Luminaria kit sales help fund makeover of former Pittsburgh Cut Flowers site
Civic-minded Annette Robinson of Richland invites area residents to fight local blight with candlelight.
Robinson packed many of the luminaria kits available to help fund a mass makeover at the former site of Pittsburgh Cut Flowers Co. on Bakerstown Road.
Proceeds from kit sales will benefit the nonprofit Allegheny Land Trust's efforts to buy the 180-acre property — for $1.4 million — and tear down the site's asbestos-contaminated greenhouses.
“I hope sales pick up,” said Robinson, president of the Orchard Park Neighborhood Association, group organizer of the Christmas Luminary Sale.
“I had good volunteer help from the Orchard Park neighborhood,” Robinson said about her kit-making efforts. “We had two work days, in October and the beginning of November, and have assembled about 400 kits so far.
“The goal of the fundraiser is to sell 500 luminaria kits from November to mid-December. One hundred percent of every sale goes to the Allegheny Land Trust.”
The cost per kit is $10 for eight 15-hour candles and eight bags, or $20 for 20 candles and 20 bags.
People can buy the kits from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays at Richland Municipal Building, 4019 Dickey Road, or 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays at Weischedel Florist-Greenhouse, 4039 Gibsonia Road, Richland.
Kits also will be available 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 1 and 2 at the Shop ‘n Save in Richland Mall at 5375 William Flinn Highway.
Allegheny Land Trust seeks $140,000 in community donations to help purchase the former site of Pittsburgh Cut Flowers Co. from Legacy Landings LLC, the site's current owners. Allegheny Land Trust also is collecting public and foundation grants to buy the land.
Pittsburgh Cut Flowers Co. operated at the site from 1910 to 1990.
Today, broken glass litters the overgrown grounds and its vandalized former greenhouses, which sit on the edge of vast, unspoiled meadows.
Allegheny Land Trust hopes to ultimately designate 150 acres of the property as permanent “green” space for recreation, and make 30 acres available for economic development.
“It's not just going to benefit Richland Township residents,” said Robinson. “Anybody can come and enjoy the landscape there. It's just beautiful — the ponds, the fishing. In wintertime, cross country skiing would be great out there ... They're saving habitat, too.”
Robinson is a one-time park naturalist with a bachelor's degree in biology from former Heidelberg College, now Heidelberg University, in Tiffin, Ohio.
Her husband, the Rev. Michael Robinson, is senior pastor at St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Ross.
Robinson spent $1,600 to buy about 8,000 white paper bags and 8,000 votive candles for the luminaria kits.
Four local sponsors — Pasquinelli Erie Insurance Agency, Bakerstown Feed and Garden Center, Krebs Chrysler Jeep Dodge and Schellhaus Funeral Home — donated the money to buy the bags and candles.
“I swoon over the enthusiasm this community has exhibited for this project,” said Roy Kraynyk, land protection director the Allegheny Land Trust. “It's encouraging. It's inspiring ... It's just phenomenal ... Funders reward communities who are putting a 'nickel in the game.'”
Allegheny Land Trust exists to conserve land that supports the “scenic, recreational and environmental well-being of communities in Allegheny County and environs,” according to its mission statement.
Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or firstname.lastname@example.org.