An alliance of seven Pittsburgh non-profits highlighted "greening" efforts throughout the city, and explained to members of the city council why the "greening" is important. As part of a post-agenda council meeting Tuesday, the Pittsburgh Greenspace Alliance said the nature areas are vital to the area's economy and health.
"Greenspaces, when they're well-managed, can actually earn money," said Marijke Hecht with the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy. "For example, in Pittsburgh, a study by Carnegie Mellon University in 2010 showed that homes near large parks increase in value by an average of $40,000 because they're near those parks."
She said urban forests, bike trails, and parks also save money by improving air quality and health for residents, and they attract businesses and business investment. The city's estimated 2.5 million trees also play a vital role in preventing erosion on Pittsburgh's steep slopes.
"Trees are the ultimate multi-taskers. While they're managing storm water and holding onto our hillsides they are also helping to keep our air breathable. Just look at the value of what our existing tree canopy does in one year to clean the air. If we want cleaner air, we should plant more trees," said Brenda Smith, executive director of the Nine Mile Run Watershed Association.
Other groups present were Tree Pittsburgh, Mt. Washington Community Development Corporation, Friends of the Riverfront, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, and Allegheny Commons Initiative. City Councilman Corey O'Connor called the post-agenda meeting.
O'Connor said the city has to do a better job of finding best uses for parks and green spaces, and should continue to work with the Alliance to improve parks and the city's urban environment.
"Because I think it's a vital part of our city that's going to help us grow even further, and it's something that we all benefit from," he said, "and I think Pittsburgh is very unique with the different types and sizes of parks that we have and the neighborhood parks we have, and I think that's very beneficial to us."
The Greenspace Alliance said it has raised more than $110 million for greenspace improvements. Volunteers with member organizations have contributed more than 34,000 hours of service a year to the city.