Allegheny River Development Corporation President Linda Hemmes came to Kittanning Borough Council last night to solicit support for a major river event next July.
“We are going to open the locks from June 30 through July 8,” she announced. “That will be the longest uninterrupted opening of the locks in many years. We are going to ask every municipality along the river to participate with a celebration of some sort that involves the river.”
Hemmes said that with the Fourth of July falling on Wednesday, it seemed like the perfect time to stage a 9-day event.
This past summer’s fundraiser, “Rockin’ for Lockin'”, netted almost $14,000 toward ARDC’s $200,000 budget to keep the locks open on the Allegheny River. Hemmes said ARDC pays $93.50 per hour per lock to have staff to operate the locks so boaters can go from Pittsburgh to East Brady. She said that based on the success of this year’s event, ARDC plans to hold it again at Kittanning Riverfront Park in 2018.
Hemmes said that although Ford City does not have river access except at the Rosston Eddy’s Marina, she hoped that SummerFest could be part of the destination during the river event.
ARDC has been valuable to many events held in Kittanning.
“ARDC does more for Kittanning Borough than other municipality anywhere on the river. We really push Kittanning. We open for Arts on the Allegheny. We’ve worked with Hose Company #1 for their events. We don’t do that for anyone else. The last two summers we have opened one night for three hours so that people in Pool 8 could go to East Brady for RiverFest. But this year we are going to change that. We are going to work very hard for our ‘Celebrate the Allegheny’ to really make this an outstanding river that has a lot of interest, a lot of participation. This is the only thing that I see that this county, and particularly Kittanning Borough, has to work with. This is really important stuff. I encourage you to participate.”
Hemmes said that approximately 70 boats came from Pittsburgh and surrounding communities to the 2017 event. She said they were astonished by the riverfront.
“Everyone was so impressed with the facilities and how easy it was to come in and out, to get docked, the friendliness of the people in town.”
Kittanning Borough donated only $500 in 2017 to ARDC. Additional funding will be considered when Council convenes to create the 2018 budget next month.