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Pittsburgh Plans To Rebuild Enright Park Next Summer

At the first community meeting about the future of Enright Park Thursday night, attendees were asked to weigh in on the park’s overall layout as well as its style.

Sara Thompson of landscape architecture firm Pashek + MTR presented three different concepts, dubbed Community Confluence, Green Loop and Neighborhood Green. Each option offers different placements for basketball courts, a playground, spaces for pavement games (such as foursquare), a splash pad (with the spouting whale salvaged from the old park), a picnic pavilion with grill, water fountain, bike racks and green space.

The 13 people who joined the Zoom meeting seemed generally pleased with the designs, and provided feedback about how close to place the basketball courts to nearby homes, and the need for a walking or riding loop in the park.

The framework for the proposed concepts stem from a 2018 master planning process in which stakeholders set their priorities: to create an open, flexible park that respected the residential surrounding, preserved existing trees, and kept or added to existing amenities such as the basketball courts.

In addition to the layout of the park, attendees were asked to comment on the style of the playground — contemporary, sculptural, natural, and “net” (structures with large nets hanging around for climbing about on) — and the sorts of desired game spaces, such as bocce.

The park is an important green space in the neighborhood, and played a crucial role in the saga of the closure, demolition and redevelopment of the former Penn Plaza site.

Roughly 2.25 acres, the park was once surrounded on three sides by the apartment complex.

In 2015, when it looked like residents wouldn’t have much time to relocate from the complex, city officials offered the parklet to Penn Plaza’s owners, LG Realty Advisors, so that they wouldn’t have a hole in the center of their project. The city used the park as leverage to push for changes to the development timeline.

When the news was announced, community groups met that gambit with alarm and waded into a protracted legal struggle with LG and the city that wasn’t resolved until 2017.

As a result of a 2017 consent agreement, the city and LG Realty Advisors agreed to swap land: the park would remain the same size, but it would be reconfigured outside the footprint of the development. LG committed up to $1 million to the park’s redevelopment, and the city agreed to work with the community groups.

People remained concerned about the future of the park. In 2019, as the city and LG prepared to go through the official land exchange, community members alleged that the city had failed to live up to its end of the deal.

Officials say they will finally begin construction late next summer.

A survey on the three proposals presented Thursday will be open for four weeks on the project’s webpage. Officials will put together a draft park plan and hold a second community meeting this fall.

Margaret J. Krauss is WESA’s senior reporter. She covers development and transportation, and has produced award-winning podcasts on housing, work, and Pittsburgh’s lesser-known history. Before joining the newsroom full time, she covered the challenges facing Pennsylvania cities as a statewide reporter, and spent another life as an assistant editor for National Geographic Kids Magazine in Washington, D.C. She can be reached at mkrauss@wesa.fm.