On April 26, 2000, Sewickley cut the ribbon on “Riverfront Park”, a two-and-a-half acre green space along the river between Chestnut Street and Ferry Street.
In 1998, Co-Chairs Peggy Standish and Susan Gaca launched the 501(c)3 that developed the land that ultimately became Riverfront Park. They transformed a bleak, concrete slab that previously served to satisfy the parking requirements of the Car Barn shops in the village.
The space was otherwise a “no-go” zone for residents: uninviting at night; not much better during the day.
Today: a long stretch of green space from the Community Center tennis courts to the Northern border at Ferry Street, punctuated on the Chestnut Street end by a finial from the old Sewickley Bridge, and stone architectural elements from old Pittsburgh schools throughout. In between: a children’s playground; a wrought-iron gazebo modeled on classic European forebears; an elevated walkway with a “wave-design” railing. From Chadwick Street to the river: an “allee’” of Prospect Elm trees – donated by the Village Garden Club, the Garden Club of Allegheny County, and the Memorial Tree Fund.
Easy to miss, but worth a trip to Riverfront Park: an “analemmatic sundial”: stones implanted in the ground, to exact latitudinal and longitudinal specifications. A person standing on the stone marking the month of the year becomes the “gnomen” of the sundial, and their shadow tells the hour.
Across the river – for years – a graveyard of rusting barges, tugboats, and a crane. The owner of this ghost fleet went bust, so the remnants remained until their value as scrap metal finally- in 2006 – made their removal worthwhile.
And not least: two docks: the Chestnut Street Boat Launch, and the Walnut Street Landing.
The docks were designed to comply with the safety and recreation goals of Allegheny County’s regional planning. The Chestnut Street Launch is unusual, perhaps unique, because there are no required fees or permits to “put in” a boat or recreational vehicle.
These docks are a valued borough asset.
Borough Manager Kevin Flannery signed an agreement with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission to remove and store these docks each winter. Yet, as of this writing, the Chestnut Street dock was not removed, and went down river, snagged between the buoys and the dam. Not for the first time!
For years, Peggy Standish asked Mr. Flannery to remove and store the docks during the winter. To no avail.
Perhaps the new Borough Council and our new Borough Manager can do better.