For the past three years, Jeremy Feinstein has been involved with the Parks Conservancy and serving as a member of the Board of Directors for the past two. Mr. Feinstein is a partner at ReedSmith LLP, and he is the Parks Conservancy’s General Counsel. An invaluable asset to the organization, Mr. Feinstein had aided the Parks Conservancy in contract negotiations with the City of Pittsburgh.
Mr. Feinstein is a park advocate and extensive user of Schenley and Frick Parks. He and his wife, Stefani, live near Schenley Park with their three children.
What is your favorite Parks Conservancy project?
Schenley Plaza has a powerful transformation story. The space was in a prime location, but not attractive or usable for recreation. The Parks Conservancy has delivered a beautiful, user-friendly space that provides an array of entertainment and food options that drive people to the park. It has become a destination.
What role did the parks play in your childhood?
I grew up close to Schenley, and I spent time running cross country in the parks. The Parks Conservancy provided amenities in the parks that did not exist. The Schenley Park Café and Visitor Center was an abandoned, boarded up building. The Plaza was a parking lot. Schenley has always been great park space, but it was unimproved park space. It has been changed into a park with first class amenities.
You’ve lived in D.C., Chicago, and Boston – what sets Pittsburgh’s parks apart from parks in other cities?
In Pittsburgh, the distinctive difference is that you can have wilderness experiences in park spaces like Frick and not feel like you are in the city. To the outside world, there is a rapidly changing perception of Pittsburgh. Many cities have terrific improved parks, and we are moving toward that.What future project are you most excited about?
I have been highly focused on Mellon Square as I analyze the renovation and maintenance agreements. It is exciting to cooperate with the City on this unique, first class project. Mellon Square is great because it is a highly trafficked urban space, and it is currently not close to fulfilling its potential. It was envisioned to be a green space magnet, and we will return it to that status.
How do our urban parks and the Parks Conservancy play a vital role in the future of Pittsburgh?
The Parks Conservancy’s vital function is to focus and grow the private philanthropic interests needed for great urban parks. It is exciting that the Parks Conservancy is now able to move beyond the four Regional Asset District (RAD) parks, becoming the City’s primary partner in trying to revitalize all park assets. The Parks Conservancy and the City of Pittsburgh have the essential cooperative model.
How important are the regional parks to the surrounding communities and, with events like the G20, the world?
With the G20, people from other areas have seen that Pittsburgh is a strikingly attractive place. The parks are hugely important, and the transformation in the parks provides first class amenities for the people of Pittsburgh. People who live near parks have the benefit of green space, and in a city, parks are critical to quality of life.