​Pittsburgh Gets a New Park, City’s Largest

While there is much work to be done, Pittsburgh is a surprisingly green city; especially surprising to those who arrive expecting to find the Pittsburgh presented in photos of the city’s industrial past.

We’ve come a long way, and in June, the city took a large leap toward conservation — the largest addition to Pittsburgh’s park system in almost a century: the 660-acre Hays Woods located in the southeastern corner of Pittsburgh’s city limits, 2.5 miles south of the Point.

Hays has been in the news for more than a decade. A race track and casino were proposed there in 2003, and more recently when a pair of bald eagles first decided to raise their young there in 2012 – It has been more than a century and a half since eagles nested within the city limits according to ornithologists.

For the past 5 to 6 years, ALT has been working with partners including Penn Future, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC), and the Mayor’s office to acquire the property from the owner, Pittsburgh Development Group, who was interested in gifting it for dedication as a park.

On June 23, 2016, the City acquired the land and all the mineral rights through the Urban Redevelopment Authority for a percentage of the land’s actual value. Before the URA transfers the land to the City, a conservation easement held by WPC will be placed on it to ensure its protection as green space and park; ALT will be named a beneficiary.

Naming ALT as a beneficiary in the conservation easement acts like a having back-up easement, so the result is two conservation groups will be in place to ensure that the easement terms are not violated by a future City Council or whomever may own the property in the future.

We want to give “shout outs” to George Jugovic of Penn Future for his tireless efforts over the years navigating the fragile negotiations with the landowner; to the URA for its bold decision to seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and spend the money to protect one of the largest tracts of urban green space east of the Mississippi since the 1930’s; and to Mayor Peduto for the commitment to keep the land “untouched urban forest for generations”.

For more on Hays woods: