Monongahela's Aquatorium: Entertaining ideas for a bright future

Valley Independent
23 March 2012
By Chris Buckley

Claudia Williams sees the potential that the new and improved Noble J. Dick Aquatorium -- located along the Monongahela River - can have on the city.

Williams, a Monongahela city councilwoman, has big plans for the popular riverside site.

Williams said she has been approached by a business owner who wants to plan events at the Aquatorium and Williams believes it could host an event every weekend during the summer, beginning as early as 2013.

"I can see the potential of what that can do for the community," Williams said. "Imagine 2,000 to 2,500 people in the city for a concert every weekend.

"The first thing they're going to say is 'Hey, where can we get something to eat? Or hey, where can we shop?' "

"We're already working on that for next summer."

To get things rolling, local singer Danielle Barbe has offered to perform in concert this Fourth of July.

This year, though, the greatest activity at the Aquatorium will be ongoing construction.

The project received grants of $407,000 in 2009 and $250,000 in 2011 from the Local Share Account, funded by proceeds from gaming at The Meadows Racetrack and Casino in North Strabane.

Grants of $127,000 from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources grant and $138,000 from the federal Boating Infrastructure also funded the project.

According to Williams, roughly $550,000 has been spent to date on the project.

Construction this year will include improvements to the boat dock as well as construction of a skate park. Restrooms and concession stands are also planned.

Next year, crews plan to make improvements to the parking lot areas, make the site handicap accessible and upgrade the stage area with new lighting and a sound stage.

The plans are to turn it into a destination point

"We hope to make that facility useable for as long as the weather holds out each year," Williams said. "If we utilize that right, it will bring other businesses into town."

Williams said she has already had contact with operators of a small-scale restaurant and a Hotel chain about the potential for locating in the city. She noted there is property located along the river, next to the Aquatorium.

"Imagine a hotel there and a riverside restaurant," Williams said. "We can't be small minded. We're 20 minutes from The Meadows -- and we have a river,"

Chris Buckley can be reached at or 724-684-2642.