April 2, 2013 | Vol. 73 No. 36

OpenSpacePgh will guide South Side's plans for greenways, vacant land

OPENSPACEPGH draft plans for the South Side Slopes and Flats drew about 40 people to the South Side Market House on March 28.

“It’s a game plan to help us understand the projects we should be pursuing with city departments and non-profits and community partners,” City Planning senior planner Andrew Dash said.

Following his presentation, representatives of the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association (SSSNA), South Side Community Council, and the South Side Chamber of Commerce spoke briefly of their respective organizations’ parks, gardening, trails, and other projects.

OPENSPACEPGH is Pittsburgh’s first comprehensive guide to the optimal use of its vacant, green, and recreational spaces over the next 25 years.

It includes guidelines for parks and greenways, as well as vacant and distressed properties.

OPENSPACEPGH, a joint project of Citiparks and the Department of City Planning, assesses the city’s entire parks system – 146 parks -- and makes recommendations as to where parks should be located,

and what levels of investment are planned.

It also looks at how best to utilize the hillsides and vacant properties.

When residents were asked in interviews and through focus groups to weigh in on these issues, they cited playgrounds, picnic areas, and ballfields as the most important use of open spaces.

There was interest, but not overwhelming support, among respondents for closing facilities. There was little interest in resident-driven revenue generation.

For South Side parks, the OPENSPACEPGH recommendations include:

South Side Riverfront Park: continuing to utilize the riverfront as a place to recreate;

South Side Park: maintaining as a signature park for trails, bikes, and adventure outdoor recreation, connected to Carson St.;

Armstrong Park: redevelopment using the plan developed by the former South Side Local Development Co. as a guide;

Eleanor St. Park: improve its appearance by adding trees and pathways and removing fencing;

Monongahela Park: redevelop to a park and act as a trailhead to a future Josephine St. greenway;

Ormsby Park: find ways to connect to the river and create flexible spaces.

Budgetary constraints will be a major factor in kick-off efforts.

“We are going to try to start off with small projects, like trail improvements,” Mr. Dash said.

The next step in the process is a council hearing on April 9, followed by public meetings in May and a May/June public comment period.

Following a Planning Commission recommendation, a vote by council is targeted for June/July.

In his brief presentation, SSSNA President Brian Oswald spoke about some of the activities occurring at the 65-acre South Side Park, such as service by the Student Conservation Association (SCA).

In its spring program, 12 Hilltop youths will work Saturdays on trails, signage, clean-up and more under the supervision of trained, experienced crew leaders. Community members may join in. On Thursdays, the youngsters will attend workshops in the SCA’s downtown office.

On April 6, Carnegie Mellon University students will be removing invasive weeks, picking up trash, and working on trail building. Volunteers should gather at 9 a.m. near the entrance to the Bandi Schaum Community Garden in the park.

It is part of CMU’s “1000 plus” day of service program for the greater Pittsburgh community which, this year, is April 6.

On April 20, Earth Day, five corporations will bring volunteer employees to help remove invasive plants and clean up in the park.

The South Side Community Council’s beautification committee, Green N’at, is dedicated to beautifying the neighborhood through community artwork, landscaping, and ridding the neighborhood of litter and trash.

Green N’at focuses on long-lasting beautification projects and gardening projects as well as community clean-ups, litter management, and education.

Volunteers also serve as stewards of Western Pennsylvania Conservancy community gardens.

The second annual South Side Secret Garden Tour will be held on Sunday, Aug. 18, and feature neighborhood gardens and green spaces including perennials, annuals, vegetables, and more.

In his presentation, Jonathan Growall, of the South Side Chamber of Commerce, displayed slides of the South Side segment of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, South Side water trail, and South Side Riverfront Park.

The grand opening of the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) will be June 15 at Point State Park.

The 150-mile GAP will connect with the 184-mile C&O Canal Towpath at Cumberland, Maryland, to create a 335-mile traffic and motorized vehicle-free route between Washington, D.C., and Pittsburgh.

For the trail and its park, travelers should walk towards the river on any of these streets: S. 4th, S. 9th, S 18th, S. 26th, S. 29th or the Hot Metal Bridge.

He concluded with news the South Side Welcome Center will be opening soon at 1100 East Carson St.

Its features will include guides, maps, unique local items for sale, and other resources to welcome visitors, new residents and businesses to the neighborhood.

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