The woodland areas of Emerald View Park in Mt. Washington have been transformed from a mined-out dump site to a functional network of trails over the eight years since the park was created through a unanimous City Council vote.
Now, the park is getting another facelift, with the help of the National Park Service, or NPS.
Emerald View Park, which encompasses Grandview, Olympia, and Mt. Washington Parks, is one of 11 Pennsylvania parks selected for improvements through the NPS Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance program.
Ilyssa Manspeizer is the director of park development and conservation at the Mt. Washington Community Development Corporation, or MWCDC. She said NPS is helping to develop a trail use survey strategy.
“Who’s using the park, how many people are using the park? As a new park, it’s important to have all that information as a baseline,” said Manspeizer. “Once we have it as a baseline … we’ll be able to track how many more people are using it, and (figure out) what we need to do in the future to improve the usership if necessary.”
Manspeizer said informal surveys have shown that the park is visited at least one million times each year, but that because the park has over a dozen entrances, that number is only an estimate.
NPS will also assist with fund-finding, moderating a community discussion about appropriate signage, and the development of sustainable hillside trails.
“You need to make sure that when you are building trails on hillsides that you are working on the appropriate slope, at the appropriate angles, making sure that the drainage is draining properly and carefully, and making sure you’re not either causing any erosion or exacerbating any erosion,” Manspeizer said.
Manspeizer said the MWCDC has already made drastic changes to the 257-acre area, creating 10 miles of trails, removing more than 250,000 pounds of trash and planting around 6,000 trees. Still, Manspeizer said, many people aren’t aware of all the work that has been done.
“People sometimes say to me, ‘When is the park going to be open?’” Manspeizer said. “The park is open now. You can access the trails. We will continue to work on it and continue to develop it as long as we can continue to fund it.”
Manspeizer said consulting from NPS will allow the MWCDC to double trail mileage, and to connect the park to surrounding neighborhoods and to the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, which runs along the south side of the Monongahela River.
Work on the project began in October and will continue through September 2014.