By Cristina Holtzer
A Northside project that dates back to 1966 may finally initiate the beginning stages for one of Pittsburgh city parks..
Though it is not yet in the construction phase, Allegheny Commons Park has plans underway to rebuild the northeast fountain to be located at the corner of Cedar and North Avenues. The project was originally proposed in the 1966 Allegheny Commons Initiative master plan, and reexamined again in 2002.
According to Allegheny Commons Initiative spokeswoman Erin Tobin the fountain renovations have been in the ACI master plan for the last few years, but there were some problems with the project due to lack of funding in the past.
“The construction is not happening any time soon,” Tobin said. “Right now we’re still in the planning stages.”
Pashek Associates, a local landscaping firm, drafted designs for the roughly $2.8 million project, and Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy spokesman Chris Fletcher said that the first phase after design will be site preparation.
“We anticipate this will be a multiyear project,” Fletcher said in an email. “Work will include rehabilitation of the geometric paths, replacement of path lights, new tree plantings and installation of signage. All of that, combined with the fountain should create a dramatic improvement in the park and surrounding area.”
To continue the momentum of the project, Tobin and Fletcher both said that community support will be an important factor to garner more funding. Fletcher said soliciting community input is “central to any of the projects the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy undertakes.”
So far the project received funding from government, corporate, foundation and private donors, Fletcher said, and fundraising is still not finished. A set timeline has yet been determined for the project.
Allegheny Commons is located near attractions including the Children’s Museum, the National Aviary and the New Hazlett Theater, and Fletcher said its location is “a critical space for the overall health of the Northside’s neighborhoods.”
As parks can be one of the only places that remain open to the public without an entry fee or membership charge, Fletcher said it is important to make these areas as updated as possible to allow everyone to enjoy nice public areas.
“The parks are also key in encouraging people to be active,” Fletcher said. “They’re also indicators of the health of the surrounding neighborhoods. When parks are clean, safe and beautiful, property values increase. Conversely, when the parks are in a state of disrepair, property values decrease.”
Anyone interested in volunteering with Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy or donating to the fountain project can visit http://www.pittsburghparks.org/volunteerdays.
“If we want to have the best and brightest here in Pittsburgh, having a strong parks system is a big part of our city’s value proposition,” Fletcher said.