West Pikeland Township, Chester County Lauded For Its Open Space Initiatives

Natural Lands Trust, in partnership with the Chester County Association of Township Officials, honored West Pikeland Township, Chester County, Thursday with the county’s second annual Growing Greener Communities Award.

The award recognizes a Chester County municipality that has engaged in a dynamic initiative designed to save land, steward natural resources, and connect people to nature.

Ted Gacomis, board member for West Pikeland Land Trust, accepted the award on behalf of the Township alongside Ernie Holling, Chairman of West Pikeland Township’s Board of Supervisors, at the CCATO spring conference, held at the Desmond Hotel in Malvern.

“Chester County’s communities have been true leaders in open space preservation, smart growth, and sustainable environmental policy,” said Molly Morrison, president of Natural Lands Trust. “We wanted to recognize the excellent work happening at a township level and celebrate the dedicated officials, staff, and volunteers who make it possible.”

“CCATO is happy to partner with Natural Lands Trust on this award program, and we hope that it serves to encourage and promote continued forward-thinking projects and planning within the County,” said Holling, who currently serves CCATO as president. “The County’s new economic development strategy, VISTA 2025, emphasizes the importance of protecting our County’s quality of place. A commitment to investing in the County’s beautiful natural areas, which the residents of West Pikeland Township exemplify, will be critical to Chester County’s continued economic and cultural vitality.”

This year’s review committee—comprised of CCATO officers—found multiple strong contenders among the nominees, but ultimately determined that West Pikeland Township should be recognized for its recent conservation efforts.

“West Pikeland spent almost 6 million dollars preserving trails, historic sites, and acquiring a park. That type of monetary commitment, for me, gave the edge to West Pikeland,” said David M. Connors, a review committee member from London Grove Township.

West Pikeland’s qualifying projects (which had to occur in 2014, though they could be part of an ongoing initiative) included the purchase of a trail easement on 27 private acres of along Street Road, which the Township had identified as a Priority Scenic Roadway in its Conservation and Open Space plans.

The property sits on a ridge top and offers panoramic views of open fields. The easement will enable the Township to connect Natural Lands Trust’s Binky Lee Preserve to the north and the Township’s Pine Creek Park to the south by trail.

Also in 2014, the Township hired a landscape architecture firm to consult on a 67-acre property that the Township bought in 2013 for $5.2 million. The future park is the largest parcel the Township has ever purchased with its Open Space funds.

Approximately one third of the park will be used for active recreation, including field and court games, and the remaining two-thirds will have two miles of walking paths for passive recreation. The park’s trail system also will provide access to the Mill at Anselma, a National Historic Landmark.

To date, the Township has received $2.5 million in grants for the park’s development.

The Township established the all-volunteer West Pikeland Land Trust in 1999. The trust was instrumental in rallying residents’ support for West Pikeland’s Open Space Referendum, which West Pikeland residents adopted in 2007.

Since then, tax revenue earmarked to support open space protection in the Township has generated $500,000-$600,000 each year. The ability to commit significant Township funding to open space projects has made West Pikeland Township eligible for grant funding through state and county programs.

“Protecting this landscape from future development was strategic to preserving the rural character and scenic views that West Pikeland residents value,” said Curt Grogan, West Pikeland Land Trust’s vice president.

"We're proud of the leadership of West Pikeland for their vision to create the West Pikeland Land Trust 15 years ago to advance an open space agenda in the township,” said Michael Groman, president of West Pikeland Land Trust.” We're also grateful to the current board of supervisors and residents of West Pikeland Township for their ongoing support and commitment to open space as part of a vital and healthy West Pikeland community.”

For more information, visit the Natural Lands Trust website.


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