1). 257 is the number of new acres the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy added to their stewardship in 2016. A new alliance with the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation (MWCDC) brings Emerald View Park into the Parks Conservancy’s fold, transitions MWCDC staff to the Parks Conservancy’s team, and gives the Parks Conservancy the primary role for park planning, fundraising and project implementation. Born out of a grassroots effort to combine wooded hillsides and three historic park spaces - Grandview, Olympia, and Mount Washington – Emerald View Park features 12 miles of gorgeous trails, new trail names, and awe-inspiring views of Pittsburgh’s rivers and city skyline.
2). 23,000 environmentally-friendly automated LED holiday lights were installed by the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy at Schenley Plaza, making it a favorite light-viewing destination for visiting family and friends. Keep looking at the Emerald Lawn at Schenley Plaza as warmer weather approaches, too: the sparkling light installations pivot to spring flowers in March, making a dinner at The Porch a twinkling, festive affair for the holidays and beyond. Griswold family, take note: this is how you do holiday lights.
3). On December 17th, 2016, the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy kicks off their 20th year. The auspicious year to come will involve spreading the word about the $94 million (and counting) the Parks Conservancy has raised for 17 major park improvement projects over the past two decades, and the countless lives enriched by an unwavering dedication to greenspace equity. The occasion of the Parks Conservancy’s 20th Anniversary brings an increased emphasis on community parks, environmental education program expansion, and a growing leadership role in the burgeoning field of green infrastructure.
4). The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy’s environmental educators made 15, 212 hours of contact with kids age 3 – 18 in our region in 2016. With parks as the ultimate classroom, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) education from the Parks Conservancy’s education team gives kids from 58 classes in 23 schools opportunity to be more engaged with nature while fostering the park stewards of the future.
5). In early September, children from Colfax Elementary passed through one kid-sized door, becoming the first members of the public to enter the newly-opened Frick Environmental Center. A project of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and the City of Pittsburgh, the Frick Environmental Center is designed to be LEED Platinum and Living Building Challenge certified, and is on track to be the greenest municipal building in the world that is free and fully open to the public. A high point in the city’s upward green trajectory, the Environmental Center isn’t the only thing that is new, either: in August, Camila Rivera-Tinsley moved to Pittsburgh to helm the Center’s stellar all-ages environmental education program. “Environmental education and greenspace equity is a primary tenet for the Parks Conservancy’s work”, said Rivera-Tinsley. “The parks and all their wonders are truly a uniting force for the city, and are meant to be shared and enjoyed by all.”
6). The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy planted 9,618 annual flowers, bulbs, perennials, shrubs and trees in our city and community parks in 2016. While most were paid for by the Parks Conservancy and City of Pittsburgh, 235 shrubs and bulbs were donated by generous Pittsburghers, many in honor of their loved ones. The Frick Environmental Center in Frick Park, Riverview Park, Mellon Square, Highland Park, and Schenley Plaza all saw new green thanks to Parks Conservancy planting efforts. And Parks Conservancy staff will be at it all winter, too, pruning and protecting to ensure that when spring rolls around, you’ll see brilliant colors in every corner of a park near you.
7). 318 24-hour days is the amount of total time (that’s 7,651 hours) that volunteers gave to Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy volunteer programs in 2016. At a value of $175,973, the Parks Conservancy’s volunteers are among the most generous in the city, weeding, planting, and building deer exclosures like the rock stars they are. And they do it in any season, too, from digital photo-organization in the warmth of the Parks Conservancy’s offices during winter months, to spring planting, summer invasive plant removal and fall bulb dead-heading. At the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, every season is the right season to be a good egg.
8). Two famous Pittsburghers were honored with major parks unveilings in 2016, giving them the world-class greenspaces they deserve. The former Cliffside Park was renamed August Wilson Park to honor the Tony and Pulitzer-prize winning author who was born in Pittsburgh’s Hill District; the new park design includes an American with Disabilities Act-compliant switchback trail that makes the space’s steep incline and spectacular views of the Allegheny River accessible to all. Fifteen direct descendants of industrial icon George Westinghouse are traveled from across the country and Canada to christen the major restoration and renewal of their namesake’s memorial in Schenley Park. Both August Wilson Park and Westinghouse Memorial’s redesign and renewal included green infrastructure components, furthering the Parks Conservancy’s dedication to stormwater management systems that maintain community assets.
9) Three Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy emphasis projects to watch for in 2017 are continued leadership and advocacy for regional green infrastructure solutions to our city’s stormwater and sewage issues, new stormwater management installations and community connectivity in the Beltzhoover neighborhood’s McKinley Park, andgroundbreaking on the Northside’s Allegheny Commons’ north fountain across from Allegheny General Hospital. The Parks Conservancy will direct energy to supporting green infrastructure that aims to maintain wildlife habitat and improve community assets – like meadows that both manage stormwater and provide aesthetically pleasing community spaces - while reducing flooding and erosion. The Allegheny Commons and McKinley Park projects continue the Parks Conservancy’s recent emphasis on community and neighborhood parks, furthering their advocacy of greenspace equity.
About the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy
The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy was founded in December 1996 by a group of citizens concerned with the deteriorating conditions of Pittsburgh's historic city parks. A nonprofit organization, the Parks Conservancy works closely with the City of Pittsburgh under an official public-private partnership agreement to restore and improve the city’s park system to its full potential. Originally including Highland, Schenley, Frick, and Riverview Parks, the scope of the Park Conservancy’s work now includes a focus on community parks including Allegheny Commons, Arsenal Park, August Wilson Park, McKinley Park, and Mellon Park, as well as the To date, the Parks Conservancy has raised $94 million toward major park improvements for the people of the Pittsburgh region.