December 08, 2023
Aston will soon get a 46-acre park at a property the township recently purchased from the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia. The land acquisition was supported by grants and will preserve a large, undeveloped area in a community that has little untouched space.
The property at Red Hill Road and Convent Road was acquired for $1.925 million, $100,000 of which came from the township. It was divested from a larger property that includes a retirement convent and nursing facilities run by the women's congregation, which is based just north of Neumann University.
Natural Lands, the conservation nonprofit that helped secure grants for the project, said the land consists of woodlands and an open meadow and that hiking trails will be added. The property is just 400 feet from West Branch Chester Creek, a state-designated trout-stocking fishery. One of the project's goals is to prevent development that could carry soil and pollutants into the creek.
"It was a bargain sale, which means the sisters accepted a little less than the assessed value," said Robyn Jeney, land protection project manager for Natural Lands. "The preservation of this land is especially significant in a community that is almost 100% developed and with a density of nearly 3,000 residents per square mile."
The Sisters of St. Francis are said to have welcomed the chance to convert the unused land into an open space for the public.
Natural Lands, based in Media, coordinates parks and conservation projects throughout the region — including several in recent months. In Chester County, a 44-acre farm in East Nantmeal Township will be preserved along Beaver Run Creek after a conservation easement was secured for the property. And in Philly, a 24-acre plot in Upper Roxborough, known as the Boy Scout Tract, will be protected from development after donors helped stave off a potential sale by the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education.
Delaware County supported the park project in Aston through its Green Ways Grant Program, which works with municipalities and nonprofits to identify green spaces in need of conservation funding.
“We saw this as a great opportunity to protect the environment and preserve this tract of ground as open space in our township for generations to come," Aston Township manager William J. DeFeo III said.
Aston Township officials said they'll have a formal ribbon cutting for the park next spring.