Planners Want A Park To Replace Part Of Pittsburgh Zoo’s Asphalt Parking Lot

Locator map with the Highland Park neighborhoo...

Locator map with the Highland Park neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania highlighted. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

City and neighborhood leaders envision a dramatic transformation of the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium’s parking lot and surrounding areas into a park-like expanse including a soccer field and a trail that would extend from Morningside all the way to the Allegheny River.

City Council this month approved the first installment of funding for planning what would be a multimillion-dollar project, which has the backing of Highland Park and Morningside neighborhood leaders and the zoo.

The Heth’s Run Ecological and Recreational Restoration Project, more than a decade in the making, will encompass about a mile of city-owned land from Heth’s Run Playfields behind Chislett Street in Morningside to the Allegheny riverfront.

The project includes a wheelchair-accessible trail through the wooded valley adjacent to the fields into a former city Department of Public Works storage yard and abandoned dumping ground behind the zoo’s parking lot. The paved trail will hug the outer edge of the parking lot, loop under the new Heth’s Run Bridge being built on Butler Street and out to the riverfront.

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Wild Dogs Kill 2-Year-Old Who Fell Into Pittsburgh Zoo Exhibit

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A 2-year-old boy fell 14 feet into the African painted dog exhibit area at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium shortly before noon Sunday and was mauled to death by the dogs.

Police said the child lost his balance after his mother lifted him in a standing position onto the 4-foot-high wooden railing of an elevated, gazebolike structure that overlooks the enclosure.  He toppled over the railing, hit a mesh shelf and landed on the ground of the open exhibit space, where he was set upon by the 11 dogs in the area.

The medical examiner’s office would not release the child’s name Sunday evening.  Police said he and his 34-year-old mother are from Pleasant Hills and were visiting the zoo with cousins, an adult and another child.

Major Crimes Lt. Kevin Kraus declined to comment on potential charges and said the bureau will continue to investigate to determine if anything could have prevented the death.

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