County unveils plan for sports complex

Foundation donates 78-acre parcel in West suburbs


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Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato unveiled a plan yesterday to build a sports complex on about 78 acres, including a nearly mile-long extension of the Montour Trail from Route 51 to the Coraopolis Bridge.

The county-owned complex would sit on a parcel known as Montour Junction, in Coraopolis, Moon and Robinson. The property was once owned by the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad.

It was donated to the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County by the Sports Legacy Foundation, which has owned the land for about six years.

"This is an incredible opportunity to transform a vacant brownfield into a world-class recreational facility," Mr. Onorato said. The project is estimated to cost $10 million to $15 million, and will be funded through public-private collaborations.

The plan, still in its initial stage, will see the county Parks Department transform the brownfield into an athletic complex with about 10 multipurpose fields including rugby, soccer and lacrosse pitches.

Mr. Onorato, who laid out a full-scale renovation of the parks system in his County Parks Action Plan last fall, started holding town hall forums in each of the county's nine parks in January.

He created a parks foundation last year to secure funding for the action plan, and the county committed $10 million in the 2008 capital budget to match private sector money the foundation board may raise.

"We don't have the money to build these fields yet, but we are going to go out and raise it. I know there is foundation money out there for projects like this," Mr. Onorato said, adding that he has not yet established a timetable for the project.

The Montour Junction land, which has been under environmental cleanup for a few years, is currently zoned for industrial nonresidential purposes and must be rezoned residential.

That process will cost the county about $70,000, including a master plan for the project currently being drawn up by design firm Burt Hill, said Dennis Davin, director of the county's Department of Economic Development.

Although the Sports Legacy Foundation has already spent about $600,000 in environmental cleanup, the property must undergo additional remediation, Mr. Davin said, to meet state standards for a playground.

Afterward, the land will be transferred to the county Parks Department.


Karamagi Rujumba can be reached at krujumba@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1719.


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