Extensive renovations and improvements to the fountain at Point State Park in Pittsburgh are on track and even slightly ahead of schedule after mild winter weather, reports PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Richard J. Allan.
The $9.6 million project, the fountain's first major overhaul in almost 40 years, is supported by a combination of state investments and business and private donations.
"We began work on the fountain in late 2011, and because we got a break in the severity of the weather this winter, we were able to complete demolition work necessary by January," Allan says. "Now, we are working on the rehabilitation of the fountain including all new surfaces, lighting, pumping equipment and controls as well as the disappearing edge waterfall feature and are on track to finish this project in the first half of 2013."
Also included is the rehabilitation of the adjacent wharf area surfacing as well as renovations to the pump house building and public restrooms.
The fountain was turned off in April 2009. Allan noted that barring any unpredictable factors such as weather and flooding, the project's anticipated milestones are as follows:
- July 2012: Completion of outside fountain ring and waterfall feature inside fountain pool.
- November 2012: Pipes and pumps installed.
- March 2013: Bath house and pump house renovations completed; new surface/deck installed; new lighting system in place.
- April 2013: Landscaping and other finish work completed; water returned to fountain; new equipment tested.
- Summer 2013: Dedication ceremony.
Temporary directional and informational signs placed in the park in May highlight different milestones of the renovation while guiding visitors through the final stage of the project. The signage coincides with the launch of a new website, www.PointStatePark.com, which provides updates and photos about the renovation.
Partners in the park's renovation include DCNR, Allegheny Conference on Community Development and Riverlife.
"The fountain is one of the most visible elements of Pittsburgh's skyline and riverfront, and we're excited to begin the drum roll for its return," says Riverlife President and CEO Lisa Schroeder. "The fountain is not only a symbol of Pittsburgh pride but also of the remarkable effort that has been made to protect Point State Park for future generations. That investment is visible throughout the park, and visitors are surprised daily by how lovely the renewed Point State Park looks."
SET, Inc. of Lowellville, Ohio, is the general contractor for the fountain project. Right Electric, Inc. of Butler will provide electrical construction; Wayne Crouse, Inc. of Pittsburgh will do the mechanical construction which includes the new fountain pumps and piping; and AMB, Inc. of Pittsburgh will do plumbing.
"The fountain is the final phase of the overhaul of the entire 36-acre Point State Park, much of which visitors are already able to enjoy," Allan says.
To date, improvements completed at Point State Park are:
- City-side Lawn (2007-2008) - Complete renovation of the lawn area on the city-side of the park, tracery lights, walkways, benches and landscaping.
- Woodlands (2009) - Removal of some lawn area and replacement with 7,000 native trees, shrubs and perennials; new irrigation; and new stone edging.
- Allegheny and Monongahela Wharfs (2009-2010) - Demolition and reconstruction of both wharf areas and recycling of existing materials when possible; lighting along wharf edges; boat tie ups; new promenade walkways with lighting, benches and trees adjacent to the newly installed native woodland beds; and rehabilitation of the overlook area with new lighting, benches, stonework and landscaping.
- Cafe at the Point (2010-2011) - Newly constructed permanent cafe to provide food service for park visitors; features including recycled building materials and green walls and interpretive elements telling the story of why Point State Park became a National Historic Landmark and its importance in the shaping of America.
- Fountain Electric Service (2011) - Installation of electrical components to meet new requirements from service provider and increase capacity for improvements to fountain.
The overall cost of the park renovation is $35 million.
Point State Park is situated where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers meet to form the Ohio River. During the mid-1700s, the armies of France and Britain were attracted to this area, each vying for control of the Ohio Valley.
In 1758, construction of Fort Pitt began by the British at the rivers' confluence to replace Fort Duquesne, an outpost that was abandoned by the French during the French and Indian War.
By the 1950s, the area had deteriorated into a what the DCNR describes as a commercial slum. The planning and construction of Point State Park was one of the key accomplishments of Pittsburgh's first Renaissance urban renewal initiative. The fountain was dedicated by the state on Aug. 30, 1974, marking completion of the park's construction.