Allegheny Land Trust works to permanently protect 40 acres of green space in Bethel Park
May 28, 2019
Land conservation nonprofit Allegheny Land Trust (ALT) is working in cooperation with the municipality of Bethel Park, the local community, and other partners to acquire and permanently conserve one of the largest remaining green spaces in the South Hills by the end of 2019.
Near the intersections of Route 88, Connor Road and Valley Drive along the municipality’s northwest border with Castle Shannon, this heavily wooded 40.5-acre property offers a green reprieve from an otherwise densely-populated area. The site is crisscrossed by an informal network of walking trails frequently used and cared for by neighbors and is both a relic of the area’s industrial history and a testament to nature’s ability to recover if allowed the opportunity to do so.
Mollenaur Mine #3, once located directly across Route 88, used this site to discard dirt and rock tailings from its mining operation from the mid-1890s through the early 1940s. Since that time the site has been left dormant to recover on its own while residential developments and commercial enterprises sprung up all around.
“This project is an excellent demonstration of nature’s ability to recover - the once dominant mine tailings piles dumped there early in the last century have been almost completely reclaimed by nature,” said Tom Dougherty, ALT’s VP of external affairs. “Couple the site’s industrial past with neighbors’ current enjoyment of the site and we see an opportunity to support both the environment and the community.”
Protecting this green space would ensure that the flora and fauna reclaiming this site have permanent habitat, save steep slopes from development, absorb rainwater at the head of the flood-prone Saw Mill Run watershed, enhance property values by offering protected trails and open space, and provide opportunities for historical and environmental education.
“We recognize that green space like this is a true asset in so many ways, and we’re really excited to work with the land trust to protect it forever for current and future residents and the greater benefit of the community,” Bethel Park Municipal Council President Tim Moury said.
Bethel Park Ward 5 Councilman Don Harrison concurs. “I’m familiar with the property. There have been many different proposals for its use over the years,” he said, “but this one provides a lasting benefit to Bethel Park and I believe with make the nearby residents happy,” Mr. Harrison said.
The land is currently under contract to close by the end of the year, contingent upon ALT’s ability to raise necessary funding. Currently, ALT has outstanding grant requests along with several additional sources identified for portions of the project funding. A community campaign will be launched in the coming weeks to raise awareness and matching dollars for the project. The municipality of Bethel Park has pledged its support for the project.