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Allegheny Land Trust adds 48 acres to Sewickley Valley project

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Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
 

More than 1,200 acres of untapped green space are linked with Allegheny Land Trust's acquisition of 48 acres in Sewickley Hills.

Land trust leaders, elected officials and others celebrated the 48-acre purchase last week with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“It's great to open this property up to the public,” land trust Director Christopher Beichner said. “It's great we can have this as a natural extension to the properties we already own across the street with the Audobon Greenway, and have that natural connection with the Sewickley Hills Borough Park and then also, on the other side of the property, the Sewickley Heights Borough Park.”

The Sewickley-based Allegheny Land Trust acquired the property from the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, which purchased the land in 1950, according to Allegheny County property records.

“(The diocese) very easily could've sold it to a developer and added to the housing developments popping up all over (Interstate) 79 right now,” Beichner said.

Land trust leaders raised $660,000 through grants and support from individuals and foundations, including the downtown Pittsburgh-based Colcom Foundation, a major contributor. The late Cordelia Scaife May established the Colcom Foundation in 1996; it supports causes and organizations focusing on quality of life and environmental stability.

In addition, 111 private donors gave $81,000, Beichner said.

“People in Sewickley Hills, Sewickley Heights, Sewickley and all of the Quaker Valley have been an important part of this,” he said.

“They understand the value of green space being protected. Everybody cherishes the land for a variety of reasons — whether it's through their passive recreation or seeing their property values increase, or they know they're not going to have a residential development pop up right next to their house.”

The acreage will remain mostly untapped, but land trust leaders will develop a management plan to determine whether trails should be added or changed, Beichner said.

State Rep. Mark Mustio, R-Moon, praised land trust staff and supporters, calling the acquisition another puzzle piece of protected greenway.

“This was a 48-acre piece of the puzzle that they're working hard every day to make this community better,” he said.

State Sen. Matt Smith, D-Mt. Lebanon, said the property will preserve green hillsides along I-79.

“We're literally 15 minutes from a major metropolitan center and we have 48 acres of preserved green space out here in Sewickley Hills,” he said. “It's a tremendous testament to the community coming together with Allegheny Land Trust and really doing a great thing.

“This isn't just great for Sewickley Hills, it's great for the entire region.”

Bobby Cherry is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-324-1408 or rcherry@tribweb.com.

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