IUP Receives $220,000 Grant to Create Confluence Park Plan

Posted on 12/5/2017 4:39:24 PM

A recent grant received by the Allegheny Arboretum at Indiana University of Pennsylvania has started the process of creating a 33-acre multi-use park.

The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development awarded the Allegheny Arboretum at IUP $220,000 to start the work of creating a conceptual master plan for Confluence Park. The grant will allow the process of turning land that had been some parts wetland, other parts industrial use, into a multi-use park to complement the Allegheny Arboretum at IUP. The grant proposal was developed by university, Research Institute, and Allegheny Arboretum representatives.

The Allegheny Arboretum at IUP, begun in 2000, includes the entire 354-acre IUP campus and is a living museum devoted to the study, conservation, and enjoyment of trees, shrubs, and vines. The Confluence Park project is part of the long-range plan of the Allegheny Arboretum at IUP. The Allegheny Arboretum at IUP has received national recognition as a “most beautiful college arboretum” by “Best College Reviews” and is accredited by ArbNet in the Morton Register of Arboreta.

“IUP is justifiably proud of the Allegheny Arboretum and we continue to appreciate the incredible work of the volunteer board, including board president Jerry Pickering,” IUP President Michael Driscoll said.

“This grant allows us to continue development of the Allegheny Arboretum and to strengthen our ongoing commitment to active and progressive stewardship of our home community. I want to thank our local legislators—Senator Don White and Representative David Reed—for their support of this project and for helping to secure this grant funding.

“This project, with its educational component, also offers new opportunities to provide hands-on learning opportunities in a number of our academic programs, especially our new environmental engineering degree,” Driscoll said.

Site of future confluence park from the groundThe parcel of land proposed for Confluence Park runs southeast of the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex, between Wayne Avenue and the railroad tracks that run on the west side of campus.

Plans for the park call for walking trails that would connect with the existing Hoodlebug Trail; a building for classroom learning; an outdoor laboratory; and other features to both educate and provide a space for exercise and recreation. The project will be administered by the IUP Administration and Finance Division (Engineering and Construction Group).

Two IUP students, Guadalupe Ortiz Cortez and Michael Heesh, interns at the Indiana County Office of Planning and Development, were part of the team that developed the proposal.

“This is a transformational change in our community and university,” IUP biology professor emeritus Pickering said. “What a change it will be from what it was. We’re rejuvenating an industrial space into a multifunctional green space. This area is a gateway to our Indiana community,” he said.

Pickering said the educational aspect of Confluence Park will be especially beneficial, and not just to IUP students.

“Classes from the surrounding elementary and high schools will be able to use the park to learn about biology, geology, geography, ecology, and many other topics. The arboretum looks at itself as an opportunity to incorporate educational opportunities, and to serve as a sort of outdoor laboratory on campus.”

Site of future confluence park from the airAnother key aspect is that the park will be an example of both stream reclamation and stormwater management. The land is the site of the convergence of three watersheds—the Stoney, Marsh, and White runs —where over the years flooding has been an issue. Reconfiguring the watersheds could help to alleviate some of the strain on the nearby land when strong storms hit the area, Pickering said.

According to the grant proposal, Confluence Park can “provide beauty, habitat, learning opportunities, and artful stormwater management. Its trails, paths, boardwalks, pavilions, and visitor center will support education and exploration as well as respite for those who visit the Indiana region.”