Pa.

News for Immediate Release

August 31, 2011

Ohiopyle Borough Park, Highway Improvements Celebrated

Ohiopyle Borough, Fayette County – Ohiopyle Borough, the portal to busy Ohiopyle State Park, today celebrated newly completed improvements that will enhance visitor safety and the quality of life for residents.

Local, state and federal officials joined in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for major improvements to Stewart on the Green Community Park. They also hailed recent enhancements to Route 381, which handles more than one million annual visitors.

“These extensive improvements make this community park the focal point of the borough, and also serve as a strong attraction to the 1.5 million visitors coming through this borough each year to reach Ohiopyle State Park,” said Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Richard J. Allan.

At least a dozen improvement projects at Stewart on the Green were completed at a cost of more than $600,000, which was shared among DCNR, Ohiopyle Borough, and a long list of corporate and private donors. The park makeover was overseen jointly by the borough, Ohiopyle State Park and the non-profit Friends of Ohiopyle.

Also dedicated today were Smart Transportation Initiative improvements to Route 381, including traffic-slowing realignments, crosswalks and bike lanes, ADA curbing, reduced speed limits, fire truck signal lights and paving. The cost was $1.8 million.

“The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation was very happy to partner with Ohiopyle Borough, Ohiopyle State Park, DCNR, the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, Friends of Ohiopyle and Laurel Highlands Region to help complete this Pennsylvania Community Transportation Initiative,” said Department of Transportation District Executive Joseph Szczur, P.E. “We look forward to working on the future visitors center and on other Laurel Highland regional projects.”

“These projects are deserved investments in a ‘good-neighbor’ policy that all parties are working to strengthen, recognizing that the borough has experienced ‘both sides’ of adjoining an extremely popular state park,” Allan said. “Ohiopyle Borough caters to park visitors, offering rafting and boating outfitters, bike rentals, lodging, camp stores, and restaurants. It bustles with visitor-related activity, but also wrestles with resultant parking and traffic woes, and over-burdened water and sewer facilities.”

In 2007, DCNR -- as part of its Conservation Landscape Initiative linking geographic areas with distinct natural resource features and lifestyles -- commissioned a study of the Laurel Highlands region that included Ohiopyle Borough and the state park.

“That study identified the borough as a key portal to the region, and recommended DCNR and the borough embrace their symbiotic relationship and build a strong partnership to ensure continued and improved sustainability of both the borough and the state park,” Allan said. “A tiny community with a very small tax base, Ohiopyle Borough is pulling together for the improvement of its residents’ lives, outdoor recreation and for the natural environment. DCNR is proud to extend a helping hand to its determined neighbor.”

Named after town father Andrew Stewart, who originally laid out Ohiopyle borough and forever deeded the property as public space, Stewart on the Green Community Park was targeted for a host of “green,” sustainable improvement projects that included: construction of picnic shelter and amphitheater; resurfacing of a basketball court; playground equipment; paving; lighting; and landscaping.

In another recent improvement, and with funding aid from the Pa. Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST), the borough moved to implement improvements for two major streets. Storm-water problems were addressed with pervious paved parking areas and innovative bio-swales, and a bike lane was added.

In addition to DCNR, PennDOT, and PENNVEST, other key partners in borough projects have included the departments of Community and Economic Development, and Environmental Protection, Pennsylvania Environmental Council, Trail Town Program, and Fayette County and its redevelopment authority.

The scope of improvements and partnering in Ohiopyle earned recent praise from the Pa. Parks and Forests Foundation. In May, PPFF honored the borough with its Local Government Award for “exemplary efforts working cooperatively with multiple partners … to preserve, protect and enhance this gateway community.”

Covering just one-half square mile and home to fewer than 100 year-round residents, the borough is surrounded by the 20,000-acre Ohiopyle State Park.

Graced with the Youghiogheny River Gorge, the state park offers some of the best white-water rafting on the East Coast; the National Natural Landmark Ferncliff Peninsula; and other celebrated recreational assets that include the Great Allegheny Passage, a 132-mile rail trail from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Md.; the  Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail; and acclaimed picnicking, swimming and fishing.

For details on Ohiopyle or any of Pennsylvania’s 117 state parks, visit www.dcnr.state.pa.us (select State Parks).

Media contact: Terry Brady, 717-772-9101

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