Township wins Montco planning award
UPPER POTTSGROVE >> The township’s Open Space and Recreation Board was recently named the 2018 winner of the Planning Advocate Award by the Montgomery County Planning Commission.
Given out every year since 1967, the Planning Advocate Award “recognizes an engaged citizen, appointed/ elected official or board, or community organization that has made significant and sustained contributions to advancing or promoting planning in Montgomery County.”
The volunteer board was “recognized for community vision, sustained commitment to conservation of natural resources, and successful open space preservation and trail development achievements. Over nearly three decades, the board has created an enviable record of accomplishments, furthering the vision and goals of the township,” according to the announcement from the planning commission.
“Through the years, faced with mounting suburban development pressure on its farmlands and rural landscape, the township established a vision for retaining its valuable natural resources,” the planning commission wrote.
“In the early 1990s, these efforts were led primarily by a grassroots citizen group, which educated itself about environmental stewardship and land preservation,” formalizing the arrangement into a committee in 2004.
In 2010, this committee merged with the township’s recreation board.
The open space and trail development achievements were funded by a .25 percent earned income tax approved by voters in 2006 and begun with a $714,000 grant from the Montgomery County Green Fields/Green Towns program.
At the time voters approved the tax, only about 70 acres of township land was permanently protected as open space.
Today, Upper Pottsgrove has more than 400 acres of open space that’s permanently protected — that’s an addition of 330 acres and an increase of more 450 percent, according to township officials.
Among the more highprofile efforts led to the establishment of the Althouse Arboretum off Gilbertsville Road which last year offered more than 50 programs to the public, including summer camps, night hikes and Christmas tree recycling efforts.
The Open Space and Recreation Board held a special town-wide meeting Sept. 27 to gather input on the writing of a new open space and recreation plan.
This annual awards program, which is in its 51st year, recognizes the best in planning, design, and advocacy in Montgomery County. It promotes awareness of outstanding design and innovative planning in our communities and acknowledges the high quality of work and commitment of communities, organizations, and professionals in contributing to these projects, according to the county website.
The award was one of six announced recently.
From left, Montgomery County Planning Commission Vice chairwoman Dulcie Flaharty, Planning Commissioner Director Jody Holton, Regional Recreation Coordinator Michael Lane, Michelle Reddick and Dennis Elliott, Vice Chairwoman and Chairman, respectively, of the Upper Pottsgrove Open Space and Recreation Board, board member and former township commissioner Herb Miller and State Rep. Marcy Toepel, R-147th Dist.