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URA Gives 555 Acres Of Hays Woods Land To City, Keeps 89 For Potential Development

The Urban Redevelopment Authority voted Thursday to give the city 555 acres of Hays Woods land so it can become a park.

The URA also voted to maintain control of 89 adjacent acres to reserve the option to discuss potential development.

Hays Woods, which runs along the Monongahela River between the South Side and Homestead, is a vast area of green space that includes a waterfall and houses Pittsburgh's only nesting pair of bald eagles. It was given to the city in 2016 by Charles J. Betters, who at one point planned for it to become a horse race track and casino.

In 2016, Pittsburgh's Chief Development Officer Kevin Acklin said the city would conduct studies to see if the land could be turned into residential development. But now, he says the city is looking at a number of different options.

"We're not saying that we're moving forward with housing," Acklin said. "Candidly, I've had conversations with the mayor about doing a wind farm there, I've had conversations with him about doing a number of things."

Acklin acknowledged that in the case of a wind farm, the city would protect the bald eagles that live there.