Saturday, May 23, 2015

Willow Grove: How about... a grove?

The final shutdown of the Willow Grove Air Station later this year will free up 892 acres just north of Philly for a purpose as yet undecided. This might sound crazy, but how about... a willow grove?

Willow Grove: How about... a grove?

What the repurposed land could look like (artist´s conception)
What the repurposed land could look like (artist's conception)

As the Inquirer reports today, the final shutdown of the Willow Grove Air Station later this year will free up 892 acres just north of Philly for a purpose as yet undecided.

Many different constituencies are trying to get out in front of the issue and position their pet projects as front-runners. Here's the key section from today's story:

The Horsham Land Reuse Authority - a nine-member board made up mainly of local political and business leaders - is already fielding proposals from local governments, private developers, and nonprofit groups, ideas that will be culled to an officially endorsed redevelopment plan.

Horsham's residents have spent nearly four decades accommodating the base smack in the middle of their suburb, learning to live with noisy airplane engines and the less than pastoral landmarks of chain-link fences and drab hangars.

But now, the question of what will take its place has become a source of anxiety for some locals.

While many locals are looking at the land as a potential source of tax revenue for Horsham, others are adamant that having got rid of the noisy overhead jets, they don't want to clog the community with more high-traffic business solutions. As Jeremy Roebuck put it,"Horsham's citizens have a far better idea of what they don't want to see on the former base than what they do. No civilian airports, no mega-shopping center, no industrial factories, and nothing that would add significant traffic to the already congested Horsham Road or Route 611, proclaimed various residents who spoke during the two-hour meeting."

This is always the problem in community development issues, with quality of life being pitched at odds with economic necessities. Still for any Earth to Philly readers that are Horsham residents, please consider supporting either conversion of the available space to a park or even allowing the land to revert, at least temporarily, to real, honest-to-god green space. It's not clear how toxic the soil there might currently be but some landscaping might even be done to include, and I know this might sound crazy, but a willow grove.

While there would likely be little to no economic benefit from this latter option, it can be seen as an investment in a future where Horsham - and all of us who live nearby - will have access to a significant tract of land that could eventually be farmed or otherwise turned to community profit - and in a way that will be close to impossible if a shopping mall is put there.

Earth to Philly will keep up with how this issue gets decided. Is sustainability a truly feasible goal in these situations? We would especially be interested to hear those of you from Horsham weigh in.

About this blog
Earth to Philly is a weblog focusing on earth-conscious technology, trends and ideas, from a Daily News perspective. We look at the "green" aspects of your home, business, food, transportation, style, policy, gadgets and artwork. If you have a Philly-related story, Click here to let us know about it!

The experts at Philadelphia's Energy Coordinating Agency answer your energy questions in our regular feature Stay Warm, Stay Green. Send in your question or questions to

Look for Jenice Armstrong to supply tips on green living as well as occasional columns on the subject of Green. She also blogs at Hey Jen.

Becky Batcha stays tuned for the here-and-now practical side of conservation, alternative energy, organic foods, etc. - stuff you can do at home now. Plus odds and ends.

Laurie Conrad recycles from her ever-growing e-mailbag to pass along the latest travel deals, fashion statements, household strategies, gadgets, cool local events and other nuggets of interest to those who appreciate a clean, green world.

Vance Lehmkuhl looks at topics like eco-conscious eating, public transportation and fuel-efficient driving from his perspective as a vegetarian, a daily SEPTA bus rider and a hybrid driver, as well as noting the occasional wacky trend or product. Contact Vance with your 'green' news.

Ronnie Polaneczky sees the green movement through the eyes of her 12-year-old daughter, who calls her on every scrap of paper or glass bottle that Ronnie neglects to toss into the house recycling bins. Ronnie will blog about new or unexpected ways to go green. She also blogs at So, What Happened Was...

Sandra Shea and the DN editorial board opine on any green-related legislation or policy. And we'll pass along some of the opeds on the subject that people send us.

Jonathan Takiff will be blogging mainly about consumer electronics - those things that we love to use and that suck too much energy. He'll spotlight green-conscious gizmos made in a responsible fashion, both in terms of materials used and the energy it takes to run them.

Signe Wilkinson draws the comic strip Family Tree, which follows the Tree family as they try to live green in the face of nattering neighbors, plastic-wrapped consumer products, and the primal teenage urge to spend vast quantities of money on hair care products of dubious organic quality.

In addition to these updates from our newsroom bloggers, watch for an occasional feature, Dumpster Diver Dispatches, from Philadelphia's original "green" community of artists, the Dumpster Divers. You'll learn about creative ways to reuse and recycle while you reduce, and about the artists who are making little masterpieces from what others throw out.

  • Dispatch #1: Margaret Giancola's rugs from plastic bags
  • Dispatch #2: Dumpster Divers in City Hall (Art in City Hall series)
  • Dispatch #3: Wild wood, New Jersey
  • Dispatch #4: Dumpster Divers award winners announced
  • Dispatch #5: From sweaters to colorful cuddling
  • Dispatch #6: Green artists retake South Street Sunday
  • Dispatch #7: Isaiah Zagar: He's a Magic (Gardens) Man

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