Vacant land on the border between East Liberty and Larimer is about to become a fun-filled destination.
Liberty Green, a 3.25-acre site on the corner of Larimer Avenue and Station Street, will feature a playground, community plaza, open lawn, picnic areas, public art and infrastructure that will annually redirect 4 million gallons of stormwater. The park will be surrounded by new mixed-income apartments.
For the local community, it’s been a long time coming.
Larimer spent 15 years developing its Vision to Action Plan with the goal of rebuilding a sustainable neighborhood with affordable housing and green spaces. In 2014, the City of Pittsburgh and Housing Authority of Pittsburgh received a $30 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Choice Neighborhood program to implement the Plan. Recently, the Richard King Mellon Foundation provided an additional $650,000 for the park, which is a key piece of the Vision to Action Plan.
The project will go out to bid this summer and construction is expected to take nine to 12 months, said Gigi Saladna, chief communications officer for the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) of Pittsburgh. The URA committed local funds to match a $1 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program state grant to help pay for Liberty Green.
Because it lies in the Negley Run Sewershed, the city’s largest contributor to combined sewer overflow, an essential element of the park will be The Well: River Roots Community Arts Project.
Artist Alisha Wormsley will integrate stormwater infrastructure — including six bio-retention basins, a water pump, rill system and an underground cistern that will irrigate the land during dry spells — with water creatures, a sound sculpture and engraved stone seating. (Wormsley’s multimedia art project titled There Are Black People in the Future recently drew attention when a billboard bearing the phrase was taken down, provoking public outcry.)
“Building this park is directly in line with the city’s goal — outlined in the OnePgh plan — to provide parks or playgrounds within a 10-minute walk of every home in Pittsburgh,” Mayor William Peduto said in announcing the project. While thanking the Richard King Mellon Foundation for providing funding for the park, Peduto described Liberty Green as “one of the greenest parks in the country.”