Delaware County Moves to Create Largest County-Owned Park

County parkland purchase

County will acquire 213-acre property at Don Guanella site in Marple Township

Delaware County Council has begun the process of creating the largest County-owned park with the introduction of an ordinance to acquire the 213-acre parcel at the former Don Guanella School. The County’s move comes after development of the site was unanimously rejected by the Marple Township Board of Commissioners twice in recent months. The County will secure the new park, which will provide immediate and ongoing substantial economic and environmental benefits as it improves County residents’ quality of life, by paying fair market value as part of the process of eminent domain.

“We are enormously pleased that we will be able to secure one of the last large tracts of open space in densely populated eastern Delaware County for use as a public park,” said Delaware County Council Chairman Brian Zidek. “Even prior to the COVID pandemic, we knew that open space – including parks, trails and bike paths – bring real economic and environmental benefit to our community and this park will dramatically improve our County’s quality of life.”

The new park will protect the site’s extraordinary old growth forest and benefit all County residents, but particularly the approximate 14,000 who live within one mile of the property and the estimated 53,000 residents who live within a two-mile radius.

“For almost a decade, area residents have waited anxiously to see what was going to happen with the land at Don Guanella, especially since our community is nearly completely built out. Saving these amazing woods will be welcome news for everyone,” said Richard Jones of Marple Township. “I know that everyone who enjoyed this natural space previously could not be happier that the County is going to secure this land permanently as a public park. It’s the best possible outcome.”

In addition to the substantial benefit the new park will bring to its nearest neighbors and the community at large, the preservation of open space will bring economic and environmental benefits as well. Studies confirm that preserved open space brings direct economic benefit in the form of tourism dollars, related employment, and nearby retail earnings as well as increased property values of surrounding properties.

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