The last time rain fell on Michigan Street in Beltzhoover, it flowed in a new direction. Now, instead of heading straight for the sewers and contributing to overflows that pollute Saw Mill Run and the Ohio River, this rainwater flows into McKinley park. It cascades through a new system of green infrastructure − an engineered landscape that carefully manages water for multiple benefits.
Concrete walls and limestone boulders detain the water, slowing its flow and preventing hillside erosion. Rain gardens filter the water and use it to grow vibrant flowers and lush grass. Finally, underground pipes slowly release it into the woodland below, returning it to a path it hasn’t traveled on for more than 100 years.
In 2016 the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) and American Planning Association (APA) awarded the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy a $435,000 Great Urban Parks Campaign grant for this green infrastructure project. Local partners including Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA), the Allegheny Foundation, Three Rivers Wet Weather, and others provided additional funding and the Department of Public Works (DPW) is providing in-kind services for a total investment of more than $1 million. While centered around green infrastructure, the project incorporated key community priorities for upper McKinley Park, also known as Chicken Hill. These amenities, still under construction, include restored historical sandstone stairs, a new pavilion and gathering space with a built-in slide, a universally accessible trail throughout the area, overlooks made from reclaimed stone, and benches made from the trees that needed to be cut down on site.
We continue to work with local contractor, Go Supreme, and the DPW to finish the remainder of the project, in anticipation of a Fall completion. In the meantime, we are delighted to announce the completion of the green infrastructure portion of the project, constructed by John Zottola Landscaping, Inc.
Next time it rains, stop by McKinley Park and see this living system in action!
Interested in learning more about the importance of green stormwater management in parks?
You can Wade into Park Waters through our Parks on the Go resources and explore NRPA's Greener Parks for Health resources.