A Bit of History
It all started when Elen Snyder – a resident of the Windermere development
on Lower Dolington Road – read in the
and on the Nextdoor
online social group that 6.21 acres of Roberts Ridge Park across the street
from her house were going to be converted to a “meadow” as part of
Newtown’s Pollution Reduction Plan (read “Newtown Township’s Pollution
Reduction Plan: How Will It Impact Our Parks?’; http://bit.ly/NTprpArticle).
Elen was concerned and decided to speak out against the plan – at least the
part of the plan that involved her beloved local park – at a meeting of the
Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) on May 8, 2019 (see the video:
At the BOS meeting, Elen and several other local residents objected to the
conversion of a well-used area of the park into a meadow for several
reasons, but mostly because it would make it much more difficult, if not
impossible, for residents to walk their dogs, fly their kites, ride their sleds,
relax, and practice soccer in the park as they have often done.
Also commenting at that BOS meeting was Joyce Ely, the president of the
Neshaminy Creek Watershed Association (NCWA), a non-profit group that
has long advocated for the planting of more trees. Her public and written
comments to the BOS spoke about the importance of trees in preventing the
contamination of the Township’s watersheds by pollutants such as sediment
and agricultural runoff. Prevention of such pollution is the goal of the
Pollution Reduction Plan, which Newtown was required to develop and
submit to the PA Department of Environmental Protection as part of its
application for an MS4 (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System) permit.
Without the plan and permit, the Township would not be legally allowed to
discharge stormwater into local streams and rivers.
A Two-Phase Plan
FRRP has a two-phase plan: (1) The group will raise private money by
donations from neighbors and friends to purchase native trees and supplies;
and (2) the group will also work with the NCWA and Newtown Township to
apply for a 2020 grant to provide additional trees. The first phase is called
the “Family Plan” because anyone making a $70 donation can dedicate a
tree – perhaps in memory of a family member – and a plaque will mark the
tree as donated by the family. Elen has already received pledges just 10
short of her goal.
An important discussion point at the meeting was made by Joyce Ely who
emphasized that it is important to plant only native species as part of the
plan. She summarized the reasons why this is important: (1) native trees
are better adapted to the local environment and have a better chance of