Ever since the Don Guanella village closed in 2012, there’s been debate over the fate of the property. Local homeowners are demanding a project that preserves greenspace and doesn’t overburden the area with traffic.
After the closing of Don Guanella’s residential program, the Archdiocese agreed to sell the property to Goodman Properties for $47 million in 2015. However, the original development proposal sparked vocal outcry from local residents. Locals voiced serious concerns over traffic and zoning issues, even creating the Save Marple Greenspace group to protest development. This led to the sale never being approved or completed.
On May 22, 2018, developers held an open house to discuss the plans for the 213 acres that span between Sproul and Reed Roads. The two-hour open house drew hundreds of visitors to the gymnasium of Cardinal O’Hara Catholic High School. They were there to discuss a new proposal, this time from Carlino Commercial Development.
A central component of the plan’s success is honoring the community’s desire to preserve greenspace in the area. Development of a Wegman’s and 19 other stores is roughly the same size as the former Don Guanella property. This avoids concerns about increased traffic and development.
However, at the open house, residents remained skeptical that the rest of the acreage would remain preserved as greenspace. The space, which has miles of trails, is one of the top concerns for residents. Homeowners do not trust that the undeveloped land would not be sold off again for further development.
According to the Delaware County Times, “Carlino Principal Peter Miller said he has looked at the county or township to buy the approximately 160 acres of greenspace on the property to have the land stay as open space, but that has not been verified.”
The fate of Marple Greenspace and the former Don Guanella property is still undetermined. It seems unlikely that any proposal to remove greenspace will get by without a serious fight. To learn more about the Save Marple Greenspace group and their efforts to preserve the park, visit their website here.
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