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North Hills Monthly

Community Guide: Ross Township

Jun 01, 2015 11:29AM ● By Shelly Tower Rushe

Ross Community Center

Think of Ross Township, and shopping might come to mind—after all, it is home to Ross Park Mall, which attracts people from all over the region to its big-name anchor stores like Macy’s and Nordstrom’s, and Northway Mall, which was the first enclosed mall built in the state of Pennsylvania. Or you might think of its many different restaurants—did you know that the first Big Mac was created in 1967 by Jim Delligatti at the McDonald’s on McKnight Road or that Kelly O’s Diner in Pines Plaza was featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives? But while shopping and dining are an integral part of Ross, it’s certainly not all that the community has to offer.

In November of 1809, John McKnight and 30 other residents were granted permission to form Ross Township. The township was named after distinguished Pittsburgh attorney James Ross, who was George Washington’s land lawyer and was a representative at the convention to ratify the Pennsylvania Constitution.

Native Americans traveled the Venango Path, which was later known as Franklin Road and was a crucial route used during the Battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812. In the 1920s, Senator Herman P. Brandt petitioned to have the road paved, and its name changed again, this time to its current Perry Highway.

The roads aren’t the only things that have changed since the township’s inception. The borders of Ross have shifted slightly over time, most significantly when West View seceded in 1905, taking a southwestern chunk from the township. Today, the 14.4 square mile township is home to approximately 31,000 residents.

 “We have everything in Ross, from commercial businesses to a wide range of residential areas, to a great school system, and 24 parks throughout the township,” said Township Manager Douglas Sample. “We are also conveniently located to downtown.”

Several of those parks are about to get a facelift. Plans based on the township’s Recreation Comprehensive Plan, which was adopted three years ago, include proposed trails to make walking and biking more accessible to the people of Ross Township and neighboring communities. The plan is supported by Bike Ross, a volunteer committee whose vision includes giving residents the ability to safely walk or bike to work, shopping and recreation opportunities.

 “This plan will guide us for the next 20 years,” said Sample. “The challenge we face is providing a level of service while keeping our taxes one of the lowest in Allegheny County.”

Keeping Ross Residents Active and Healthy
Amenities and community events abound, and include access to the Ross Community Center, a 16,000 sq. ft. facility that includes classroom and lounge space, a catering kitchen and gym, as well as an adjacent park with a playground, picnic facilities and the John Herb Baseball Field.

Ross is a Certified Gold Community with Sustainable Pennsylvania, which means that it focuses on the three facets of sustainability: the economy, environment and society. Township goals include encouraging recycling, reducing greenhouse gasses and conserving water, and residents are encouraged to use rain barrels, carpool and commute by bike, buy local, and recycle wherever possible. Plans are currently in the works to establish a community garden.

Ross is not only looking at the health of the planet, but its residents as well. The township recently joined Allegheny County’s Live Well Allegheny program, whose goal is to improve residents’ physical health, mental wellness, safety, nutrition, quality of life and more. Under this program, Ross is utilizing its many parks, Community Center and schools to combat childhood obesity and overall wellness.

Sample believes that people will be surprised to learn about all that Ross has to offer. “I think that outsiders just think of Ross Township as McKnight Road—they don’t realize how many great neighborhoods we have,” he said.   

Upcoming Events
•    Jul. 5: Independence Day Parade and Community Day
•    Jul. 18-19: Fishing Tournament for Kids Ages 0-14
•    Aug. 1: Great American Backyard Campout
•    Aug. 15: Evergreen Community Park Night Hike
•    Aug. 16: Get Out Get Fit: 5K Run/Walk and 1 Mile Fun Run