Open Space Preservation
Delaware County residents suffer from chronic traffic congestion and flooding problems as a result of decades of over-development. The county should work with its municipalities to identify tracts of land that should be preserved and obtain necessary sources of financing enabling the establishment of protected parklands. Development in wetlands, floodplains, and on steep slopes should be prohibited. Preserving open space decreases traffic, flooding and improves recreational opportunities, the quality of life and property values.
In 1997, I co-founded a bi-partisan civic group, Citizens for Good Government, and attended every Haverford Township Commissioners’ meeting for five years. One of our accomplishments was to lobby for the preservation of open space at the former Haverford State Hospital site. All the forests, wetlands, meadows, floodplains and steep slopes were protected from development. Residents enjoy passive recreation opportunities like hiking trails, a dog park and sports playing fields. The township sold land on the already developed footprint of the property to a senior citizen assisted living firm, a solution which does not add significant traffic to the area.
Recently, I have proposed a similar plan at Marple Township Commissioners and Planning Commission meetings in support of the Save Marple Greenspace group. Marple residents already suffer from terrible traffic problems in the area of the former Don Guanella property (Sproul and Reed Roads). Siting a Wegman’s Supermarket there with dozens of restaurants will increase traffic volume in the area. Cutting down any of the old growth forest on the property would lead to an increase in flooding downstream in Upper Darby and Darby. The township commissioners should inform prospective developers that they are only interested in proposals to build on the existing footprint of the property and that the forest, floodplains, wetlands and steep slopes are off limits to any new development. The development on the existing footprint should be for low-traffic impact uses like a senior citizen assisted living facility. Needed playing fields and necessary parking should also be developed on the existing footprint, not on currently forested land. Preserving this forest, the last of its kind in the county, will decrease traffic and flooding while improving our quality of life and property values.
County Council has floated a bond for open space preservation throughout the county. A portion of this bond should be used to help maintain the forests and any hiking trails that would be created for public use at the former Don Guanella property. County Council should play an active role in open space preservation efforts throughout the county.