"Sweet, sweet, little bit sweet"

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

The South Shore Riverfront Park is open. Yay. And tomorrow, from 6 to 8 p.m., you can join a free, public celebration. WYEP's Cindy Howes will be the host of the show, which features the music of Delicious Pastries and White Wives, snacks from Hofbrauhaus and Citiparks' Roving Art Cart.

Today, elected officials, city employees, developers, representatives from non-profits, the media, yadda yadda yadda turned out between the raindrops to herald it as the newest riverfront asset. Between 25th and 29th Street, it is a 3.2 acre piece of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail and a link to the regional trail system.millgateandron

This project, which got $10 million-plus from federal, state and local government and $2.6 million from private sources, is simple and elegant, combining an amphitheater array of seating with grassy areas along a sloping walkway that is ADA compliant. The path also connects to the trail that crosses the Hot Metal Bridge.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said that the next phase will including tie-ups for up to 15 boats and a private marina for 300 boats by this time next year.

This was a former site of the LTV Steel Co. When the site was excavated, workers found an engine gate from the Morgan Billet Mill and the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area stored it behind its pump house in Homestead.

When the new riverfront park asked for some historical description of the site, Ron Baraff, director of museum collections and archives at Rivers of Steel, said he looked at the gates and decided “they need to go home. They belong here.”

That’s Ron in the photo beside one of the gates. When found they had various layers of paint and patinas.

Now they look like a sculptural work that was commissioned for a grand garden entrance. Beside the gate is a description, which is shown in the photo at left.

millgatebioCindy Adams Dunn, deputy secretary of the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, gave a nod to “the early vision of Riverlife,” formerly known as the Riverlife Task Force. Riverlife’s executive director, Lisa Schroeder, described the time it took to go from vision to reality, finishing her talk by saying, “Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together?”

Cindy Dunn said that the Great Allegheny Passage to Washington, D.C. — of which the Three Rivers Heritage Trail is an overlay of sorts — generates $40 million a year in economic development and supports businesses such as ice cream shops in small towns and hamlets along the way.

She stopped abruptly, turned her head toward the river and said, “I hear the first yellow warbler of the year.”

The warbler follows the river on its migration, so its bright little song was an appropriate serenade.

After the ceremony, Cindy stood by the rail, her binoculars playing over the tops of trees that grow along the river bank.

We strained to see the brilliant flicker of yellow that we knew was there but we couldn’t. yellowwarblerThis is what it looks like, thanks to Wikipedia.

In our language, she said, the yellow warbler’s song sounds like: “Sweet, sweet, little bit sweet.

Considering the growing number of amenities we have along our rivers, that’s a good message.


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