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Letter to the Editor: Unload Glenside-Weldon

Reader Monaghan says the school district should cede the former Glenside-Weldon Elementary building to the township

 

To the Editor:

The Keswick Village business district is a very vibrant part of our township’s economy. My work takes me to every corner of the Delaware Valley.  When people ask me where I live, if I say Glenside or Abington, a few people will nod in acknowledgement.  If I say that I live within walking distance of the Keswick Theater — they all know exactly where that is!

Since Copper Beech Elementary School opened 10 years ago, the former Glenside-Weldon school building has been the home to a number of tenants, some from Abington and some from other school districts in the area.  Each needed a temporary home while their new school was either being built or renovated.  Sadly, the pool of tenants has seemingly dried up.  For the past few years the building has sat fallow, except for PAL meetings, a twice per year polling place and occasional other uses, all based in the gym.  The Abington School District apparently failed in leasing the building over the past 12 months.

The former Glenside-Weldon School building, while holding warm memories for many, is a vestige of the last century.

Keswick Village makes the surrounding neighborhoods a “walkable community,” a status that many planners crave to achieve.  The former Glenside Weldon School building, sitting alongside the vibrant Keswick Village, is essentially a waste that drains resources from the School District.

At the same time that the building sits empty, the greenfield behind the building is used by Keswick Village residents, GYAC and Hunter Soccer.  This greenfield is at risk as long as the school district controls the property.  Who’s to say, that, if confronted with a budget problem in these uncertain times, that the current board, or another board, might decide to sell the entire parcel to the highest bidder?

I have asked the school district to begin a conversation with the Township to cede the property to the Township for the sum of $1.  After all, the people, through the school board, already own it.

The Township alone has the power to (1) make the greenfield a township park for perpetuity and (2) negotiate a political settlement with Cheltenham Township on new “hook-ups” for the school site.

I have also asked the same question at the Abington Township Board of Commissioners.  My hope is that both the school board and the township commissioners can work to make life better for those of us who live and work within walking distance of the Keswick Village while moving a vacant property to the tax rolls.

John Monaghan

Glenside

Thomas Jefferson October 11, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Great ideas John, finding a workable solution for the building and adding to the growth of the area are both important goals. Kick starting the conversation is an important step in that process!
Helen Joey Schaefer October 11, 2012 at 08:18 PM
I just recently opened my new pet salon, The Groom Studio, across from this property and would also love to see it developed into something more than an empty lot. Being on the outskirts of the heart of the Keswick Village, business on Easton Road beyond Keswick Cycle suffer from a lack of foot traffic. It would be nice to have a viable extension of the village beyond the sightline of the Easton Rd/Keswick Ave intersection.
Steven Kline October 11, 2012 at 08:41 PM
The township has been working on this, with the school district's cooperation, as part of drafting zoning ordinance revisions. The current zoning would not allow for uses compatible with extending the feel of the Keswick Village. The Glenside/Weldon property, under the current zoning, is not very viable unless someone wanted to open a school, church, cemetery or conservation preserve (the only uses by right). The township, with the school district's cooperation, wants to be in control of this process not a developer that might purchases the property and proposes zoning changes not sensitive to the neighborhood and Keswick Village and only serve their interests. Off course the disposition of the property will be the final decision of the school district but the township and the school district are interested and working on finding ways to make the property more viable regardless of what who owns it.
John Monaghan October 12, 2012 at 02:52 AM
Thanks for you input Steve. Thank you adding another reason why the school district needs to shed the GW property. If the current zoning does not allow extending "the feel of Keswick Village," then only the Township has the power to change the zoning. If Keswick Village is a commercial and social success, why not try to expand the "vibe?" We both agree that it would not be in the best interest of the community if a developer would purchase the entire property, i.e., if it included the greenspace now used by many people. The goal of my proposal is to take any "final decision" away from the school district and give it to the Township because the Township can: (1) change the zoning if needed, (2) convert the greenfields to a Township park so that they will be out of reach of development. (3) bring the building (or its' footprint) back onto the tax rolls and (4) add to the vibrancy of Keswick Village. The easiest way to start the process is to have the school district transfer the property to the Township for $1. The only thing that is not an option, is to do nothing.
Robert Corapi SR June 12, 2013 at 07:12 PM
The school board was given the opportunity to sell the property to a developer that wanted to convert the school building into a 55 or older community and add a parking structure as well a more retail stores, sadly they turned it down due to the need of future expansion (so they say). the highest and best use to aid the future and continued growth of Keswick Village is for the planning commission higher a development consultant to verify the best use of the property. Glenside does not need a vacant lot on its main road, it will bring down the property values and give the impression to the outsiders that don't come to Glenside "its a waste land".

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