From Monroeville Mall to Monroeville Recreational Park
Brendan Ash, 12th Grade
Ever since I’ve been a little kid I can remember going to the Monroeville Mall with my family to go Christmas shopping, meet the Easter Bunny, or just to go look around so I can spend the day with family. The mall was so close to where we lived that it was an easy trip to make and there was just so much to do that we would spend all day going through shops or going out to eat in the surrounding restaurants for the whole day. However, as time has gone along, going to the mall hasn’t been as enjoyable as it's been in the past and now it seems like a waste of time. Growing up, the mall was always busy with every store packed, but now when I go to the mall I just see store after store closed. Covid - 19 did have an impact on this, but store closings have been happening for years at the Monroeville mall well before Covid - 19 came around. It isn’t the same going to the mall anymore. The excitement and joy of going is gone. Although the mall has been on the downhill, all hope is not gone. By re-imagining the Monroeville Mall to the Monroeville Recreational Park it will promote a more sustainable municipal area for the county, provide businesses with the opportunity to reopen their stores due to the popularity of the park which will lead to an increase in the economic sector of the county, and will create a space where people of all ages can go to hang out, bike along a trail, play basketball, tennis, etc.
This new Monroeville Recreational Park would provide a number of benefits to the surrounding area as well as Allegheny County and western PA as a whole. In this new park trees, flowers, and other plants could be planted in order to give the park a more natural look while but at the same time making the park environmentally friendly so it’s not just a concrete slab. Other than just looking nice, according to the Tree Advisory Board of the Bowling Green Community, “Trees reduce the amount of stormwater runoff, which reduces erosion and pollution in our waterways and may reduce the effects of flooding. Many species of wildlife depend on trees for habitat. Trees provide food, protection, and homes for many birds and mammals.” In this new park, oak trees as well as maple trees would be planted as they are some of the most common trees in Pennsylvania which means they would fit right in with the nearby wildlife. Not just trees would be planted in this park either, plants such as grasses, ferns, hedges, wildflowers, and shrubs would be planted too. According to the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension plants can offer lots of benefits to the area as well.“Beautification Draws Customers, Reduces Shopper Stress, and Enhances Store Appeal. Trees and other ornamental plants beautify otherwise bland areas. They help create a positive aesthetic environment that attracts and welcomes customers of local businesses. Stores with landscaped areas have proven to make shoppers feel more at ease, and also contribute to the appeal of a store.” The park would have lots of greenery, but at the same time it would have lots of things to do. Whether it be the two basketball/ volleyball courts, tennis court or bike trail that will go through the park there will be plenty of activities for park goers to do. In order for this park to be built however, the mall would have to have a complete restoration. The three main department stores which are Dick’s Sporting Goods, Macy’s, JCPenney would stay put and not change the location of where they are, but the surrounding smaller stores would have to be relocated to allow for more space for the park. The stores in business would still have their store located in the inside of the mall, but the location would have to change. Every smaller store would have the opportunity to have guests look into the mall now as the mall would form an upside “U” around the park. The stores would have a walkway in front of their stores with a glass barrier on both floors so guests can see the park, but at the same time still feel the “mall atmosphere”. This new park would be a gigantic rectangle with a bike trail going through the entire park, stores on the northside and recreational sport courts on the southside. In the middle of the park will be art sculptures, a massive fountain and walking trails so people can walk their dogs or just hangout with their family and friends. The mall would have the opportunity to extend farther south down the park if more stores want to come back to reopen which means that the mall would never become “closed” or “locked”. Although the price of this new recreational park and mall could be anywhere from five hundred thousand dollars to $10 million the benefits far outweigh the costs. The introduction of this new park would invite more businesses of the mall to reopen which means more people would come to the mall to spend their money. Over time, this operation would pay for itself, but at the same time it would make it so more people can interact with each other outside of a safe location. The park is environmentally friendly and it would increase social interaction among guests. The best of both worlds some would say.
Along with this re-imagined park, the rooftop and parking lot would be redesigned in order to be more ecologically friendly. The rooftop of the mall section would have solar panels attached to provide energy to support the mall's costly bills, but at the same time making the mall more environmentally friendly than it already is. According to Rick LeBlanc from ‘the balance small business’, “Energy savings from solar can be substantial. EnergySage market data suggests that the average commercial property owner in the U.S. can reduce overall energy costs by 75 percent by going solar. According to the report, the average commercial property owner paid $1,950 in monthly electric bills before going solar in their operations. They paid just around $500 after installing solar energy systems.” The parking lot would also be reconstructed in order to be much smaller and become more angled so the water coming off of the lot doesn’t contaminate the Turtle Creek Watershed. The edge of the parking lots to the actual mall and park would be minimally angled in order for water to flow back into the park and mall. To help with flooding due to this increased water flow, an improved drainage system would be put in place to solve this problem. The water would be drained instead of just flowing out of the parking lot. Overall, by assembling this new park and redesigning the Monroeville Mall, western Pennsylvania will prosper from the benefits it will provide.
Works Cited Page
“Ellison Chair in International Floriculture.” Ellison Chair in International Floriculture ICal, ellisonchair.tamu.edu/economic-benefits-of-plants/#:~:text=Beautification%20Draws%20Customers%2C%20Reduces%20Shopper,welcomes%20customers%20of%20local%20businesses.
LeBlanc, Rick. “Reduce Utility Bills With Solar Energy Options for Your Business.” The Balance Small Business, www.thebalancesmb.com/save-money-with-solar-energy-for-your-business-4108504#:~:text=Energy%20Cost%20Savings,-%E2%80%9CWe%20talk%20about&text=EnergySage%20market%20data%20suggests%20that,going%20solar%20in%20their%20operations.
Official Municipal Website of Bowling Green, Kentucky. “City of Bowling Green, Kentucky.” Benefits of Planting Trees - Bowling Green, Kentucky - Official Municipal Website, www.bgky.org/tree/benefits.
About Brendan Ash
Brendan is a senior at Norwin High School and loves to learn about biology, ecology, and science in general. He plays sports in his free time and strives to find ways to make his life more environmentally friendly. Brendan has been to the Monroeville Mall so many times throughout his lifetime and felt that this essay contest really connected with him.