County moves to preserve 1,000 acres of open space

ChesterCountyLogoWEST CHESTER — The Chester County Commissioners moved Thursday to approve the preservation of more than 1,000 acres of open space, as the county closes in on having preserved some 125,000 acres of open space over the last couple of decades.

During Tuesday’s Sunshine meeting of the county commissioners, Bill Gladden, director of the county’s Department of Open Space Preservation, said the grants to conservancies will preserve 1,054 acres and grants to municipalities will preserve about 17.5 acres, creating recreation opportunities at two new community parks and in three municipalities.

County officials said the move would further enhance recreational opportunities for residents while helping to preserve the character of Chester County.

“The recreation opportunities in the municipalities that will result from this round of open space funding benefit all residents,” Chester County Commissioners’ Chair Terence Farrell said. “Chester County’s well-earned reputation as one of the top counties in the nation to live and work is due, in large part, to our balance between managing growth and preserving open space.”

And preservation is good, without a solid plan behind it, it is less effective, officials said.

“Chester County’s open space preservation is a key component of our strategic plan,’ Commissioner Kathi Cozzone said. “The insight of our open space preservation staff ensures that we are working smart in both the selection of open space projects and the cost to preserve.”

By planning where to promote growth and development and where to curtail it with open space easements gives officials a powerful way to plan what the future of Chester County will look like.

“Open space preservation fits perfectly with Chester County’s VISTA 2025 efforts to guide economic growth over the next 10 years, through a focus on both progress and preservation,” noted Commissioner Michelle Kichline, who is also co-chair of VISTA 2025.  “We know that maintaining our ‘quality of place’ through the preservation and expansion of agriculture, parks and trails is attractive to both residents and businesses.”

Acquisition of open space with public access was made in Caln, East Bradford, Newlin, Warwick, East Nantmeal, and North Coventry. Municipal park authority grants went to Kennett Area Park Authority, New London, West Pikeland and Phoenixville.

Farmland preservation took place in Newlin, Warwick, East Nantmeal, and Honey Brook Township.

The county partnered with various municipalities and the Brandywine Conservancy, Natural Lands Trust, French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust and the Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County.

By the end of 2014, Chester County had preserved more than 123,500 acres which represents over 25 percent of the county.  In addition, more than $54.4 million has been invested in community revitalization projects throughout Chester County’s 15 boroughs and the City of Coatesville.

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