Amy Kline moved to Carrick eight years ago, and soon after, she became acquainted with Phillips Park. Kline sent her daughter to the park’s after-school recreation center, where kids play games, work on arts and crafts and play basketball.
But Kline noticed that some parts of the park were habitually underused. She said the long, sloping green space and the 18-hole disc golf course usually sits empty, and the park’s in need of new lighting and paving.
“We’d really like to have the park and all of the trails lit well, so you can use it at any time of day, even just to pass through on your way from Brownsville to home," Kline said. "It’s not well-lit back there right now.”
So when she heard that the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy was creating a Friends of Phillips Park group this fall, Kline got on board immediately.
Fellow park volunteer Dan Buczynski said Kline was proactive.
“She, very early on in all the meetings, just took a leadership role without any prodding," Buczynski said. "She’s a natural leader -- brought in the Girl Scouts, brought in the girl who does our Instagram page. So, she’s been instrumental.”
“We just kind of look over at her and say, ‘What should we do?’ and she figures out what to do, and we do it.”
Kline said she’s hopeful that the show of support from the Friends of Phillips Park will convince Pittsburgh City Council and the mayor to approve a proposed $450,000 investment in the park in 2018.
The park itself is named after Carrick resident John M. Phillips, an early 20th Century industrialist and conservationist. It sits just across from Carrick High School, between Route 51 and Brownsville Road. Before the city bought the land, though, it was an amusement park called Dilly’s Grove.
“There was a rollercoaster that, if you look at the landscape of the park, you can almost see where it lived," Kline said. "There was a carousel right behind the rec center.”
In fact, Kline said one of the first achievements of the Friends of Phillips Park was to name the park's trails after former landmarks of Dilly's Grove.
Carrick remains one of the city’s largest and most populous neighborhoods, with more than 10,000 residents at the last Census, and Kline says the neighborhood’s demographics are changing due to its low housing costs.
“It’s full of older Pittsburgh families and older Pittsburgh homes, and now younger families moving in all the time," Kline said. "Plus, I’d say, the largest Bhutanese and Nepali population in the city, probably, lives in Carrick."
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, by 2012, Carrick was home to about one-sixth of Pittsburgh’s estimated 3,000 ethnic Nepali refugees, who had been expelled from Bhutan.
In light of the changes in her neighborhood, Kline is determined to transform Phillips Park into the thriving community center for Carrick that Dilly’s Grove used to be -- hopefully, she said, with financing from the city’s capital budget.
“Come through with our money and you will see Phillips Park start to glow," Kline said. "We have had discussions about -- what’s our concert series look like? What do yoga classes on the lawn look like? What is that next big thing?”