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North Hills Monthly

Community Guide: Franklin Park

Jun 30, 2015 09:45PM ● By North Hills Monthly Magazine
By Shari Berg

Nestled away in the northwestern corner of Allegheny County is a community that has been named as one of the best – and safest – places to live by Money Magazine.

Franklin Park Borough, founded in 1823, is currently home to just over 13,000 residents. Its ease of accessibility to both I-79 and I-279, as well as its proximity to family-friendly facilities, has helped to spur the borough’s 19.75 percent population growth since 2000.

When Allegheny County was first formed in 1788, Franklin Park was included as part of Pitt Township. Over the years, as the area grew and prospered and boundaries changed, Franklin Park found itself part of other municipalities, but always as a second-class township. So in August of 1961, the Borough of Franklin Park was born.

Franklin Park continues to attract families looking for convenience to the big city of Pittsburgh without sacrificing the ability to live in a rural community. “We have a great location,” said Borough Manager Ambrose Rocca. “I-79 and 279 meet at the center of our borough, so access to other regions is easily accessible.”

Natural Beauty
Part of the charm of Franklin Park is its many parks and recreational opportunities. Blueberry Hill Park, located in the center of the borough just off of Nicholson Road, boasts 87 acres and includes active and passive leisure opportunities. The park’s Activity Center offers a variety of programs for all ages, and is also home to four ballfields and two sand volleyball courts. Kids have a blast at the Blueberry Patch playground–one of three playgrounds located within the park, and adults who enjoy history can stop by the historic log house, located by the lower meadow.

Eighty-acre Linbrook Park, often referred to as the borough’s best-kept secret, is situated in the western part of the borough and includes four ballfields, a soccer field, a lacrosse field, two playgrounds, two picnic shelters, an obstacle course, hiking trails and asque stream. “Linbrook gets quite a bit of use by the sports’ associations,” said Rocca. “A new pavilion is currently under construction and is expected to be ready by fall.”

For those who enjoy hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking, Acorn Park, located in the western part of the borough, contains 25 acres of untouched, natural land ideal for those activities, as well as a deck hockey area, a playground and picnic tables. Old Orchard Park is a 16-acre neighborhood park located in the southeastern part of the borough that includes a one-mile walking trail; a multi-purpose field, tennis court, volleyball court, small pavilion and playground area is under development.

Franklin Park is also home to the Mel Lubert Nature Reserve, an eight-acre park that features two retention ponds that are home to a variety of wildlife. Pine Creek runs through the center of the reserve, and future plans include the construction of a nature trail.

While not owned by the borough, Franklin Park also is home to Baierl Family YMCA on Nicholson Road, which includes a swimming pool available to members of the community, as well as a variety of programs for all age groups.

In Touch With its Rural Roots
While much of the surrounding area has become industrialized and developed, part of the inherent charm of Franklin Park is that it remains loyal to its rural roots. According to Rocca, the borough accommodates businesses that wish to relocate there, but does not actively seek out that kind of development. “Families appreciate the residential nature of the borough and that it hasn’t been overly commercialized,” he said.

When Franklin Park first came into existence, it consisted mainly of farmland. Today, it still offers its residents easy access to products grown and sold locally through Soergel Orchards and Kaelin Farm Market. In addition to seasonal produce and farm market items, Kaelin’s also operates a Country Kitchen that is open daily for lunch, and Soergel’s offers its customers a farm-fresh catering service that includes breakfast, lunch and dinner items.

Quality Schools, Low Taxes
Don’t be fooled by the rural appearance of Franklin Park. The borough is served by one of the best school districts in Allegheny County—a fact that appeals to many families looking to relocate to the area.

“The North Allegheny School District continues to receive accolades for its academic, artistic, athletic and extracurricular programs,” said Assistant Superintendent Robert Scherrer. “Our mission is to prepare all students for success in a changing world by focusing on the whole child. We are fortunate to have a team of wonderful educators enhancing the learning environments for all of our students each and every day.”

In addition to quality schools, Franklin Park also boasts some of the lowest tax rates in the county. “Our current tax rate is 1.077,” said Rocca. “We’re the second-lowest in Allegheny County.” 

Upcoming Events
  • Jun. 27: Festival in the Park (Community Day) at 4 p.m.
  • Jul. 10: Movie in the Park – Stuart Little
  • Jul. 14: Concerts in the Park –  North Suburban Symphonic Band/The Dixieband
  • Jul. 27: Scholarship Golf Outing