In its biggest ever budget, the Allegheny Regional Asset District declared 2022 the âYear of Parksâ by focusing its support on area parks and trails and other local organizations that have been hit hard. by the coronavirus pandemic.
The RAD voted this week to allocate a total of $ 118 million in 2022, of which $ 102.6 million goes to 101 organizations and the remaining $ 14.4 million supports capital projects.
A large part of the budget will be devoted to outdoor recreation. More than $ 7.8 million in capital grants will support improvements to the region’s many parks and trails, which have seen a notable increase in visitor numbers since the pandemic began in 2020.
âGiven their heavy use over the past two years, we want to make sure our parks and trails are well staffed to remain safe and open spaces for the public,â said Dan Griffin, vice president of RAD, in A press release.
In a special report by Trust for public lands, the conservation organization said the pandemic has boosted park use in 2020, and that trend continued into 2021 as new virus variants continue to pose a threat. Two years after the start of the pandemic, many still feel uncomfortable about indoor gatherings, even those permitted by the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention and local governments, and parks have continued to provide an outdoor gathering space conducive to social distancing.
âThe global pandemic has underscored that nearby parks are essential to a community’s quality of life,â the report said. “During this crisis, people have turned to their parks like never before – for fresh air, for exercise, for meditation, for a sense of peace.”
In September 2020, the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy published a report, which reported that park use in Allegheny County increased 135% from July 12 to August 23, compared to baseline usage data.
RAD’s capital funding will support renovations and upgrades to playgrounds, tennis courts, walking trails, recreational facilities, shelters and washrooms, in addition to safety and lighting improvements in the areas. City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County State Parks.
For example, Renziehausen Park in McKeesport will receive capital funds to support trail extensions, new exercise equipment, and bridge hockey improvements, among others. A capital grant for Boyce Mayview Park in Upper St. Clair will support improvements to the Miracle Field accessible playground and its Perimeter Trail extension.
Libraries and parks in the region will receive the lion’s share of funding, according to the press release, with a combined total of 61% of the budget spent on these initiatives. Arts and culture organizations will receive 15%; sports and civic facilities will receive 12%; The Pittsburgh Zoo, the Phipps Conservatory and the National Aviary will receive 8%; and public transit will receive 3%. RAD administration remains below 1% of the total budget.
Four other organizations joined the 101 groups included in RAD’s 2022 budget: Brew House Association, an artist residency and gallery; Radiant Hall Studios, a low-cost studio space for artists; Riverlife, a non-profit organization dedicated to redeveloping the shores of Pittsburgh; and the Steel Heritage Association, a historic monument that showcases the region’s iron and steel roots.
In addition to adopting its budget for 2022, the board also authorized two final connection grants for 2021. Union Project will receive $ 80,000 to share a full-time rental space manager with Kelly Strayhorn Theater in East Liberty. The Rental Space Manager will review and manage the admissions process for both organizations, manage reception staff, and work with the marketing teams of both organizations for rental marketing materials.
In addition, the Kelly Strayhorn Theater received $ 70,000 to share a coordinator position at The Alloy with the Pearl Arts Dance Company. The coordinator will be responsible for administering the program, developing the program, registering for events and teaching dance classes in order to develop talents that could potentially have the opportunity to perform in various active.
These two projects align with RAD’s Connection Grants program, which aims to foster economic connections between regional assets and promote efficiency through structural and operational collaboration.
More information on RAD’s 2022 budget can be found here.