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.
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:
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
24% - improve recreational access to the Schuylkill River
10% - create a new community park
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.
When asked what Township services should be enhanced or added to,
the 5th most frequent answer, or 9% of respondents, selected parks/playgrounds.
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
When asked if the Township should spend additional municipal funds
to preserve open space, 37% of respondents strongly agreed and 40% somewhat
When asked if the Township should plant more trees, 26% strongly
agreed and 42% somewhat agreed.
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.
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.
Implement the recommendations of the Township-wide Bicycle/Pedestrian
Network Study by Campbell Thomas & Company, especially the Bryn
Mawr to Gladwyne link.
Complete additional connections from neighborhoods to parks, schools,
civic buildings, public transportation stops and central commercial
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.
Identify sources of federal, state and county funding available
to leverage acquisition and improvement costs along the Schuylkill
River Trail West.
Work with neighboring municipalities and landowners to secure
non-motorized bridge access to the east bank of the river.
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.
Partner with large institutional landowners to receive donations
of land to acquire easements to complete the Schuylkill River Trail
Goal 3: Improve the landscaping of streets and parks in
residential and commercial areas.
Maintain and replace declining street trees and plant new street
trees in residential neighborhoods that lack street trees.
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.
Install additional street tree planting wells and trees in commercial
Goal 4: Create or enlarge public spaces in commercial districts
and create pocket parks in the most developed residential neighborhoods
of the Township.
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.
Consider additional opportunities to create commercial and residential
pocket parks as buildings are vacated or sold.
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.
Give priority to projects that leverage other sources of funding,
less than market value sales and charitable donations.
Work with local and regional land conservancies to seek charitable
donations of land and conservation easements.
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.
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
Look for opportunities to create a community park for active recreation.
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.
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
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.
Protect water quality along the Schuylkill River greenway.