State grant gets Stargazers Stone project halfway home

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Local officials hope for county open space funds to match $100K state grant

By Mike McGann, Editor, UnionvilleTimes.com

Surrounded by a century-old stone enclosure, the Stargazers Stone sits in an open field in Newlin — with no parking or grounds for visitors.

NEWLIN — It sits quietly, almost a historic afterthought. Aside from an old sign, somewhat obscured by vegetation and an old stone monument, there’s little to advertise the presence of Stargazers Stone — an important historical place that helped to set the Mason-Dixon Line, one of the most significant boundaries in U.S. history.

That quiet life as one of the region’s best-kept secrets could change if Chester County is able to step up and match a state grant that would create a five-acre park around Stargazer Stone — which sits just a few hundred feet from Route 162.

“That’s one of the most historic artifacts in our local area,” said state Sen. Andrew Dinniman (D-19), who is unusually qualified to pass judgment, as he also has been a long-time professor of history at West Chester University. “Unfortunately, it’s just sort of been sitting there. There’s been some effort to clean it up periodically, but its not been given the respect it deserves.”

Right now, other than an old historical marker on Stargazer Road, there’s little to note the location that proved to be so pivotal to American history. There’s a driveway, shared by two adjacent homes, but no where to park, and no real access to the site.

Dinniman teamed up with Township Supervisors Chair Janie Baird and other local residents to come up with a plan to set aside space around the stone, so it can be preserved and become something more than an afterthought. The state, thanks to Dinniman’s efforts, approved a $100,000 grant for the site, which is about half of the estimated cost of the entire project. Now, both Dinniman and Baird hope the county can find room in a tightened open space budget to match the state grant.

A century-old sign is the lone hint of the stone's history.

The primary worry is that after slashing open space preservation funding from $20 million to $10 million, the demands for the funds will outpace the supply. In the township’s favor: the county has spent virtually nothing on open space in the township; all preservation efforts have been either locally or privately funded.

While Baird said she hopes to enlist the support of Commissioner Kathi Cozzone, it’s unclear whether either of her fellow commissioners, Ryan Costello or Terence Ferrell support the plan. Neither Costello or Cozzone could be reached for comment. Dinniman, a former Chester County Commissioner, said he plans to send letters to the commissioners on behalf of the project, urging them to support it.

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