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Hill District to revitalize green spaces and river views

The Hill District's views rival Mt. Washington's. The Downline skyline, the Allegheny and Mon Rivers, the bridges and slopes. It's all there. It's just hiding, or ignored, say the organizers of Find the Rivers!, and it's time to do something about it.

Find the Rivers!, formed in 2002, has brought on Oakland, Calif.-based landscape architect/artist Walter Hood to help reconnect the Hill to its natural resources. Hood, who has also been commissioned to design an August Wilson-inspired pedestrian walkway at Uptown's new arena, is spearheading Find the Rivers!'s Greenprint project. The project is in its early stages now, and aims to preserve, improve and sustain the health and beauty of the Hill District's natural and built landscape.

Hood will reveal the community green space plans at 6 p.m. Thurs., Sept. 3 at Downtown's August Wilson Center for African American Culture, which is hosting its facility grand opening gala on Sept. 17. These plans are the result of much community dialogue and collaboration, says Denys Candy, co-founder of Find the Rivers!, a partnership of The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, Hill House Association, Hill District Consensus Group and the Community Partners Institute.

Greenprint plans could include a number of projects, says Candy, including refurbishing city steps to connect different parts of the neighborhood, building overlooks, planting food farms and biofuel crops in vacant properties, and cleaning up and updating playgrounds and parks.

"We're still in the first phase, the concept phase," says Mike Sexauer with the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy. "These projects could take years to get off the ground, but we hope to start in 2010."

Writer: Caralyn Green
Sources: Denys Candy, Find the Rivers!; Mike Sexauer, director of marketing, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy

Photograph courtesy Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy

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