Our public meeting for updating the Master Plan for Frick Park is this Saturday, October 2 at 9:00am. We know the early hour may be deterring you from RSVPing (which you can do here, by the way), but here are five good reasons you don’t want to miss this event:
1. Frick is the largest park in the City of Pittsburgh at 561 acres. Chances are you’ve used it for something: whether you like to sail down the Blue Slide, learn about butterflies at the Environmental Center, serve aces at the clay tennis courts, or take a peaceful nature walk in Nine Mile Run, there’s probably something you love about it. But there’s probably also something you’ve noticed that needs some help, whether it’s a lack of connectivity to the Monongahela River on its southern edge or a need for increased stewardship in the natural areas.
Frick Park needs a plan: we need you to be a part of it.
2. This park has an amazing history. It all starts with the legend of Helen Clay Frick asking her father for a park where the city’s children could enjoy nature. But it’s been over 100 years since Helen’s debutante party, and so much has happened in the park since then. On Saturday, you’ll learn in particular about the fascinating history of the Clayton Hill area of the park, near the Environmental Center. With a meadow, a woodland, and once upon a time a fountain where people loved to gather, this area has undergone many changes and has incredible potential. You may gain a whole new appreciation for this part of the park and what it could become.
3. The past ten years have seen dramatic changes… In 2000, when the original Regional Parks Master Plan was being drafted, the Nine Mile Run stream was virtually lifeless, a waste of a precious resource. The historic gatehouse at Reynolds Street was crumbling. Thanks to the efforts of the Nine Mile Run Watershed Association, the stream is now becoming a rich habitat as well as a beautiful park amenity. The gatehouse has been restored, and trail access in the parks improved. A tremendous volunteer effort in the parks has resulted in healthier natural areas. There’s a lot to be proud of.
4. …but the work is far from over. Not all the changes of the past decade have been good. The Environmental Center burned unexpectedly in 2002, displacing its staff into two small gatehouses. Heavy storms, diseases such as oak wilt, and pests such as emerald ash borer are causing problems for the park’s trees. One of the things we’ll be covering Saturday is the City of Pittsburgh’s recently completed Natural Areas Study, and what it means for developing a woodland maintenance plan. We’ll also talk about plans for maintaining the park edges (like in the Homewood Cemetery area) and developing a long-term stewardship plan for Nine Mile Run.
With so much accomplished in the last ten years, there’s no reason to think we can’t continue this progress in the next decade. But it won’t happen unless the people who use the park are engaged in the process of making it better.
5. Frick Park is set to get really educational. One of the most exciting initiatives from our point of view is the re-visioning of the Environmental Center at Frick Park. This process is so much more than a new building: it’s expanding educational opportunities throughout the whole park. You’ve probably heard us talk a little about the idea of outdoor learning spaces. These will be subtle ways of using what’s already there in the parks to educate kids and families about stormwater, animal habitats, streams, and other things that make up a park. We’ll be visiting four potential sites on Saturday, so you’ll learn much more about these plans and have a chance to tell us what you think about them. You can see a preview of some spots we’re considering here.
Oh, and reason 5.5…we’ll feed you! Come a little early; we’ll have coffee and pastries starting about 8:30. Please RSVP today–we need as many voices as possible to help us develop future plans for Frick Park, and we want you to have your chance to jump in at the beginning of the planning process. We hope to see you Saturday!
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