South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

Emerald View Park grows a little bit more


November 30, 2010

Pittsburgh's newest regional park, Emerald View Park, has gained 11 acres with the transferring of land along Greenleaf Street from the Allegheny Land Trust (ALT) to the City of Pittsburgh.

The land transfer puts the park's 19-mile trail system near completion. Fourteen additional acres must be acquired to ultimately connect the trails to 280 acres of neighborhood parklets and wooded hillsides with scenic downtown views.

The newly acquired land includes a gravel parking lot and trailhead, improved by the Department of Public Works in cooperation with ALT and the Mount Washington Community Development Corp. (MWCDC). The trailhead leads to a dense urban woodland habitat, and to trails with scenic views of the West End and Saw Mill Run valleys.

The city and ALT have signed a legal agreement by which the city has agreed to permanently protect the property's green space. Funding for the land transfer was provided by the Colcom Foundation. Since acquiring the parcel in 2008, the ALT and the MWCDC have been working together to monitor and care for the 11-acre property through cleanups and hiking tours.

"People are just blown away with such a wilderness experience in the midst of the city," said Ilyssa Manspeizer, the MWCDC's director of park development and conservation who has led the hikes. "When you're on the trails in your hiking boots, you are eye-to-eye with lawyers on the 30th floor in their business suits. It's an experience that I don't think you could have anywhere else!"

In April of 2007, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl officially designated Emerald View Park as Pittsburgh's fifth regional park, and the only one in the city's southern neighborhoods. The city and the MWCDC joined together to co-manage the park and partner with non-profit foundations and organizations for funding, expertise and resources.

The now 243-acre park, formerly named the Grand View Scenic Byway Park, skirts the scenic roads of East Sycamore, Grandview and McArdle in Mt. Washington, Bailey Avenue in Allentown, and Greenleaf in Duquesne Heights.

The ALT is currently working to protect and acquire an additional 14 acres to then transfer to the city. To date, a total of $197,000 of the total project cost of $224,000 has been raised from state, foundations and community member sources.

Funders encourage a community share as evidence of broad community support for the initiative. As a result, there is a community goal of $22,400, or 10 per cent of the total project cost. The Mount Washington community has raised $15,780 towards this goal, leaving about $7,000 outstanding. There are pending grants with local foundations for the remaining $20,000 needed to make the total funding goal.

"It is inspiring to see the city and community step up and support this rare opportunity to protect an urban woodland so close to a major downtown area," said Roy Kraynyk, ALT executive director.


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