Because I tend to be an optimist I will give you the good news first. We have received some design proposals (by we I mean me, the Parks Conservancy and some other awesome people who have agreed to help with this project) and have selected some design teams to interview. This is pretty exciting - we've seen some examples of what these creative landscape architects and artists can do and soon they'll be able to tell us how they plan to make Kate and Peter's Treehouse the coolest treehouse ever!
And because I want you to feel really good before I tell you the not-so-good news, I'll tell you that the amount of money donated to this project continues to grow - a fact that constantly overwhelms me with people's kindness and generosity. Recently, while looking over my records of donations, I figured out that we've received donations from almost 700 individuals and businesses from 30 states, the District of Columbia, Canada and Australia. That's pretty darn amazing!
(By the way, some of you have emailed me and requested information on how to donate online. You can click on Kate and Peter's Picture where it says "Kate and Peter's Treehouse" on the left side of my blog or you can click HERE. Be sure to designate that you're donating to Kate and Peter's Treehouse. Thank you so much for your interest and for you donations!)
So here it is, the not-so-good news:
It seems as though there are some people who don't want this treehouse to be built in the part of Frick Park we have been considering. This certainly isn't the worst news in the world, nor is it any sort of deal-breaker or project-stopper, but it is concerning. To me, it's confusing and disheartening.
I will certainly admit to the fact that I am naive and tend to see the world through rose-colored glasses, despite all the stuff life has thrown at me, but it never occurred to me that people might not want Kate and Peter's Treehouse. Since hearing this news I've had to take a couple of steps back and consider why people might not want a play space for kids in their neighborhood and if I'm just being selfish by wanting to build it there. At this point I don't know the answers to these questions, but i do know that it's certainly not all about me.
The reason I first thought of this area of Frick Park, which is known as Turtle Park - located in Regent Square next to the site of the Environmental Charter School, is because my kids really enjoyed playing there so it has a special significance to me. It's a very accessible part of the park, located in a neighborhood with a lot of kids. Kate and Peter's Treehouse would provide a state-of-the-art, educational play space for neighborhood kids, school students and other community members.
Right now there is a picnic table, a couple of benches, a big grassy area and a large turtle (which is why it's called Turtle Park). I walk through Turtle Park all the time and I know lots of folks in the neighborhood use that grassy area for picnics or pick-up football games so I certainly wouldn't want to change that space. However, behind the turtle is a grove of trees which, in my opinion, would be a great place for kids to run and climb and play in the trees. But again, my opinion is not the only one that counts.
I haven't heard directly from any of the people who oppose Kate and Peter's Treehouse, but I'd definitely like to understand their concerns. The last thing I want to do is disrupt people's lives unnecessarily or do something detrimental to their neighborhood. What is confusing to me is that I thought playgrounds and play spaces raised property values and benefited nearby residents, but maybe I'm wrong.
The most important thing now is that peoples voices be heard. Obviously, hundreds of people support this project. And now it is apparent that some people oppose it. It is vital that both sides speak out so we can figure out if this location is the best place for the Treehouse or if it would be better to build it somewhere else.
There will be a presentation and question and answer session at the Regent Square Civic Association meeting on Monday, June 7 at 6pm at the Wilkins School Community Center. This will be a great opportunity for people to voice their support or opposition about Kate and Peter's Treehouse. If those of you who live in Pittsburgh and/or use Pittsburgh Parks feel strongly about this project and can get there, I would love to see you at this meeting!
If you can't make it to the meeting, but want your voice to be heard you can Contact Doug Shields, the City Councilman whose District includes this part of Regent Square, at 412 255-8965.