State could take over refurbished Point State Park
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The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will assume growing responsibility for a refurbished Point State Park in coming years, eventually taking over all maintenance and security from the city.
Legislation to be introduced in city council today would authorize a renegotiation of the 1984 agreement under which the city has performed many of those services and billed the state.
In the 2009-10 fiscal year, the state paid the city about $600,000 for work at the state-owned park, Chris Novak, spokeswoman for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, said.
She said the transition to increased state responsibility began in 2010-11. Last year, the city controller's office said, the state paid the city about $403,000 for park-related services.
At most state parks, Ms. Novak said, the department already handles maintenance and security itself.
"It's a positive thing," Joanna Doven, spokeswoman for Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, said of the transition. "It will allow us to free up many of our employees to do other work."
Riverlife, a nonprofit group that has worked on the park overhaul, called the change "a recalibration of maintenance procedures and practices that corresponds with the renovation improvements."
The transition comes near the end of a park overhaul costing about $35 million in state money and about $8 million in private investment.
Work at the 36-acre park began about five years ago, and Ms. Novak said only a couple of items -- improvements to the iconic fountain and a project connecting the Great Allegheny Passage to the park -- remain. Improvements to the fountain, shut off in April 2009, will be completed in early summer 2013; no date for the trail connector has been set.
The state now has a park manager, ranger and maintenance supervisor stationed at the park full time. Ms. Novak said additional employees, including a second ranger, will be added during warmer weather.
The city still has seven laborers stationed at the park. Each will work there until retirement, so the transition will take at least a few years to complete, Ms. Doven said.
First Published February 14, 2012 12:00 am