PITTSBURGH — A new pop-up mini-golf experience is set up in Mellon Square this weekend. It’s the latest effort to change the perception of this park amid recent challenges.
On Thursday afternoon, Bob & Jackie Coho stopped by the Farmers Market in Market Square. Then decided to play some mini-golf.
“Today, I was really surprised,” said Jackie Coho. “We weren’t her last week. We were down here the week before. There was a little bit of improvement. Today, it’s tremendously different down here. I’ve seen a big improvement.”
Bob and Jackie talked about seeing the trash, the syringes and people laying on the benches. On several occasions, over the last year, Channel 11 cameras recorded video of those things, even human waste.
“That’s why people don’t come down,” said Coho. “We come down regardless. I hesitate, but then I’m like you know what we’re going.”
The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership are just two of the organizations trying to improve Mellon Square and the rest of downtown.
“I think we’ve made a lot of progress over the summer with making Mellon Square a more welcoming public space,” said Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership President and CEO Jeremy Waldrup. “We still have challenges and issues with substance abuse disorders. We’ve increased our outreach efforts both within our organization and through partnerships with folks at the Department of Human Services and the City of Pittsburgh to really help those in need. We’ve also increased our security efforts.”
Back in April, the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy sent an e-mail to City leaders requesting immediate help, saying “conditions are worsening at an accelerated rate.”
Channel 11′s Alyssa Raymond asked Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy President and CEO Catherine Qureshi if that memo was the turning point?
“We’ve gotten support,” said Qureshi. “We do our role again, which is the green space and the fountain and the light housekeeping. And then the City of Pittsburgh does their role. And Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership does their role. For sure, we have all embraced and leaned into what it is that we do, and we do best.”
The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership says they’ve added more off duty police officers in public spaces and doubled street services.
“You’re going to be seeing investments in our public spaces throughout the rest of the year and into next year,” said Waldrup. “We’re thinking big. How can we transform our current spaces, and how can we create new places to really create a more diverse community here in Downtown Pittsburgh realizing we want more residents. We want more students in downtown so we need to make amenities like great parks to be part of that equation.”
“This wonderful mini golf course is one of many things planned for Mellon Square,” said Qureshi. “We have lunchtime series with music. We have evening Happy Hours, and we host a monthly block party.”
“Oh, I think it’s great,” said Coho.
The nine holes of mini-golf is temporary. It will be set up until Sunday September 24. It’s $5 per game or $2 for students with a valid ID. It will be open Thursday through Saturday Noon-9pm and Noon-6pm on Sunday. It’s free to play on Friday September 22 during the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Gallery Crawl from 5:30 - 9 pm. There will be music and Pittsburgh Mobile Bars.
The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership also announced its upcoming Views & Brews Tour. It’s a showcase of downtown residential properties. The event is on October 12, from 4-8pm. Tickets are on sale now.
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