Mellon Park has been a beloved city landmark since 1944, but time has taken its toll. Now the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy has a plan to restore some of it history and upgrade its amenities.

The iconic Tennis Bubble will be modernized, and repairs will be made to the pavers and plinths within the Walled Garden. Improvements regarding park access, pedestrian safety and connectivity between the two sides of the park are also in the works.

“Mellon Park is a signature and beloved community park that serves a wide range of Pittsburghers,” says Brandon Riley, capital projects manager for the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy. “While the park is well-used and well-loved, it is physically separated by Fifth Avenue, which over time, has resulted in the park being viewed as two separate spaces.

In fact, Riley says, there hasn’t been a comprehensive planning effort that considered both sides of the park since the 1950s shortly after the property was gifted to the city by the Mellon family.

Based on community input, the Parks Conservancy and the city worked together over the last 18 months to develop an Action Plan, which they finalized on Sept. 21. It does not include a project timeline or budget, though, “as these numbers could be unreliable depending on changing market conditions and the timing of implementation.”

The plan breaks down the project into four tiers ranked based on community priority, construction sequencing, stormwater benefit and cost.

Tier one includes improvements to the rectangular field by the baseball field, traffic calming to ease pedestrian access, entrance upgrades to unify the two sides of the park, and restoration of the Terrace Garden.

The Parks Conservancy partnered with residents and community groups to ensure that the project will benefit the surrounding neighborhoods.

“There are a lot of different stakeholders and users for Mellon Park, all with different needs and priorities, so it was critical to ensure we were hearing from everyone,” says Riley.

Mellon Park
Mellon Park Walled Garden and fountain. Photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.

Friends of Mellon Park, East Liberty Development, Inc., Point Breeze Organization, Homewood Concerned Citizens Council, Larimer Consensus Group, Operation Better Block, Shadyside Action Coalition and the Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition consulted with the city and Parks Conservancy on the plan.

“The community was absolutely instrumental in the planning process. Their participation and feedback in community meetings, surveys and focus groups provided the basis for the recommendations in the Action Plan,” says Riley. “We truly could not have completed this project without the help and support of the community members and park users who care about this treasured park.”

Jason Phox is a journalist in the Pittsburgh area sharing important information with the people of the Steel City. He enjoys writing, photography, and mostly comic books.