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Editorial: Fund improvements at Point State Park

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette logo Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 5/23/2022 The Editorial Board / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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Point State Park is one of Pittsburgh’s jewels, but it could use some polishing. The state system of parks has $1.4 billion in “infrastructure needs,” with funds from Harrisburg and Washington expected. As the department prioritizes upgrades to its 300,000 acres of parks and forests, we’d suggest three improvements to the Point.

A top priority should be making the park safer. Better and more clearly marked pedestrian access to the park is needed. With the ramps that descend from the Fort Pitt Bridge bringing in traffic at intimidating speed, and the mess of roads at the main access point to the park, walkers feel like trespassers in a cars-only landscape until making it, after a game of Frogger, to the security of the lawn.

The park also needs attractive but solid vehicle barriers at the entrance to the park, as park manager Jake Weiland has noted. They would make it safer, especially during large events, and set off the parkland even more clearly from the urban landscape.

The third improvement would be the most costly, but the most significant as well. There is one glaring deficiency at Point State Park right now, and that’s the flag bastion at Fort Pitt. The original pentagonal fort had five pointed bastions: Monongahela (the site of the Fort Pitt Museum), Ohio (outlined on the pavement inside the portal bridge), music (outlined on the lawn), grenadier (buried beneath highway ramps) and flag, which pokes outside the ramps, near the parking lot at the end of Commonwealth Place.

Flag bastion is where the British raised the Union Jack after defeating the French during the French and Indian War. Today, it’s a derelict triangular piece of raised pavement. It could be both a handsome historic monument — perhaps with a new pole adorned with historic flags — and a scenic spot to view Mount Washington and the Golden Triangle.

With more and more people discovering or rediscovering a love of the outdoors during the pandemic, and with gas prices rising, public parks will get increasing numbers of visitors. They need to be in the best shape possible. A jewel like Point State Park, which serves the entire region, and has historical importance as well, should be one of the first to be upgraded.

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