Within a recent five-day period, an effort to preserve a 180-acre tract of land in Richland went from a hoped for goal to a near accomplishment.
"It was an amazing week," said Roy Kraynyk, land protection director for the Allegheny Land Trust in Sewickley.
During that period in February, the preservation group learned it had won two competitive grants totaling nearly $1 million: a $509,500 state grant from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and a $300,000 grant from the Pittsburgh-based Colcom Foundation.
DCNR secretary Richard J. Allan presented the group with the formal funding announcement last Thursday.
"Basically, our funding about doubled in one week," Mr. Kraynyk commented.
The project involves preserving most of the tract and removing the deteriorating buildings associated with the land once owned by Pittsburgh Cut Flower.
The Allegheny Land Trust has a deal pending to purchase the property, which is considered critical to the preservation of the watershed. The land is at the headwaters of the Montour Run tributary to Pine Creek. The plan is to keep about 150 acres undeveloped and green and to sell the 30-acre balance for development in a way that fits with the land trust's goals, such as a solar farm, a farm market or an astronomy center.
"We want something that's a model of sustainable development," Mr. Kraynyk said.
The property, currently owned by Legacy Landings LLC in New York, is adjacent to Bakerstown Road. It had been operated by Pittsburgh Cut Flower from around 1910 to 1990.
The agreed on purchase price is $1.4 million. Site cleanup is estimated at $1 million. A community group has raised about $50,000 of a $140,000 pledge toward the project. The land trust now has in hand a little more than $1 million.
"The [funding] gap is much smaller now," Mr. Kraynyk said. He anticipates being able to close that gap in the coming months. Several grant applications are pending, and the land trust also anticipates revenue from the sale of the 30-acre developable portion of the land. No such agreement has been made.
Conceptual site planning is under way. A public program to seek input from the community for the development plans was held Feb. 9. About 150 people attended. Mr. Kraynyk hopes to close on the land in June.
Karen Kane: firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-772-9180.