New director has big plans for Allegheny Land Trust
By Joanne Barron
Published: Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012, 8:54 p.m.
Christopher Beichner of Leetsdale knew all about Allegheny Land Trust in Sewickley before he started getting paid to know all about it.
The new ALT executive director, Beichner, 34, said he worked with the land conservation organization when he was serving as executive director for Mt. Washington Community Development Corp., or MWCDC, on a project at Emerald View Park regional park.
“We worked with ALT to acquire additional land for the park. So, I'm familiar with them,” he said. “I already knew the whole staff.”
In fact, MWCDC gave ALT its “Partner of the Year” award last year, and Beichner said he still plans to have ALT continue to be a great partner with MWCDC.
After four years at MWCDC, Beichner said he thought it was a good idea to move on because he had finished what he wanted to accomplish for the organization, helping to rebuild it after continuous staff turnovers and a decrease in funders.
He was selected for the new ALT post from a large pool of candidates after a six-month search.
Since graduating from Clarion University, where he received a bachelor's degree in business management, he has worked on community development. The father of three with another on the way said he thought it was time to expand his background and expertise and try something new.
For eight years before working with MWCDC, which focuses on business attraction and community development, Beichner also served in various capacities, including community development and planning director at Northwest Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission in Oil City.
Beichner, who received the National Association of Development Organizations Innovation Award twice, said he can't say conservation and environmental issues always have been his passion, but he did enjoy helping with the greenway plan for Emerald View Park.
“Working with the community and entrepreneurs and helping people succeed is my passion. I want to help ALT succeed in its mission to acquire and conserve the land, which is so important especially in this area where there is so much development,” he said.
At the moment, Beichner, who has been on the job since September, is working on an assessment of the organization, “capacity wise” to map out areas in which the organization possibly could improve and is looking at the strategic plan to target future goals and objections.
Just recently, ALT was asked to help with a conservation easement on property in Fox Chapel, and Beichner said he wants to make it known to more landowners that ALT also can help them to ensure their property will not be developed and also help them earn tax deductions.
ALT hopes to acquire 180 acres formerly owned for 80 years by Pittsburgh Cut Flower in Pittsburgh, which sold and delivered roses all across the East Coast.
The property has been vacant for 20 years, and 30 acres is considered blighted. However, Beichner said 150 acres contains lush meadows and a pond, which ALT wants to conserve. The organization also would like to remove the blight so that economic development can occur in that area. With the help of volunteers, the trust is working to raise $140,000 in matching funds that would be used with grants to total the $1.4 million needed to buy the Richland property.
“We have several different projects like that coming up. There are several opportunities we are looking at,” he said.
He said he just had a phone call from an attorney of a landowner in Sewickley Heights who wants to donated 10 acres to the organization, and ALT is about to close on 80 acres in Marshall Township called Venango Trails.
Presently, a thousand additional acres are under contract or in negotiations, which Beichner said is a huge effort, especially because 1,500 acres total have been acquired and conserved since ALT's formation 20 years ago.
According to Roy Kraynyk, the first ALT executive director who served in the position for 11 years, said one of the reasons for the increased acquisition is a recent change in the organization.
He said with his title change to land protection director, and with Beichner taking on the duties of executive director, ALT now can accelerate projects and take on more at one time.
Kraynyk said he approached the board earlier this year with the idea of his stepping down from the executive director's position to dedicate more time to ALT's core mission and his passion of land conservation. In his new position, he said he is able to develop his time to identifying conservation targets that meet ALT's Greenprint criteria, negotiating the deals and raising the money to make them happen.
Beichner said he works on both external relationships with partners, elected officials, funders and government agencies as well as financial management, human resources, marketing and public relations. He also was involved in this year's Bounty in the BarN fundraising event.
“My job is to keep the organization going in a positive direction and meet its goals,” he said.
Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Progress gives residents hope
- Host of Steelers veterans look toward career survival mode
- Young defensemen lift Penguins to win
- Steelers film session: Polamalu not at fault on long run
- One dead in officer-involved shooting in Monroeville
- Expert: KO doesn’t mean ‘worst’ concussion for Pens’ Orpik
- Pirates notebook: Huntington narrows team’s offseason targets
- Penguins’ Neal suspended five games for Marchand hit
- Pirates will shop while starting pitcher Burnett makes his decision
- Steelers notebook: Offense fails to make splash; defense lags
- Massey parent Alpha Appalachia Holdings settles lawsuit for $265M