Pitcher family finds home in Carnegie for memorial skate park

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It was an emotional scene last Thursday evening at Carnegie Park on Forsythe Road as Mary Shea Pitcher and her family unveiled a large sign with the words "Future Site of Pitcher Park Memorial Skatepark" in a gently sloping glen surrounded by tall trees near the main picnic grove.

A crowd of about 50 people of all ages -- some on skateboards and bicycles -- applauded as the sign was uncovered. Many wore T-shirts with skateboard logos designed by Joseph Gillen, 21, a skateboarder from Mt. Lebanon and a graphics design major at Rochester Institute of Technology.

Though the $600,000 skate park remains to be designed and built, the unveiling of its site marks a partial end of Mrs. Pitcher's four-year-long quest to find a fitting memorial for her sons, Vincent, 21, and Stephen, 19, who drowned in 2008.

Her other sons, Jonathan, 30, and Brady, 28, as well as Jonathan's 2-year-old son, Rook, and Brady's fiancee, Geri Lawlor, were at the ceremony, too.

Mrs. Pitcher initially proposed the project for Dormont, where her family lived, but plans were turned down earlier this year.

"It was devastating to get shut down by Dormont," said Jonathan Pitcher, to which Brady Pitcher added, "It's been a long road."

Besides Carnegie, locations considered were in Mt. Lebanon and Scott.

But Mrs. Pitcher insisted on keeping the unveiling ceremony upbeat. "I'm so happy we found a home," she said.

A press release issued earlier stated that numerous factors -- including topography, location, accessibility, at-risk youth, and community enthusiasm -- were considered in determining the future skate park's location.

"Pitcher Park found that Carnegie made the grade in all these aspects," the press release reads.

The press release added that "the clincher" for Carnegie was the enthusiasm for the project from both borough officials and residents. Police Chief Jeffrey Harbin has assured that the park, which will close at 10:30 p.m., will be monitored, Mrs. Pitcher said.

Mrs. Pitcher added that the skate park's designer, Grindline Skateparks of Seattle, indicated the park's slopping terrain lends itself well for a interesting skateboarding site, which is likely to include various steps, jumps, rails and bowls. The design must yet be finalized, while some local fundraising is done.

The Ken and Carol Schultz Foundation of Arizona has offered to donate 85 percent of the skate park's cost. The remainder of the money will be raised through fundraising or from donations of services. A list of donors is available on the project's website, www.pitcherpark.com.

"We're going to have fun fundraisers," Mrs. Pitcher promised, adding she hopes residents and officials will offer design suggestions.

Mrs. Pitcher gave a special thank-you to Carnegie Mayor Jack Kobistek for his unwavering support, to which he replied later, "I think it's an excellent opportunity. It allows us to provided a much-needed venue for the kids in our community."

The 34-acre Carnegie Park already has basketball and tennis courts, a hockey area, baseball fields and a walking/running trail. New children's playground equipment has been installed recently, and a dog park and additional landscaping are planned.

neigh_west - neigh_south

Carole Gilbert Brown, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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