Update – The Parks Conservancy and City of Pittsburgh Partnership



The City of Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy have been working together under a formal cooperation agreement for the past 20 years. During that time, individual agreements have been entered into for every project undertaken by the Parks Conservancy on behalf of the City, and the City has approved all plans for such projects. Moreover, all such agreements have been duly authorized and approved by City Council and are available to the public. Per City Council's resolution this week, we look forward to a full and quick audit of all parties associated with these agreements, and will assist in this process to our fullest capabilities.

Our 20-year partnership with the City of Pittsburgh covers a wide variety of park activities in almost two dozen parks — from assisting with park maintenance; to the care and upkeep of gardens; tree plantings and tree care; free youth, adult, and family programming; special events; ecological restoration; and the completion of 21 major capital projects, including the building of the Frick Environmental Center (FEC).

Through this public interest partnership, the Parks Conservancy operates and maintains Schenley Plaza and the FEC, and the Environmental Center’s surrounding 115 acres of park land. The FEC is the only municipally owned, free, and open-to-the-public Living Building in the world. The Parks Conservancy also provides programming and special events for various park spaces without any funding from the City.

Every day the Parks Conservancy works to improve the quality of life for people across the region through our partnership with the City. We believe strongly that this partnership allows the City and the Conservancy to together provide more improved parks and park services than either organization could provide on their own.   

Throughout its 23-year history, the Parks Conservancy has performed its services at no charge to the City. Moreover, the majority of the projects undertaken by the Parks Conservancy have received no direct public funding from the City. For these projects, all the funding was raised by the Parks Conservancy from outside sources.

The only significant funding received by the Parks Conservancy from the City is a designated portion of the funds available under the Frick Park Trust Fund, a private trust fund for Frick Park established under Henry Clay Frick’s will, supports the ongoing operations of the Frick Environmental Center. Additionally, the City has contributed in-kind support for various projects, and the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) has contributed to projects involving stormwater management.

Every park project benefits the City directly and becomes City property upon completion. All funds received from rental of park spaces managed by the Parks Conservancy must be used for park maintenance. It is important to be clear that all revenue generated by the Parks Fund tax will be received by, and under the control of, the City of Pittsburgh. City Council will have the opportunity to review and approve the terms of any new agreement entered into with the Parks Conservancy.

The Conservancy’s record demonstrates its very strong commitment to the people of Pittsburgh as the non-profit partner to the City to improve Pittsburgh’s parks. The Parks Conservancy has successfully raised more than $126 million toward our mission. These funds have been invested into improving our public parks, the most democratic spaces in society, places that are to be enjoyed by all.