Plans for South Park Fairgrounds to be Aired Wednesday
By Matthew Santoni
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Allegheny County officials will show off plans for upgrading the South Park Fairgrounds and surrounding areas Wednesday, after months of meetings and public input on what to do with the aging site of the defunct county fair.
Three plans center around improving pedestrian connections to the 80-acre site; aggressive maintenance of buildings; “greening” the grounds with vegetation and less pavement; returning nearby Catfish Run to a more natural state; and remaking the field and track next to the fairground buildings, said Jeaneen Zappa, county sustainability manager.
Each plan will tackle those goals with differing degrees of intensity, but none of the changes is intended to be drastic.
“There are things we can do more readily than others without making enormous changes,” Zappa said. “It’s not as though somebody took a drawing of the site on a chalkboard and erased it completely.”
Catfish Run, which flows through a pipe beneath the fairgrounds and a culvert between the track and an access road, could be restored to natural banks with vegetation. The Nature Center, located in the middle of “an island of asphalt,” could be moved to a fairground building closer to the stream and the head of several park trails, Zappa said.
Vehicular traffic through and around the site could be rearranged so that it is less redundant and confusing, she said.
Though county officials don’t have specific plans for the fairground buildings, many people who spoke during a public hearing in September want the county to rent more buildings to community groups.
“The best thing would be to remodel the buildings on top of the hill,” said Joseph Hedderman, chief instructor at Allegheny County Budo-Kai, a martial arts school that has occupied one of the buildings since the 1980s. “All of these little buildings could be signed over to groups and remodeled like ours.”
During the past two months, teams from Homestead-based GAI Consultants gathered ideas from people about what they’d like the county to do with the fairgrounds and parts of the surrounding park. Online surveys are available at alleghenycounty.us/parks/SPFairgrounds.
The meeting will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Buffalo Inn, off Buffalo Drive near the intersection of Brownsville Road and Corrigan Drive.