The 626-acre undeveloped site in southeastern Pittsburgh, historically serving industrial purposes including coal mining, was purchased by the Urban Redevelopment Authority in 2016 and will be transferred to the City for park development. While the land is not pristine, having historically served industrial uses including coal mining, it has a sense of wilderness in an otherwise urban area. Despite the environmental degradation typical of old mined lands, it features areas of significant tree canopy, significant flora and fauna, and even a pair of nesting bald eagles. A series of trails crisscross the property, indicating its popularity among outdoor recreation enthusiasts. Because of these unique qualities, the City has decided to seize the opportunity to establish Hays Woods as a city park that will expand its value to patrons for generations to come while preserving and restoring important natural ecosystems.
In 2018, Mayor William Peduto established the Hays Woods Task Force, led by Councilman Corey O’Connor and former Mayor Tom Murphy, to identify best land uses, opportunities and constraints for the area, and guiding principles for future site master planning. The Department of City Planning has been awarded a $100,000 grant from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resource Community Conservation Program, that will be matched by the City of Pittsburgh for a project total of $200,000. The grant will allow the master plan process to begin in 2020.
The Department of City Planning also recieved an abandoned mine land and drainage assessment grant through Trout Unlimited that will document issues related to former deep mining on the site and provide recommendations for remediation.
- The Friends of Hays Woods group has compiled extensive resources including aerial video of the site, environmental assessments and historical documents, which can be found at https://friendsofhayswoods.com/
- Information about the Office of Councilman Corey O’Connor, City Council District 5, can be found at https://pittsburghpa.gov/council/district5
- Hays Woods Ecological and Conservation Assessment 2017