Council Approves Volunteer Gardeners at Kittanning Riverfront Park

Mary Ann Valasek received permission last night to organize volunteer groups to maintain flower beds in Kittanning Riverfront Park. (KP 2019 File Photo)

Arts on the Allegheny Chairperson Mary Ann Valasek was in front of Kittanning Borough Council last night to discuss another matter of Kittanning Riverfront Park.

“I came to present a proposal,” Valasek began. “A group of individual volunteers would like to be responsible for maintaining areas of Riverfront Park on a year-round basis.”

Valasek envisions clubs, groups, and individuals who would choose a section of the park to groom the area during the various seasons. The designated volunteers would maintain flower beds and plantings in a specific area, similar to the Garden Club’s maintenance of the large flower gardens at the entrance of the Citizens Bridge.

“We are not talking about cutting grass – that is the responsibility of the borough workers,” she said. “How much can we expect our borough workers to do? Just picking up sticks is a monumental task.”

Valasek said she doesn’t have any intentions of incorporating, although she suggested a committee name of “Partners of the Park” (POP). This group would be under the auspices of borough council’s current parks and recreation committee currently chaired by Councilwoman Betsy Wilt.

Valasek suggested that the name of the designated caretaker(s) would be placed on a small metal sign that states the area is maintained by the specific volunteers.

While Valasek would organize the groups at no cost to the Borough, she said cost for maintenance would be minimal.

“Funds would be minimal. We would also do some private fund-raising to get money for plant material. The Borough could provide the mulch.”

While she said she hasn’t solicited for POP caretakers yet, she believes it will not be difficult to attract interested persons and groups.

“The women on North Water where I live are willing. Arts on Allegheny would do our share. The Folk Festival could take a section. This can be sustainable so when one youth group is gone, another one can follow and know it’s their project.”

Councilman David Croyle made the motion to permit Valasek to solicit for POP volunteers. The motion was seconded by Councilman Scott Davis, and it was unanimous, with council members Betsy Wilt, Kim Chiesa, and Chris Schiano being absent.

Valasek said she intends to get Wilt, Public Works Supervisor Jim Mechling, and others together in January or February to survey the Park and create designated areas.

“Our park gets thousands of visitors each year,” she added. “Many are impressed with its beauty and we want to keep it that way.”