Let It Rain: In Midst Of 20th Anniversary, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy Dives Into City’s Neighborhoods

Pittsburgh Magazine


McKinley Park is, in many ways, representative of a community park. Located on a Beltzhoover hillside, it is home to wooded walking trails, basketball and tennis courts and a few baseball fields. It’s not intended to draw visitors from across the city but to serve neighborhood residents. 

As do many Pittsburgh parks, it also sits in a key place in the city’s watershed — right along Saw Mill Run, a hard-charging stream that regularly floods when it rains, causing overwhelmed water-treatment facilities to dump sewage into our rivers. So it is here, in McKinley Park, that the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy is undergoing a remarkable change — from an organization that helped to save the city’s grand parks to one that is enmeshed in neighborhoods and overseeing green infrastructure. As the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority works to comply with a federal requirement to stop the sewage-in-the-river problem, PPC believes that parks are the answer.

When it comes to McKinley Park, the plan is remarkably straightforward: By planting more trees and building rain gardens, the parks can capture and retain rainwater, allowing it to slowly seep into the ground, rather than dumping into treatment facilities, says Heather Sage, PPC director of community projects. “We can do stormwater management underground, with accessible features and recreational amenities [for the community] ... Read the full article