Mon Valley Alliance has big plans for Charleroi stadium site

Barbara Miller

Observer Reporter

The leader of a Mon Valley economic development group called the old Charleroi Area School District stadium “a black hole,” but it soon will be disappearing.

No, it won’t be vaporized. A.W. McNabb LLC of McKees Rocks has been awarded a $69,000 contract to demolish the stadium on Second Street so the riverfront property can be improved in several ways.

The Mon Valley Alliance is calling the project the Charleroi Renaissance and will also have a master plan drawn up that will allow the cleaned and cleared site to have a stabilized riverbank, an improved boat ramp and fishing piers, walking trails and recreation facilities.

A total of $252,000 is coming from the local share of gambling revenue from The Meadows Racetrack & Casino.

Chris Whitlatch, chief executive officer of the Mon Valley Alliance, said outside a meeting of the Washington County commissioners Thursday morning, “There was an overdose there last year. We want to decrease crime and turn it into a community asset.”

Whitlatch said the property was once part of a glass factory, so the area will be ripe for cleaning through a state Department of Environmental Protection pilot project as a brownfield-to-playing-field conversion.

The alliance also is hoping for state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources funding and taxpayer dollars from the Department of Community and Economic Development.

“This will be refined during the master-plan phase,” Whitlatch said. “This is a million-dollar project for Charleroi when it all comes in.

“The fishermen love that spot. It’s right above the locks.”

It’s likely to have some playground equipment and, Whitlatch said, “a feature attraction yet to be determined.”

Asked if he was thinking about some type of fountain, which is often called a water feature, all he would say was that it will “bring some of that glass as public art in an attractive manner.

“It is our goal to tie this into baseball fields and a river overlook, either with a trail or boardwalk, in maybe a future phase of this project,” Whitlatch said, “and, as a draw for out-of-town visitors, to connect to the business district for dining and shopping.”

There also are hopes that the project could be a business incubator.

The master plan is to be done by the end of the year, and the alliance expects to begin construction in 2019 and “pull the ribbon off of it in 2020.”

Five communities – Charleroi, North Charleroi, Speers, Twilight and Fallowfield Township – comprise the Mon Valley Alliance, which works with 40 communities in five Pennsylvania counties bordering the Monongahela River.

Even if it’s a “black hole,” components of the stadium haven’t outlived their usefulness.

“We’ve used a lot of what was there,” Whitlatch said.

Officials of Dunlevy Borough need fill for a road project, and letting the borough have the concrete waste serves two purposes, Whitlatch said: improving access to the community from Route 88 in an area where there have been many traffic accidents, and keeping the alliance from having to pay to have the concrete dumped in a landfill.

The stadium was built in the 1930s as a Works Progress Administration project, part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s public works effort to create jobs during the depths of the Great Depression.

Doors were used by the Washington County SWAT, and 500 bricks and locker doors are going to the new stadium complex on the school campus, as an addition to a new hall of fame.