My position on the Kratzer Farm open space

Position Statement Kratzer Farm
Importance/overview: The Kratzer Farm is centrally located in Lower Macungie Township. It’s strategic centralized location makes it immediately accessible to thousands of township residents easily and safely within walking distance. The park was purchased by a previous Board of Supervisors 15 years ago for the intent of land preservation in a rapidly growing township. The scenic landscape and fertile limestone soil make this a community treasure. The adopted greenway plan will further improve walking access and functionality of the park making it a potential township “Central Park”. The Kratzer Farm should be a destination, centerpiece and focal point of the greenway system preserved permanently as a nature preserve, passive park, community garden and working farm.

The Kratzer Farm – Township Owned Open Space strategically located in the center of the township

1. The house, barn and driveway should not be sold until the results of the Parks and Recreation comprehensive plan is complete. The farm specifically should be the focus of an agenda item at a future parks and recreation comprehensive plan meeting. The committee should be the body that determines whether the house, barn or driveway presents any value in regards to the overall goal of a permanent centralized large passive park.
2. The farm should be permanently preserved as soon as possible. To accomplish this goal:
A. The township should apply to sell agricultural conservation easements to the Lehigh County. The annual deadline for submitting an application is March 31st. According to a representative from the program the parcel would likely be valued a high priority since it contains fertile limestone soil. Currently the program is paying up to 5000/acre for preservation. I am estimating proceeds of selling the rights (the township still owns the property) could net up to 250,000 dollars.
3. Proceeds from sale. If the house/barn and driveway are sold after a comprehensive evaluation of all potential uses of the property and specifically the driveways role in future greenway as either a trail section or entrance to a trailhead, then the proceeds should be earmarked for park improvements on the Kratzer farm.

Final Greenway Master Plan available online

The final draft of the Lower Macungie Township Greenway Plan has been reviewed a final time by the Steering Committee.  On May 21, 2012, the Committee elected to recommend the Plan to the Planning Commission and Commissioners for approval.

Click this link to view the report

The greenway project is a township-wide initiative to create “greenway” and trail along the length of the Little Lehigh and Swabia creeks. The project when complete would total about 20 miles in length including the 6-mile Swabia and 14-mile Little Lehigh sections.

Over the past year there have been public meetings and surveys administered giving residents an opportunity to weigh in on the plan. Click here to read poll and survey results.

Check out this PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources study finding that rail-trail parks are a boon to local economies: (though not a rail trail, this proposed greenway concept is very similiar)

“There are some obvious economic benefits to rail-trail attractions from people outside the area bringing money into local communities,” said Michael Domin, principal planner for the Lancaster County Planning Commission.

Township is planning a Greenway!

The LMT greenway project team had another public meeting Tuesday Jan.17.

The purpose of the meeting was a progress update as part of a planning commission workshop. For those who might not be aware, the greenway project is a township-wide initiative to create a combined linear park “greenway” and trail along the length of the Little Lehigh and Swabia creeks. The project would total about 20 miles in length including the 6-mile Swabia and 14-mile Little Lehigh sections.

The potential benefits of a trail network are numerous, and include the linking of communities within the township to each other and various points of interest such as schools, parks, historical sites and shopping centers. This bike-able/walkable trail would also potentially increase the land value of adjacent properties.

Also in terms of the greenway, the naturalization of areas surrounding the creeks is beneficial environmentally and also to eliminate areas the township currently spends money maintaining. Returning the creekside area to it’s natural environment with a riparian buffer would have positive impacts on flooding issues, in addition to buffering the creek from neighboring land uses. The Little Lehigh is a crucial component of the local water supply.

So far, maps have been presented for public comment in addition to a public opinion poll that took place in October of 2011. The maps presented indicate a potential routing of the trail system including various opportunities and constraints. You can view the maps and opinion poll here on the township greenway plan website. The beginning of major trail construction is likely several years out as the project is only now in the master planning stage.

As for funding this project, the township has received a grant award of $40,000 from the PA Dept. of conservation and Natural Resources. The township also just received a second grant of $40,000 from DCNR to expand the scope of work to include a Park and Recreation master plan.

KMS design group is working with the township in creation of the master plan.