club sold Fall Run to the township.
While the park is now open, the official grand reopening celebration is slated for May 6.
“We definitely want to be able to show the park as a place where families can enjoy the outdoors in a suburban environment, and people can come from neighboring municipalities,” Sebastian said. “There’s some athletic fields at the south entrance. Historically people have come to walk through the park, and we want it to stay that way.”
Erica Cebzanov is a Tribune-Review contributor.