Villanova residents voice concerns over clearing trees for youth athletic fields

Neighbors in a Villanova neighborhood are not happy with possible plans by the Lower Merion School District to place multiple playing fields next to their brand new junior high that is being built.

According to the school district, in December 2018, the district paid more than $12.9 million for properties at 1800 W. Montgomery Avenue and 1835 County Line Road.

"We need to have sustainability at the forefront of every project and we need to be thinking about the summer of calamities that we just went through," said neighbor Shawn McMurtry.

Lower Merion School District in a statement to FOX 29 said in part:

"The District is not proposing to "clear cut" the field site. Plans have been submitted to the Township that includes replacing trees that need to be cleared to create the playing fields."

Residents say they've been completely cut out of the process and the district has not listened to their concerns.

"They state that they did an extensive search of the entire township and that this was the only option but most of us know that is absolutely not true," said neighbor Andrew Abermason.

A public meeting scheduled for Thursday night has since been postponed until further notice as some residents have taken legal actions against the school district.

Abermason lives a stones throw from where the playing fields may go. he says on top of the poor choice of location in his opinion, he believes a price hike in taxes wont be far behind.

"One hundred percent. There’s no doubt that when they do these kinds of projects that it’s only a matter of time before taxes go up and our taxes actually, we’ve been in this neighborhood 13 years, our taxes have more than doubled," said Abermason.

The district also said it's working with the township to finalize a site and nothing has been confirmed yet.  It believes the addition of the playing fields is a net positive for the community.

Still, neighbors disagree and wish it would be placed elsewhere.

"I have a 3-year-old I want him to be able to grow up near these amazing protected places. This area is literally about less than a mile from the blue route we need those trees to absorb the high level of carbon monoxide and keep our families safe," said neighbor Abe Haupt.



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