Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy

Travis Swan / Flickr

Children feel better, behave better and their cognitive skills improve when they spend time outdoors, according to Heather Sage, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy director of community projects.

Sage, along with Betty Cruz, manager of special initiatives for the city, and Jamie Beechey, Parks and Recreation deputy director, will represent Pittsburgh at the Connecting Children to Nature Leadership Academy in St. Paul, Minnesota this week.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA News

In an urban forest, trees don’t just provide aesthetics, they prevent river overflow and filter pollution.

Since the early 2000’s, tens of millions of North American ash trees have been killed from a non-native insect, the emerald ash borer, that arrived via shipping pallets in Michigan. The eastern Asia beetle has killed thousands of Pennsylvania trees and nearly 50 in Pittsburgh’s Riverview Park.  

Erika Beras / 90.5 WESA

City officials and the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy unveiled restoration plans Monday for the Westinghouse Memorial in Schenley Park.

The months-long restoration to the 85-year-old memorial will include a new storm water management system.

“The plan for controlling the water and sending it to the right places is a real important part of this,” said Meg Cheever, conservancy president.

Ed Massery, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy

Since its founding in 1996 the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy has worked with the city to maintain its historic parks. The conservancy is currently in the process of renovating one city park. Joining guest host Elaine Labalme to address the current state of the parks and what these green spaces mean to the city is Director of Community Projects Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy Heather Sage.

Sage addresses the challenge of air quality in the Pittsburgh area in connection with parks and green spaces:

"There's countless amounts of research that tell us you know our lives are better, we're healthier, our mental health is improved, our physical health is improved if were active and living and spending time outdoors. So just spending time intentionally improving those park spaces is very directly and indirectly helping peoples health..." -Heather Sage

Also in the program, TED Talks make their yearly Pittsburgh visit at the ever-expanding local TEDx conference and Smallman Galley is a local restaurant incubator that's giving potential restaurateurs the tools and templates for success.

Though Pittsburgh is just now beginning to appear on lists of “most-romantic cities” and “romantic weekend destinations,” its soil has long fostered fiery and impetuous love.

A prime example is the 1842 elopement of Mary Schenley. A New York Times editorial called it to the greatest romance of the city’s early history: While attending a boarding school on Staten Island Mary Schenley, nee Croghan, secretly married a British army captain three times her age.

Pennsylvania’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) is working on a 4-year Recreation Plan, and Pittsburghers have a chance to comment on the ideas before it is implemented.

The DCNR with the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy will host an event to take public comments on Thursday October 9th at the Schenley Park Skating Rink.

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

Instead of overflowing sewer systems and creating flooding, a new project will take rain water and use it to maintain a newly planted meadow in Schenley Park.

Officials from the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, ALCOSAN and the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) announced Thursday the construction of two green rain water management projects in the park in Oakland.

In 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a consent decree to the Pittsburgh region to eliminate sewage contamination entering local rivers and streams.

Marcus Charleston / 90.5 WESA

When it opened in 1955, Mellon Square was the first garden plaza to be built on top of a parking garage, and the public flocked in to use it.

But despite efforts to renew the space over the decades, it started to fall into disrepair. Three years ago an effort to fully overhaul the one square block park was launched, and the ribbon will be cut once again Thursday morning.

"When we began the restoration here, literally hundreds of rats were running around the park,” said Phil Gruszka, parks manager of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.

Getting Rid of Makeshift Dump Sites in Pittsburgh

Feb 26, 2014
Drewzhrodague / flickr

Parts of the city have been turned into makeshift dump sites and add to the problem of blight.

Allegheny CleanWays Project Coordinator Leah Thill and Jake Baechle, Volunteer Coordinator for the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy represent organizations working with volunteers to safely and effectively clean up these areas.

Thill says that people really do not understand how serious this problem is.

Pittsburghers can remember boating, fishing and ice skating on Schenley Park’s Panther Hollow Lake in years gone by, but in recent years, storm water runoff has degraded water quality and filled the lake with silt. 

The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy has developed plans to restore the 384-acre watershed.  

Panther Hollow Lake sits almost at the bottom of the watershed, according to Philip Gruszka of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, so to dredge and make capital improvements to the lake without improving the watershed would not be sustainable.  

The Emerald Ash Borer is an Asian beetle that arrived in the U.S. in 2002 through Detroit. With no natural predators, it may eventually kill most of the country’s ash trees, including Pennsylvania’s millions of native green and white species.

Philip Gruszka of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy said government agencies, nonprofits and individual donors have given money for pesticide treatments to save 350 ash trees in county parks and 158 in city parks for use in a future breeding program.