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Chester County Press

Editorial: The time is up, and the time is now

03/21/2017 12:28PM ● By Richard Gaw
On Feb. 23, 2015, the New Garden Township Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to enter into negotiations to purchase the 178-acre Green Valley Farm, a generous splotch of land in the township, for $2.3 million, for the purpose of placing a conservation easement on it. Supervisor Steve Allaband, former supervisor Betty Gordon and Richard Ayotte voted in favor of the purchase. Supervisors Patrick Little and Randy Geouque voted against it.
That was more than two years ago, and the negotiations to transfer ownership of the property to the township are still incomplete, trapped in a torturous tangle that has held township taxpayers as financial hostages, hijacked the finances of the Open Space Review Board, and reduced its elected officials from decision makers to enablers, forcing them to accommodate the slog of delays.
The acreage is currently owned in part by former supervisor Warren Reynolds, who began discussions with the township's Open Space Review Board more than two years ago, for the purpose of preserving the land in perpetuity.
The property, eight contiguous parcels, is located north of Route 41 and is bordered by Penn Green Road on its western edge, Old Baltimore Pike on its northern border, and the area behind the commercial and residential development along Newark Road, on its eastern edge.
At the time of agreement, the acquisition of the property was to be paid for out of the township's Open Space Fund, whose account balance of then stood at $2.27 million, with an annual revenue of about $400,000. The initial payment would comprise 37 percent of the total cost for the easement, to be followed by installments to account for the remaining 63 percent of the total cost.
From the evening it received its very first approval, the negotiations for Green Valley Farm have been a kick-the-can-down-the-road, stop-and-start, one-step up-and-two steps- back spectacle. These delays have been exacerbated by the fact that Warren is serving a prison sentence, and his brother John is incapacitated and incapable of managing his own affairs. Thus, the deal is now in the hands of the Orphan's Court in the City of Philadelphia, a division of the Philadelphia Judicial System which serves to protect the personal and property rights of all persons and entities who are otherwise incapable of managing their own affairs.
While there must be consideration for the delicacy of these circumstances, we must also weigh them against the fact that at this time, there is no clear timeline for the completion of the negotiations for Green Valley Farm. In politics, patience is a gracious and often necessary virtue in the sausage making of negotiation, but when patience becomes manipulated and held captive, it amounts to a gross thievery, and while the negotiations between the township and the Reynolds family have not seen the transference of even one dime, New Garden Township is being robbed before its very eyes.
It is time for the township to dedicate its generosity to a more pressing need; another group of individuals; another historical patch of property; another cause.  
It is time for the New Garden Township supervisors to come to a vote, and pull the plug on its purchase of the Green Valley Farm.