Mario Civera, Chairman
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regreen the county and protect our last remnants of open space.
One of the several dozen trails that crisscross the forest.
We’re faced all the time with seemingly insoluble problems, but saving Delaware County’s remaining open space with a voter-approved bond seems like an easy one. We'll get what we pay for, too, so we can either pay a small amount each year for just ten years and permanently reap the many benefits of open space, or we'll pay a great deal more – forever – for the additional pollution and increased traffic congestion if we fail to act. And how hypocritical would it be for us to ask other countries to protect their forests when we ourselves won’t summon the courage to do the same here at home? If a poor country like Brazil can protect tens of thousands of square miles of rain forest for the good of the planet, then certainly a comparatively wealthy place like Delaware County can protect a few hundred acres. Shame on us if we can’t.
We have no time to waste. Please contact Delaware County Council and ask them to put an open space bond question on this November’s ballot. Only
County Council can place a question on the ballot.
Colleen Morrone, Vice Chair
By Ken Hemphill
Greenwashing the opposition: December 3rd
Air Quality Update: December 27
An Open Space Bond Would Stop the Bleeding
“On May 17, 2005, a question was placed on the statewide ballot asking if Pennsylvania should borrow money to renew the Pennsylvania Growing Greener Program (commonly referred to as Growing Greener II). The ballot question passed, with Delaware County having the highest percentage of "yes" votes among all counties in the Commonwealth (79%). From this show of public support, it is apparent that the citizens of Delaware County value open space, outdoor recreation, and the natural environment as a highly important part of their quality of life.”
But cancer is just one of the lung maladies disproportionately afflicting residents. 13,000 children and 42,000 adults suffer from asthma in Delaware County. Another 30,000 have COPD. 85,000 residents of Delaware County – 15% of the population – have a respiratory condition that impacts their daily lives, and this reckoning doesn’t include lung cancer numbers. This is a crisis, a very expensive crisis. How many millions of dollars are spent each year in Delaware County treating respiratory ailments? How much do county businesses lose each year because of the reduced productivity of sick employees? The last thing we should do is exacerbate the problem.
While there isn’t much time left to keep things from getting worse, there is a very simple solution that could come in the form of a ballot question asking voters to approve an open space bond, a type of loan that every other Philadelphia area county has approved. If Delco were to float a bond, we could save most of our remaining open space, refurbish existing parks and playing fields, create new pocket parks in mature neighborhoods, and plant tens of thousands of street trees in all 49 municipalities of the county. The positive effect on county residents’ health would be enormous.
county's open space, what right do we have to ask poor countries like Brazil to save their rainforests?
particularly dangerous because microscopic pollution slips past the body’s coughing defense mechanism and is inhaled deep into the lungs where it lodges permanently, leading to all manner of respiratory maladies.
This is terrible news for anyone with children/grandchildren in the county since the developing lungs of children are especially vulnerable to pollution. And this is more of problem than previously imagined. A 2016 American Thoracic Society study found that the pollution threshold for juvenile lung impairment is even lower than scientists once believed. The more cars, houses, and shopping centers we shoehorn into our small county, the worse we’re making the air for our children and the more harm we are causing them.
Pollution is also a major cause of cancer, and Delaware County certainly has its fair share of both. Of 67 Pennsylvania counties, Delco has the sixth highest cancer rates. It’s estimated that as many as 10% of all new lung cancers are the result of polluted air, so cutting down the county’s remaining forests and adding more vehicles and other pollution emission sources will translate directly to lower air quality and more lung cancer cases.
Every year, at least two million acres of open space are permanently lost to development in the United States, and the Philadelphia region is not immune to what’s happening nationally. All that will be left in twenty or so years will be the parks and land we had the foresight to protect. Fortunately, over the last two decades, all Philadelphia suburban counties in Pennsylvania and New Jersey except one have begun to seriously address this crisis by asking voters to approve borrowing to protect as much of their county’s remaining open places as possible.
The Philadelphia suburban counties of Montgomery, Chester, Bucks, Camden, Gloucester, Mercer, Salem, and Burlington Counties have all had open space funding referenda approved by voters and these counties together have conserved several hundred thousand acres. Even Philadelphia voters approved a bond. Delaware County stands alone in the entire region for not having had a successful open space funding referendum. A question was put to voters in April of 1996 on the primary election ballot but did not pass. Given the county’s critical open space deficit, the time has come for another try at this.
So how much money are we talking about and how much would it cost taxpayers each year? According to the Center for Conservation Finance, a $100 million bond would cost the average household just $36 per year. For one third of a typical cable bill, Delaware County residents could protect their remaining open space, green streets all over the county, and climb the ALA’s air quality ladder...for just $36 each year, hardly an onerous financial burden for any homeowner and preferable to paying for additional health care costs or seeing home values decline from overdevelopment.
For the same reason that people pay to maintain their homes, each household’s share of this is an investment in our common home, not a tax. It’s an investment in our children’s health and the future of Delaware County. This is not about saving land in any particular township, either, nor is it just a Delaware County problem. If you live over the border in Philadelphia, in Chester or Montgomery Counties, or New Jersey, what happens in Delaware County should concern you. This is about protecting the health of all of the region’s residents since pollution knows no boundaries.
Just some of the many benefits of this 200+ acre forest. If we can't protect the remaining shreds of our
Delaware County residents have signaled twice over the last decade that they would support such an open space bond. In 2012, the Delaware County Planning Department conducted a survey which revealed that 80% of county residents found value in open space. Moreover, the 2015 Open Space and Recreation Plan commissioned by county government found overwhelming support in Delco for the public financing of open space protection:
What you can do to help –>
It's not a done deal: January 18th
“Shall debt in an amount not to exceed $100,000,000.to be incurred over a 10 year period for the purpose of financing the regreening of urban, suburban, and riverfront lands and the preservation of open space in Delaware County; acquisition and protection of stream corridors; development of local and County parks, historic and recreational areas; tree planting and municipal and county open space planning; be authorized to be incurred and approved by the electorate?”
For a minuscule yearly surcharge, Delco residents could
The Darlington Estate
June 13, 2016
Since 1996, Delaware County has traded many thousands of acres of open land for increased traffic congestion, pollution, and the blight of overdevelopment. Unless immediate action is taken to save the few hundred remaining acres of unprotected open space, nothing will be left to save. This is not just a quality of life problem or a question of aesthetics. This is primarily a health issue. Forests clean our air because trees absorb gaseous pollution and act as nets for particulates. Delaware County’s wholesale loss of forested open space in the last twenty years has so increased pollution and reduced the county’s capacity to absorb it that the county’s air quality is now almost the worst in the entire country.
The American Lung Association (ALA) surveyed air quality in every U.S. county (3,143 in total) and charted the results in a 2015 report. Delaware County came in 17th from the bottom (3,126th place) for “PM 2.5,” a measure of microscopic particulate pollution. PM 2.5 pollution is
The question put to voters in 1996.