Robb Hollow Park

Harry Funk/The Almanac

The entrance to the existing trail at Robb Hollow Park in 2016

What started as a large dirt pile resulting from the expansion of the Mt. Lebanon public works facility is on its way to becoming a small park.

On Tuesday, Mt. Lebanon Commission awarded a $113,840 contract to John Zottola Landscaping Inc. of Penn Hills for work including the installation of a compacted-limestone path and retaining wall, tree and shrub planting, and placement of erosion and sedimentation controls.

The “parklet” or “pocket park,” as referred to in documents, is located near the intersection of Cedar Boulevard and Painters Run Road, and will be accessed by a trail leading from the parking lot of the rifle range adjacent to the public works buildings.

Zottola’s contract represents the second of the park project’s two phases, with a total cost of $217,380. The amount budgeted through the municipal capital projects fund is $360,000.

The municipality originally took bids in April 2020, but they were rejected as too high.

“It’s a good thing because we had much better prices this year, for both phases, actually,” said Michael Albright, project manager with Gateway Engineers, during the discussion session preceding the commissioners’ voting meeting.

He said the tentative construction start date is Sept. 7 and the project should be completed around Nov. 20.

“That’s the ideal time for doing planting and landscaping,” Albright told commissioners.

The idea of converting the dirt pile into something usable came from the Mt. Lebanon Parks Advisory Board, with member Elaine Kramer presenting the concept to commissioners in February 2019.

“This design does not include any amenities, such as a swing set or a bench,” Mindy Ranney, commission president, said Tuesday.

“We are thinking as a future project, the parks advisory board would work with the municipality and offer donation opportunities,” she said, such as naming a bench in someone’s memory. “There is a high-level design for those types of things in the future.”

She expressed enthusiasm about what will be planted at the site.

“I was very, very pleased with the recommendations for both the shrubs and the trees because they match the exact plants and plantings that the parks board has discussed we need more of in our parks,” Ranney said.

Although the “parklet” has yet to be named, Ranney suggested Cedar Hill because of its proximity to Cedar Boulevard and the municipality being named after a cedar tree. She also has looked into having a few cedars planted at the site.

Plans presented by Gateway Engineers call for a crushed-stone trail to extend from the rifle range lot to the “pocket park,” with a spur connecting with existing dirt footpaths through Robb Hollow Park.

A pedestrian trail behind the public works buildings, though, is to be discontinued.

“As we did some deeper research, the entrance and beginning of that trail section is actually on private property and not on municipal property,” assistant municipal manager Ian McMeans said.

Folkstone Road residents whose homes are on the hill above the trail have concerns about not being able to see pedestrians below.

“So the idea when we went back to the parks board and kind of conceived this plan was to bring the trail out to the front of the site so that it would be more visible from Cedar, more visible for public safety reasons, so people couldn’t go back there and hide,” McMeans said.

Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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