Left: Allegheny Public Square is currently 65 percent concrete. After the rennovation, it will be 70 percent grass.(Photo/Kelsey Shea)
After a year of planning, construction will begin on Allegheny Public Square this month, as a part of The Children’s Museum’s Charm Bracelet Project.
At a meeting at The Children’s Museum July 28, just three days before construction began on Allegheny Public Square, museum administrators, contractors and community members met to discuss plans and construction.
“I believe many of you have been looking at that sunken plaza for the past decade, and I believe it’s taken a turn for the worse,” said Chris Siefert, deputy director of The Children’s Museum, who presented the new plans for the park and moderated the community meeting.
Siefert said the newly designed park will include bio swells, meadow grass, tables and chairs, benches and an art installation by Ned Kahn called “Cloud Arbor,” which will be a series of 32-foot-tall poles that will create a cloud 9 feet above the ground.
The park’s new design will revert back to a simple, updated “X-pattern,” similar to its original design in the 1890s.
The finished park will have around 70 trees and be 70 percent grass, where now it has 20 trees and is about 65 percent concrete.
“I think this will be a wonderful addition to our neighborhood, as well a a regional draw,” said Allegheny West resident Dennis McAndrew, who was one of the many community members excited about the plans for the park.
However, some residents expressed concern over maintenance, security and construction.
Siefert noted that Allegheny Public Square was a City-run park, and that the City maintains it.
At the word “maintain,” the some people in the crowd laughed and scoffed.
Residents complained of Allegheny Public Square’s crime and litter, specifically a bag of rotten potatoes that had a particularly extended residency in the concrete park.
Siefert said that the Children’s Museum and the City agreed on a shared maintenance contract, and that the park would have landscapers for the first year.
Additionally, part of the park’s 6 million dollar estimated project cost, will include a maintenance fund to keep the new park clean and safe.
Though no deals have been made, Siefert said The Children’s Museum “opened conversations” with Allegheny Center about extending the building’s 24-hour security to the park as well.
The Museum said that they have 5 million dollars, with a conditional 1 million dollars, raised towards the 6 million dollar goal to build the park. They are still taking donations and offering dedication benches and trees to donors.
In order to turn the current sunken concrete park into a level and green park, contractors estimate 4-5 weeks of demolition before clearing the debris and filling in the concave space with soil.
Residents of Allegheny Center expressed concern about the noise and dust, and the disruption it would cause in the neighborhood.
The Project Manager from P.J. Dick Contracting Inc., Noah Shaltes, said that they would use water to limit dust and debris and would work 7 a.m.-3:30 p.m. to limit the daily noise disturbance.
“That’s our commitment to you,” said Shaltes. “We’re going to try to do our job as quickly as possible so we can get out of there.”
Shaltes said construction would start August 1 and hoped that the project would be finished by May of 2012.