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Officials and Community Leaders Kick-Off Construction of Wightman Park Improvement Project after Years of Neighborhood Planning

The park is slated to become one of Pittsburgh’s most sustainable and inclusive City parks

Pittsburgh, PA (April 14, 2019)- Today, Pittsburgh City Councilperson Erika Strassburger was joined by Mayor William Peduto, State Senator Jay Costa, State Representative Dan Frankel, representatives from the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority and the City of Pittsburgh’s Department of Public Works, and community leaders to break ground on the Wightman Park Improvement Project, which will transform the 1.25 acre park in the Squirrel Hill community into one of Pittsburgh’s most sustainable and inclusive park spaces.

“Beginning with my time as a Council staffer and continuing as Councilperson, I am proud to have helped bring this project from a community vision to reality," said Strassburger. “I’d like to thank everyone who helped to fundraise, plan, and achieve the revitalization of this neighborhood gem that will also alleviate the impact of increasingly common severe rain events and improve the quality of life for all.”

Through years of neighborhood master planning initiated by former City Councilman Dan Gilman and the Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition and continued by Councilperson Strassburger, a resident-driven process informed the final design of the park, which will help to mitigate neighborhood flooding and citywide stormwater overflow issues, beautify the park space, create additional recreational opportunities, and offer families a host of play spaces for all ages and abilities.

In collaboration with Mayor Peduto’s Administration, the City of Pittsburgh’s Department of Public Works, and other partners, former Councilman Gilman and current Councilperson Strassburger helped to raise $4,233,435 for the project from the following sources:

  • City of Pittsburgh Capital Budget: $2,033,435
  • Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority Capital Budget: $1,200,000
  • The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Community Conservation Partnership Program with support from Senator Costa and Representative Frankel: $500,000
  • The Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund: $500,000

"Squirrel Hill residents have waited decades for improvements to Wightman Park and their patience will soon pay off with one of the nicest, most sustainable and accessible park spaces in Western Pennsylvania," Mayor Peduto said.

When construction is completed, Wightman Park will feature:

  • Significant green infrastructure elements furnished by the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, including retention tanks beneath the park space, substantial rain gardens, increased landscaping, and additional stormwater storage capacity under sidewalks adjacent to the park. Together, these green infrastructure elements will capture over two million gallons of stormwater annually and provide 50,000 cubic feet of storage.
  • Separate and distinct play areas for toddlers ages 2-5 and school-age children ages 5-12
  • The incorporation of play equipment for children of all abilities and specific equipment for children on the autism spectrum
  • New family restroom facilities with an adult changing table, the first in a public space in Pittsburgh
  • An embankment slide entrance leading down the hillside off of Solway Street
  • Recreational facilities, including a walking track, an educational boardwalk feature, picnic pavilion available to the community, and a half-court basketball area.
  • A multi-purpose green space suitable for coach-pitch baseball and softball, soccer, and passive activities
  • In collaboration with the City’s Office of Management and Budget and the Department of City Planning’s Division of Public Art and Civic Design, 1% of the project’s budget will be dedicated to the installation of artwork completed by local Pittsburgh artists Oreen Cohen and Alison Zapata, who comprise OOA Designs, LLC. Please find an image of the artwork here.

“On behalf of the Department of Public Works, I am excited to see the outcome of years of hard work by many people, groups and staff that led us to this point,” said Director of the City of Pittsburgh’s Department of Public Works Mike Gable.  “When complete, Wightman Park will retain many of its recreational assets its patrons and neighborhood have come to enjoy but the renovation will improve on them and provide an exciting natural aspect in meeting green infrastructure and sustainability goals.”

The project was managed by the City’s Department of Public Works, and Ethos Collaborative and Pashek + MTR served as stormwater management and design consultants for the project, respectively. Additional improvements to the park will include new sidewalks surrounding the park, updated park entrances, a boulder scramble feature, a water feature, and improved landscaping.

“Collaborating on the Wightman Park project with the City of Pittsburgh and Councilmember Strassburger’s Office was an important step to bring stormwater improvements to Squirrel Hill and surrounding neighborhoods,” stated Robert Weimar, executive director of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority. “These improvements integrate seamlessly into the park and are estimated to manage over two million gallons of stormwater annually. Our parks and green spaces are natural partners in making Pittsburgh more resilient to flooding and sewer backups.”

Please find renderings from Depiction Illustration here. For additional renderings and more information, please visit




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Hersh Merenstein
Communications Manager, Office of Pittsburgh City Councilperson Erika Strassburger
District 8