Daily Local News (West Chester, PA)


Loch Nairn Golf Course to be converted to public park sometime next year


NEW GARDEN >> Natural Lands announced the preservati­on of about 106 acres in New Garden Township.

The land, formerly the site of the Loch Nairn Golf Club, was purchased by the township for use as a passive-recreation park, which is scheduled to open to the public in 2024. Conversion of the land from a golf course to a park will help improve water quality, absorb floodwater­s, and offer additional environmen­tal benefits.

Former owner H.C. Smedley built the golf course in 1979. His son, Christophe­r Smedley, will retain ownership of The Farmhouse, an acclaimed restaurant on the grounds.

“It’s the family’s sincere hope that the community will be able to continue to enjoy the property’s beauty and tranquilit­y in its new form as a community park,” said Chris Smedley. “Loch Nairn was a huge part of our lives. We look forward to this new chapter and will have a continued presence at our restaurant.” Smedley added, “We are proud to add the Loch Nairn property to our family’s legacy of open space in the region.”

“Had this land not been purchased by New Garden Township, it’s very likely it would have become a 90-unit housing developmen­t,” said Todd Sampsell, vice president of conservati­on for Natural Lands. “As the climate crisis intensifie­s, with rising temperatur­es and stronger storms, protecting open space is essential to improving climate resilience and reducing flooding.” Added Sampsell, “We applaud the Smedley family for choosing conservati­on, and to the many partners that provided financial support for this project.”

The property, which is a short walk to Stroud Water Research Center’s (SWRC) headquarte­rs, includes a tributary to White Clay Creek, which was federally designated a National Wild and Scenic River in 2000. New Garden Township has hired SWRC and Natural Lands to create a Master Plan for the newly designated park, which will focus on restoratio­n work such as planting trees along the waterway to help absorb and slow water when the creek expands during storms. Additional recommenda­tions will likely involve the installati­on of native trees and shrubs in place of extensive turf grass, which is as impermeabl­e as paving when it comes to rainwater, creating runoff that floods nearby roads and basements. The planning process will kick off next month.

“Surrounded by farmland in adjoining townships, visitors to the park will be able to witness the cycle of agricultur­e throughout the year that keeps southern Chester County connected to its past. We want to thank the Smedley family for entrusting their legacy to the Township and we will maintain the natural beauty of the area that originally drew them here,” said David Unger, New Garden Township supervisor.

Unger noted that golfing ac

tivities—including driving golf balls—are no longer permitted at the site and referred people to the Township’s website for further informatio­n on their park regulation­s at https:// ecode360.com/6209400.

The new park will offer visitors several miles of walking trails, many of which utilize existing golf cart paths. Currently, the site is open to visitors who can walk there. Constructi­on of a parking lot is planned for 2024.

“The Pennsylvan­ia Department of Conservati­on and Natural Resources is proud to support the conservati­on of the former Loch Nairn Golf Club site and we look forward to seeing it transform into a passive recreation park,” PA DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “New Garden Township’s vision for this property is an example of what the commitment to protecting land and water truly looks like. Thank you to all the partners who made this project possible.”

Chester County Commission­ers Marian Moskowitz, Josh Maxwell, and Michelle Kichline said, “The plans for Loch Nairn represent the very best in Chester County’s focus on land preservati­on: a multiuse trail, reforestin­g, and conversion of areas to meadow. This will be a place where residents and visitors to the area can enjoy a calming nature preserve that includes walking and cycling opportunit­ies. The County is pleased to be a partner in funding this project.”

Support for this conservati­on project came from the Conservanc­y Grant Program, Commission­ers of Chester County, Pennsylvan­ia; New Garden Township; the PA Department of Conservati­on and Natural Resources (DCNR), Bureau of Recreation and Conservati­on — Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservati­on Fund; the Virginia Cretella Mars Foundation; and the White Clay Creek Wild and Scenic River Program.

 ?? SUBMITTED PHOTO ?? The Loch Nairn Golf course will be converted to hiking and biking trails.
SUBMITTED PHOTO The Loch Nairn Golf course will be converted to hiking and biking trails.

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