Kenneth E. Davis
TOWNSHIP OF LOWER MERION
THIS PLAN WAS PREPARED FOR THE
Christopher Leswing, A.I.C.P.
Natural Lands Trust
Lower Merion Township has long been recognized as one of the most attractive suburban residential sections of the country. With extraordinary accessibility to a great city, it combines the charms of beautiful open country, fine houses, good roads, quiet woods and valleys. Its services, public and private, are well and efficiently managed. It is a good place to live in.
All of these advantages have naturally attracted people to the Township. The same factors will undoubtedly insure a continued growth.
This growth, viewed in retrospect, is startling. Yet so gradually has it taken place from day to day, and year to year, and over so wide an expanse of territory, that it has been scarcely perceptible to the casual observer.
Growth is not an unmixed blessing. It creates problems. Significant changes necessarily take place. The great estates of years ago move farther out and their places are taken by smaller and more numerous holdings. More homes are built. More homes demand roads, utility and fire services, schools, parks, playgrounds, sewers and the many other services and facilities which are rightfully expected by the citizens. Unless, through wise foresight and planning, the extension of these services and facilities is kept ahead of the growing demand, critical conditions are created. They take the form of traffic congestion, inadequate housing, insufficiency of open spaces and the like.
These critical conditions, like the growth which produces them, are frequently as imperceptible, in the making, as the growth itself. Once they become acute, they are apparent to all, and call loudly for correction. But almost always the correction is costly to the Township and to the citizens, and often the cost is well nigh prohibitive.
If fifty years ago it had been possible to foresee the requirements of the Township, as they exist today, most of the critical conditions which are now so evident, could have been avoided with little effort or cost. Where now there is serious traffic congestion, ample space could have been provided. Where open spaces, parks and playgrounds are now so clearly needed, land could have been had at the price of open fields. Buildings, which now obstruct the opening of clearly needed relief roads, could easily have been located a few feet to one side.
The failure to anticipate such conditions is a mistake of the past. The results are stern facts which now have to be faced, and it is no use to think of what might have been. But surely in the light of what has happened in the past, it should be possible to see clear evidence of what is likely to happen again in the future. It therefore seems simple wisdom to look as best we may into the future, to try to see its problems, and to anticipate them before they in turn arise to plague us or our successors.
This is the true function and purpose of planning. It is not to set up a picture of how the things which now exist may be replaced by an ideal, which is either impossible or impracticable, but to devise a way to avoid the cost of future mistakes. Your Commission has not tried to envision a grandiose scheme of parkways, monumental civic centres, and great public structures, requiring huge outlays of capital, and for that reason only faintly possible of accomplishment. It has rather tried to present a picture of the problems, which will arise as growth continues, and to suggest orderly ways to meet them at the least cost and inconvenience to the citizens. General Considerations, Which Justify the Formulation of a Plan for The Township
– Introductory remarks presenting the Township’s