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Preservation of Crebilly Farm: Open Space Can’t Save Itself

Updated: Sep 15


As human activities continue to negatively change climate, green spaces of all types will become increasingly more important in maintaining livable, functional, healthy, and biodiverse communities. One type of green space common to suburban communities is residential open space, but overdevelopment has led to a decrease in these areas. Additionally, locally based, long-term, open space conservation plans help communities preserve critical elements of the local heritage and culture. Crebilly Farm, which has been a landscape icon for hundreds of years in Westtown Township, is one such green space. Crebilly Farm also is thought to have seen action from the Battle of the Brandywine in the Revolutionary War in 1777.


Well-managed open space programs protect a community's natural green infrastructure, providing places for recreation, preserving important environmental and ecological services, and enhancing the quality of life. From an economic standpoint it is much less costly to preserve open space than to recreate it post facto, as in urban environments, where land is expensive. From a climate standpoint, these suburban islands serve as small carbon sinks in a vast sea of carbon sources from homes, vehicles, and businesses. From a human health perspective, the loss of carbon sinks in local municipalities can exacerbate allergies, advance disease in elderly and those immunocompromised.


Conservation easements help to protect land while keeping it in the hands of landowners, a popular and practical method of preserving open space. Crebilly Farm is a glorious swath of green space in Westtown Township in Chester County and is under threat of development. Recently, the 312-acre Crebilly farm has been the subject of conservation easements between the Robinson Family, owners of the property, Westtown Township, Natural Lands, and potential developers and/or private landowners. Westtown Township hopes to purchase 208 acres. Like development, conservation can be either planned or haphazard. Westtown Township, working in partnership with Natural Lands, has created an excellent plan to preserve Crebilly Farm as open space. It should also be noted that preservation of Crebilly Farm does not only benefit Westtown Township, but also impacts the surrounding townships of East Goshen, West Goshen, East Bradford, Birmingham, Thornbury, and Willistown through provision of environmental, economic and health benefits (air and water purification, reduced stormwater runoff, etc.).


What can you do?

In November, Westtown Township residents will have the opportunity to vote for a plan that will preserve Crebilly Farm as open space. The alternative is likely future development of Crebilly, which would result in an increase in greenhouse gas emissions from hundreds of new homes and vehicles, increased pollution from traffic and stormwater runoff, and a loss of carbon sequestration. Ken Hemphill, and open space advocate, has poignantly expressed his opinion to the Westtown Township’s Board of Supervisors (BOS) by stating: “This current BOS has the opportunity for a once in a lifetime achievement by promoting an open space bond referendum to township residents,” Hemphill said. “Dozens of other townships in the area have successfully convinced their constituents to vote in favor of similar referenda, so my hope is that Westtown’s BOS will do likewise.” People need to be better stewards of the land. Open space cannot save itself. People need to be better stewards of the land, and we owe it to future generations to safeguard our planet. Open space cannot save itself. Do the right thing and vote in November.

- Melanie A. Vile & Adam Kapp

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