As dozens of people gathered to celebrate the past and envison the future of the former Pittsburgh Cut Flower property, Allegheny Land Trust announced it has raised more than $1 million toward the $1.4 million purchase price of the 180-acre parcel in Richland Township.
ALT Land Protection Director Roy Kraynyk made the $1,064,500 funding announcement Saturday at a special event at the Northern Tier Regional Library.
The event was an opportunity for the local community to envision what it wants the former Pittsburgh Cut Flower property along Bakerstown Road/Red Belt to be in the future. In the meantime, photos and artifacts gathered and preserved by historian Brian Newhouse were on display to remind attendees of the past.
Attendees gathered around maps situated in the middle of each table in the library's meeting room to envision the future for the property, which now has dilapidated greenhouses and other decaying buildings on it.
The map delineated roughly 30 acres of the site as potential development area—most of that area is on Bakerstown Road where the greenhouses are and the area directly across the road.
"These are areas we are considering recycling back into the economy," Kraynyk said. "We're asking for your suggestions."
The other 150 acres—which has ponds, meadows, woodlands and streams—will be green space and a passive recreation area.
Although some attendees suggested a cafe would be suitable, most did not want to see significant development on the property.
Instead, they brainstormed about walking trails, community gardens, paddle boats and canoes on the ponds, picnic pavilions, tent camping, star parties for amateur astronomers, outdoor concerts, fishing, a scenic overlook and a farmers' market.
A brick house on the north side of Bakerstown Road near the greenhouses is on the "save" list, though other nearby houses have been torn down. Potential uses for the house include a natural history museum or perhaps a place for retreats and weddings.
Getting young people involved in the park was encouraged, with a suggestion that the place should be incorporated into Pine-Richland School District's curriculum.
Kraynyk said Allegheny Land Trust will put all the information together and bring it back to the community in March or April.
Brian Newhouse and his wife Nancy live in the house that once belonged to Fred Burki, the founder of Pittsburgh Cut Flower.
Collecting photos, artifacts and stories about Pittsburgh Cut Flower has become Brian's passion since they bought the place three years ago.
"We're passionate about the history of the property," said Newhouse, who displayed his framed photos as well as artifacts from Pittsburgh Cut Flower at the library event.
Part of the Newhouses' home will be dedicated to Pittsburgh Cut Flower history, he said.
In Saturday's presentation, Brian traced the history of the property from the late 1800s to the present. The Richland operation closed in 1991.
Pittsburgh Cut Flower is still in business, with locations in the Strip District and Erie. It sold the property along Bakerstown Road two decades ago.
After summarizing a century of the property's history, Newhouse said: "It's time to grow something there again."
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