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Pitcher Park Plans On Pace With Project Deadline

A spaghetti dinner and Chinese auction will be held Saturday to raise money for the proposed skate park.

Nearly two weeks away from being one year into a five-year fundraising campaign to see a proposed skate park come to fruition, Mary Pitcher said the effort named in memory of her sons is still going strong.

Supporters of Pitcher Park will host a spaghetti dinner and Chinese auction at Mt. Lebanon United Presbyterian Church on Saturday, hoping to raise a portion of the $500,000 needed to fund the recreation area. Tickets are $7.

A previous fundraiser drew 350 people, and this time the all-you-can-eat pasta dinner will feature a bigger Chinese auction. Autographed hockey gear tops the list of items to be auctioned.

Alyssa Milano donated clothing from her team apparel line and signed a Pitcher Park T-shirt, Sidney Crosby signed 100 jerseys, and other team attire has been autographed as well.

Funded by donations and grants, and sought by Pitcher, a former Dormont resident who now lives in Scott Township, the proposed skate park was approved by Dormont council 4-3 last April.

The park is expected to cost between $300,000 to $500,000, depending on how many in-kind donations and materials are received, she said.

Raising $500,000 “would be nice,” she said. “We’d rather have more than less.”

Council gave Pitcher five years to have the funding and plans in place.

“They basically told us last year if you can raise the money, you can have the park,” Pitcher said. She declined to say how much has been raised so far.

Preliminary plans have the park occupying the space along Banksville Road where the tennis courts are located. Upon construction of the park, those courts would be relocated.

The park is named for Pitcher's sons Vincent, 21, and Stephen, 19, who drowned in 2008 while on a camping trip in the Kinzua Reservoir.

She has two other sons, Jonathan, 28, who lives in Scott, and Brady, 26, who lives in Castle Shannon.

As a mother of four boys who grew up in Dormont, she said there’s nowhere for kids to go in the borough.

“It’s illegal to skateboard in private places and in the street in Dormont. (Pitcher Park) will give kids a safe place to play,” she said.

Plans for the park have often been met with controversy, and the proposed location next to Dormont Pool is the third suggested designation.

“We moved the park three times because we listened to the voice of the people,” she said.

Money for Pitcher Park is also collected through the organization’s Web site,  www.pitcherpark.com, which allows users to donate to the memorial fund through PNC Bank.

“My sons are dead. They would not be able to enjoy this,” she said. “This is for the kids of Dormont, this is so they have a safe place to go.

“As a mother who has lost children, I still instinctively worry every single day about my children. (Pitcher Park) will be a place for kids. It’s not a place for me to heal. I don’t know if I’ll ever heal.”

Daniele Ventresca March 17, 2011 at 10:55 PM
So many questions/concerns... 1. From the title of this article, one would assume that this group has raised about $100,000 this year. I assume that to be "on pace" that is the amount that the group needs to raise yearly. Is that accurate? 2. Council gave approval for a skate park of a certain size (15,000 sq feet). They did not give approval for anything less. So it would not only be "nice" if she can raise the $500,000, it is a requirement or the park is a NO GO! Also, at the meeting with Grindline regarding skatepark design (which BTW was mostly attended by residents who are not in favor of the park), they estimated more like $500,000-$800,000 for the park that Pitcher proposed to council and this community. 3. Pitcher also needs to raise the money or find grants to relocate the current tennis courts or again, the park is a NO GO. The community of Dormont was promised that no taxpayer money would be used for any part of this. 4. According to Council, the park is not going to be named Pitcher Park. There will be a memorial wall but the name of the park is yet to be determined. So stop calling it Pitcher Park, it is misleading to the community. 5. Finally, how about asking the community for some input on future articles? All the press has been completely one-sided on this issue. People who actually live in Dormont have opinions on this matter (both for and against).
Danielle Nicole March 18, 2011 at 04:50 AM
Let's talk facts about Pitcher Park. Fact 1. Dozens of Pitcher Park supporters (from moms to youthful skateboarders/bikers) went door to door, on foot, throughout Dormont and collected over 1000 signatures of people who were in support of a skate park in Dormont, which were lost by Council. Fact 2. I personally collected about 60 0f those signatures and talked to 65 people. That means 5 out of 65 did not sign. And their reasons varied. One said he needed to look into it more before deciding, one seemed mentally ill, and afraid to talk to me, and the other 3 said they were not in favor of the park. Fact 3. The name of the park is and always will be Pitcher Park to those who are in support of it. Whether or not Council agrees to naming it that, or whether Mary gives up the name is a moot point. Even if the gate says, "Dormont Skate Park" it will ALWAYS be Pitcher Park to us. (not fact) Why would anyone with a sane mind argue that?? Have you heard why we are building it? Do you have a heart? I mean, really. Fact 4. No one, in favor of or against Pitcher Park needs to worry about what is in Pitcher Park's bank account. If we have the money to build a park, we are going to. If we can't raise it, we won't. It is as simple as that. If you want to know what we are going to do with the money should we not raise enough, just ask. We have a plan. Danielle, have you ever sat down and talked to Mary rather than about her? Try it, you might learn a thing or two.
Danielle Nicole March 18, 2011 at 05:03 AM
Furthermore, Mary Pitcher has exhibited great character, strength, and perseverance in the midst of the most egregious of circumstances and company. And in case you are wondering (which I'm sure you are) I don't live in Dormont. Unlike the handful of usual suspects not in favor of the park, I happen to think that boundary lines in communities are a bit arbitrary when it comes to doing good things for kids, and families, and Pitcher Park is one of those things, whether you see that or not. Regardless of one's opinion regarding Pitcher Park, the vitriol really needs to stop.
Daniele Ventresca March 18, 2011 at 10:45 AM
I agree that you had a lot of support but you also have a lot of folks who are in opposition to this park. We have asked the same questions over and over and over and over (you get the point) with nothing but generic answers from Council and the supporters of this park (and I am not referring to what is listed above those were just questions/concerns that were generated due to this article). So I will address your "facts." 1 and 2. You should have copied your petition. I am sorry it was lost. I wish there was a copy because I do not believe it was valid and I would love to see it. When you collect a petition everyone should be read the exact same statement regarding what they are signing. I've had people tell me that they were told different things regarding the park. I think you geared your message to who you were talking to at the time. I've also heard that not everyone was a Dormont resident. Bottom line, it was Pitcher Park's responsibility to make a copy of the petition before presenting it to Council. Also, I work in mental health and diagnosing someone as mentally ill because they would not sign your petition is highly discriminatory and I take offense. Continued below...
Daniele Ventresca March 18, 2011 at 10:57 AM
3. Questioning my sanity or heart just because I have questions and concerns? Really? Do you know the definition of vitriol? Nothing I have said even comes close to being bitter or cruel. Trying to make me look like a bad person because I do not agree with you is simply bad form. I have numerous genuine concerns regarding this park that I do not feel have been adequately addressed. I am entitled to my opinion. 4. Finally, the community does have a right to know the progress of fundraising on this project. It is our community that this park is being built in and could ultimately become our tax responsibility. And since you told me to ask, I will. What are your plans if you do not raise the money?
Danielle Nicole March 18, 2011 at 05:01 PM
Pitcher Park supporters understand that some people oppose the idea of a skate park. Dormont residents once opposed the Castle Park, which has become a beloved amenity of Dormont. We celebrate the differences within communities even if those differences are opinions. It has been our experience however, that no matter what we do, say, plan, etc, we are perceived to be in the wrong by those who don't want Pitcher Park. People ask questions, we answer them, we are accused of not answering them, and the cycle continues. And that's just the tip of the ice burg. Everything we have shared has been twisted and used to maliciously discredit us, from our budget to our designs, no matter how willing we've been to work with the opposition. That is why we are cautious in what we share, and how we share it. We are not opposed to transparency. We have just learned that transparency only works if people are not trying to sabotage us, so instead, we have to be a bit more guarded than we'd prefer. Continued below...
Danielle Nicole March 18, 2011 at 05:02 PM
I can tell you this, The fund raising efforts are going well. In fact, tomorrow (as the article points out) we are having a spaghetti dinner at Mt. Lebanon United Presbyterian Church, which we are very excited about. It starts at 6pm, and we are expecting a huge turn out. Funds (large and small) continue to be received from a variety of sources, and we are confident that we are going to reach our end goal in the time frame we need to reach it. In the unlikely event that the funds to build Pitcher Park in Dormont are not raised within the approved 5 year period, we will: 1. Donate a portion of the raised money to the efforts of building a skatepark elsewhere. 2. Donate the remainder of the money to fund scholarships for Woodward Skate Camp that would be awarded to Keystone Oaks students who show significant academic improvement and attendance records. The exact amounts will be determined if we get to that point, and will depend on how much we have raised. We are confident though, that the funds will be raised, and that the park will be built in Dormont, without any additional tax burden on the residents of Dormont.
Danielle Nicole March 18, 2011 at 05:15 PM
And for the record, the implication that I erroneously "diagnosed" a person as mentally ill because they did not sign my petition is laughable. I have 10 years experience and a Masters Degree in a mental health related field. I'm confident in my ability to assess if someone is of sound mind to sign a petition. I also know what vitriol means, and I intended to use it to describe the actions of anyone who questions a mother's desire to name a park after her two dead sons. All valid and invalid concerns about Pitcher Park aside, the fact that people are trying to make a case, in opposition of the use of "Pitcher" (with all due respect) evinces a lack of compassion, and a sense of humanity. I don't have any enemies. But if I had a "worst enemy", and if their children died tragically, I still couldn't imagine fighting their desires to build a park and name it after their kids. Something just isn't right about that.
Dan Nephin March 18, 2011 at 05:51 PM
Folks: I know the skatepark is a controversial issue. We'll be writing more on it, so, if anyone cares to comment for a news article, please email me your contact information at dan.nephin@patch.com. If you don't want your name used, don't contact.
Elizabeth R. March 18, 2011 at 11:32 PM
I personally think while the idea of a so-called 'memorial park' is right in the heart, but I do not believe Dormont is the place. Currently if you read many other comments on different articles people are saying Dormont is going South (I do not think that in the least bit) but putting a skatepark in would be magnify that. I'm sorry to stereotype but skateparks do not bring the best individuals in to them, and I do not think that Dormont needs any more disturbances brought on (especially by someone who does not live in the boro and would not have to deal with it!). I live in Dormont and am completely opposed to this park and refuse to support it. While I get there are people who are strongly for it I am tired of hearing one-sided arguments. Therefore Daniele Ventresca is is so refreshing to hear your comments on this matter.
Kristen Pauchnik March 28, 2011 at 01:39 PM
I have been an active resident of Dormont for 14 years. I have a 10 year old son and a 6 year old daughter. I AM the demographic for the proposed skatepark. I do have an opinion about it and have had many discussions with neighbors, parents, etc. on this issue. I have deep empathy for Mary Pitcher and I understand her motives. However, when you take a broad look at the financial issues plaguing our community, as a parent, I would hope one would find a true "need" in that community. Example: our schools are suffering. While many concerned parents have saved them from a formerly proposed consolidation, we are now facing 20 retirements in the district - of which very few would be replaced. The district has proposed to increase class sizes for 4th & 5th grades ro 28-30 students per class. When I see a number like $500,000.00. I imagine what an impact that amount of money would have for ALL children in Dormont - not just those who would use the skatepark.
Kristen Pauchnik March 28, 2011 at 01:41 PM
Continued...I would hope the Pitcher supporters would want a lasting legacy for Mary's 2 sons. By using money raised in honor of her children for scholarships or a designated donation/grant for teacher salaries would provide a legacy for several generatioins of Dormont's children. In response to the petition I simply ask: What petition? I am a very visible, active parent and I was never approached and asked my opinion or asked to sign a petition. No one came to my door and tried to explain the benefits of a skatepark. In fact, no one asked ANY of the residents on my street. I know, because I went door-to-door to ask what my neighbors thought of the idea. I wanted to get a perspective from other residents, before coming to my own conclusions. My street is comprised of mostly older citizens, who have lived and paid taxes here for 30+ years. Most had not heard anything about it or shared with me where they would rather see money or support go to benefit ALL residents of Dormont. Again, NONE of them had been approached to sign a petition.
Kristen Pauchnik March 28, 2011 at 01:42 PM
Continued... I think my point to this response is not to "bash" or even take a side (because I am confident in my opinion and the facts that support it), but to understand the process. It seems that it is a little lopsided. I am a firm believer in the Democratic process and if a majority of residents supported the skatepark, I would take my lumps. However, I just don't see the support. In talking with friends and neighbors, I would say 1 out of 100 is in favor. And, by the way, that one was a teenage boy who is under 18, is not old enough to vote and doesn't pay taxes. When I asked if his parent's supported the skatepark, he sheepishly told me "no".
LatoniaLVR April 15, 2011 at 11:49 PM
I agree. As a resident I would be concerned about the increase in juveniles and the possibility of increased transgressions against people and property from the influx of kids coming through the area to use a skateboard park. I do feel the mothers pain as it is difficult to cope with the loss of a child, but most people desire to keep their pain and loss private and not seek a public monument for a private loss. We recently had articles about the high cost of law enforcement in the borough and such an attraction could be forecast to stretch those resources. I'll only mention the increase in drug use and trafficking. Additionally will Dormont have to bear a higher cost for insurance as such a park will likely have a lot of broken bones, etc... What happens if a child has an accident that results in death or paralysis? The park would have to be monitored constantly to ensure all facilities are in working order. As I said, feel her pain but don't want to see my taxes increasing as a result of her memorial.

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