MWCDC receives $400K grant for Emerald View Park work
The Mount Washington Community Development Corporation has received a grant of $400,000 from the Richard King Mellon Foundation to support woodland restoration and trail construction in Emerald View Park (EVP).
The two-year grant enables the MWCDC to continue work on the Master Trail Plan and more aggressively implement recommendations from its multi-year Master Implementation Plan for restoration and improvements in the Park.
The grant will help the MWCDC to begin larger invasive plant management strategies and conduct native plant restorations that will increase the ecological health of the habitat as well as the park’s aesthetic and user experience.
It will also allow the organization to manage 3.5 acres of already restored view corridor, complete the restoration of two additional acres of the view corridor, create four additional miles of trail and improve six acres of core forest in Emerald View Park.
Emerald View Park is an urban park surrounding the neighborhoods of Duquesne Heights, Mount Washington and Allentown. The park was born out of a grassroots effort to combine preexisting park space with formerly mined and denuded hillsides to protect and improve the quality of Mount Washington’s park land.
The MWCDC shares the park’s co-management with the City of Pittsburgh.
In 2005, following a grassroots effort from within the community, Pittsburgh City Council unanimously voted to create Emerald View Park (formerly Grand View Scenic Byway Park), an expansive 257-acre greenspace that joined together historic park spaces including Grandview, Olympia and Mount Washington (Dilworth) with the Saddle, Duquesne Heights Greenway and other green spaces.
Since 2005, huge strides have been made in restoring the forested habitat, maintaining the spectacular views, clearing dumpsites, building trails and honoring the park’s land use history. The park boasts a growing trail system offering 10 miles of trails featuring loops ranging from one to four miles.
Ultimately the trail system will include a nine-mile main loop and almost 11 miles of secondary trails that connect to all nearby regional trails and neighborhoods.
In 2007, Emerald View Park was designated as a Regional Asset District Park and MWCDC obtained a formal Cooperation Agreement with the city to serve as a steward. Their work in EVP is guided by the Emerald View Park Master Implementation Plan, Master Trail Plan and the MWCDC Strategic Plan.
Since the park’s inception, the MWCDC has advocated for and secured more than $5.2 million in investments for the park.
Over the past decade, the MWCDC has added 31 acres to the park footprint; planted 5,500 native trees; sowed 2,750 pounds of native grass seed; and sustainably restored 5.5 acres of invaluable view corridors, saving the City of Pittsburgh more than $175,000 per year. They have added two art installations; upgraded park lighting; hosted dozens of community events; removed 280,000 pounds of garbage; constructed or renovated more than eight miles of trails; and facilitated more than 10,000 hours of volunteer Park stewardship and 4,000 hours of youth employment.
Through the Emerald Trail Corps program they have trained, employed and provided job placement assistance to 40 adults with barriers to securing employment.
In addition to regular trail maintenance and improvements in 2015, the MWCDC will also finish the new trail connection between Sweetbriar and Republic Street, while building several small secondary trails throughout the park. They will also continue to train and hire at-risk adults through the Emerald Trail Corps program and help them to obtain long-term sustainable employment.
The MWCDC will be working on the Emerald View Park Sign Implementation Plan, determining where signage should be placed in the park; the Emerald View Park Trail Naming Process; and the Olympia Park Shelter House Visioning Process, facilitating a community conversation about the future of the closed building at Olympia Park, also known as the Paul Manion Recreation Center, or historically known as the Olympia Shelter House.