Mayor Peduto signs bill to create Hays Woods Park
Last updated 11/18/2021 at 8:50pm
Mayor William Peduto has signed a bill to officially create the Hays Woods Park.
"Hays Woods is a gem in the middle of the city," said Mayor William Peduto. "My administration acquiring this land will ensure that generations of Pittsburghers are given the opportunity to enjoy the incredible wilderness it provides. It represents the capstone of some 30-years advocating for the protection of our environment and investing and expanding in our urban greenspaces and parks. The addition of Hays Woods Park not only protects our urban canopy, but it helps the city in its efforts to reach its Climate Action goals."
Hays Woods was originally a series of farms and coal mines that was previously privately owned. Throughout the past few decades, private entities have proposed developments, which Mayor Peduto vocally opposed as development of the natural land required severe deforestation and deconstruction of natural hills and ravines. As city councilman, Mayor Peduto voted against efforts to mountaintop the site and build a racetrack and casino. As Mayor, he opposed efforts to allow horizontal fracking at the site and negotiated the acquisition of the land.
After years of environmental leadership and perseverance, Mayor Peduto worked to secure the property for public recreational use alongside Councilman Corey O'Connor and community groups. In 2016, the Urban Redevelopment Authority purchased the land for $5 million.
While the land has a history of industrial use, the over 600 acres of Hays Woods has been naturally conserved and provides a sense of wilderness in an otherwise urban area. Despite the environmental degradation typical of old mined lands, it features areas of substantial tree canopy, significant flora and fauna, and even a pair of nesting bald eagles.
A public parkland acquisition of this magnitude has not occurred in Pittsburgh since the formal establishment of Frick Park in 1927. Hays Woods is also the largest urban park and preservation project undertaken east of the Mississippi River in nearly 75 years.
The city will now begin the process of planning future needs for Hays Woods such as parking and formalized access points.