USC Citizens for Land Stewardship
Conservation and stewardship of land and natural resources in Upper St. Clair

Boyce-Mayview Park

The Boyce-Mayview Plan - Making It Happen

by Tracey Buckman

The master plan for Boyce-Mayview was approved by the Commissioners of Upper St. Clair. The commissioners confirmed their commitment to accept and carry out the master plan, and further emphasized the need to get started on the implementation phase at the commissioners’ Information Meeting in November. This concludes a three-year process of developing public consensus on the vision and plan for future of the parkland. But, it is only the first step.

Now the real work begins in order to bring reality to this vision. The key to the success of transforming the plan into reality is the adherence to the basic concept, the plan’s design principles, and the sustainability principles that Wallace Roberts & Todd developed in the planning process. This is a worthy plan that fully recognizes the unique natural assets of this remarkable property. The social and recreational needs of the township have been balanced with the values of natural resource and land conservation to form an innovative design for the future management and use of Boyce-Mayview. The promise of the plan will be realized as each aspect is evaluated and phased in over the years. In the long run, it will be in the detailed design, management policies, and use that a true commitment to the master plan will show.

In December (1999), WRT proposed to the Board of Commissioners that the first phase of the implementation process, focusing on the Environmental Education Center, be expedited. Although there remain many details to be worked out on oversight, prioritization, and implementation strategies for the long-range plan implementation, the forces of scheduling and funding demand that action begin immediately. Senator Tim Murphy spoke about the need to move forward to take advantage of state and agency funding for this year. Concurrent funding opportunities for necessary complementary development, especially access, road design, permitting, survey, etc., were also described.

This initial phase illustrates the pressures that will be faced as opportunities and needs arise throughout the Boyce-Mayview project. The USC Citizens for Land Stewardship appreciates the push for expediency, however, we also recognize that the future integrity and full potential of the plan will depend on a carefully designed implementation strategy.

As a first step, it is recommended in the plan, and has been discussed at the Commissioners’ Board meetings, that an Implementation Committee be set up to oversee the process of putting the plan into effect. The Commissioners are preparing to discuss the make-up and responsibilities of that group, and have, in fact, been hearing public reaction to the suggestions presented by WRT. Public skepticism has resulted with people concerned about a committee primarily made up of township staff and Parks and Recreation Board members. Those concerns express the need for broader representation, clear definition of the role of the group, and for the process to remain open for public input and information.

The Implementation Committee that the board has charged the township manager with assembling is really operational in the sense of carrying out specific charges or duties (fundraising, construction, permitting, etc.) and is a vital link in the process. Obviously, the township staff is in the best position to carry out these kinds of details. However, it is the commissioners who will ultimately approve policy and maintain oversight of the master plan as it progresses over the years.

A primary objective during the planning process has been to meet the needs of the community. There are still many decisions to make and those decisions will again have to balance need against need. How will that be done? How will the board receive the information and ultimately receive recommendations? We see this as the opportunity to establish a creative, responsive group with the clear purpose of following through on the township’s commitment. By bringing together key representatives from the community in an advisory capacity, the board can ask for and receive a level of cooperation and consensus that is very difficult to achieve in once a month board meetings. More than a steering committee, we conceive of this as a “Friends of Boyce-Mayview” dedicated to the final realization of the Master Plan and complimenting the Implementation Committee. The primary requirements for participation should be full support of the plan and a commitment to see that its completion as a community resource is a success. By encouraging all interests to work together on the broad spectrum of issues it should serve to build the sense of ownership (community buy-in) and pride in this public conservation and community space.

As a dedicated oversight group, it would be charged with carrying out the tasks needed to bring the plan to reality. To do so it should keep an eye on the large vision, evaluating whether proposed projects fit into the framework of the plan and if they are consistent with the overall vision. It should be pro-active, able to effectively prioritize land management and projects, and initiate strategic planning. This should be on a level of policy determination. It should serve the commissioners as a policy advisory group that coordinates proposals with both plan integrity and operations requirements; interfaces with public and special interest groups; disseminates information; builds consensus; and, organizes and researches issues for the commissioners’ review and approval.

The CLS has been deeply involved in the Boyce-Mayview planning project from the outset. We support the plan and will continue to work intensively with both township and the community to see that the conservation/environmental and community values of the parkland are preserved and enjoyed by all.