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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    - (13 acres)
From this :
Boy Scout Preserve   Boy Scout PreserveRoadside-before

To this....

  Bare-11-19  To the mud-11-22-19

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 to Abington totally, if the conditions of the gift are violated.  And Abington has already violated the rules, by putting, for instance, the pump station and parking for it  and in other ways . So far the person who could take the property back has allowed the violations.  But that may not continue if they see a value there.   For years our pleas to clear the vines that were killing the trees were ignored  as we helplessly watched the trees die .   This level of neglect was also a violation. So we need the Township to take thir responsibilities seriously so as not to lose this treasure.

In the long run,  some of my fear is fueled to some extent by the Township's current propensity to want to develop densely around all train stations (Crestmont, Willow Grove, Noble, Rydal, etc.) . These areas are  called "TOD's"  - Transit Oriented Developments or Districts and grant monies are available to incentivize this kind of development.  Very, very dense development must occur within a quarter mile of the train to be eligible. And just slightly less dense within a full half mile circumference of the train.    As they "cleared  the land"  ( which is directly opposite the Meadowbrook  train station), it was hard, given all I have seen since 2006, not to imagine  the possibility that there was such a plan  behind the scenes, and some future landowner, unknown to the rest of us, was being spared the expense of removing the many large trees. 

At the same time that this was going on, the Township had just proposed  to create an  "
Economic Development Corporation "  - which is very much akin to the  Commissioners "becoming" developers themselves. It was wildly opposed. The Commissioners would be setting up a non-profit, with its board membebers appointed by the Commissioners themselves.  Yet in other ways it was to be independent.  The  actual, stated mission was "to distance  the Commissioners  from the opinions of the public"  and to allow them to develop without following all those annoying rules - like bidding, etc.   And we very soon saw exactly what the Commissioners had as their development goals, which differed diamentrically from our own ideas of good development .   At the end of 2020,  we saw them admit to co-writing and directing an ordinance proposal for  massive numbers of 85 ft high apartments  at the Willow Grove Mall, and to direct increased heights and densities at one of our busiest intersections, Old York and Susquehanna.

 

So the care of this park takes on even more urgency, given these other factors that may be at play.  But even just to care for the displaced wildlife, to honor the intent of the gift and to keep the deer off the roadways and out of our gardens - to maintain a proper forest for water management in an areas that floods  and to rebuild the greenery that cleans our air  and gives us a sense of well-being . These are the things that make our suburban Township the kind of environment we chose to call home.

 

 A call to all Abington residents who may be interested  in helping . Your interest and expertise are greatly need to help plan control the return of the vines and invasives and  to help with  the reforestation of the Boy Scout Preserve .  Please contact me  (or 215- 885-0504 if you are able to share any time or any skills whatsoever.  From planting, to research, or even just sharing ideas with us  -- all help is welcome. 
The new Shade Tree Chair  will hold off on using pre-emergents if we can come up with a plan to  manage the weeds there and the ones coming up again or being replanted accidentally via birds, the wind and resurgent roots without chemicals.  

 


                         THE TOWNSHIPS "MAINTENANCE PLAN" 
                     2012                                                                                               2019

2012-Along Valley Rd Boy Scout Preserve

Who allowed it to get this way  This Park was in Steve Kline's Ward since he appeared on the scene in 2008.  And it was already becoming distressed. He & the Parks Dept and Manager  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.  Then 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 first allowed blanket pesticide spraying ....in a wildlife sanctuary.   Commissioner Tom Hecker, who replaced Steve Kline, ignored it before when he heard the requests as Ward 10 Commissioner, and has now inherited this Park as of  January 2020, just after the "clearing" of it down to the mud.

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 Former Parks Director Doug Wendell has 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. 
             

                                            00-2018-09-01-BSPDeer-Sml.jpg
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.   But the shrubs and other plants were what fed the deer . ( So, after this craziness, when they followed  up by removing everything all at once, down to the mud , we had deer in our back yards  - and crossing in front of our cars, on a regular basis . )

                                         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, in the end,  are really not "safe" - it is a "risk benefit analysis".  The risk here outweighs the benefit as there are other methods to remove vnes.  Needless spraying was used (BELOW RIGHT) even as an alternative to proper mowing - or just  using   edging tools to cut back unwanted "creep" as we do at our own homes  

                           Boy Scout Preserve       Boy Scout Preserve

The vines returned , except where careful plantings were done, in less than a year's time - so death and destruction of the living things in the streams, and that the birds eat,  (and ultimately the animals that eat them,  was 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  ---  the vines that were killed simply returned in spades . 

The  flood plain   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
                        and the absorbant shrubs, grasses and other plantlife



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?) .

2019  Public Works with bulldozers and chain saws, is now in charge of Parks .  Rather than put out a call for a highly trained Parks Director the Township placed a long time  Public Works  guy in charge of the Parks. 


Nov 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  to do for years, that  remains arechived and builds new information on old - but at least SOME information is posted ).
   
 1)   They suggested this  invasive vine carpet happened over the last few years -  Not true. 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.  So- OK .......  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. By removing everything all at once, we had deer in our back yards  - and crossing in front of our cars, on a regular basis .  We CREATED a danger on our roadways  and forced the wildlife to become a nuisance on our properties.  Forests take years and years to grow back

 

THIS IS A TOWNSHIP TREASURE . WE ARE LOSING GREENSPACE AT A TERRIFYING RATE   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 


2020  Replanting begins - with trees planted way too close together.  There is little to no cooperation with the Township (longtime public works employee who remains our park director or the Shade Tree Commission or the manager to share costs, or the plan forward  or to talk about such things as the use of chemicals .

 


Trees Too Close  Together

 



2021  - We have a new Chair of the Shade Tree Commission. May 2021  He will hold off on using pre-emergents if we can come up with a plan to  manage the weeds there and the ones coming up again or being replanted accidentally via birds, the wind and resurgent roots without chemicals .



Trees PlantedInSmallArea-1-21


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 
________________________________________________________


 

 

 


_________________________

   Send your the information to: lel@abingtoncitizens.com 
 


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Abington Township, with John Spiegelman in charge, revamped the entire Township website at the end of 2015 and broke all the links to the information we had archived on this site for you.   In 2017, Manager Richard Manfredi arrived and assigned someone not qualified to redo the entire website again. They not only broke all archived links we had reinstated, but made everything as impossible to find as they could. Nearly all of our comments and recommedations to fix the Township website have been wholly ignored.

So we do need volunteers to work together helping the Township create a site that is functional and accessible.  We will be reinstating links as we find them....if the data is still available. So... please let us know if you find a broken link. Send us the URL of the link  and the name of the page it is on, and if we can, we'll reinstate it.
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