Westtown gets grants for Crebilly

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Chester County Commissioners present $6.35 million in funding to Westtown Township and Natural Lands, to support the preservation of Crebilly Farm. Pictured left to right are: Westtown Township Supervisors Dick Pomerantz and Scott Yaw; Jack Stefferud, Natural Lands Senior Director of Land Protection; Chester County Commissioners’ Chair Marian Moskowitz; Westtown Township Supervisors’ Chair Tom Foster; County Commissioners Josh Maxwell and Michelle Kichline; and Oliver Bass, President of Natural Lands.

Chester County Commissioners Marian Moskowitz, Josh Maxwell, and Michelle Kichline today approved a grant of $4.2 million awarded to Westtown Township for the preservation of Crebilly Farm.

The latest funding is added to a $2.15 million Preservation Partnership Grant that the Commissioners awarded to regional conservation non-profit Natural Lands at the Feb. 8 public meeting, bringing a total County contribution for saving Crebilly Farm to $6.35 million.

“Helping to preserve Chester County land for future generations is one of the most important actions we can take as County leaders,” said Chester County Commissioners’ Chair Marian Moskowitz. “The Chester County Department of Parks + Preservation has worked diligently with Natural Lands and Westtown Township to ensure that the County plays a significant role in saving Crebilly Farm.

“Our Open Space program, approved overwhelmingly by voters more than 30 years ago, not only allows us to preserve valuable acres, it also contributes to Chester County’s economic success,” added Commissioner Moskowitz.

Located in Westtown Township, Crebilly Farm is one of the largest remaining unprotected properties in Chester County.

County Commissioner Josh Maxwell said, “Crebilly Farm is a gemstone of hills and woods that deserves to remain as it was when the Battle of the Brandywine occurred there in 1777 during the American Revolution. Its historical and environmental worth cannot be overstated.

“The beauty of preserving this land is also evident in the tremendous public desire to keep it from development, and we are pleased to be able to contribute to that,” added Commissioner Maxwell.

The conservation plan for Crebilly Farm combines publicly accessible open space and privately owned preserved land. Crebilly’s owners’ first agreement of sale for 208 acres is to Westtown Township, which will allow the township to develop a passive-use park.

“Westtown Township is extraordinarily grateful to the County Commissioners for their generous financial support to preserve Crebilly Farm,” said Township Manager Jon Altshul. “This grant award aligns perfectly with the results of the recent voter referendum in Westtown, in which 68 percent of Westtown voters supported the imposition of new taxes to protect open space. This acquisition is therefore truly a team effort involving Township, County, state, and federal resources, and we are proud that all levels of government are coming together to make this important project a reality.”

A second agreement of sale between Crebilly Farm’s owners and Natural Lands enables the land conservation non-profit to purchase up to four conservation easements on approximately 104 acres of the property. These 100-plus acres, which contain most of the property’s buildings and residences, will remain on the market to be purchased by private buyers, with the new owners being subject to the terms of the conservation easements.

The two grants from Chester County will support the purchase of both the 208-acre parcel and conservation easements on the remaining 104 acres.

County Commissioner Michelle Kichline said, “A key focus of Chester County’s Parks + Preservation Department is to preserve land throughout the county by partnering with conservancies, townships, the state, and even private landowners. Over its 30-plus-year history, our open space program has leveraged hundreds of millions of dollars through these partnerships. Crebilly Farm is a perfect example of this, and we thank the Robinson family, Westtown Township, and Natural Lands for all the time and effort that has gone into saving Crebilly.”

"Crebilly Farm is a conservation priority in the county and region for a host of ecological and historical reasons,” said Oliver Bass, president of Natural Lands. “What’s most striking, though, is how deeply people care about it. The landscape is truly iconic, and we are exceedingly grateful to the Commissioners for making this major investment in Crebilly’s preservation.”

Chester County’s contribution of $6.35 million for Crebilly Farm is added to the $6 million already committed by the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the $7.5 million to be provided through Westtown Township’s open space bond.

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