Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Wightman Park Upgrade Discussed

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Wightman Park Upgrade Discussed

Article excerpt

City officials and Squirrel Hill residents agree that Wightman Park, a well-used, well-worn 1.8 acres, needs an upgrade.

City Councilman Dan Gilman initiated the first in a series of community meetings recently to discuss and plan the park's future.

Thirty-five people attended the first meeting. A second will be scheduled for late January, "then we'll have two or three more to really dig down into the details" to create a master plan, said Erika Strassburger, Mr. Gilman's chief of staff.

The park is in a low area that was once a pond off Wightman and Solway streets. Drainage and stormwater management are among the biggest concerns, she said.

"We'd like for the city to think of this as an opportunity to do a stormwater project, something that is aesthetically pleasing" that doesn't preclude the park's recreational use, said Marian Lien, executive director of the Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition, whose offices are in the former Wightman School across Solway Street.

Ms. Lien said professionals from offices in the old school eat lunch in the park and read books there while on breaks in nice weather.

A baseball field dominates the site. A basketball court and playground occupy the back. The park is also used for pick-up soccer games and by people who walk the perimeter track, walk dogs and fling Frisbees.

The park's decline is visible everywhere: The track is uneven, ramp pilings are buckled, the fence is broken in places, and weeds line the park's slopes. The metal park building is shabby, and the playground equipment, while serviceable, is most suited for children younger than 5.

"If you're 8 or 9, you've probably aged out of the play structure," Ms. Strassburger said, adding that residents have suggested a renovation to accommodate children younger than 5 in one area and older children in another. …

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