May 9, 2005
Open space preservation in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, has received strong support among county residents.
During the 2003 general election, more than 77 percent of county voters responded favorably to a referendum authorizing bond financing for open space initiatives as part of the Green Fields/Green Towns Program. Municipalities throughout the county are currently engaged in updating their open space plans to be eligible for their share of the $150 million bond issue.
Currently, the Center for Sustainable Communities at Temple University Ambler is turning its eye toward the Ambler Borough region.
On Monday, June 6, the Center for Sustainable Communities will host a meeting entitled “Staying Inspired: An Open Space Plan for the Ambler Sub-region.” The meeting, which is free and open to the public, will be held from 7 to 9 p.m., in Bright Hall Lounge, at the Ambler campus.
“The Ambler sub-region is really a unique slice of the region as a whole in that it sits in between the major development centers of the eastern part of the county. It has been getting lots of attention these days — from controversial redevelopment proposals in Ambler, to various initiatives to improve business campuses, to flooding and traffic concerns,” said Dr. Jeffrey Featherstone, Director of the Center for Sustainable Communities and Chair of the Department of Community and Regional Planning at Temple University Ambler. “All of these issues directly impact open space preservation efforts. Municipalities must work together across municipal boundaries — especially in the Ambler sub-region — to make the county’s ambitious open space goals a reality.”
The Department of Community and Regional Planning at Temple University Ambler has conducted a comprehensive study of open space in the Ambler sub-region, which is centered on the Wissahickon Waterfowl Preserve and includes all of Ambler Borough and large parts of Lower Gwynedd, Upper Dublin, Whitemarsh, and Whitpain townships.
The area contains key pieces of the Wissahickon Creek Greenway, according to Dr. Featherstone, which is an open space priority for Montgomery County.
“Numerous private, public, and governmental organizations have stakes in this area, but have no formal means to coordinate open space planning. A primary objective of the study is to simply pull together in one report all of the many planning efforts underway,” Dr. Featherstone said. “This will help facilitate meaningful dialogue between municipalities. As there currently is no shared vision of how existing and potential protected lands might be linked, a second objective is to offer options for connecting the open space dots.”
Under the direction of Community and Regional Planning Associate Professor Richard Nalbandian, the Temple planning team has coordinated with the municipalities in the sub-region as well as other key stakeholders. Professor Nalbandian has nearly forty years of experience working on open space preservation, site reclamation, and regional planning projects.
“Open space that has special significance, such as historic places, scenic landscapes, and natural resources, give a community an identity,” he said. “The historic, scenic, but, as of now, unconnected open spaces in the Ambler sub-region offer such an opportunity for inspiration.”
The Center for Sustainable Communities at Temple University Ambler is a working resource for government agencies, community organizations, and developers. It provides objective information and services to improve decision-making relative to land use and water resources planning in addition to conducting interdisciplinary research and offering educational and community outreach programs.