Riverfront 47, Sharpsburg inch closer to deal on popular marina

The back patio at Silky's Crows Nest and Marina, looking out at the boat docks on the Allegheny River, as seen in this file photo from Jan. 31, 2018.

Thanks to an agreement between Sharpsburg Borough Council and the owner of Riverfront 47, the former Silky’s Marina will remain open to its boat slip renters.

Many of those attending a Feb. 28 council meeting waited more than an hour after the meeting ended and went into executive session to find out whether they would have to leave the marina they love because of accessibility issues. 

Steven Mosites Jr., president of the Mosites Co, which is developing the 47-acre riverfront property that runs through Aspinwall, O’Hara and Sharpsburg, was optimistic that a solution will be worked out.

“Well, I think we’ve got a deal,” Mr. Mosites said at the conclusion of the meeting.

Since then, attorneys for both entities have been working on the details of an agreement. Mosites officials have offered to pay $500 a month to the borough for access to the marina, but nothing is official.

“The devil’s in the details,” Mr. Mosites said. “It’s our only access point, we’ve got to make it right,”

During the meeting, Mr. Mosites and Dan Friday, project manager for Mosites, said the access point is Shoreline Road, which intersects with 19th Street in Sharpsburg. The reason it was a sticking point between the borough and Riverfront 47 is because Sharpsburg owns the now-closed restaurant building and the land connecting the two properties. It is next to the public works department.

“We would not be able to operate the marina without an access agreement,” Mr. Friday said.

The monthly lease would be the least of the cost for keeping the marina open to boaters. The road would be the first place of development along the shoreline this year, with construction of the rest of the Riverfront 47 property to begin in 2020. Mosites officials said it will cost from $30,000 to $50,000 in to improve the access road and parking, even if access is granted. 

“We feel we’re doing a community service by keeping it open,’’ Mr. Mosites said. “The long-term benefits will far outweigh the costs. Sharpsburg has been good to work with and we look forward to a long relationship.”

A new restroom also will be constructed for boaters using the marina.

The Lampenfeld brothers, David and Tim, longtime owners and operators of the Silky’s Crows Nest restaurant and marina, sold their 5-acre marina property to Riverfront 47 for $1 million in December 2018. They closed the business this fall after several decades of operation.

Some of the 175 dock lease holders spoke to council and explained how the marina is like their second home. Tim Walker of Penn Hills said he and others who use the marina also patronize restaurants and stores in Sharpsburg.

“It is an amenity to the community,” he said. “We want to stay there. We may have a hard time finding somewhere else.”

The marina is desirable because Six Mile Island serves as a buffer to wakes created by other boats running up and down the Allegheny and from barge traffic. Boaters, some of whom live aboard their boats during the summer months, say they can relax on board without being jostled by the wakes by passing watercraft, as often happens at other marinas on the Allegheny.

And over the years, the boaters have become a close community.

“It’s like a family there,” said Randy Harper, a Monroeville resident who has docked at the marina for six years. “Everyone watches out for each other. It’s like a little community.”

Rita Michel, freelance writer, suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.