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Plans discussed for uses of former Pittsburgh Cut Flower Co. site in Richland

| Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Pine Creek Journal
Carol Campbell-Dietz, a former employee at Pittsburgh Cut Flower, won the rose raffle, taking home a dozen long-stemmed red roses. Deborah Deasy | Pine Creek Journal
Pine Creek Journal
Carol Campbell-Dietz, of Middlesex, left, and Patty Tutak, of West Deer, both are former employees of Pittsburgh Cut Flower. Deborah Deasy | Pine Creek Journal
Pine Creek Journal
Sara Moore, a landscape architect, led a brainstorming group to try and come up with the best way to use the former Pittsburgh Cut Flower property. Deborah Deasy | Pine Creek Journal

People crowded Northern Tier Regional Library this month to suggest future uses for the 180-acre, former Richland home of Pittsburgh Cut Flower Co.

Some suggested hiking, fishing, canoeing and disc golfing.

Others recommended the property be used for weddings, community gardens, guided horseback rides and a farmer's market.

“We want to see young people involved in community service projects,” said Cynthia Navadeh of Franklin Park.

Others proposed a café, restrooms and a museum.

People sat at round tables and wrote down their suggestions on maps of the property as landscape architect Sara Moore of Moore Design Associates circulated through the crowd.

“We're going to take all this input, put it in a pot, stir it up and come back,” Roy Kraynyk, director of land protection for the Allegheny Land Trust, told everyone who attended the Feb. 9 brainstorming session.

About 170 people, including former Pittsburgh Cut Flower Co. employees, showed up to share their ideas.

“I started working there for 75 cents an hour. When I left 10 years later, I got $1.10,” said Patty Tutak of West Deer. “We didn't make much money, but we had a lot of fun.”

The “visioning exercise” followed a Feb. 9 illustrated talk about the history of Pittsburgh Cut Flower Co by Brian Newhouse, who now lives in the former homestead of the company's founder, the late Fred Burki.

Allegheny Land Trust plans to buy the flower firm's former property for $1.4 million from its current owners — Legacy Landings LLC — and permanently protect the land for recreation and limited economic development.

So far, the trust has received $1,064,500 in grants and donations for the purchase, according to Kraynyk. The gifts include a $509,500 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Farmer Charles Robertson of West Deer urged the land trust to exercise caution in mapping the property's reincarnation, and implementing too many suggestions for future uses of the 180 acres.

“Find out what's there — above the ground, and under the ground,” Robertson said. “If all these ideas come to fruition, you're going to ruin the place.”

Kraynyk assured Robertson that won't happen and described the brainstorming session as “part of a site re-assessment.”

“We're a land conservation organization,” Kraynyk said. “We don't want to put a wall around it,” Kraynyk said about the 180-acre property. “We want to tread on it lightly.”

Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or ddeasy@tribweb.com.

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