City, National Lands Trust and Brandywine Health Foundation to assess parks, trails

CoupleHikingHC0908_M_150_C_RCOATESVILLE — The City of Coatesville, Natural Lands Trust, and the Brandywine Health Foundation announced today that they are collaborating with several community groups to assess opportunities for enhancing Coatesville’s parks, recreation opportunities, and other green amenities.

The groups will engage the community’s residents as well as civic and political leaders in a series of workshops and an online survey in an effort to identify and prioritize needed improvements to existing facilities and programs and to gather other ideas for improving residents’ quality of life through trails, parks, greener streets, recreation programs, and more.

The project will include a community forum on February 18 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Scott Middle School, 800 Olive Street, Coatesville. Doors open at 6:10 p.m. Light dinner will be provided at no charge. Coatesville residents, families, and others involved in parks and recreation activities in the city are encouraged to attend; Spanish language interpretation will be available.

Linda Lavender-Norris and Marie Lawson of Coatesville City Council said, “On behalf of City Council, we are pleased and excited to work with Ann Toole, Natural Lands Trust, and Brandywine Health Foundation to improve and enhance the open spaces and parks in the city for all to enjoy. City Council welcomes residents and stakeholders to participate in this worthwhile and important process to improve this important community resource into the next decade!”

The process is being led by staff from Natural Lands Trust—the region’s oldest and largest land conservation organization—and a nationally recognized recreation planner, Ann Toole of Toole Recreation Planning. A steering committee of residents and local leaders has been assembled to provide input and guidance throughout the process.

“There is overwhelming evidence that access to nature via parks, trails, community gardens, recreation programs, and even street trees makes communities healthier and safer,” noted Molly Morrison, president of Natural Lands Trust. “While the factors that contribute to a community’s well-being are complex, many cities have found that execution of a green vision can redefine its image, spur economic development, and create a much-improved quality of place for residents.”

Funding for the assessment is being provided through the Brandywine Health Foundation with support from a recently announced grant from The Philadelphia Foundation and with support from ArcelorMittal and PECO.

As Frances Sheehan, the Brandywine Health Foundation’s president and CEO explained, “Public spaces that are attractive and encourage outdoor activity and a strong sense of community have been shown to enhance economic development. This is critical now that Coatesville’s turnaround effort is taking off.”

“We are pleased to support the development of a plan for Coatesville parks and playgrounds through a grant from our Milton Apfelbaum Fund, established by a well-known Coatesville civic leader,” said Pedro A. Ramos, president and CEO of The Philadelphia Foundation. “Bringing the community into this conversation is very much in keeping with the vision Milton Apeflbaum had in establishing his fund with us to support Chester County initiatives.”

“PECO supports environmental initiatives that improve quality of life for our customers and our communities,” said Romona Riscoe Benson, PECO corporate relations manager. “We are committed to helping our communities protect and improve green spaces, and we are proud to support the City of Coatesville on this important project.”

Ed Frey, general manager of ArcelorMittal Coatesville stated, “ArcelorMittal is committed to serving as an active member of the Coatesville community through economic, social, and environmental value creation. We are proud to increase our impact in the community this year through our collaboration in this important public-private project. Supporting on-the-ground environmental work is a cornerstone of ArcelorMittal’s community investment efforts.”

Residents who would like to participate in the February 18th meeting are asked to RSVP by calling Natural Lands Trust at 610-353-5587 extension 312. For those not able to attend the public forum, an online questionnaire will be made available later this month via the City’s website,

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