Mount Washington park continues expansion

Emerald View will soon encompass about 257 acres

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Wandering through the unspoiled woods of Mount Washington, hikers might forget that they're in the big city.

Until they come to a clearing and find themselves eyeballing a skyscraper.

The juxtaposition of natural and urban landscapes is one of the wonders of 5-year-old Emerald View Park, which grew by 11 acres last week thanks to the Allegheny Land Trust and other community groups.

The trust acquired and transferred the parcel to the city, a project that took two years and cost $218,000, said Roy Kraynyk, the organization's executive director. The Colcom Foundation provided financial help.

Now the trust is working on the transfer of an adjacent 14-acre parcel to the city at a cost of $224,000. The city said about $197,000 has been raised so far.

When the second transfer is completed, the park will encompass 257 acres in Mount Washington, Allentown and Duquesne Heights. The U-shaped park eventually will offer 19 miles of recreational trails and tie in existing parklets in the three neighborhoods.

"Protecting this land as permanent green space will improve the tremendous recreational opportunities available at one of our city's most unique and beautiful regional parks," Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said.

Mount Washington Community Development Corp. has been caring for the 11-acre tract, along Greenleaf Street, since the land trust acquired it in 2008. The city Department of Public Works helped build a gravel parking lot and trailhead. The tract offers access to wooded areas and to trails with views of the West End and Saw Mill Run valleys.

Mr. Kraynyk said the availability of 11- and 14-acre tracts in the heart of a city is unusual. Ilyssa Manspeizer, director of park development and conservation for Mount Washington Community Development, said the heavily wooded setting so close to Downtown is also rare.

Ms. Manspeizer, who leads hikes of the property, said she sometimes thinks of the Native Americans who once roamed these woods. But skyscrapers and other sights and sounds of the city intrude.

"You can sometimes hear the highway beneath you. You sometimes get a glimpse of houses above you," she said.

Joe Smydo: or 412-263-1548.


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