The Marple Newtown Soccer Association recently sent a letter to hundreds of soccer parents requesting that they ask their ward commissioners to support Cardinal Crossing. While the letter primarily discusses the MNSA’s need for field space, there is an unmistakable take away: because Goodman has offered a few acres of fields, Cardinal Crossing would be good for the MSNA. Some have said on our facebook page that MNSA is not endorsing Cardinal Crossing and that we’re missing the point of the MNSA’s letter. We’ll let the reader decide what to construe from the last few sentences: [P]lease consider contacting your Ward Commissioners expressing the needs of MNSA and your appreciation of the inclusion of a soccer facility within the proposed development. Expressing the need to your Ward Commissioner is critical and is easy to by utilizing the following link...With the cooperation of all interested parties, we are confident that the Cardinal Crossings [sic] development plan can become a true source of civic pride.”
From Middletown's website. Why are there no conservation success stories posted on Marple's website? What has Marple done to protect its remaining open space?
Air Quality Update: December 27
With only superficial revisions expected to be made to the Cardinal Crossing plan, we hope the proposal will go the way of the Franklin Mint proposal, or the proposal to drain “Tinicum Swamp” to build an industrial park, or the plan to put a Blue Route off-ramp through the Haverford Reserve property, or the plans to build thousands of houses where Ridley Creek State Park is now. Delaware County Planning Department has already made it clear that Cardinal Crossing is entirely inappropriate given the many environmental constraints intrinsic to the property. We don’t see how the Marple Commissioners won’t see it the same way. If and when the plans are withdrawn entirely, full control and ownership of the land would revert to the Archdiocese which we hope will do the right thing and sell this last forest in Marple at fair market value based on current zoning to those who would protect it. After all, environmental stewardship is now official policy of the Catholic Church per Pope Francis’ recent environmental encyclical. Recall also that taxpayers in Marple, Newtown, and Delaware County paid higher rates for a century to cover what the Archdiocese was not paying. This adds a public component to the ownership of this land. We're not criticizing tax exemptions for religious institutions; we're only calling on the Church to give something back to the public which has for so long helped them own the land.
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"In 1986, the Middletown Township Council initiated Project 300, an ambitious open space preservation program named in recognition of the Township's Tricentennial observance that year. Preservation of significant portions of the remaining open space in Middletown was felt to be a key element in helping to retain and protect the present character and quality of life of our community.
With the overwhelming support of Township residents, the Township was able to proceed with the acquisition of 157 acres of property from the Linvill Family on the north side of West Knowlton Road and 170 acres of property from the Jesse and Martha Darlington Estate heirs located along both sides of Darlington Road adjacent to the Chester Creek. Together with the acquisition by the Township of the former Indian[Memorial Park] Memorial Park Orchard Girl Scout Camp property in 1981, these lands, along with subsequent additions, now help comprise one of the largest municipally-owned open space systems in the Greater Philadelphia area."
We can't have both, so pick one: 1. Cardinal Crossing 2. Our children’s health
What you can do to help –>
It's not a done deal: January 18th
This fight to save Marple’s last forest has been fraught with false choices. “Either we get Cardinal Crossing’s few acres of soccer fields or we get no soccer fields at all.” “Either we get Cardinal Crossing or we get a tax exempt hospital.” The real choice is between protecting our quality of life, our environment, our air quality, or not doing so. And since when are developers responsible for providing fields for our kids? That's what the commissioners and Parks and Recreation are responsible for. There’s also the underlying assumption that field space for the kids would be provided free of charge by Bruce Goodman. The truth is that what seems like it would be free, will come at a great price, and that’s the elephant in the room. This development will gridlock Marple, degrade our air quality, increase the frequency and scale of downstream flooding, leave more vacant stores in the area, lower property values, and replace the last big piece of greenspace in eastern Delaware County. Soccer fields provided at this cost don't sound very free to us.
Let us be clear. We are not criticizing the MNSA or the many volunteers who support it. Rather, we are taking exception to this letter because we feel it espouses a terrible trade off: a few fields in exchange for a massive development with severe environmental consequences. For about ten acres of field space, we'd get 203 acres of clear cut mature forest, degraded air and streams, a completely regraded site with towering retaining walls, and total build out of this publicly-subsidized land. Given also the negative quality of life impacts of Cardinal Crossing, we feel it would be far more appropriate for a youth group like the MNSA to fully oppose something so potentially detrimental to our children's health. Children are our most precious resource and we need to do everything in our power to protect the environment they’re growing up in. To degrade their environment is to risk their future.
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If this 213 acre forest is clearcut, residents in the area will be exposed to pollution on an industrial scale with all the accompanying health side effects. What a big step backward and how ironic, too, that this harmful development would be built in the shadow of the old incinerator smokestack shuttered 40 years ago to protect the health of Delaware County residents. The loss of this forest should be seen in the same way officials four decades ago saw the incincerator: as a source of pollution. What will cancer and asthma rates be when we begin to breathe the air from 37,000 vehicle trips from Cardinal Crossing? How many more people will develop COPD and cancer when the critical environmental filter and buffer for the Blue Route is removed and the pollution from millions of vehicles each year wafts across Marple unimpeded? We would ask all parents to help us head off this grim future for our children and grandchildren.
There’s a reason why 13,000 kids and 42,000 adults in Delaware County have asthma. There’s a reason why Delaware County ranks 17th from the bottom in a very dangerous air pollution category among 3,143 counties in the U.S. There’s a reason why Delaware County ranks sixth of 67 counties in Pennsylvania for its cancer rate. Close to 3,500 people in Delaware County will be diagnosed with cancer this year, a fact that significantly contributes to Pennsylvania’s ranking third nationwide for its very high cancer rates. Our sad state of affairs is largely a function of pollution and how much of it people are exposed to: Delaware County’s cancer, asthma, and COPD rates are higher because we are exposed to more pollution than residents in other parts of the state and the country. This is a self evident truth, and yet, instead of doing something about it, a few would make this crisis worse by removing an extremely valuable air filter for eastern Delaware County.
We can protect Marple's environment AND have soccer fields
This idled smokestack at the former trash incinerator stands as a monument to environmentally progressive thinking of the 70s. How ironic that Cardinal Crossing would be built in its shadow.
By Ken Hemphill
All it takes is political courage to do what Middletown has done. That twp has more protected acres (646) than there are in Delco's entire park system (621). Miles of varied trails wend their way through large swaths of what Delco once looked like. The only trails Marple has are the ones laid down in the woods behind Don Guanella by residents.
But what good are Cardinal Crossing's soccer fields if our air quality gets worse?
The Darlington Estate
Greenwashing the opposition: December 3rd
Eminent Domain has been used several times in other townships in Delaware County to protect open space for residents. Middletown alone has used it at least twice. 22 acres in Middletown were taken from the owners of the former Sleighton School to build yet another beautiful park and playing fields. It was used to protect the vast Darlington Estate. Delco Council used it to acquire land from a land owner to repair a county bridge in Middletown. Ridley Creek State Park is also the product of eminent domain. Substantial precedent in the U.S. exists for using eminent domain for conservation purposes and to protect the public health and welfare. This is something to ponder in the face of losing Marple's last forest.
It is the consitutional duty of public officials in Pennsylvania to protect our health. It is therefore a legal responsibility for Marple and Delaware County elected leaders' to protect us by taking steps to prevent an increase in pollution and the loss of a pollution buffer/filter.