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The Abington Citizens Network
where Abington, PA residents can share ideas and join forces to build a better community
 

THE BOY SCOUT PRESERVE
aka Meadowbrook Nature Preserve

In 1936 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 "becoming" developers.


                         THE TOWNSHIPS "MAINTENANCE PLAN" 
                     2012                                                                                               2019

2012-Along Valley Rd Boy Scout Preserve

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.

By  2012  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....

   Boy Scout Preserve    Boy Scout Preserve
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. 

                                                          2012-Along Valley Rd

                           
2014 - 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.


2017-
 


By 2017
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.......  endless efforts.  

 
April
2017  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.  

 
Boy Scout Preserve   Boy Scout Preserve

In April 2018 truckloads of  large logs were seen taking out  lumber via the trail on the back side of the park.


                                                  Boy Scout Preserve             Boy Scout Preserve

   
Aug-Sept 2018   Finally, after a great deal of cajoling, a request for $25,000 was actually 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 also "Pesticides"
 $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.

                                            00-2018-09-01-BSPDeer-Sml.jpg

                                         Boy Scout Preserve

Streams, too :   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 homes  

                           Boy Scout Preserve       Boy Scout Preserve

The vines, 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 severe. 

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


Boy Scout Preserve    Boy Scout Preserve

   In 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. 

November 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?

       Not 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.   Normally 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 know....  in public.   

When there was public outcry about the 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 few" ..... 

    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.     


Boy Scout Preserve   Boy Scout Preserve

                                             BELOW:  SEEING STRAIGHT THROUGH TO THE HOUSES BEHIND 

                                               
Boy Scout Preserve  




HERE IS THE WORDING FROM THE DEED :

 12-15-1947
 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
7-24-03 )     

 
MEADOWBROOK NATURE PRESERVE

ORIGINAL PROPERTY DEED (AS RECORDED IN NORRISTOWN)

GIFTED TO ABINGTON TOWNSHIP DECEMBER 15, I 947    GIFTED BY MRS. ALICE HERKNESS

ORIGINAL TRANSCRIPT OF SECTION I ; PARAGRAPH 5

RESTRICTIONS:

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, UPON 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 RECREATION.

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, BUT IN NO EVENT SHALL CONSTRUCT ANY SERVICE BUILDINGS OR SEWAGE DISPOSAL PLANT UPON THE SAID PREMISES.

IT IS UNDERSTOOD THAT AT ANY TIME
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 : lel@abingtoncitizens.com 
________________________________________________________


 

 

 


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   Send your the information to: lel@abingtoncitizens.com 
 

 

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