A contractor has wrapped up the replacement of a fishing pier along the Youghiogheny River at Gergely Park, and next year, city officials intend to move ahead with reconstruction of the adjoining amphitheater.
McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko said Monday that the pier, located along the Great Allegheny Passage hiking-biking trail near the foot of Ninth Avenue, was recently completed by Lutterman Excavating of Salem Twp., Westmoreland County.
In June, city council awarded Lutterman a $173,200 contract to demolish and remove the old pier and construct the new one.
“Everything we do to enhance our fishing pier, the amphitheater, Gergely Park and the Marina at McKees Point will improve our city as a destination,” Cherepko said in an email.
“Our riverfront offers a variety of unique recreational opportunities for visitors of all ages," he said. "These assets and activities bring people into our community, and we’re proud to show them what McKeesport has to offer.”
The old pier and a neighboring amphitheater were constructed in the early 1980s. Under the auspices of the former Mon-Yough Riverfront Entertainment Committee, or MYREC, concerts were held at the pier throughout the '80s and '90s, including regional events that were included in the Mellon Jazz Festival.
But flooding and wear-and-tear damaged the old pier, which was made of wood. Ice jams in 2015 knocked several of its supports loose, city officials said.
“The former pier was in deplorable condition and it needed to be replaced,” said A.J. Tedesco, community development director.
Funding for the project came from the federal Community Development Block Grant, or CDBG, program, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Tedesco said the city is looking at the pier's replacement as "the first phase of redeveloping Gergely Park," named for former McKeesport Councilman Richard J. Gergely, who died in 1984.
Reconstruction of the amphitheater in 2018 will enable the city to host events again along the Youghiogheny River waterfront, Tedesco said.
The amphitheater reconstruction, estimated to cost about $70,000, also will be funded through the federal CDBG program, said Cherepko, who commended Tedesco for his management of the project.
Ground will be broken in the spring, the mayor said.
(CORRECTION: EDITED after publication to correct typos, clarify that a quote should be attributed to Tedesco.)
(All photos special to Tube City Almanac)
Originally published December 05, 2017.