South Park and Settler's Cabin are in line for major upgrades thanks to a state grant and a matching contribution from Allegheny County. The fairgrounds in South Park will receive $1 million for improvement, while the Settler's Cabin Connector Trail will get $500,000 from the Allegheny County Parks Foundation (ACPF).
The foundation received a $750,000 grant from Pennsylvania's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources on Monday, adding to a like amount of privately raised money. Allegheny County earlier agreed to match contributions dollar for dollar, so the county now has kicked in $1.5 million towards the parks' renovations. The foundation now has $3 million of the $8 million needed to cover the costs of the proposed signature projects.
Christine Fulton, the Executive Director of the ACPF, said there would also be improvements to the North Park Lake Trail beginning next year following public feedback meetings in the next three months. She expects that project to be finished next summer.
County Executive Dan Onorato said the parks are a blossoming example of private and public tax dollars benefitting taxpayers.
"We've over the years worried about how we were going to deal with our parks because of deferred maintenance," Onorato said. "It's no secret that government doesn't have any money, that the feds are cutting, the state's cutting, the county's barely afloat, the city's barely afloat and yet we have these great assets that we haven't done anything in years on because parks are usually the first department that gets cut."
Onorato explained that the public/private partnership can help improve the county's nine parks.
"Today is another example and evidence that this works, this is the way to do it and I'm excited to just be a part of it," Onorato said. "I think you're going to see in the future more and more of the private money coming in because people love these parks, and they want to see them developed and maintained because they recognize the quality of life that it brings to our region."