Greensboro’s Handicap Accessible Kayak And Canoe Launch Now Open

Washington PA Observer-Reporter
13 August 2015
By Bob Niedbala, Staff Writer

GREENSBORO – Kayak and canoe enthusiasts, including those with physical disabilities, will now have an access point to the waters of the Monongahela River in Greensboro.

A handicap-accessible kayak and canoe launch, which was in the works for several years, is ready and will be officially dedicated at a ceremony later this month.

“It’s finished,” Greensboro Council President Mary Shine said Thursday morning while showing off the new launch, which was constructed on property behind the old Greensboro Fire Hall.

“The signs are up, the pavement is painted and everything is back in place. We’re happy with it,” she said.

The only finishing touch, Shine said, is the placement of river rock along the sides of the pavement for landscaping purposes only.

The launch is important to the community, which has been working for years to revitalize itself by attracting tourists, emphasizing the borough’s history of pottery making as well as the recreational opportunities offered by the river.

But access to the river for canoeist and kayakers was something that was always lacking, Shine said. The new launch, which will help solve that problem, is also one of the few that can provide access to people with disabilities.

“From what I’ve heard, there are only two in the state,” Shine said, adding the other one is in Pittsburgh.

The launch employs an EZ Launch system that allows canoers and kayakers to get situated in their watercraft before gliding easily into the river.

The launch took about two years to build and was delayed after initial bids came in higher than expected and as paperwork was completed for a right-of-way. The launch cost about $125,000 and was funded with a matching grant from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Donations also were received from Greensboro Borough, Greene County, Greene County Hospital Foundation and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. K-2 Engineering also donated its services.

The launch will be dedicated during a ceremony at 1 p.m. Aug. 22, in memory of Tracy Stack, a DCNR environmental planner who assisted the borough with the development of its walking trail and the launch. Stack, who worked with DCNR for 15 years at its Pittsburgh regional office, died in a car crash in January 2014  “She was in Greensboro quite a lot, and she was so excited about the use of the EZ docking system, “Shine said.

Shine also gave credit in the development of the project to Darlene Urban Garrett, the borough’s former Elm Street manager. Garrett, who left the borough last August when Elm Street funding expired, had, among other things, prepared the application for the grant that was used to help fund the project, Shine said.

The borough has done much in the last few years to reinvent itself, focusing on its history of pottery making. The blue-gray stoneware produced in Greensboro during the 19th century has become highly valued examples of Western Pennsylvania art. In response, the launch will be called Potters’ Landing, a name chosen in a contest among borough residents that reflects that history.

Adjacent to the new launch, the borough also has constructed a one-and-a-quarter mile-long walking trail and a 90-foot gazebo, which overlooks the river.
The borough has also worked to transform itself into an artists’ community as a way to foster economic development. Each year, the borough holds its Art Blast on the Mon that features art demonstrations, activities and shows.