The Allegheny Land Trust is under contract to purchase 180 acres in Richland Township — land formerly owned by the Pittsburgh Cut Flower company but unused for the past 20 years.
There are about 10 acres of dilapidated greenhouses and other structures on the property. Some may be reused, but most will be removed.
Chris Beichner, Allegheny Land Trust's executive director, expects the sale to go through this summer if further environmental testing indicates the land can be made safe for public use.
Right now, the current owner has a consent decree with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to clean up asbestos and other hazardous chemicals. The Land Trust will pay about $1 million of the clean-up costs plus $1.4 million for the land.
Beichner said about 150 acres are in great condition and absorb millions of gallons of water that might otherwise end up in basements in Etna and Shaler.
"There are a couple of miles of streams, a few ponds, miles of walking trails, mature woodlands, meadows, so it's an ideal environment to protect this land," he said. "It's at the headwaters of the Pine Creek watershed, which is an exceptional location; there are seven springs on this property, so we really want to do what we can to protect this property."
The Garden Club of Allegheny County has given over $14,000 for outreach to the community to come up with economic development plans for the remaining 30 acres. The next meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m. April 20 at the Northern Tier Regional Library, 4015 Dickey Road, Gibsonia, PA.