Land trust needs more donations to purchase, conserve property

| Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012, 8:54 p.m.

Allegheny Land Trust officials have learned it only needs to ask, and the community will show its support.

In the beginning months of a drive to raise funds to purchase and conserve about 150 acres of grasslands and rehabilitate 30 acres of blighted property in Richland Township at the former site of Pittsburgh Cut Flowers, the community responded with about $30,000.

Now, Allegheny Land Trust officials hope the community's enthusiasm only continues.

“Our success is really dependent on all of you,” said Roy Kraynyk, land protection director for Allegheny Land Trust, at a recent informational meeting in North Park.

“There is a synergetic relationship between ALT and the community. We wouldn't be here if people didn't support it.”

The property, located along Warrendale-Bakerstown Road, currently is under contract for the Allegheny Land Trust to purchase it for $1.4 million, with the proposed closing date in December and an optional six month extension to allow for asbestos removal by the current owner.

To date, the Allegheny Land Trust has collected $230,000 through foundation grants and private investors and about $1 million is pending. However, the community piece is an important piece of the financial puzzle.

The Allegheny Land Trust is asking the community to raise $140,000 of the total cost to show state agencies and foundations that there is local support for the project.

“We want to show the community that surrounds this project wants to see this happen,” Kraynyk said.

Since August, volunteers have sold roses outside the Pine-Richland stadium during homecoming, and Pasquinelli Insurance Agency held a TV raffle during the high school football games. Jewart's Gymnastics and Tall Timber Tree Experts held events or promotions to raise money, and local residents are working to organize a number of fundraising events in addition to soliciting private donations.

The Allegheny Land Trust was incorporated in 1993 and since then has protected more than 1,500 acres in 22 municipalities, including a tract of land along Irwin Run near North Park.

Mary Wilson, of the Northern Area Environmental Council, said the former Pittsburgh Cut Flowers property is an important piece of property because of headwaters of Montour Run, which flows into Pine Creek.

Wilson said because of the grasslands surrounding the headwaters and the lack of a sewer line through the property, Montour Run is a healthier watershed than some of its surrounding watersheds.

“If you're going to protect a watershed, this is a really good watershed to protect because of the quality,” Wilson said.

Allegheny Land Trust officials have long-term visions of cleaning up the blighted property of the former Pittsburgh Cut Flowers and using the property to collect solar energy, while maintaining the 150 acres of green space for public use.

As the closing deadline looms and the land trust is still behind its fundraising goal, Kraynyk said he hopes the community will come through.

“We've never not succeeded in these projects,” he said.

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Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or

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