Aspinwall Council moves to shift money toward Riverfront 47

| Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017, 11:51 p.m.

Updated 22 hours ago

Before a crowd of 200 residents, Aspinwall Council voted 4-3 on Wednesday night to support a shift in state grant money earmarked to upgrade the Brilliant Avenue entrance to the community park.

Instead, the $940,000 might now be used to reconstruct Eastern Avenue at Freeport Road into a shared access route to the park and a commercial development called Riverfront 47.

That didn’t sit well with the majority of the audience, who were decked out in fluorescent yellow T-shirts and held handmade signs that read “Aspinwall Strong.”

“While we are deeply disappointed that council would take such divisive action in the face of major community opposition, we remain undeterred from our mission to stand up to fight for our families, neighbors and homes,” said Jan Beumer. Beumer is a member of the Priority Aspinwall group that is campaigning against the Eastern Avenue project.

“The financial interests of developers seeking the marketing benefits of an Aspinwall address should never be allowed to take precedence over the safety and quality of life of our community’s taxpaying citizens.”

Council members Tim McLaughlin, Jen Evashavik, Mark Ellermeyer and Trip Oliver voted for the change.

Members Ann Pawlikowski, Joe Noro and Ann Marsico voted against that.

Riverfront 47 is a partnership of The Mosites Company and Fox Chapel residents Susan and Currie Crookston. It’s a 1.5-mile stretch of property that runs through Aspinwall, O’Hara and Sharpsburg.

Developers plan housing, light industry and shopping along the Allegheny River.

They would have to meet a list of conditions before council would vote to seek reallocation of the grants, Oliver said.

Among them are restricting construction vehicles from borough-owned roads if construction is approved. They also would have to pay for traffic studies.

Mark Minnerly of Mosites told the audience he recognized its concern over additional traffic and that his company hopes to be good partners with the community.

“Traffic conditions along Freeport Road are a problem and we hope you’ll allow us to explore ways to make it better,” he said.

Resident Ted Sheerer said if council had no intention of someday approving the Eastern Avenue redesign, they wouldn’t be considering the controversial resolution.

“There are no amount of tax dollars worth turning Freeport Road into something akin to McKnight Road,” he said.

The full resolution is available on the borough website at aspinwallpa.com.

Tawnya Panizzi is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-782-2121, option 2 or tpanizzi@tribweb.com.

http://triblive.com/local/foxchapel/11903044-74/aspinwall-council-avenue