Work on the restoration of the northeast portion of Allegheny Commons Park began about two weeks ago and should be completed by July, according to the Allegheny Commons Initiative.

This leg of the project covers the park along Cedar Avenue from East Ohio to Tripoli streets and will cost around $800,000, said Alida Baker, project director.

Currently, the park is fenced off while NRG Energy, which donated labor, tears up the old asphalt paths to make way for new ones. The paths will still be asphalt. The central promenade will be flanked on both sides by stone dust like the path in the section of park below East Ohio Street.

The diagonal paths, somewhat unique to Allegheny Commons Park, will also be restored. People’s natural inclination is to cut diagonally across an area rather than walk in square angles, and those paths formalize that desire, hence their name: desire paths.

Some paths on the western side of the main promenade currently lead nowhere, and those will be removed.

“Once upon a time each path connected to a neighborhood street, but those streets aren’t there anymore,” Baker said.

Workers will also replace lights and trash receptacles; add benches and up lighting on the entrance sign near East Ohio Street and Cedar Avenue; and install electricity for events like the farmers market and Pumpkinfest.

The farmers market, which beings mid-May, will relocate along North Avenue during the restorations.  

This fall, 27 new trees will be planted in that section of the park. Most trees need to be planted in spring or fall, and since ACI couldn’t plant the trees this spring because of the restorations under way, they must wait.

Some trees are additions, but others will replace unhealthy or old trees that had to be retired, Baker said.

ACI is currently fundraising for the project’s next leg, which will restore the park along North Avenue from Cedar to Federal Street. Until May 31, the Colcom Foundation will match every dollar donated up to $100,000. For more information on donating, visit www.alleghenycommons.org.

“We really need the community to show their support in this way,” Baker said. So far, ACI has received $28,000 in donations under the matching grant.

The section of park along North Avenue will get the same treatment as that along Cedar. A replica fountain of the one that used to sit at the corner of Cedar and North avenues will be installed, replacing the flower bed that currently occupies the space.

Baker said work on that stretch will begin once ACI secures enough funding.