Above: A profile of renderings of the field planned for Riverview Park.

When plans were proposed for a soccer field and recreation center in Riverview Park in 2003 as a part of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s city council campaign, the Northside assumed it would see the new state-of-the-art, all-weather turf facility within the following two years.

Eight years later, after delays, debates and even an official groundbreaking last October, the completion date for the field is still up in the air, though city officials say it will not be completed at the end of this year, as originally planned.

However, the Riverview Park field did hit its first major milestone in the past year this summer with the approval of its NPDES and Act 2 by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

“The construction of the field was always contingent upon the finalization, submission and approval of Pa. Department of Environmental Protection permit requirements,” said Duane Ashley, director of operations for the City. “We were not permitted to commence with any site construction, nor were we able to secure our land operations permit via resolution of the Council of the City of Pittsburgh. To this end the field will not be completed this year.”

The NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System), which ensures the safety of water discharge, was approved by the DEP on June 22 of this year, and the Act 2, which encourages and supports the reuse of contaminated land, was approved last month on August 10.

Both permits were required because of past industrial dumping the site of Riverview Field.

Even at last October’s ground breaking ceremony, fresh dirt had to be trucked in for the field’s contractor Jim Sauer of J.T. Sauer and Associates, Old Allegheny Soccer Coach Dave Wilson, Council President Darlene Harris, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Ashley to dig into because upturning the site’s soil could release harmful toxic waste.

“We are reclaiming a contaminated site for the public’s use and enjoyment,” said Ashley. “And as such, we are going through great strides to ensure that the highest standards are being enlisted towards the final remediation, so that no questions relating to the safety of this site will linger in the future.”

At this point in the project, Ashley said there is no state funding involved, so this summer’s state budgets cuts will not affect the project.

Now that the City has its NPDES and Act 2 approved, Pennsylvania DEP spokesman Kevin Sunday said that they are now waiting for the final report and cleanup plan from the City.

Following the submitted final report, clean fill will be delivered and compacted at the field’s site, because the existing soil and rock cannot be used.

According to Ashley, once the fill and compaction has been completed, the field will need a time period of 4-7 months for the soil to settle to its final level, before engineers sign off on that phase and the actual field turf and amenities can be completed, which will take another 4-6 months.

At the earliest, the field could be completed in May of next year, but the latest would be October, 2013.

The plan for the field emerged from a 2003 study that showed that the city of Pittsburgh had a deficit of 32 soccer fields and that between 1991 and 2001 soccer participation increased nationally by 39 percent.

“It’s going to be a wonderful thing for the Northside,” said Old Allegheny Soccer Coach Dave Wilson.

Since the study, the only city field completed was Oakland’s Schenley Oval in 2007.