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Welcome Nick Sisco!

We are excited to announce that Nick Sisco will be joining Pashek + MTR as a community planner! Nick will join Adriana Bowman, Jenni Easton, Elaine Kramer, and Jim Pashek in advancing the firm’s work in community planning.

Inspired by Ian McHarg and as both an outdoor thrill-seeker (climbing and whitewater kayaking) and passionate urbanite, Nick envisions communities that can balance both the built and natural environments while meeting the needs of all residents (human or otherwise). He specializes in GIS analysis, cartography, and graphic design. He believes that complex concepts and data can be easily translated through minimalist design aesthetics. 

Nick has over five years in the planning profession in the public, private, and federal sectors. He has conducted planning efforts in communities across the US and in Germany. He has a breadth of experience in the fields of green infrastructure and resiliency planning.  

Nick holds a Master of Community Planning degree from the University of Cincinnati; a Bachelor of Science degree, Major: Geology and Environmental Science, Minor: Geography, from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; and a GIS Certificate recognized by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.  He holds certification through the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) and is currently pursuing his Geographic Information Systems Professional (GISP) certification. 

When not at work, you can find Nick climbing at Seneca Rocks, WV, kayaking the Lower Youghiogheny River, or at a concert near you.  

Heather Cuyler Receives Park and Rec Certifications

The next time you see Heather Cuyler, congratulate her!

Many of you know Heather Cuyler. If you don’t, please read this anyway, as we want to share her good news. Heather joined Pashek+MTR a little over a year ago as our recreation practitioner. In that role Heather is responsible for working with and advising many of our clients on park and recreation matters, from long-term planning to day-to-day operations and management.

With her extensive experience as a municipal director of parks and recreation, Heather decided to validate her abilities this year by garnering credentials. She has acquired new certifications, passing both the National Park and Recreation’s Certified Parks and Recreation Professional (CPRP) and their Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI) exams.

What does this mean to you?

  • The Certified Park and Recreation Professional certification is the national standard for all parks and recreation professionals who want to be at the forefront of their profession.
  • The Certified Playground Safety Inspector certification program provides the most comprehensive and up-to-date training on playground safety issues, including hazard identification, equipment specifications, surfacing requirements and risk management methods.

All of this means Heather is recognized by her peers and in the industry for leadership in the parks and recreation profession, and more importantly, that she is extremely qualified to guide you in your park and recreation endeavors.

Please contact Heather if you would like to:

  • Prepare or update your community’s Comprehensive Park, Recreation, and Open Space Plan, Active Transportation, Trail, or Greenway Plan;
  • Prepare a master plan for a new or existing park;
  • Determine whether your playground meets current safety requirements; or
  • Design and build a new play area.

She would love to speak with you!

Contact info:

Heather Cuyler

412-321-6362 Ext. 116

“Good for You. Good for All,”

This brief essay is from Pashek+MTR’s founding partner, Jim Pashek. It is excerpted from “Good for You. Good for All,” Pennsylvania Recreation & Parks, Spring 2018.


Every summer we enjoy the beauty of Moraine State Park. We have been going to the park for more than 20 years as a family and have many fond memories. Our sons love to ride on the bike trail through the woods and along the lake each time we go to Moraine. We drop them off at the beginning of the bike trail and then drive along the north shore to the marina to get the boat ready. The joy on their faces when they arrive at the marina at the end of their six-mile ride is very special to me. This summer, we have introduced a new generation to the bike trail. Our grandson, who is six, took his first bike ride on the Moraine trial. It was a great success, and we know that he will be excited to try a bike ride again this coming summer.

My wife and I have an older Flying Scot sailboat that we store though the summer at Moraine. We also bring kayaks with us so everyone can enjoy the lake. The lake is really beautiful, and we love to both sail and kayak. There is something very therapeutic in watching the wind fill the sails and feeling the warm sun. Any tensions we bring to the park seem to melt away as we drive along the park road into the marina and picnic area. We explore the shore habitats as we kayak, and see great blue heron, green heron, osprey, eagles and other lake birds. Even a very lost seagull is spotted from time to time. For the first time this past summer, our sons sailed the boat on their own. They were very proud of their achievement, and I was glad no one sustained a concussion as they “came about.”

Our lives are very busy. However, when a family trip to Moraine is planned, everyone works their schedules to be able to join in. Food is shared, memories are made, and there is a lot of laughter. Like most families, we have had our challenges. But when we arrive in the park, our cares seem to disappear. Even leaving the park can be a very special time. As we leave at dusk, the animals are out, and we have fun identifying them. Going to Moraine is a wonderful family tradition that we hope to continue for a long time.

Jim Pashek, founding partner, Pashek+MTR,

PRPS member since 1987


A Grass Roots Success Story – East Ohio St Ped/Bike Improvements

East Ohio Concept Plan 3-03-15 cropIn late 2014, the Northside Leadership Conference Pedestrian and Bicycle Committee learned PennDOT District 11-0 was in the final design process for improvements to the section of East Ohio Street between East Street and Chestnut Street. This corridor has one of the highest rates of vehicular/pedestrian accidents in PennDOT District 11-0, a three-county area.

Representatives of the North Side committee asked to review the PennDOT plans, and realized there was an opportunity to include pedestrian and bicycle improvements in the design. Nick Ross, chair of the committee said, “Everyone is a pedestrian at some point during their trip, and many also ride bicycles. We need to be thinking beyond car rides, and incorporating healthy transportation choices into our daily routine.” Abe Stucky, the Leadership Conference’s community organizer, then mobilized and coordinated the committee’s efforts with PennDOT, the City of Pittsburgh Pedestrian and Bicycle Coordinator Kristin Saunders, City Transportation Engineer Amanda Broadwater, and representatives of BikePGH.

At that point Pashek Associates, a landscape architecture and community planning firm with its office adjacent to the project area, offered assistance. John Buerkle, president of Pashek Associates and a member of the committee, and Sara Thompson, a Pashek Associates principal, reviewed and evaluated PennDOT’s proposed improvements. Then, with input from Stucky and the above organizations, they prepared a plan demonstrating how best practices for bicycle and pedestrian facilities (from the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials and the National Association of City Transportation Officials) could be incorporated into the plan.

East-Ohio-Concept-Plan-3-03-15-webCheryl Moon-Sirianni, PennDOT District 11-0 Assistant District Executive for design, said, “Pashek’s design made a convincing argument for the improvements, as they took into consideration PennDOT’s goals and objectives for the vehicular improvements and worked within the constraints of the physical environment to incorporate these pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements along the corridor.”

On March 4th, PennDOT held a public meeting to unveil the final design for the East Ohio Street Improvements project. Citizens attending the meeting supported the proposed pedestrian and bicycle improvements.

Nick Ross said, “Our proposal was a long shot. We approached PennDOT at the 11th hour in their design process. They had every reason to say we came too late into the process, and therefore our proposed improvements could not be implemented. However, PennDOT recognized the improvements would improve the safety of the pedestrian and bicycling environment, and was committed to incorporating those improvements into their design.”

John Buerkle said Pashek Associates, located along East Ohio Street since the 1990s, was pleased to donate work for this endeavor. “We want to give back to the neighborhood through our design work, and we truly believe these improvements will not only improve safety for pedestrian and bicyclists, but also will have a positive impact on the East Ohio Street business district.”

He added that the improvements are a small piece of a larger plan for bike-pedestrian corridors. The North Side committee is working toward an overall pedestrian and bicycle master plan for the neighborhood. Immediate goals include extending bike lanes along East Street to the northern neighborhoods and Riverview Park, and working with the city and county to extend bike lanes along Chestnut Street and the 16th Bridge to connect to the protected bike lane along Penn Avenue through the Downtown/Lawrenceville corridor.

The East Ohio Street improvements will be constructed over the next two years, beginning this summer and concluding in fall 2016.

N. Oakland Proposed Trails: Linking People, Nature, Neighborhoods

Neville-Trail-elevated-trail-renderingThroughout Pittsburgh are wild landscapes that could be terrific places for people to get out in nature. These are the hillsides that we often ignore as we pass by, or that we grumble about because they act as barriers between two nearby places.

What if we consider these wild urban landscapes as amenities instead of annoyances? What if we think about them as convenient places to walk the dog, watch birds or just be outside amidst nature?

Neville-Trail-trailhead-Centre&NevilleThis idea became the final project of Pashek Associates staff member Elaine Kramer in her master of landscape Neville-Trail-trailhead-Centre&Nevillearchitecture program at Chatham University. The  project proposes turning the wild urban hillsides of the North Oakland neighborhood into community assets. This builds on a long-term goal in the Oakland Planning and Development Corp.’s 2025 vision plan. Here are two parts of the plan:

  • The hillside between North Oakland and the Hill District could include a rugged trail that enables walkers to reach the fabulous views at Robert Williams Park, the highest spot in Pittsburgh.
  • The hillside between North Oakland and Lawrenceville could accommodate a multi-use trail leading from Centre Neville-Trail-Melwood-Ave-TrailheadAvenue and Neville Street to Herron Avenue Bridge, creating an important link between neighborhoods and existing trails. Part of this trail would be a tree-top elevated boardwalk.

Here are two links for additional information about the North Oakland wild urban trails proposal:

Post-Gazette news story

Oakland Planning and Development Corp newsletter

Chautauqua County Greenway Plan Receives Upstate New York Planning Excellence Award

The New York Upstate Chapter of the American Planning Association (NYUAPA) is pleased to announce that the Chautauqua County Greenway Plan has been awarded the 2013 Planning Excellence Award for Comprehensive Planning.  The 2013 NYUAPA Chapter Awards recognize outstanding work being done by planners, planning firms, elected officials, and citizens to advance the science and art of urban and regional planning in upstate New York. The award was presented at the NYUAPA’s annual conference in Schenectady. Chautauqua County received this same award for its Comprehensive Plan: Chautauqua 20/20 in 2011.

The Planning Excellence Award in Comprehensive Planning recognizes plans that advance the science and art of planning. Winning projects are distinguished for originality and innovation, quality, thoroughness, degree of public participation, and identified steps to put the plan into action.

Chautuaqua Greenways Award_crop

Summary of the Chautauqua County Greenway Plan and why it is Special

Chautauqua County’s rich system of four season greenways positively impacts the economies of our communities. The recommendations proposed in the Greenway Plan, which was a top recommendation in Chautauqua 20/20, creates a new enthusiasm for active living and healthy lifestyles; promotes outdoor activities; improves our quality of life within Chautauqua County; acts as a catalyst for economic development related to outdoor living; and establishes Chautauqua County as a destination center for outdoor adventure and lifelong learning opportunities.

This plan defines steps for the community to take to:

  • Formalize and maintain the rural outdoor lifestyle;
  • Fulfill the desire to be a four season destination for active outdoor living; and,
  • Capitalize on the positive economic impact that can be realized through providing goods and services that visitors to Chautauqua County desire.

One of the many objectives of the Chautauqua County Greenway Plan was to develop a unique, concise, easy-to-read, high quality plan developed within the constraints of a limited budget. The Project Team, comprised of the Chautauqua County Department of Planning & Economic Development, Pashek Associates, and other key stakeholders, strove to not overburden the document with superfluous information and facts. The crux of the plan is 162 pages in length, and the team produced an attractive Executive Summary that is only 12 pages in length. The supporting documentation is available on a CD and on the department website so that the plan can be reproduced at a reasonable cost. The plan integrates a unique style, is enhanced with colorful pictures taken locally, and incorporates modest graphics to convey its message.

Besides identifying and proposing the development of recreational greenways using existing Rights-of Way and natural corridors, the Plan also identifies towns based on their potential to provide amenities to trail users. These “Trail Towns” are ranked based on their ability to provide the goods and services needed by Trail Users. The project team felt it was essential to identify ten (10) demonstration projects that are to be the first projects pursued in the coming years (several are currently being implemented). Enough description about each project is provided so that it can be discussed and considered for implementation.

The Chautauqua County Greenway Plan also utilizes a unique methodology for defining its natural systems greenways by using natural, ecological and hydrologic infrastructure as building blocks for determining high-value natural areas, and allows these special areas to be ranked.  This information will help guide decision-makers towards or away from potential projects based on the sensitivity of natural areas where they are being proposed.


Trails Revitalize River Towns

Montour-Trail-Lower-TrailThis morning Jim Pashek was riding into the office on his bike and had a nice chat with Chris, a young man riding his bike to work downtown. Chris works in the Mental Health field and is studying at Pitt in Social Work. Chris recently moved to Millvale from the East End. He loves Pamela’s and the other great shops in Millvale but the primary reason he moved there was the trail connection from Millvale Riverfront Park to downtown. Chris’s story is a great example of how trails revitalize river towns.

Not only do trails provide recreational opportunities, but they truly are alternatives to driving and parking in the City. They become magnets for young professionals like Chris (and older professionals like Jim) who want to live near a trail so they can ride their bike to work or school.

Chris, thanks for talking with Jim and making the 7 mile trip seem much shorter today.

Graduate Student Mixes Work, School, and Play at Pashek Associates

Christine Kercell, a graduate student in Park and Resource Management at Slippery Rock University, has begun working as a part-time planner for Pashek Associates on the Butler County Comprehensive Recreation, Parks and Open Space Plan. She will be working closely with Bob Good, Principal in charge of the project preparing park inventories and with Mike Kotyk, GIS manager and Greenway planner on the proposed greenways and trails.

grad student

She often spends her free time cycling with her family, kayaking with her finance, and swimming. A new goal of hers is to compete in a triathlon. Welcome Christine!