Andrea Kretzel, RLA senior project landscape architect for the city of Pittsburgh’s department of public works, concurred that most of the city park’s sustainability plans involve stormwater mitigation, due to the unique and hilly topography of the area.
Wightman Park is one instance where the public works department partnered with Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority to complete park renovations and stormwater mitigation while South Side Park was another. In some communities, neighbors’ basements were flooding.
She said they decided to include stormwater management in the Wightman Park plans, placing not only a walking track and a multipurpose field but also a larger area rain garden to manage stormwater and educate residents. A boardwalk with interpretive signage explaining the different plants that thrive in rain gardens were a part of the plan, too. Kretzel also mentioned planting meadows and using “no mow” grass in some parks, which only needs to be mowed once or twice a year.
“It only gets 6 inches high and then flops over — it looks nice and is not as high maintenance,” Kretzel said.
By partnering with the water authority, there is help to maintain the park. Additionally, the partnership qualified the project for some state and federal grants.
Smith said, “We do have all these plans and a lot of aspirations, and I feel we’re at a turning point where we’ll be able to get more horticultural staff to do these things.”
Smith added a parks tax narrowly passed last year, which will increase funding for the parks. “A lot of people are invested in improving the parks so I’m hopeful that’s the direction we’re moving in. Now (because of COVID-19) it’s even more important than ever.”