When is a park not a park? For years, the city has had undeveloped greenways where people could enjoy nature in the city. They looked like parks and acted like parks but they weren’t officially parks.

That changed when City Council approved outgoing Mayor Bill Peduto’s plan to bring more than 300 acres of greenways under the Citiparks umbrella – including three new official parks in the area and one that’s being expanded.

Some of the land is just hillsides that are too steep to be developed. Others have walking trails. Greenways make up about 14% of the city’s public open space. Without better oversight, they’re “vulnerable to over-use and illegal or inappropriate activities such as dumping, squatting and motorized ATV use,” Pittsburgh wrote on its Greenways page.

The four greenways in the area that are becoming parks are:

Nearly ten years ago, the city announced goals for parks in the city’s OpenSpacePGH plan after people indicated they wanted more greenways, trails and open spaces in the city.

The city has a goal of having parks available to all neighborhoods by 2030, so that residents can walk to a Citiparks park within 10 minutes. The goal was set in the OnePGH resilience strategy.

Pittsburgh will be a resilient city when the entire community shares the same opportunities for prosperity, and when all residents are well cared for and prepared to face potential risks and adversities.

OnePGH resilience strategy

Pittsburgh property owners pay a surcharge to underwrite improvements at the city’s parks. The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy estimates the city will spend nearly $60 million on parks from last year through 2025 – with $10 million of that amount earmarked for the city’s poorest neighborhoods. City council extended the city’s contract with the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy to work with all the city’s parks – not just the biggest ones.

A lot of work remains to expand existing parks or create new ones in the area. The parks have to be named and plans developed with public input. The question of whether to leave them mostly as natural greenspace where people can go for walks or develop them with playgrounds and ballparks will be addressed.