New Kensington planners approve concept of new downtown playground, garden amid concerns

The New Kensington Planning Commission has approved a new playground and garden concept for the city’s downtown area, but some neighbors are concerned about it.

Westmoreland Community Action and Wesley Family Services proposed building a playground and garden on a vacant lot along 10th Avenue across 3rd Avenue.

The project is not yet fully approved as it requires further consideration by the Planning Commission making recommendations to the City Council. The Board gives final approval.

Westmoreland Community Action is leading the project. The city-owned land is behind Wesley’s Pioneer Apartments on Fourth Avenue.

The playground and garden are open to the public.

The project will be an extension of the New Kensington tax credit program funded by BNY Mellon and UPMC Health Plan, said Dan Giovannelli, vice president of community investment for Westmoreland Community Action.

“There have been so many great achievements in New Kensington over the past decade. There have been many new businesses and redevelopments along the business corridors,” said Giovannelli. “This represents a good opportunity to help generate more interest and bring that progress to some residential areas.”

When the concept was presented to the city’s planning commission, city engineer Tony Mares said some residents had problems with traffic, including pedestrian crossings and speed humps, noise, parking, lighting and the need for loitering. and raised concerns about safety.

“A lot of them are legitimate,” the man said of his concerns.

The commission acknowledged residents’ concerns, but still approved the concept. Organizations are expected to address concerns when they return to the Planning Commission for further consideration.

The man said playground and garden maintenance was an important issue that needed to be addressed. This is the condition for final approval.

“Right now, the city’s public works capacity is maxed out.” can quickly become annoying.”

Giovanelli was not present at the Planning Commission meeting and was not immediately aware of the concerns raised, but said they would be addressed.

“We want something that is well-fitted and supported by the community,” he said.

Giovanelli said the plan was to keep it owned by the public body, the city or its redevelopment authority, rather than Westmoreland Community Actions.

If the plans are finally approved, Giovannelli says he hopes to start construction in the spring.

“We are excited to support the community and various community organizations. We have been doing redevelopment projects at Nuken for six years,” he said. “It’s been a pleasure to be a part of the city’s redevelopment. It’s exciting to see how much progress has been made.”

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can reach Brian by email at or on his Twitter. .

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