We are far from the only organization that does greenspace restoration and development in our region, and most organizations do an amazing job. But as we’ve done more greenspace work ourselves, we’ve become convinced that one solution to make this process simpler and allow for the creation and maintenance of more accessible greenspace is a partnership that could coordinate some of this work across neighborhoods. So we’re forming a greenspace partnership in Pittsburgh!
We’ve asked a few organizations we have strong relationships with to come together with us to consider how a partnership could work, including our friends at Allegheny Cleanways, Grounded Pittsburgh, Landforce, and the Fineview/Perry Hilltop Citizens Council. Right now we’re working on developing this model in the Northside neighborhoods of Pittsburgh. If things go well, we could be starting our first greenspace project this winter!
Why Do We Need More Greenspace?
Whether it’s city parks or neighborhood gardens, we’re pretty lucky here in Pittsburgh because we have access to more greenspace on average than most cities do. But when you look closely at that picture, there are things we could be doing better. For example, across the board, economically disadvantaged neighborhoods in Pittsburgh have less access to greenspace. In our City current parks, maintenance funds are never enough, and those parks get a lot of use, so they don’t always get the upkeep they need. Any new City-owned spaces would also need funding for their maintenance.
Didn’t We Just Pass a Tax For This?
Yes, we did! The Pittsburgh Parks Tax should provide additional funds to maintain City-owned parks. But Pittsburgh is like a lot of cities that have lost population – they also own tens of thousands of vacant lots, forest patches, and buildings that they struggle to keep up. We believe that some of these lots and forest patches could be new greenspace for neighborhoods that need it, if we got rid of the garbage and illegal dumps and created access points. This is the model we’ve used for our Fineview Greenspace, and we think it could work across Pittsburgh – making lots more greenspace accessible. So far, though, the Parks Tax is for current designated parks only – although that could change.
How Does a Partnership Help?
By forming a greenspace partnership in Pittsburgh, a public/private partnership, we could create new greenspaces on City-owned land in neighborhoods that need them, while also making ongoing maintenance part of a larger plan that doesn’t solely depend on City funding – just like we’re doing at our Fineview Greenspace. We anticipate that such a partnership could work with the help of foundations, neighborhood groups and business owners, as well as the City, and would ensure there was a longer-term vision driving development and maintenance forward for these spaces. Result: more and better-maintained greenspaces that make some of the vast tracts of City-owned land accessible and garbage-free, and help manage some of the invasive plants like Japanese Knotweed, honeysuckle, Tree of Heaven, and more.
We should have more news about this key effort soon!