Community Profile: Aspinwall Borough
Situated along the Allegheny River, the Borough of Aspinwall is a residential community on the northeast border of the City of Pittsburgh, just over the Highland Park Bridge. Despite its smaller size of roughly 0.5 square miles, the community boasts three parks within the borough limits and vibrant local and commercial businesses on its main streets.
One of Aspinwall’s most notable assets is its 11-acre Riverfront Community Park, equipped with biking and walking trails, gardens, a wetland area, playground, and an amphitheater with a stage. Even more impressive is the process of extraordinary community engagement that made the park a reality and such an incredible success. Aspinwall Councilman and entrepreneur Tim McLaughlin commented that the Park, which is established as an independent nonprofit that works closely with the borough, “is the feather in our cap.”
Indeed, nearly 3,000 community members and volunteers were involved in making the dream of turning the old, dilapidated site of the former Aspinwall Marina into a community resource. A NEXTPittsburgh article highlighted the project’s building process that brought volunteers from across Aspinwall’s borders, most of whom lived in Sharpsburg, Fox Chapel, and O’Hara together to volunteer, advocate, and raise $2.2 million through corporate, public, and civic partnerships.
Councilman McLaughlin, who also sits on the Park board of directors, added that “it has always been our purpose and hope to give the community something they did not have before, like river access. This park serves as another connector in the riverfront trail to the City.” Some gaps exist along this trail, but McLaughlin hopes that, “one day, someone could hop on their bike in Aspinwall and bike straight to the city.”
Another initiative that hopes to beautify the community, while also serving to address runoff stormwater is the proposal of a unique demonstration project that would satisfy EPA’s Consent Order. Aspinwall Borough has creatively designed a project that would not only propose better solutions to water runoff and drainage, but it would also beautify and connect Brilliant and Commercial avenues, the two business districts within Aspinwall that remain unconnected except through Alley A. The alley is already used by businesses and residents, but Aspinwall Borough Manager Melissa Lang explains, “the project would make it a cleaner, functional connector to both business districts. Our hope is that over time, the businesses along the alley will join in the clean up in order to make it a location usable for community events.”