(Above: Crews renovate a pavilion at Renziehausen Park this summer. Photo courtesy Tom Maglicco, City of McKeesport.)
Allegheny County's 25th Regional Asset District budget includes $908,000 for capital improvements and operating expenses at McKeesport's Renziehausen Park --- an increase of $111,000 over last year.
Also included in the budget, approved Thursday, is $8,600 for the McKeesport Little Theater and $6.89 million for the Allegheny County Library Association, which provides support to the Carnegie Library of McKeesport, Braddock Carnegie Library and other member organizations.
The Regional Asset District is funded largely by Allegheny County's 1 percent sales tax, created in 1993. The first RAD budget provided just $53 million to 46 organizations.
In 2019, RAD will disperse $108.6 million to support 104 different non-profit groups and organizations. It's the first time the RAD budget has ever topped $100 million, according to a spokeswoman.
"This is positive testimony to both the growth in the region's economy and our region's commitment to invest in our many valued assets," said Dan Griffin, an O'Hara Twp. businessman who chairs the RAD board, in a prepared statement.
"We look forward to spending time in our 25th year reflecting on the vital role (that) regional assets play in our area, and the growth that has taken place with the public investment since RAD's inception," he said.
In addition to an estimated $101.5 million that RAD board members expect the sales tax to generate in 2019, another $500,000 in RAD funding is expected to be generated by investments, along with $6.6 million from a reserve fund.
For Renziehausen Park, RAD support will grow from $717,037 in operating funds and $80,000 for capital investments in 2018, to $738,548 in operating funds and $170,000 for capital improvements in 2019.
The park, which now stands at 205 acres, has received support from RAD since its inception.
McKeesport officials said City Administrator Tom Maglicco and Recreation Director Jim Brown asked for an increase in RAD funds so that the city could add a new pavilion and parking area between Jacob Woll Pavilion and the McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center.
New swings and a toddler play-lot also will be created in the park's central playground.
Every application to the RAD board is evaluated on its own merits, Griffin said, using a wide range of criteria, “including governance, finances, diversity, accessibility, programming and impact on the community in Allegheny County.”
McKeesport Mayor Mike Cherepko said his administration is “wholeheartedly committed” to keeping Renzie updated and maintained as a regional asset for the entire area surrounding the city.
“The capital funding allows us to make improvements to the facilities that make our park so special,” he said. “This year’s capital allotment is unprecedented, and we couldn’t be more appreciative.”
The new pavilion to be built in 2019 comes on the heels of renovations to four existing pavilions in 2018 at a cost of nearly $185,000.
Cherepko said the annual improvements are designed to ensure that Renzie’s grounds remain “the recreational hub, not only of the City of McKeesport, but of the entire Mon Valley.”
Without the Allegheny Regional Asset District, Maglicco said, McKeesport would not be able to maintain Renziehausen Park at its current level.
“We do recognize the importance of our regional park, and we support it in every way we can,” he said.
Besides the Allegheny County libraries and Renzie Park, other major recipients of RAD funding in 2019 will include Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh ($22 million); Allegheny County's regional park system, including Round Hill and White Oak parks ($21.6 million); City of Pittsburgh parks ($6 million); the Pittsburgh Zoo ($4 million); and the Port Authority of Allegheny County ($3 million).
Another $13.4 million is allocated to pay off debt incurred in the construction of Heinz Field, PNC Park and the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.
There are seven members on the RAD board, with four appointed by the Allegheny County Executive, two appointed by the Mayor of Pittsburgh, and one elected at large by the other board members. A complete list of groups funded by RAD, as well as the names of board members, is posted on the group's website at radworkshere.org.
Jason Togyer is the editor of Tube City Almanac and the volunteer executive director of Tube City Community Media Inc. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published November 29, 2018.