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.”