Upcoming park amenities refined in community process
The second in a series of community feedback meetings involving a $1.5 million redesign of McKinley Park took place last Thursday in the McKinley Activities Center at 900 Delmont Avenue in Beltzhoover. The focus was on new amenities and stormwater management strategies.
A new round of park concepts that incorporate public input from the first community feedback meeting were presented by Tim Duggan, founder of the Kansas City-based architecture firm Phronesis. The first meeting occurred on January 25.
“This is what we heard,” Mr. Duggan said. “Is this what you meant? Tonight is the night to say here is what we’re hearing, here is the evolution of this design.”
The new concepts offered several amenities including improved park access, redesigned hiking trails, a new plaza and public gathering space, baseball fields, basketball courts, and picnic tables.
The proposed design would transform Michigan Street into an overlook and create a new plaza that would serve as a park entrance and gathering space in the area above the retaining wall at the point where Haberman Avenue meets with the park.
New pedestrian-friendly intersections that lead into the park would be constructed at both Michigan Street and Delmont Avenue as well as Michigan Street and Eldora Place.
Some infrastructure and land near the park’s center is sensitive and needs to be repaired or replaced. The new design addresses this by placing a large open green space surrounded by a network of revitalized hiking trails near the park’s center. Different shelter designs are also being considered.
In addition to the amenities, new stormwater management strategies are also part of the design and would serve as the first step in a series of actions to help relieve the stormwater runoff that impacts the hillside and area along Saw Mill Run Boulevard.
Water flowing into the park from the Michigan Street and Delmont Avenue intersection would be captured by a series of descending waterbeds before being channeled into a stream that would run down the center of the park during heavy rainfall.
Water entering the park from Michigan Street and Eldora Place would also descend along Michigan Street but would ultimately be captured and stored in new underground cisterns along the northern end of the park.
Mr. Duggan said the public requested that park amenities not be placed too close to the streets. They also stressed the importance of separating stormwater runoff from areas where kids play, and while the addition of boulders, rocks, and terraces would be positive, it’s important to make sure they are stable and safe.
Last Thursday’s meeting copied the January meeting’s format as members of Phronesis and the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy staffed four “work stations” and collected feedback about each project component.
Residents were encouraged to visit each station and place a green sticker on the image of any park amenities that they approve, while leaving undesired amenities unmarked. The results will be presented at the third and final community meeting which is expected to take place in a few months.
“That’s how we prioritize and know we’re heading in the right direction,” Mr. Duggan said.
The first station provided an overview of the entire park redesign and the stormwater management strategies. The second focused on the Michigan Street design. The third centered on the proposed Haberman plaza, while the fourth station had mock-ups of the new park amenities and trails.
“There are no bad ideas tonight,” Mr. Duggan said. “We want the good, the bad, and the ugly in terms of ideas so this evolution can continue to work together.”
According to Susan Rademacher, parks curator at Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, investors expect the project to be mostly completed by the end of the year. As a result, the team will be looking to break ground in August to ensure a December completion.
“We’re in the design process for a project that will be mostly finished by the end of 2017,” Ms. Rademacher said. “So this is a real project. It’s really happening and we are chugging forward.”
More clarity around a development timeline as well as a finalized design will be presented at the next community meeting. While a date has not yet been set, Ms. Rademacher expects it will take place at some point during the summer.
Ms. Rademacher said she expects there will be a groundbreaking ceremony in the fall and a dedication ceremony when the park officially opens in the spring of 2018.
For more information about the McKinley Park redesign, residents can contact the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy by visiting http://www.pittsburghparks.org/contact-us.