The Phoenixville Area Friends of Open Space have advocated for a NEW PARK since October, 2021, at the first opportunity the public was made fully aware of the School District’s intent to sell.
Over the past year, a group of concerned citizens, now calling themselves the Phoenixville Area Friends of Open Space, has attended School Board meetings and has brought up questions and concerns to the current School Board members.
We asked the School Board…
We asked the School Board to publicly respond to concerns and questions. While the former Board held two “public workshops”, neither was on this specific proposed sale, and the current Board never held any meetings to publicly deliberate and to hear the public’s ideas or to explain why selling the property is the best for our community. Neither board had public deliberation on the ideas.
We asked the School Board to publicly respond to concerns from neighbors and members of the community regarding environmental hazards and harm from this proposal. They have refused.
While the School District believes additional tax revenue will cover the expenses of additional students, the additional infrastructure expenses would raise Borough taxes, according to a Chester County Planning Commission Report.
We asked the School Board to review the record to understand that they voted based upon misinformation. They cannot since the videos were all allegedly destroyed.
We asked the School Board to review the flawed analysis and explain why they used unrealistic factors. They have refused.
We asked the School Board to hold a special public meeting to review the proposed agreement of sale. They voted to sell to Toll Brothers before they had an Agreement of Sale.
There were two additional competitive offers that were never considered before the vote to sell to Toll Bros, one of which seems to have been willing to offer a higher price. This tends to confirm our basic sense that there was a serious lack of transparency in the sale process.
We asked the School Board for a 90 day period to review the proposed agreement of sale. They refused.
When the School Board went ahead and voted to sell this property to a luxury high density developer, we were forced to file a “Sunshine Complaint” with the Chester County Court to ask the board to do actual due diligence and hold substantive public deliberation. We continue that effort. The Sunshine Violation complaint is to hold the board accountable to their duty as fiduciaries and to uphold their oath of office.
But even that is not enough to protect this land and our community.
We have one last card to play to SAVE OUR OPEN SPACE: Eminent Domain.
Eminent domain has been used to protect open space for decades. It is a legal method by which a landowner receives fair market value for land which is then protected for the benefit of the public.
Phoenixville Area School District has used Eminent Domain in the recent past when it suited them.
By using the method now, the District will receive a fair market sale price much faster than they would by pursuing an Agreement of Sale that invites litigation. Both the District and the Borough will save money that would otherwise be spent on the litigation of a bad decision. So now, we the people ask that we be protected from this poor decision based on misinformation and that our land, air, and water be protected as is our right per the Pennsylvania Constitution.
We thank everyone who has donated, signed the earlier petitions, attended School Board meetings, and helped with this effort to stop luxury high density development that will irreparably harm the environment, raise taxes, and lower property values. Our work is far from over.