LIMERICK — Plans for the 3,087 acres of open space across the township as well as a potential master plan for the Linfield section were discussed by the Limerick Board of Supervisors Tuesday night.
“Without getting into all the numbers, the township is relatively well positioned for open space,” said Peter Simone, the township’s planner, in a presentation to the board. “You’ve got a good number of parks, protected lands, you’ve got some existing golf courses that are already protected. Recently, you added some of the existing golf course to your official map which makes the likelihood of protection greater.”
“You’re in a good position but there’s a few things that you could look at to enhance your position as far as open space,” Simone told the board.
Among the recommendations Simone brought forward was a proposed park for somewhere in the area of Limerick Center Road south of Route 422 because of converging planned trails.
“There is a confluence of proposed trails in this area of the township,” Simone said. “Where these trails converge, there is an area of the township not as well served as other areas of the township.”
The park could be “relatively modest” or big, an active or passive park, but there was no real concrete idea for it yet, according to Simone.
“We think it deserves some study,” Simone said, because that area could serve eventually as a “major trailhead.”
Another suggestion was adding the Spring-Ford Area School District property on Sunset Road which was purchased approximately 15 years ago for a school, according to a 1999 Inquirer article, to the township map as protected open space.
“Our understanding is the likelihood of a school being built there is low at this point, but we’re suggesting that that be added to the map as open space in the event that a school is not built there,” Simone said.
That way, the township gets more say into what may go there and might be able to protect more space, according to Simone.
“The other general suggestion is to continue to work with PECO to get easements on the PECO right-of-ways for trails,” Simone said. “This is a very economical way to create linear parks...it’s probably the least-expensive way to increase recreational opportunities for residents in the township.”
Effectively, PECO would lease ground for the townships to create open space institutions like parks.
Moving forward, Simone said Limerick must remain mindful of changing demographics and keep an eye out to areas where young families concentrate for possible smaller parks.
Township Manager Dan Kerr said the purpose of the open space presentation was to get a “flavor of the board” as to how it might want to spend money on open space moving forward.
The board agreed with Simone’s idea of moving the trail system and its attached pieces forward because of how well it “utilizes existing resources” the township has in place.
Supervisor Kara Shuler said she felt the board needed to remain mindful that adding parks and other open space features do carry the cost of extra public works employees and/or maintainence.
LINFIELD MASTER PLAN
On the heels of the Ridge Pike rezoning and following the township-wide comprehensive plan, the board of supervisors will look to take on a new master plan for the Linfield section of the township.
“It’s an area of the township that we really need to look at,” said Supervisor Tom Neafcy Jr.
Shuler said Linfield presents a unique challenge in that many of the “residents there are so long-term.”
Other challenges include difficult road access to the area and state game lands, but Simone said advantages included the Schuylkill River and the natural beauty of the area.
Community involvement and input would be key to forming a plan there, talking about what the needs are for the area “very early on in the process, according to Simone.
“The idea would be to do the plan in a couple of pieces,” he said.
A grant request sent to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and National Resources to aid in the implementation of the planned trail system there was denied recently, but Kerr said the organization indicated it might be agreeable to more extensive projects there.
As such, they’ll likely apply for the grant again in April.
In the meantime, the Limerick streetscape committee will get to work on the earliest stages of planning, Kerr said, using the rest of the year to get an idea for a direction before any real work on the plan begins next year.