Goals and Objectives

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A major component of the Open Space planning process was the formation of goals and objectives. The goals and objectives of this plan were developed using several different methods of public participation, including a community survey, stakeholder forums, and stakeholder site visits.

COMMUNITY SURVEY

Lower Merion Township completed a statistically valid residents’ survey to gauge support for an array of services. Township residents overwhelmingly supported services, programs and expenditure of public money for open space and recreation. Highlights of survey results pertaining to open space and recreation include:

  1. When asked what the Township should spend the $3 million county open space grant on:

    55% - completion of pedestrian and trail linkages
    53% - improve existing Township parks
    35% - plant more trees
    35% - preserve wetlands
    33% - obtain conservation easements
    29% - create small parks in different parts of the township of Lower Merion
    24% - improve recreational access to the Schuylkill River
    10% - create a new community park

  2. When asked what the best thing about living in the Township is, the third most frequent answer, or 15% of respondents, selected local parks and open space.
  3. When asked what Township services should be enhanced or added to, the 5th most frequent answer, or 9% of respondents, selected parks/playgrounds.
  4. 81% of respondents stated that they visited a Township park one or more times in the last year. This is an increase of 7% over the 1996 survey.
  5. When asked if the Township should spend additional municipal funds to preserve open space, 37% of respondents strongly agreed and 40% somewhat agreed.
  6. When asked if the Township should plant more trees, 26% strongly agreed and 42% somewhat agreed.

STAKEHOLDER
FORUMS

The Township felt that it was important to go beyond the minimum requirement to hold a public hearing on the plan. Lower Merion Township staff and the Open Space Committee identified stakeholders representing all civic associations, institutions, school district, business associations and non-profit organizations with interest in natural resource protection, active and passive recreation, watershed protection and preservation of historic and cultural resources. Public forums were held on October 7th and 12th, 2004. The first stakeholder meeting involved an educational presentation on the Montgomery County Green Fields/Green Towns program, the Township’s Open Space Committee and priorities from recent Township studies. Participants were asked to identify goals and priorities that they believed were of interest to the community. At the second meeting, stakeholders worked in discussion groups, mapping suggested potential projects and priority areas.

This is an example of an abandoned railroad spur between West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Westminster Cemetery and the Schuylkill River that could potentially be converted into a multi-use trail.

OPEN SPACE COMMITTEE TOUR

The Committee toured sites mentioned by the stakeholders at the public forums. Following the tour, the Committee approved draft Goals and Objectives that were broadcast on the Township website.

PUBLIC HEARING

The Township held a public hearing on the draft Goals and Objectives on November 4, 2004.

GOALS AND OBJECTIVES

Goal 1: Improve or create pedestrian and bike links between neighborhoods and Township amenities.

Objectives:

  1. Implement the recommendations of the Township-wide Bicycle/Pedestrian Network Study by Campbell Thomas & Company, especially the Bryn Mawr to Gladwyne link.
  2. Complete additional connections from neighborhoods to parks, schools, civic buildings, public transportation stops and central commercial districts.

Goal 2: Create a continuous multi-use trail along the Lower Merion side (west side) of the Schuylkill River, and create access to the Schuylkill River Trail.

Objectives:

  1. Identify sources of federal, state and county funding available to leverage acquisition and improvement costs along the Schuylkill River Trail West.
  2. Work with neighboring municipalities and landowners to secure non-motorized bridge access to the east bank of the river.
  3. Work with the Township-wide Bicycle/Pedestrian Network Implementation Committee and Montgomery County to prioritize projects and to acquire the most critical lands that enhance public use, access and enjoyment.
  4. Partner with large institutional landowners to receive donations of land to acquire easements to complete the Schuylkill River Trail West network.

Goal 3: Improve the landscaping of streets and parks in residential and commercial areas.

Objectives:

  1. Maintain and replace declining street trees and plant new street trees in residential neighborhoods that lack street trees.
  2. Replenish trees in Township parks in accordance with the park master plans. Consider first those trees damaged by storms, disease, old age, utility trimming, etc.
  3. Install additional street tree planting wells and trees in commercial districts.

Goal 4: Create or enlarge public spaces in commercial districts and create pocket parks in the most developed residential neighborhoods of the Township.

Objectives:

  1. Create public spaces in commercial districts through acquisition of new land and through the enhancement of current Township-owned properties with landscaping and other amenities.
  2. Consider additional opportunities to create commercial and residential pocket parks as buildings are vacated or sold.
  3. Acquire small infill parcels in neighborhoods in the eastern and southern Township wards. Recognize that landowners in more affordable Township neighborhoods may not be able to provide financial contributions to leverage the County money.

Goal 5: Permanently protect historic properties and large (5 or more acres) residential and institutional properties, using conservation easements and selected fee purchases.

Objectives:

  1. Give priority to projects that leverage other sources of funding, less than market value sales and charitable donations.
  2. Work with local and regional land conservancies to seek charitable donations of land and conservation easements.
  3. Use the development process to create open space in subdivision plans and seek bargain sales where the open space could serve community needs for parks and trails.
  4. Preserve properties that connect or expand existing parks, historic properties and other permanently protected lands.
Schauffele Plaza in Ardmore presents the opportunity to
create a public plaza that can be used for public
gatherings out of a space mostly used for parking.

Goal 6: Implement the findings of the 1996 Parks and Recreation Plan.

Objectives:

  1. Look for opportunities to create a community park for active recreation.
  2. Implement components of the Township Park Master Plans that are eligible for County Green Infrastructure funding.

Goal 7: Use Township land use regulations to preserve open space, protect natural resources and create recreational opportunities.

Objectives:

  1. Investigate a recreational fee in lieu ordinance, an impact fee authorized under the Municipalities Planning Code in which new developments are assessed a fee that is applied to a Township fund dedicated to recreation purposes.
  2. For subdivision applications that must conform to the Open Space Preservation District, determine opportunities to purchase or receive donations of open space and/or trail easements at very low cost.
  3. Protect water quality along the Schuylkill River greenway.

Next Chapter - Inventory of Existing Protected Lands

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