New Park Slated for Delco
Preservation of 46 Acres of Open Space in Aston
MEDIA, Pa., December 7, 2023 – Natural Lands announced today the acquisition of nearly 46 acres of open space by Aston Township, Delaware County, for a township park.
“It’s been a long but incredibly rewarding process that’s culminated in a huge open space achievement,” said Robyn Jeney, land protection project manager for Natural Lands. “The preservation of this land is especially significant in a community that is almost 100 percent developed and with a density of nearly 3,000 residents per square mile.”
More than two years ago, Natural Lands reached out to The Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia as part of a proactive effort to identify and preserve the largest remaining unprotected properties in southeastern Pennsylvania. As a conservation-minded nonprofit, the Sisters of St. Francis welcomed the opportunity to divest a portion of their lands for open space and public use.
Natural Lands was able to secure grant funding for Aston Township’s purchase; the Township will own and operate the land as a passive-use park with hiking trails through meadows and woodlands. Aston Township also committed $100,000 of its own funds to support the acquisition.
“Aston Township is very pleased to have acquired property from the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia along Convent Road,” said William J. DeFeo III, Aston Township manager. “We saw this as a great opportunity to protect the environment and preserve this tract of ground as open space in our township for generations to come.”
The property consists of woodlands and an open meadow and is located just 400 feet from West Branch Chester Creek, a PA DEP-designated Trout Stocking Fishery. Preserving open space is one of the most impactful ways to protect water quality. Natural areas act like a sponge, helping rainwater seep into the ground where pollutants get filtered out and water supplies are replenished. Were the land to have been developed, more rainwater would have washed directly into the creek, carrying soil and pollutants with it.
Financial support for the project came from Delco Green Ways Municipal Grant Program and PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), Bureau of Recreation and Conservation, Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund.
Said Elaine Paul Schaefer, vice chair of Delaware County Council. “The County was thrilled to support this important preservation project through our Greenways Grant Program, and this project serves as a great example of how County support can be used to leverage funding from other sources to preserve open space and improve quality of life for our residents.”
“DCNR is proud to support the preservation of this open space in southeastern Pennsylvania in an area facing significant development pressures,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “We look forward to seeing the impact this park and its trails have for future generations enjoyment and recreational use. Thank you to The Sisters of St. Francis, Aston Township, Delaware County, and Natural Lands for making this conservation project possible.”
The project received additional financial support from Aston Township; the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Commonwealth Financing Authority; The Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia; and the Virginia Cretella Mars Foundation.
Natural Lands is dedicated to preserving and nurturing nature’s wonders while creating opportunities for joy and discovery in the outdoors for everyone. As the Greater Philadelphia region’s oldest and largest land conservation organization, Natural Lands—which is member supported—has preserved more than 135,000 acres, including 40+ nature preserves and one public garden totaling more than 23,000 acres. Nearly five million people live within five miles of land under the organization’s protection. Land for life, nature for all. natlands.org.
Please note: “Natural Lands” is the organization’s official operating name and should be used instead of its legal designation (Natural Lands Trust, Inc.).
Kit Werner, Senior Director of Communications
610-353-5587 ext. 267