Reclaiming Pine Cone Park

From left: Rob Mackey, Maryann Banks, Merryn Hook, Dhanya Elias and Eagle Scout Eli Ober, also known as the Friends of Pine Cone Park, started a beautification project in the Sunset Hills park during the first week of June. Ober planted trees at the site in April, and the group followed up with a a deer-resistant meadow mix of flowers with the help of the Mt. Lebanon Public Works Department. The meadow, which is currently a field of Black-eyed Susan will germinate again and rotate through a variety of blooms.


You’ve probably driven past it dozens of times without knowing it’s one of Mt. Lebanon’s oldest parks. You’ve probably slowed way down in the winter to avoid sliding on the persistent ice patches that popped up on the streets near that little patch of land.

Pine Cone Park, a one-acre patch at the corner of Sunset Drive and Parkside Avenue, was included in the original plan for Sunset Hills. This spring and summer volunteers worked in conjunction with the parks advisory board, public works department and Eagle Scout candidate Eli Ober to replant pine trees that were lost to disease and plant a meadow in the park, and consequently, dried up the patches of water-turning-to-ice that flowed onto the roads from an underground spring.

Merryn Hook used to live on Sunset, and remembers seeing the trees come down in 2019, felled by pine bark beetles and pine needle blight.

“I always had the idea that they would put the trees back,” she said.

In 2021, Hook teamed up with Rob Mackey and Dhanya Elias of the parks advisory board  and master gardener Maryann Banks, and had a conversation with Public Works Director Rudy Sukal before beginning work on the park.

“We all worked really well together,” said Hook.

The volunteers planted trees last April, and while working on the meadow, the scope of the project expanded as the public works department saw the chance to solve the longtime drainage problem caused by an underground spring.

This summer, the Mt. Lebanon Commission celebrated Pine Cone Park’s centennial and recognized the volunteers’ vision and hard work with a proclamation that read, in part,

“The Mt. Lebanon Commission expresses its gratitude to all the volunteers, as well as the public works staff, for their dedication to this historic green.”