Definition of a Greenway
In Pittsburgh, “greenway” is defined by City Council designation as a permanent, passive open space that serves to benefit adjacent neighborhoods and the general public. “Reserved for greenway” was also defined as areas being studied or planned for designation. In 1980, the Greenways for Pittsburgh program was established to consolidate steeply sloped, unbuildable land for the purpose of protecting hillsides and preserving passive open space resources.
Today, the city has designated twelve greenways totaling 605 acres — 61.5 acres of which are contained in Emerald View Park, and a combined 8.9 acres of which are contained within three neighborhood parks. Greenways comprise 14% of Pittsburgh’s public open space. Another 21 greenways have been discussed conceptually and would add over 450 acres to the system. To put this into perspective, Pittsburgh's largest park, Frick Park, is 644 acres.
Since the inception of the Greenways for Pittsburgh Program, the City has undergone severe economic hardship resulting in limited staff and maintenance time devoted to these open spaces. Accordingly, the current program lacks components such as stewardship, suitability analysis for greenway designations, and process. Other issues include the need for low-cost open space, natural amenity open space, and the defining quality of Pittsburgh that are our greenways.
Due to the lack of enforcement capacity, and in some cases, their remote locations, the City’s greenways are vulnerable to over-use and illegal or inappropriate activities such as dumping, squatting and motorized ATV use. Greenways are also negatively impacted by insects, disease and invasive species. Issues that are not currently funded interventions are required to address these issues.
The public process for the Open Space Plan showed a desire for more greenways, access to trails/natural areas, connectivity of the open space network, as well as the protection of existing natural areas not designated as greenways. The perception of communities that large areas of undeveloped land are designated greenways, lack of continuous ownership and minimal city resources for these lands is problematic.
Greenways for Pittsburgh
The Greenways for Pittsburgh 2.0 is a recommendation of the Open Space Plan (the City’s Open Space, Parks, and Recreation Plan), which was adopted in July 2013, to expand and enhance the City’s greenways (Strategy U) as well as developing a network of hiking/mountain biking trails (Strategy X/Y). As a separate recommendation of the Open Space Plan, a Natural Resources Manager (Strategy T) position is to be developed to manage our natural resources and conservation efforts. The Greenways for Pittsburgh 2.0 project will begin to explore that position and the role it will play to increase stewardship of these lands. Development and design guidelines were also developed for greenway (Appendix H) to provide intent, characteristics, considerations and items to avoid.
Find more information about the updated greenways program in the documents below:
The Greenways for Pittsburgh 2.0 project intent is to be a refresh of our Greenways for Pittsburgh program. The project will create policy and stewardship components with the goals to foster stewardship, improve the quality, connectivity and accessibility to these open spaces, as well as strive for the highest level of sustainability in regards to conservation, green infrastructure and maintenance. The outcome of the program will be the development and implementation of greenways to meet the public need/desire for proximate open space.