A small group opposed to the Lower Merion School District’s plan to clear 13 acres of forest and hundreds of trees in Villanova for new athletic fields at the college met on Thursday to publicly rebuke local officials and demand that they find another site.
“A lot of the neighbors have very, very serious concerns about the nature of this all happened, how the school district came to this conclusion. And finally, for all of us, a big, big issue is safety, ”said Andrew Abramson, who lives across the street from where a field entrance would be.
Because the area has narrow streets and no sidewalks, community members anticipate the dangers of traffic. In addition to security concerns, there are fears of environmental degradation.
“Lower Merion is losing all of its green space. We cannot afford to lose one more tree. They are beautiful, beautiful trees, and the neighbors are very worried about what will happen to our neighborhood, ”said Ann Gelfond, whose backyard is adjacent to the ongoing construction of a new college.
The Thursday morning rally was intended as a precursor to a township meeting Zoning hearing board Thursday evening during which the various parties have planned to testify. But that part of the zoning meeting was postponed shortly before the start of the small gathering, due to procedural issues arising from an ongoing litigation.
Resident Shawn McMurtry said she doesn’t think the district has the best interests of the students in mind.
“We have to put sustainability at the forefront of every project,” said McMurtry.
Another resident, Abe Haupt, said he had done a lot of work on environmental causes and called the district’s plan “reckless” and “destructive.”
“It’s a matter of public interest. It’s about doing the right thing for the environment, ”said Haupt.