RAD’s 2022 Budget Will Support Local Parks, Libraries and More
The Regional Asset District’s board authorized a historic budget of $118 million.
In its biggest budget ever, the Allegheny Regional Asset District has declared 2022 “the Year of the Parks” by focusing its support on the region’s parks and trails and other local organizations that have been heavily impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
RAD has voted to allocate a total of $118 million in 2022, with $102.6 million going to 101 organizations and the remaining $14.4 million supporting capital projects.
A large part of the budget will be going toward outdoor recreation. More than $7.8 million in capital grants will support improvements within the region’s many parks and trails, which have seen a notable uptick in visitors since the start of the pandemic in 2020.
“Given their extensive use over the past two years, we want to ensure that our parks and trails are well resourced to remain safe and open spaces for the public,” said Dan Griffin, vice-chair of RAD, in a press release.
In a special report from the Trust for Public Land, the conservation organization said the pandemic has bolstered the use of parks in 2020, and that trend has continued into 2021 as new virus variants continue to pose a threat. Two years into the pandemic, many still feel uneasy about indoor gatherings, even those that are 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.
“The global pandemic has underscored that close-to-home parks are crucial to a community’s quality of life,” the report read. “During this crisis, people have turned to their parks like never before — for fresh air, exercise, meditation, a sense of peace.”
In September of 2020, the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy released a report, which said the parks’ use in Allegheny County increased 135% from July 12 through Aug. 23, compared to baseline usage data.
The capital funding from RAD will support renovations and upgrades to playgrounds, tennis courts, walking trails, recreational facilities, shelters and restrooms, in addition to safety and lighting enhancements within the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County’s regional parks.
For example, Renziehausen Park in McKeesport will receive capital funds to support trail extensions, new exercise equipment and deck hockey improvements, among other things. A capital grant for Boyce Mayview Park in Upper St. Clair will support improvements at the Miracle Field accessible playground and its perimeter trail extension.
The region’s libraries and parks will receive the lion’s share of the funding, according to the press release, with a combined total of 61% of the budget being directed into those initiatives. Arts and cultural organizations will receive 15%; sports and civic facilities will receive 12%; Pittsburgh Zoo, Phipps Conservatory, and the National Aviary will receive 8%; and public transit will receive 3%. RAD administration remains less than 1% of the total budget.
Four more organizations have 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 nonprofit aimed at redeveloping Pittsburgh’s riverfronts; and Steel Heritage Association, a historic landmark that highlights the region’s steel-making roots.
In addition to passing 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 space rental manager with Kelly Strayhorn Theater in East Liberty. The space rental manager will review and manage the intake process for both organizations, manage front of house staff, and work with both organizations’ marketing teams for rental marketing materials.
Additionally, Kelly Strayhorn Theater was granted $70,000 to share a coordinator position at The Alloy with Pearl Arts Dance Company. The coordinator will be responsible for program administration, curriculum development, event registration, and dance class instruction to develop talent who could potentially have opportunities to perform at various assets.
Both of these projects align with RAD’s Connection Grant program, which seeks to foster cost-saving connections between regional assets and promote efficiency through structural and operational collaboration.
More information about RAD’s 2022 budget can be found here.