Greenspace Alliance

The Pittsburgh Greenspace Alliance is an affiliation of non-profit organizations working on greenspace issues in and around the Pittsburgh area.

Greenspace consists of parks, trails, and natural areas used for recreational or aesthetic purposes with benefits to environment, economy, and human health. The Greenspace Alliance comes together to address issues related to protecting, preserving, adding, and programming greenspace across Allegheny County.

Membership for your organization in the Greenspace Alliance is free. We ask that you express your interest and commit to participating in our monthly meetings by filling out the form at the bottom of this page. Not sure how you can participate in the Greenspace Alliance? Feel free to email us with questions.

The GSA meets monthly to keep members informed, share news and opportunities and exchange lessons learned. Meetings take place on the 4th Thursday of every month from 3 to 4.30.

2017 Mayoral Election

During the last Mayoral election, the GSA hosted a Mayoral Forum attended by over 200 people.  For this election, we have decided to ask each candidate to respond to a single question expressing their position on the future of greenspace issues in our region. Here is that question:

“What is your vision for the greenspaces of Pittsburgh, what do you see as the pathways for implementing these greenspaces, and what are solutions to the ongoing funding challenges for stewardship?”

I will continue the 30 years of leadership in environmental stewardship that I have shown throughout my career.  It is critical that in the coming years that cities work together to drive the environmental agenda if the federal presence disappears.  We will continue to advocate for a federal role in protecting the environment.

Since 2014, the City has made public green space a top priority, recognizing its importance to the health of Pittsburgh and its people. Just last year, the City partnered with the National Recreation and Park Association and the American Planning Association to invest nearly half a million dollars in the revitalization of McKinley Park in Beltzhoover; ensured that Enright Park in East Liberty received proper funding from developers and remained publicly-owned; and created the largest park in the city of Pittsburgh with the acquisition of 660 acres in Hays.

To achieve further progress in Pittsburgh, we must continue to partner with regional and national organizations to develop plans and provide funding for green spaces that build a foundation for neighborhood development. Along with that, we must insure that our policies promote environmental preservation and the restoration of community spaces. We continue to support the Love Your Block revitalization program where last year we awarded 19 organizations with grants to transform blighted plots into community assets.

Last year, the City passed the energy disclosure bill, beginning with city facilities and large buildings and could eventually be expanded to multifamily buildings.  This increases transparency on energy efficiency.  The P4 metrics—the model the City has launched on urban growth that centers on the framework of people, planet, place, and performance—include goals around energy efficiency in the evaluation of distribution of public benefits. I will continue a public process that includes active citizen involvement, and neighborhood leaders.

I envision the greenspaces of Pittsburgh as welcoming and multi-functional areas. Greenspaces can improve air quality, help filter pollutants from the water supply, and provide great gathering places. Greenspaces contribute to the economic revitalization of our neighborhoods because they can increase the property values of surrounding areas. They provide places for people to rest and an environment for nature to flourish. Pittsburgh residents deserve areas where they can recharge, safe places for gathering, or a nice spot to enjoy a sunny day. Greenspaces can benefit our communities in a number of ways and increase quality of life, which is exactly what we need in our city.

I will implement my vision by listening to community members. In my many years of serving as a community advocate, I learned that individuals in the community often have the best solutions to the issues they face. My open-door policy will allow individuals to voice their concerns, opinions, and hopes for their neighborhoods. I would also aim to simplify the Adopt-A-Lot Program in hopes of promoting greenspaces. As it is currently structured, the Adopt-A-Lot Program is too cumbersome. Rethinking the process for the Adopt-A-Lot Program can promote the public reuse of land and benefit residents. By listening to the people and simplifying the tools residents use to create better communities, my vision for the greenspaces of Pittsburgh can become a reality.

I would use several different methods to help fund greenspaces. First, I aim to change the way the City of Pittsburgh operates its departments. Reducing the top-heavy structure of many departments will free up funds for more projects. Second, many organizations offer grant funding for projects like creating greenspaces in cities. These are just some of my ideas for funding greenspaces within the City of Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh is burdened by several challenges that are affecting the quality of life of its residents. Some of those challenges include significant blight and abandonment of private and publicly owned land and constructions, sewer and rain water containment and processing, lead contamination with its public water system, a failing aged infrastructure, long-time mismanagement of its public water system, and nationally recognized poor air quality. The associated challenge is the prioritization of processes that will address the aforementioned  challenges.

My vision for the city is to first address lead crisis many residents are facing whether is in the water or in the soil. Increasing the available green spaces can make a positive contribution to the ecosystem thereby improving air quality but this has to be linked also to the enforcement of the diesel fuels ordinance passed by city council, ensuring the retrofitting of heavy equipment used on construction project reducing carbon emissions.

Secondly, the consent decree issued by the EPA on Allegheny County to sewage and rain water containment is significant. As the former President of PIIN and still one of its leaders, I was part of the organizing collaboratives that pushed ALCOSAN to consider and support green infrastructures to help in remediation and to foster a positive workforce development effort in many of our neighborhoods and municipalities. With the increasing number of formerly incarcerated men and women trying to re-integrate into society this is just one way to provide job training and employment opportunities for them as well as members of our homeless community.

Thirdly, with the significant number of vacant parcels under the auspices of the city of Pittsburgh, many of which are in low income communities with high unemployment, the opportunity to beautify these neighborhoods is ripe. This is a perfect use of CDBG funds to contract out with neighborhood organizations that have the appearance of their communities in the forefront of their minds, organizations like the Rosedale Block Cluster, Hilltop Alliance, and others. This will also create an opportunity to hire community residents looking for employment, especially youth during the summer. This will teach them the value of taking care of their own communities.

I would push to have an ordinance that will require new developments to include green. For example, many of the new constructions downtown could have reduced footprints thereby moving sidewalks and using the current curb spaces for bioswales to reduce rainwater runoff. With the desire to increase residency downtown, the increase in greenery will enhance the look and feel. These improvements in sidewalk infrastructure should be paid for by the developers and not by taxpayers.

Investments of federal dollars is an option to pursue in addition to leveraging funding from foundations. President Trump pledges to invest in infrastructure. We should have long declared a state of emergency seeking federal and state aid for our water crisis. The obvious challenge is that with the current Federal administration’s dismissal of the affects of climate change, seeking federal funding to improve our county and city parks could be difficult. However, pooling our city and county funds is always an option, especially with the growing surplus in city funds.

Current Initiatives

Currently, there are 5 committees in the Greenspace Alliance: Enforcement; Restoration; Stewardship, Maintenance & Workforce Development; Neighborhood Development & Capital Projects; Health, Wellness, Recreation, & Other Programming.

Past Initiatives

July 2014: Organized a trolley tour for the newly elected and appointed staff to showcase many of the projects that Greenspace Alliance Member Organizations are part of and highlight the partnerships that allow greenspace work to happen in the City.

November 2013: After the election, members submitted a series of “white papers” to the newly elected Mayor, Bill Peduto to help outline the objectives of the individual organizations.

 

View the White Papers

 

April 2013: Provided a public forum for Pittsburgh Mayoral candidates to share their ideas on parks, greenspace, trails, and access to Pittsburgh’s Great Outdoors. This took place on Wednesday, April 24 2013. The forum itself was moderated by the League of Women Voters of Greater Pittsburgh, a nonpartisan grassroots civics organization.

Greenspace Alliance Member

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