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Brentwood residents, officials strive for clean, improved Hollow

| Wednesday, April 23, 2014, 9:05 p.m.
Stephanie Hacke | South Hills Record
Alex, 8, and Michelle Kirkpatrick of Brentwood work to clean up the Brentwood Hollow during the second clean-up event they organized in the area on Saturday.

A muddy trail weaves through the trees and above the creek bed.

Families walk along the path or go off into the woods for a hiking adventure as motor bikes zip past on an afternoon joyride.

“I would like to dig a little clubhouse down here — an underground one,” Alex Kirkpatrick, 8, told his mother as he gathered with family and strangers in the wooded haven on Saturday.

“Maybe we could put a zip line in the trees,” said Michelle Kirkpatrick, 41.

Nestled in the heart of suburban Brentwood, is the Hollow — connecting Brentwood Avenue and Wanley Road — a trail that local officials say has potential but likely is underutilized. They're hoping to fix that, by sprucing up the area — and the rest of the borough — with a cleanup effort to eliminate dumping.

“We're looking for this to be a nice place for people to go for a walk, ride their bikes, have a picnic — be able to enjoy the outdoors,” said Councilman Bob Pasquantonio, who is leading the charge to make improvements in the Hollow.

First, comes the cleanup. Second, will be plans to make upgrades like adding mile markers, benches and turning the main course into a multimodal trail, Mayor Dennis Troy said.

A walking trail committee was formed earlier this year with the mayor and council members Stephanie Fox, Pasquantonio and Dean Trent, with the goal of making improvements to the Hollow.

A cleanup — the second of its kind — was held in the Hollow on Saturday.

The Kirkpatricks, who live on Shadyway Drive, organized a cleanup in the fall where 25 people attended and about one ton of waste was collected. On Saturday, nearly 50 people attended the cleanup, where 50 piles of trash were collected.

Hub and Alex Kirkpatrick were headed to Brentwood Park when they discovered the Hollow. They love to explore, they said, so they kept walking.

“Right away, I started noticing the trash. He started noticing it, too,” said Hub Kirkpatrick, 44.

The family of three, which home schools, began regular trips to the Hollow, with several grocery bags in hand. Each time, they left with four or five bags full of trash.

So, last fall, they sought the help of their neighbors, which include Pasquantonio. They got a donation of vests and gloves from Allegheny Cleanways and organized their own cleanup. This year, Great Allegheny Cleanup of Pennsylvania donated items for their effort.

Each time they go back to the Hollow, more trash appears. It seems like old garbage is surfacing, they said.

Yet, if people would stop dumping, it would help alleviate the problem, Hub Kirkpatrick said.

That's the same message Pasquantonio is trying to share. He asked council members on Monday if they could reach out to youth in Brentwood's schools to teach them about the wrongs of littering.

Council members also plan to vote next week to apply for a grant to make improvements to the Hollow. That would include adding a parking area, officials said.

“We're a walking community. This is another way to further that by providing people a way to get from here to there,” Troy said. “I think it's a fantastic idea. This is country life in the urban south Pittsburgh suburbs. It's such a great resource.”

Alex Kirkpatrick enjoys playing video games, but he also likes to wander around outside, his mother said.

“There's just that balance. That's the nicest thing about where we live. We can walk to the library or be in the woods all in just 10 minutes,” Michelle said.

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or shacke@tribweb.com.

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