THE BOY SCOUT PRESERVE
aka Meadowbrook Nature
Alice Herkness received 150 acres of land from her parents
as a wedding gift when she married J. Liddon Pennock, Jr.
In 1947 she bequeathed 13 of those acreas to Abington Township
to be used "solely as a wildlife sanctuary....without essential
change in the general landscape character thereof....and
for no other purpose including....recreation."
It also said that
at any time the Township failed
" to use and maintain said premises and every part thereof as a
refuge or sanctuary for the protection and
conservation for the birds and other
forms of wildlife native to Pennsylvania, as aforesaid, without
essential change to the general landscape character of the said
premises ......[it] shall revert back to the........heirs or
assigns, [who] may enter upon and retake the same.
( see more of the wording
from that deed at the very end of this page
So this gift has the potential to be lost if the
conditions of the gift are violated.
Hence my fear watching
them "clear the land" that is right opposite a train
station .... a potential TOD - Transportation Oriented
Development at the same time that they are creating an "Economic
Development Corporation " - which is the Commissioners
THE TOWNSHIPS "MAINTENANCE PLAN"
Who should have acted:
This Park has been in Steve Kline's Ward since he appeared on
the scene in 2008. And it was already becoming distressed.
He ignored all pleas to take care of it. He literally met the
requests with silence. Commissioner Spiegelman as head of Public
Affairs also ignored the requests. President of the Board
Wayne Luker can share in the blame, and Manager Manfredi, here
since 2017 made no efforts to collaborate on how the environment
and wildlife should be cared for and allowed blanket pesticide
spraying ....in a wildlife sanctuary. Commissioner
Hecker, who ignored it when he heard the requests as Ward 10
Commissioner, will inherit this Park as he becomes Ward 1
Commissioner in January 2020.
we had already been
sounding the alarm that the Boy Scout Nature Preserve was way past
the need of attention. BELOW is what it looked like along Valley Road opposite the train station
in 2012 . Large trees struggling to survive were in
need of immediate care and removal of the vines that were
choking them out. Everyone who should have been in charge
was made aware....
In the 2012 view below,
you can see the vines to the right and left
choking out the trees. All of the Commissioners , the
Manager and the Parks Director were made aware the park was in
crisis - but no funding was provided or even put in the Parks
budget requests. In 2012 there was over 12
million in the Unrestricted Fund Balance account - monies
that could have been used for any purpose.
There are trucks
at pump house everyday- trees have been cut and landscaping
done in pumphouse area - contrary to deed. they were promised
loose stone -only - not paving - but it got paved anyway. Parks
Director Wendell said quote to clear up vines is several
thousand and includes $700 of pesticides - I asked him to forego
those- that would not be consistent with "preserving wildlife" .
The request for funding was not made at budget time.
Former Parks Director Doug Wendell
left. The vines have already been issue for years now when
new Parks Director Andy Oles took over. Nearly every living thing was covered over by vines in most of
the sanctuary. You can see BELOW how the blatant neglect had
compromised it as a wildlife preserve - there was not even
access into it so that care of the trees and shrubs that
provided food and shelter could be rendered.
In August 2017 "green" grants were received that were aimed at doing
"studies", benefitting contractors and
consultants, but accomplishing none of the work. There were even
grants for counting trees and for creating a brochure
- but again, not for doing the actual work. At the end of 2016 there was
$14 million in the Township's Unrestricted Fund Balance account. I was told at
one meeting by Commissioner Spiegelman I should go to the EAC
(Environmental Advisory Council ) and tell them. OK - They
already know. And so do you , Commissioner. As Chair of the Committee that
oversees Parks you have an OBLIGATION to know. I (and others) have already contacted
you and everyone in the Township who
SHOULD be in a position to change this....at meetings, by phone, via email.......
A group of scouts came
in to clear the corner by the pump station . They did a yeoman's
job and are to be applauded . They worked on only a small fraction of the park
behind & around the pump station. Saplings were planted -
a bit close I fear - next to other saplings that were already
there (but growing too close together , too.
It is truely wonderful that they gave their time to do this.
We thank them. But at the same time, I feel the
need to emphacize that we really cannot have the proper care of our parks left up
to volunteers. When volunteers either run out of
steam or want to choose another project, then there is no plan
or budget to take care of the park...... and tragedies like this
can occur. This park has needed clearly an on-going plan
and had none...for close to 10 years.
In April 2018 truckloads of large logs were seen
taking out lumber via the trail on the back side of the
Finally, after a great deal of cajoling, a request for $25,000
in the Parks
budget at the end of 2017.
But rather than use the
mini-dozer steer skids or hire workers ( who need work) or use other methods,
they chose to blanket spray pesticides. (Note:
"Herbicides" are "Pesticides". Insecticide is the term for the
Pesticide that kills insects. Rodenticides and Fungicides are
$14K was spent to brush
cut, spray select herbicides, (Aquaneat
and Sure Guard)
and plant 60 native trees and plants (with herbivore protection)
plus 10 pounds of Ernst Seed mix 178, Riparian Buffer mix
for the area cleared by the Boy Scouts.
You can see the
result after the completely senseless
"scorched earth" spraying BELOW, which poisons every living
thing in the path of the spray - including the insects .....that are
so vital to the birds. After the birds ingest the toxins by
eating the poisoned bugs, the mammals, in turn, may eat
the poisoned birds. Much of the wildlife in the entire preserve can be impacted in the
chain of events.
I caught a family of 3 deer
laying in the treated side, because the green side
was neglected to the point that it was no longer navigable.
This one stuck around for a photo.
: As you can see BELOW LEFT even the stream beds were
sprayed - even if they did use a product suitable for "aquatic
settings" they are not to be spraying IN the streams and the
chemicals are really not "safe" - it is a risk benefit analysis
. And needless spraying was used BELOW RIGHT as an
alternative to proper mowing - or just using regular
edging tools to cut back unwanted "creep" as we do at our own
except where careful plantings were done, returned in less than
a year's time - so death and destruction for nothing. The
meadow grasses were great at first...until the vines began to
take over again. Karebrook suffered the
same fate - though no grasses or pantings made hte return more
The Sanctuary is part of and
surronded by lands in the flood plain or prone to flooding . See
BELOW the impact from heavy rains and judge
for yourself the value of the trees, shrubs and ALL the
absorptive greenery that Commissioner Kline and his colleagues
allowed to die while creating no plan for proper maintenance .
WHY WE NEED THE TREES
2017 I contacted a landscaper and asked for a
quote to clear the vines without the use of any pesticides
on a portion as large as the one one they blanket sprayed.
His estimate was a fraction of the cost of the spraying ......
but he was still waiting for a call back when Parks
Director Andy Oles left in 2019(circa Aug/Sept?) .
Rather than put out a call for
a highly trained Parks Director the Township placed a Public
Works guy in charge of the Parks.
2019 -Clearing the land
On Nov 21st I
got word that the Preserve was being bulldozed......
No c no public input - and apparently no concern about what
things were being removed. Certainly I and others had
asked long enough to be givent he courtesy of a reply . As you
see ABOVE the removal of so much absorptive matter could
dramatically affect the area int eh next rain. Native
species were being removed ....No plan for the animals in winter
was apparent . No discussion of the goal or
scope of the work . No presentation of a plan for what was to be
planted or how it would thereafter be maintained.
No proposed budget or plan was put forth .... and the recent
Committee Meetings had been cancelled for no reason by Manager
Manfredi - who has regularly institued measures to remove our
voices and participation. Was this done by the new
"Construction LLC"? Was bidding required?
only is the timing ridiculous ( we had just had our first snow
and winter was upon us.....and upon the wildlife) but it was also
inappropriate to clear all protective
habitat at one time --- taking it down to the mud.
habitat improvement would be done in sections so as to accommodate the wildlife
living there.....clearing pathways for deer and mammals to
navigate to different sections, while leaving shelter, seeds, etc that
help them get through the winter.
This was a wholescale
assault before the sawa and dozers were quieted and completely inappropriate.
No residents, even those who had been
instrumental in getting attention focussed here or those living
right next to the preserve or affected by the tree removal were filled in
on the plan. The public business is supposed to be done ...you
When there was public outcry
timing and the way in which this was being done, the Township
threw up a web link (not a full separate page for each
issue as they have been asked that remains arechived and builds
new information on old).
1) They suggested this invasive vine carpet
happened over the last few years - but by 2012 it was
already a crisis - I don't consider 8-10 years to be "the last
2) They also said
The removal of vines is being completed by two small skid
steers, not bull dozers, to reduce the impact to the land and
natural habitat. " Seriously ?
When you take everything right down to the mud, does it matter
what size your bulldozer is?
3) They also promise the land will
not be developed - but then fail to maintain this
property, per deed, reverts to the heirs that ultimately get to
decide whether it has been "maintained" or not ......
4) They continued by saying
"This maintenance work is part of the Township’s planned
preservation and restoration efforts for our parks and natural
habitats". so look at the very first pictures
on this page. Is that your idea of "planned maintenance" .
If any had been planned, many of the large oaks and other giants
would be thriving.
I hope more residents will keep a watch
on this Township treasure and help hold feet to the fire in the
future. We have far too few greenspaces left in Abington -
and perhaps no others that genuinely were intended to nurture wildlife,
not cater to someone's wish to walk in the woods.
BELOW: SEEING STRAIGHT THROUGH TO
THE HOUSES BEHIND
HERE IS THE
WORDING FROM THE DEED :
Thirteen Acres were deeded by Alice Herkness to Abington Township
Alice Herkness was J. Liddon Pennock, Jr.’s wife
- so he was the "next of
kin " when the pump house
(He passed away
MEADOWBROOK NATURE PRESERVE
PROPERTY DEED (AS RECORDED IN NORRISTOWN)
ABINGTON TOWNSHIP DECEMBER 15, I 947 GIFTED BY
MRS. ALICE HERKNESS
TRANSCRIPT OF SECTION I ; PARAGRAPH 5
TO HAVE AND TO HOLD THE SAID PREMISES WITH ALL AND SINGULAR
APPURTENANCES UNTO THE SAID PARTY OF THE SECOND PART ITS
SUCCESSORS AND ASSIGNS,
CONDITION THAT SAID PREMISES AND
THE WHOLE THEREOF SHALL BE USED SOLELY AS A REFUGE OR
SANCTUARY FOR THE PROTECTION AND CONSERVATION OF BIRDS AND
OTHER FORMS OF WILDLIFE NATIVE TO PENNSYLVANIA AND WITHOUT
ESSENTIAL CHANGE IN THE GENERAL LANDSCAPE CHARACTER THEREOF
AND FOR NO OTHER PURPOSE INCLUDING HUNTING, FISHING OR
THE TOWNSHIP OF ABINGTON,
WHEN NECESSARY, MAY
CONSTRUCT THRU THE PREMISES, AN INTERCEPTING SANITARY SEWER OR
STORM WATER SEWER, WITHOUT IMPAIRING THIS GRANT, FOR THE
PURPOSE OF CARRYING SEWAGE OR WATER THOUGH SAME,
EVENT SHALL CONSTRUCT ANY SERVICE BUILDINGS
OR SEWAGE DISPOSAL
PLANT UPON THE SAID PREMISES.
IT IS UNDERSTOOD THAT
THE SAID PARTY OF THE SECOND PART, ITS SUCCESSORS OR ASSIGNERS
SHALL FAIL TO USE AND MAINTAIN SAID PREMISES AND EVERY PART
THEREOF AS A REFUGE OR SANCTUARY
FOR THE PROTECTION AND
QONSERVATION FOR THE BIRDS AND OTHER FORMS OF WILDLIFE NATIVE TO
PENNSYLVANIA, AS AFORESAID, WITHOUT ESSENTIAL CHANGE TO THE
GENERAL LANDSCAPE CHARACTER OF THE SAID PREMISES AND EVERY
PART THEREOF, TOGETHER WITH ALL AND SINGULAR THE APPURTENANCES
SHALL REVERT BACK TO THE SAID PARTY OF THE FIRST PART, THEIR
HEIRS OR ASSIGNS, MAY ENTER UPON AND RETAKE THE SAME.
(It should be
noted that J.Liddon Pennock apparently approved the pump house
and said it did not violate the lease . We have not seen such a
document in writing, though. I have a hard to read copy of
the original deed, if someone wants to see it . )
We hope you will let us know of any errors you find so we can
correct them :
Send your the