PITTSBURGH, PA (November 5, 2021) Mayor William Peduto today signed the bill to officially create the Hays Woods Park. After nearly thirty years of Mayor Peduto’s steadfast advocacy for preserving the green space, Pittsburgh City Council recently passed the legislation allowing the City to buy the property from the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh for $1.
“Hays Woods is a gem in the middle of the city,” said Mayor William Peduto. “My administration acquiring this land will ensure that generations of Pittsburghers are given the opportunity to enjoy the incredible wilderness it provides. It represents the capstone of some 30-years advocating for the protection of our environment and investing and expanding in our urban greenspaces and parks. The addition of Hays Woods Park not only protects our urban canopy, but it helps the City in its efforts to reach its Climate Action goals.”
Hays Woods was originally a series of farms and coal mines that was previously privately owned. Throughout the past few decades, private entities have proposed developments, which Mayor Peduto vocally opposed as development of the natural land required severe deforestation and deconstruction of natural hills and ravines. As city councilman, Mayor Peduto voted against efforts to mountaintop the site and build a racetrack and casino. As Mayor, he opposed efforts to allow horizontal fracking at the site and negotiated the acquisition of the land.
After years of environmental leadership and perseverance, Mayor Peduto worked to secure the property for public recreational use alongside Councilman Corey O’Connor and community groups. In 2016, the Urban Redevelopment Authority purchased the land for $5 million.
While the land has a history of industrial use, the over 600 acres of Hays Woods has been naturally conserved and provides a sense of wilderness in an otherwise urban area. Despite the environmental degradation typical of old mined lands, it features areas of substantial tree canopy, significant flora and fauna, and even a pair of nesting bald eagles. A public parkland acquisition of this magnitude has not occurred in Pittsburgh since the formal establishment of Frick Park in 1927. Hays Woods is also the largest urban park and preservation project undertaken east of the Mississippi River in nearly 75 years.
“So many have fought for this moment,” said Councilman Corey O’Connor who helped lead the effort to protect Hays Woods. “I want to thank the Mayor, community groups, foundations, and activists who have all worked to preserve this land. One of Pittsburgh’s greatest assets is our incredible greenspaces.”
Mayor Peduto, Councilman O’Connor, and other City officials followed the bill signing with a ceremonial tree planting – the first new tree of Hays Woods. The City will now begin the process of planning future needs for Hays Woods such as parking and formalized access points.