What you can do to help –>

Five Save Marple Greenspace representatives met with County Council members John McBlain and Mario Civera on Friday to talk about what we can do together to preserve the woods behind Don Guanella. The County has signaled that they want to see the forest protected and their recognition of the importance of preserving open space is evidenced by their 2015 Open Space, Recreation and Greenway Plan. Among other things, its goals are to conserve natural resources in the County and to enhance the environmental and recreational value of undeveloped land. As the last large forest of eastern Delaware County, the Don Guanella property of course fits all of these criteria. It’s a breath of fresh air in an increasingly congested suburbia, a habitat for animals, and a ready-made hiking destination. The forest’s southeast corner touches the Darby Creek and the Darby Creek Trail, one of the primary trails that forms the spine of the proposed county-wide trail network. All of the townships connected to that trail would be connected to this parcel – Newtown, Radnor, Marple, Springfield, and Upper Darby.

By Ken Hemphill

The Darlington Estate

Written by Ken Hemphill

So if the County has this Open Space Plan, and this property fits squarely in that plan, then what is the problem? Why not just declare this a park? The answer is money. Someone owns the property (and we helped them own it). To acquire it we must buy it. At what price? One developer agreed to buy it for $47 million though the only way to cover that price was to clear-cut the property, obtain a zoning change, and pave over every square inch of it. As Marple Township has made clear, that is not going to happen. And so the price of the land has dropped precipitously.

​How much less than Goodman’s $47 million is the forest worth? That remains to be seen. But some amount of money must be raised in order to buy the property. The County has advised that they can make available $20 million to help implement their Open Space Plan. But that money is for the entire County, not for just one acquisition. Because the County cannot buy the property 

Much of the Don Guanella forest is in better shape than Ridley Creek SP.

This has been done before. In April, a consortium of parties which included the National Park Service, The Conservation Fund, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the William Penn Foundation, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and the Open Space Institute announced the purchase of a 550 acre property adjacent to the Delaware Water Gap that was threatened with development. In announcing this purchase, the state spokesman said “Protecting land is not only about an interest in conservation, but the beauty and outdoor recreation that it provides also is in our self-interest. It makes our citizens healthier and attracts the residents and visitors who support our communities economically.” What is true about the relatively wide open spaces of Monroe County is even more true here in Delaware County – preserving our woods has health benefits and economic benefits that will continue long after the purchase is made. And once the land is paid off, it will be the gift that keeps on giving. It will never contribute vehicles to our roads or students to our school system. It will never need trash pickup, road plowing, paving, salting, or sewer repair, among many other expensive services.

county's open space, what right do we have to ask poor countries like Brazil to save their rainforests?

alone, we must find other sources of funds to contribute to the purchase. A consortium of buyers could include nearby townships that would benefit as well as private organizations, with additional funds coming from the state and maybe a federal program. 

By Ken Hemphill

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Moving Forward

Frankly, there is no shortcut to make this happen. It is going to be a process, and it is going to take time to find the parties willing to help make this happen. In the meantime, we will remain viligant and stand ready to fight whatever appears on the horizon. Any new bidder will need to consider the forest’s current zoning, the restrictions of various township ordinances, the many environmental contraints on the property, and the resolve of thousands of Delaware County residents who want to see this forest preserved. Marple has also made it clear that there will be no zoning changes and we are very appreciative of that. We would also ask the Township to commit to actively helping us save this forest as other municipalities have done for open space in their towns. There are many things they can do which we’ll enumerate in the coming weeks. We also want to open a dialog with the Archdiocese, and we are hopeful that the County may help facilitate that.

reminded yesterday, when we can sit face to face, as people of good will who simply want to do what we think is best for our community and discuss the actual issues and our concerns, then we have a better chance of making progress and bringing about the kind of change we want to see. We took that great first step on Friday. Let’s move the next foot forward.

It's not a done deal: January 18th

August 6, 2016

Save Marple Greenspace

Just some of the many benefits of this 200+ acre forest. If we can't protect the remaining shreds of our 

The effort to build a coalition to save the Don Guanella forest has begun