Arnold officers float a pair concepts concerning financial improvement, neighborhood involvement

Arnold Council is mulling over a couple of ideas that could boost economic development and community involvement in the city.

The first is an idea by Mayor Joseph Bia that could leverage Pittsburgh Brewing Co.’s expected 2022 opening of the Iron City brewery across the Allegheny River in East Deer to benefit Arnold.

Bia said he recently met with brewery officials about their plans. He said those plans include a brewery with the capacity to brew 150,000 barrels of beer per year, a restaurant, a beer museum and a marina.

The marina is what captured Bia’s imagination.

“I think it would be a great time to focus on developing our waterfront, even putting in a water taxi,” he said.

“If we can get people going back and forth across the river, maybe we could get some business going along our river­front,” Bia said.

He added that it could boost not only a riverfront that isn’t blocked by industrial buildings, as is the case in many communities, but also could spur business development and events in Arnold’s business district. He said the spot where the city used to have a dock is only about 300 yards downstream from where the brewery’s marina will be.

Bia said he brought the matter up now because brewery officials said it will probably be about three years before their marina is developed.

That gives city officials plenty of time to work on a plan for Arnold.

No plans finalized

Todd Zwicker, general manager of Pittsburgh Brewing Co., said the brewery is interested in being a community partner, but no plans have been finalized.

“We would definitely talk to all the local communities and want to be a partner and favorable to everyone around,” he said.

Zwicker is hoping the brewery will be in operation this time next year. He said all the equipment has been ordered, and the brewery is aiming to do test brewing by the end of the month.

“Everything is progressing well,” Zwicker said.

Farmers market pitched

The other idea being kicked around by council is the establishment of a farmers market in the city.

Mary Lou Bitar of Mohawk Drive and Larry Rowe of Victoria Avenue presented that idea to council in the form of a written business plan.

They envision a market similar to others in the area, such as those in Tarentum and Lower Burrell. In addition to having local farmers come into the city to sell the fruits and vegetables they raise, Rowe and Bitar propose having other vendors selling baked goods, homemade jams and arts and crafts, as well as food trucks.

They wrote: “Our goal is to also create an environment which will bring the people of Arnold together to appreciate, enjoy and take pride in our city.”

To that end, Bitar and Rowe are seeking seven residents to volunteer their time to help launch the project next spring. They are hoping some of the churches and community organizations in the city will pitch in with their support, too.

“It’s going to be a community endeavor,” Bitar said.

According to their business plan, the tentative start would be in May. The market would continue on one day a week, yet to be determined, ending in October.

It would be held on a vacant lot at 1701 Fifth Ave.

“That location is ideal because it is near the (senior citizen) towers and it’s downtown,” Bitar said.

Council will review the business plan. Meanwhile, Bitar and Rowe said they are continuing to visit area farmers markets to look for ideas and get suggestions and feedback from the organizers and participants.

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