Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy to help restore Allegheny Commons on North Side
March 31, 2015 12:00 AM
Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy
The proposed fountain restoration in Allegheny Commons on the North Side.
By Diana Nelson Jones / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy has added Allegheny Commons on the North Side to the roster of parks it helps restore and manage in an agreement with the city.
Its role was announced at the park Monday in conjunction with an anticipated groundbreaking this year on the next phase of restoration, which will include an iteration of the original Victorian fountain in the northeast corner.
The fountain and restoration of the landscape immediately around it will cost about $2.5 million and complete the easternmost part of the park, said Meg Cheever, president of the conservancy. About $730,000 already has been raised, much of that before the conservancy got involved.
Restoration will then continue westward as money is raised.
In 2001, the original plan estimated the cost of the entire restoration at about $17 million, said John Francona, chairman of the Allegheny Commons Initiative — a project of the Northside Leadership Conference. It led a master plan process and raised money for the first two restoration pieces. “That cost will probably be $25 million when it’s all said and done.”
For that and more long-term reasons, he said, “I’m pleased that the parks conservancy has agreed to make our park one of their parks.”
Mr. Francona said the project could not have gotten underway without the help of foundations. He also thanked neighborhood advocate Patricia Rooney for “rallying donors and opening doors.”
“Welcome to my park,” Ms. Rooney said to a crowd of about 40, many of whom live in the immediate neighborhood. “We are raised in this park, nurtured by this park and sustained by this park. We have new lighting, new benches and new paving” on the eastern side, she said, “and now we’re going to restore the fountain. We hope to have it up and running this time next year.”
LaShawn Burton-Faulk, board president of the Northside Leadership Conference, said the parks are places “where everyone can belong. They expose you to many faces and they are the health of the neighborhood.”
Under its agreement with the city, the conservancy helps manage the regional parks — Schenley, Frick, Highland and Riverview — as well as Mellon Square, Downtown, and Mellon Park in Shadyside. It has contributed resources, planning and technical support in others, including Arsenal Park in Lawrenceville and Cliffside Park in the Hill District.
The conservancy previously has worked in Allegheny Commons Park as needed, including a commitment to watering new trees planted in the first restoration phase, Ms. Cheever said. The park was established in 1867.
“We love restoring parks,” she said. “We are pleased to take on this role in Pittsburgh’s oldest park.” She said the work the Northside Leadership Conference has done through its restoration initiative has started the park on its way “to being as great as it was in its heyday.”
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