Pittsburgh proposes prioritizing parks in vulnerable communities as research on parks’ benefits grows

A children’s playground at Baxter Parklet in Homewood. (Photo by Jay Manning/PublicSource)

by OLIVER MORRISON, PublicSource

Parks can improve the health of people and communities, but there’s some skepticism that the city has more pressing priorities and shouldn’t use a tax referendum for this cause.

Marcus Dorsey is the third generation in his family to work at Dorsey Records, a music store that opened in Homewood in 1946.

As a child, while his dad and grandpa worked in the store, he played across the street in Baxter Parklet, a small 2-acre park on the corner of Frankstown and North Braddock avenues. A firetruck used to sit in the park, he said, and some of the adults hanging around would pretend like the truck was moving when he turned the steering wheel. As he got older, he preferred to be taken to Highland Park, where the playgrounds are bigger. Still he spent a lot of time at the neighborhood park because it was so close.

Dorsey’s daughter, now in college, used to ride her bike at Baxter Parklet while her father worked at the shop. Dorsey’s son did, too. Now that his son is older, Dorsey is more likely to take him to Frick Park, where there are more kids and better amenities. He’s seen the padding under the swings replaced several times at Frick Park.

“I’ve seen other parks get redone probably two and three times since [Baxter] was” last redone in the early 1990s, he said.

Now Baxter parklet is largely empty, Dorsey said. Occasionally, he’ll see a couple of kids playing football at the park in the evenings. There are cracks in the playground padding, the equipment has graffiti and the paint on the swings has chipped off. When he walks his dog through the parklet, he said he has to keep his eye out for broken glass among the weeds.

Baxter Parklet is one of 165 parks in the city that, according to the City of Pittsburgh, are in dire need of resources. If voters approve a property tax increase in November, they would have the resources for a major transformation for the first time “in a generation.”

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https://projects.publicsource.org/pittsburgh-parks/

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