Monday, July 18, 2016

Rally for open space at courthouse today

I used my Monday print column to climb back into a familiar place:

The confessional.

I have a built-in bias when it comes to the notion of open space. I've driven across Kansas. Several times. It's all the open space I ever want to see again.

In the meantime, what to do with that 213 pristine acres surrounding what used to be the Don Guanella School off Sproul Road in Marple continues to be one of the hottest debates in the county.

The tract, which includes some of the last forests in the densely populated central part of the county, is still owned by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. They had a deal to sell the tract to developer Bruce Goodman for $47 million. But when he could not get approval for his plans for a sprawling (Sproul Sprawl?) town center development with hundreds of new townhouses, and retail centers, including a new Wegmans, church leaders eventually pulled the plug on the deal.

One of those groups leading the charge against the development of the site, Save Marple Greenspace, wants County Council to put a referendum on the November ballot for a possible bond issue to buy the tract.

Today several groups will join them on the steps of the courthouse in Media to push the issue.

Among those set to deliver the message to County Council at the 2 p.m. rally will be a coalition of environmental, conservation, community and outdoor recreational groups. All will add their voices to "support pacing an open space bond question on the November ballot to let voters decide whether they want to conserve open space, improve existing parklands and regreen Delaware County."

In other words, they do not want those 213 acres to become another strip mall or townhouse development.

Among those on hand will be the Sierra Club of Southeastern Pa.; The Trust for Public Land, the Pennsylvania Resources Council; Darby Creek Valley Association; Crum Creek Neighbors; Preserve Our Town; The Radnor Conservancy; Save Marple Greenspace; Friends of Marple Newtown Trails; Friends of Haverford Trails, Friends of the Heinz Refuge; Birding Club of Delaware County; and the League of Women Voters.

We'll be there to deliver full coverage.

In the meantime, you can read my print column on the issue here.

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