Chester County Commissioners Marian Moskowitz, Josh Maxwell and Michelle Kichline approved the awarding of $4.2 million in open space preservation and park improvement grants at the most recent public Commissioners’ meeting. The grants are made available through Chester County’s Preservation Partnership Program, which offers funding to municipalities and non-profit land preservation organizations.
This commitment of County funds will help leverage an additional $10 million of non-County funds.
“We are pleased to join with our municipalities and land trusts in these investments that not only provide additional recreational opportunities for the public, but also protect the environment and preserve our land,” said Commissioners Moskowitz, Maxwell and Kichline.
“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on all of us, individually and collectively, has taught us many things. One of those lessons is that our parks, our preserves and our trails are vital in the care of our physical, mental and emotional well-being. These projects will ensure both current and future generations can enjoy the many benefits provided by Chester County’s outdoor spaces,” added the Commissioners.
East Bradford Township will receive $1,325,000 to purchase the 156-acre Starr Farm property for public recreation and natural resource protection, expanding the existing 25-acre Starr Farm Park and providing connections to several other Township parks and preserves.
East Pikeland Township will receive $92,390 for the construction of the Ridge Road Park – a new 16-acre park, featuring a community garden and orchard, dog park, and paved trails; and $250,000 for the first phase of development of the new 115-acre Hidden River Park and Preserve, including a 47-space parking lot and 2 miles of multi-use trails, including a connection to the County’s Schuylkill River Trail.
The Kennett Area Park Authority will receive $23,202 to create a half-acre Serenity Pollinator Garden at Anson B. Nixon Park. Project components include installation of landscaping and seating boulders, and replanting the area with native species of trees, wildflowers, and shrubs to create a space inviting and conducive to quiet contemplation and other low impact use.
Malvern Borough will receive $91,677 to construct an earthen bicycle pump track on a 0.8 acre piece of land on the edge of the 43-acre Randolph Woods Nature Preserve. The pump track area will consist of a more advanced 5,000 sq. ft. track for older children and a 1,100 sq. ft. foot track for younger children. The project also includes sidewalk connections, shade trees, picnic tables, benches, and buffering.
New Garden Township will receive $863,700 to purchase the 105-acre Smedley property (currently operated as the Loch Nairn golf course,) which will be converted into a passive park and nature preserve. Future plans for the property include multi-use trails, parking, and environmental restoration.
West Pikeland Township will receive $80,727 for Phase 2 improvements at the new 62-acre Walnut Lane Park, including adding the wearing course of the paved drive and parking area, pavement markings, shade trees, buffer trees, benches, and an informational kiosk.
The Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art will receive $19,206 to install nature-based water quality improvements on a permanently preserved 447-acre dairy and crop farm in East Marlborough, Newlin, and Pocopson Townships, located along Pocopson Creek and in the Brandywine Creek watershed.
The French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust will receive $180,964 for a 57-acre conservation easement on the Maxwell property in West Vincent Township, protecting important agricultural resources and strengthening our agricultural infrastructure.
The Green Valleys Watershed Association will receive $14,500 for the Horse-Shoe Trail Improvements at Welkinweir, a 224-acre publicly accessible nature preserve in East Nantmeal Township. Nearly one mile of new trail will be established, including re-routing over 3,000 linear feet of the trail onto Welkinweir, eliminating a steeply eroding section of the trail currently traversing non-protected, private land.
Natural Lands will receive $50,000 to construct the Bryn Coed Preserve – Beaver Hill Parking Lot in West Vincent Township, along with a kiosk, parking lot sign, and trail signage; $126,575 for a 15-acre conservation easement on the Homsey Property in Franklin Township, protecting natural resources and providing a trail corridor to eventually connect Franklin and New Garden Townships’ trail and preserve systems; and $18,000 for a portion of the transaction expenses involved with a fully donated conservation easement on the 26-acre Isabella Furnace site, which is on the National Register of Historic Places in West Nantmeal Township.
The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County will receive $82,025 for a 7-acre conservation easement on the Bayard Rd. property in Kennett Township, protecting natural resources and providing a publicly accessible trail; and $680,950 for a 100-acre conservation easement on the Rocking Horn property in Kennett Township, protecting important natural and agricultural resources and providing a link in the Kennett Greenway.
Willistown Conservation Trust will receive $250,000 to acquire 12 acres in Willistown Township to add to the publicly accessible 83-acre Kirkwood Preserve; and $25,438 to create two universal access paths at the publicly accessible 86-acre Rushton Woods Preserve in Willistown Township along with educational signage, seating, and habitat restoration.
Chester County has funded the preservation of over 57,000 acres of farmland, open space, nature preserves, and parks in partnership with farmers, municipalities, non-profits, and landowners in all 73 municipalities.
Photo: The 156-acre Starr Farm in East Bradford Township, one of the recipients of a preservation grant through the Chester County Preservation Partnership Program.