To the Editor:
The Keswick Village business district is a very vibrant part of our township’s economy. My work takes me to every corner of the Delaware Valley. When people ask me where I live, if I say Glenside or Abington, a few people will nod in acknowledgement. If I say that I live within walking distance of the Keswick Theater — they all know exactly where that is!
Since Copper Beech Elementary School opened 10 years ago, the former Glenside-Weldon school building has been the home to a number of tenants, some from Abington and some from other school districts in the area. Each needed a temporary home while their new school was either being built or renovated. Sadly, the pool of tenants has seemingly dried up. For the past few years the building has sat fallow, except for PAL meetings, a twice per year polling place and occasional other uses, all based in the gym. The Abington School District apparently failed in leasing the building over the past 12 months.
The former Glenside-Weldon School building, while holding warm memories for many, is a vestige of the last century.
Keswick Village makes the surrounding neighborhoods a “walkable community,” a status that many planners crave to achieve. The former Glenside Weldon School building, sitting alongside the vibrant Keswick Village, is essentially a waste that drains resources from the School District.
At the same time that the building sits empty, the greenfield behind the building is used by Keswick Village residents, GYAC and Hunter Soccer. This greenfield is at risk as long as the school district controls the property. Who’s to say, that, if confronted with a budget problem in these uncertain times, that the current board, or another board, might decide to sell the entire parcel to the highest bidder?
I have asked the school district to begin a conversation with the Township to cede the property to the Township for the sum of $1. After all, the people, through the school board, already own it.
The Township alone has the power to (1) make the greenfield a township park for perpetuity and (2) negotiate a political settlement with Cheltenham Township on new “hook-ups” for the school site.
I have also asked the same question at the Abington Township Board of Commissioners. My hope is that both the school board and the township commissioners can work to make life better for those of us who live and work within walking distance of the Keswick Village while moving a vacant property to the tax rolls.