A native Pittsburgher, Dan B. Frankel has served as State Representative for the 23rd Legislative District in Allegheny County since 1998. He grew up using Pittsburgh’s park system, is a current member of the Parks Conservancy’s Board of Directors, and has been a dedicated supporter by advocating for funding for Schenley Plaza and continuing his support with the Environmental Center at Frick Park. We interviewed him for the fall edition of the Parks Conservancy’s newsletter, The Voice.
What’s your favorite Parks Conservancy project?
Schenley Plaza. The Conservancy took a parking lot and turned it into a community square. It’s such a huge improvement, and it’s amazing to see the mix of people that use it.
How do you use the parks?
I grew up using the parks, and I still actively use Schenley and Frick all time. They are just fabulous assets. My kids grew up using the parks, and living in the city, it was extraordinary to have access to open space.
Why are parks important to cities?
I’ve travelled a great deal and lived elsewhere, including New York City, and I can’t think of a more unique system of parks, nestled into neighborhoods. Parks are essential to quality of life in the city; they’re part of what makes us “The Most Livable City.”
How have you witnessed the Parks Conservancy improve Pittsburgh?
Under the Conservancy, each park has had a significant, meaningful, and symbolic rejuvenation. I remember when Meg came up with the idea, and I thought it was a great idea but was honestly pretty skeptical. I thought it might be too grandiose. I am glad that I was wrong; the results are monumental.
How do the parks improve public health?
Parks are great places where class and economic distinction melt away, and you see people from every generation. They offer active recreation and opportunities to improve both physical and mental health — a place to socialize and decompress.
You are supportive of the Environmental Center at Frick Park. Why do you believe that this project is so important?
I was delighted to secure funding for a feasibility study for this great education tool for people in the middle of a vibrant neighborhood. Even better, there are several schools which can use the center, all within walking distance.