Eggleston Wants to See Gravel Lot Near River, Parking Garage Turned into Entertainment Green Spacce

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The parking garage on Clark Street Photo by Andy Close.

WARREN, Pa. – The gravel lot in front of the parking garage and across Clark Street from Bent Run Brewery and Allegheny Outfitters should be converted into an entertainment green space, Warren County Commissioner Jeff Eggleston told Your Daily Local following the commissioners’ work session Monday, Jan. 9.

“We need to look at it from a holistic standpoint,” Eggleston said when asked about the City of Warren’s Riverfront Development project. “They have events there now with almost no parking, no dedicated stage, and no place for people to sit really. It’s all in the gravel lot. The space across from Bent Run, in my opinion, should be converted into like a green space with a stage in there or some kind of performance element and electrical stuff built in so you can have bands, eateries and other things staged there.”

Eggleston’s vision is part of a broader view of the Riverfront Development project, which gets portrayed a lot as a boat launch and, more recently, a boat launch and a bicycle pump track.

He believes a cultural element would not only enhance the project but also lead to more Federal and State funding for the project.

“I don’t think that the cultural element has been mined enough in the site overall,” Eggleston said. “You have a boat launch and a parking lot, basically, which trying to get that funded is next to impossible because, not so much the boat launch per se, but anybody’s going to look at it and say, the municipality has to come up with the money for that.”

The City of Warren along with the county has already committed over $3 million towards the project in addition to $1.5 million from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

That includes a $1.5 million equal match to a Commonwealth grant and another $500,000 committed by the City in addition to $750,000 committed by the county.

City Council approved funding in October that would allow the city to acquire the concrete pad on Liberty St. as well as the parcel along the river behind the HIY Inc. building which are both parts of the Riverfront Project.

Eggleston considers the cultural element, specifically music, the arts, and the senior center to be of vital importance to the overall concept of the project.

“The concept of focusing on music is important,” Eggleston said. “Secondarily is the art element of it. They really need to start engaging some of the cultural organizations in the area and saying what we put down here that is an alternative option for art events.

“The third thing is the senior center. I get the idea of wanting to focus on young people. You have a brewery already. What else can you do to incorporate senior services in that space? Again, if you do that (senior activities), a whole other round of funding becomes available. The only way you’re going to get a $10-12 million project down there is by having a patchwork quilt of projects down there. Again, that’s just my perspective.”

Eggleston views the development as a big opportunity for the city, but only if done correctly.

“The idea is to turn that space into a spark,” Eggleston said. “Fortunately Piper (VanOrd of Allegheny Outfitters) and Phil (Caudill of Bent Run Brewing) (came together) and turned that space into a place for people to go, which is a thing that in some ways could save the city.”