By Juliet Martinez
In December, Pittsburgh City Council voted to make over 300 acres of greenway into parks. A large share of that acreage comes from the Hazelwood greenway. While this sounds like a positive, what exactly will it mean for one of the city’s largest greenways? That's not clear.
City of Pittsburgh Principal Resilience Planner Rebecca Kiernan spoke to the Hazelwood Initiative community meeting on January 11. Around 140 out of the 183 acres in the Hazelwood greenway are now city parks. This means money from the parks tax that passed in 2019 will go into maintaining those areas. The remaining parts are isolated parcels. They will not become parks, but they will remain greenway. Nothing is being downgraded, Ms. Kiernan said.
Ms. Kiernan said Hazelwood can take some credit for this change. She praised the community being active in the greenway, saying it played a part in the city making this move.
“This is a testament to the community valuing the space and wanting it to be usable,” she said.
Pittsburgh first created the greenway system in the 1980s. Greenways are permanent areas of passive open space that benefit people living nearby. The city has not funded or maintained the 605-acre system until now.
In photo: Left to Right: Tiffany Taulton, Hazelwood Initiative Director of Community Initiatives; Rebecca Kiernan, Principal Resilience Planner at City Planning; Thomas Guentner, Director of Land Stewardship for Landforce; Matt Erb, Director of Urban Forestry for Tree Pittsburgh.
But in Hazelwood, people have been hard at work in the greenway. As Ms. Kiernan noted in a later email, “Last year we focused on a 2-acre site off of Elizabeth Street,” writing that they “brought in goats to clear invasive species, a Landforce crew spent a month in the greenway, ...built a great trail loop and addressed some drainage issues among a lot of other work. And Tree Pittsburgh came in with 170 new trees.”
This group of partners was even a finalist in the United Nations Climate Cup in November.
In all, parts of Duquesne Heights, Seldom Seen, Knoxville Incline, Fairhaven, Bigelow and Hazelwood greenways are now parks. Ms. Kiernan emailed that the City Planning Department has a process for park planning. It’s not clear when that will start, but the partnership already in place and the work in the Hazelwood greenway will continue.
That’s good news for people living near it. Tiffany Taulton, Hazelwood Initiative Director of Community Initiatives has organized community hikes and cleanup days. She has also gotten grant funding and coordinated with the other partners.
Ms. Taulton said benches, picnic tables and signs will be put up in the greenway this year. The goats will return and more trees will be planted as well. To be part of keeping the Hazelwood greenway a healthier, more vital part of the community, get involved now.
- Contact Landforce about joining a crew and training for a career in land stewardship.
Visit https://www.landforcepgh.org/ or call 412 727 6936.
- To volunteer in the greenway, visit www.hazelwoodinitiative.org.