Daily Local News (West Chester, PA)
CHESTER CO. KICKS IN $4.2M FOR CREBILLY FARM
WESTTOWN—The effort to preserve an iconic part of Chester County’s landscape got another boost Wednesday as the Chester County commissioners approved an open space grant totaling more than $4.2 million to Westtown for the preservation of Crebilly Farm.
The latest funding is added to a $2.15 million Preservation Partnership Grant that the commissioners awarded to regional conservation non-profit Natural Lands in February for the effort, bringing a total county contribution for saving the 312-acre farm at the county’s southeastern
edge to $6.35 million.
More than $13 million has also been dedicated to the preservation from state and local sources.
“Helping to preserve Chester County land for future generations is one of the most important actions we can take as county leaders,” said Chairwoman Marian Moskowitz in a press release announcing the commissioners’ unanimous vote at its business meeting. The county’s parks department has been working for some time with the township and Natural Lands to put the funding together.
“Our Open Space program, approved overwhelmingly by
voters more than 30 years ago, not only allows us to preserve valuable acres, it also contributes to Chester County’s economic success,” added Moskowitz.
Crebilly Farm, whose history dates back to the early days of the nation, is one of the largest remaining unprotected properties in the county. In November, Westtown voters approved a tax levy that would raise $7.5 million for its purchase from the current owners, the Robinson family, the founders of Acme Markets.
Commissioner Josh Maxwell said that, “Crebilly Farm is a gemstone of hills and woods that deserves to remain as it was
when the Battle of the Brandywine occurred there in 1777 during the American Revolution. Its historical and environmental worth cannot be overstated.
“The beauty of preserving this land is also evident in the tremendous public desire to keep it from development, and we are pleased to be able to contribute to that,” added Maxwell.
The conservation plan for Crebilly Farm put together by the partners combines publicly accessible open space and privately owned preserved land. Crebilly’s owners’ agreement of sale of 208 acres of the total to Westtown and will allow the township to develop a passive
“Westtown Township is extraordinarily grateful to the County Commissioners for their generous financial support to preserve Crebilly Farm,” said Township Manager Jon Altshul. “This grant award aligns perfectly with the results of the recent voter referendum in Westtown, in which 68 percent of Westtown voters supported the imposition of new taxes to protect open space.
“This acquisition is therefore truly a team effort involving township, county, state, and federal resources, and we are proud that all levels of government are coming together to make this important project a reality,” he said.
A second agreement of sale between the Robinsons and Natural Lands enables the land conservation organizations to purchase up to four conservation easements on the remaining 104 acres of the property. These 100-plus acres, which contain most of the property’s buildings and residences, will remain on the market to be purchased by private buyers, with the new owners being subject to the terms of the conservation easements.
The two county grants from will support the purchase of both the 208-acre parcel and conservation easements on the remaining 104-acres.
“A key focus of Chester County’s Parks and Preservation Department is to preserve land throughout the county by partnering with conservancies, townships, the state, and even private landowners,” said Commissioner Michelle Kichline. “Over its 30-plusyear history, our open space program has leveraged hundreds of millions of dollars through these partnerships. Crebilly Farm is a perfect example of this, and we thank the Robinson family, Westtown Township, and Natural Lands for all the time and effort that has gone into saving Crebilly.”
“Crebilly Farm is a conservation priority in the county and region for a host of ecological and historical reasons,” said Oliver Bass, president of Natural Lands, in a county press release. “What’s most striking, though, is how deeply people care about it. The landscape is truly iconic, and we are exceedingly grateful to the commissioners for making this major investment in Crebilly’s preservation.”
To contact staff writer Michael P. Rellahan call 610-696-1544.