Delaware County Council unanimously voted to approve the awards for Delco Green Ways, the County’s Open Space and Recreational Municipal Grant Program, during its Oct. 23 public meeting. The County will award 26 municipalities with 38 grants, totaling $4.5 million. The grants will fund 102 acres of new preserved open space land, approximately 7.3 miles of trail development, 18 parks and recreation improvement projects, and 8 professional service projects.
Delaware County Council first announced the inaugural round of Delco Green Ways, its new municipal grant program for open space and recreation, in July 2019. The grant program makes funds available to municipalities for local open space and recreation projects throughout the County.
“These grants begin to fulfill the vision Council had several years ago to expand open space in our county, build new walking and bike trails and improve the parks and recreation areas in our towns,” said Delaware County Council Chairman John McBlain.
Council created the Delaware County Open Space Task Force in 2016 to develop recommendations and strategies to implement this vision. The Task Force is comprised of leaders from local municipalities, nonprofit organizations, the business community, and several County staff members. The diverse background of the members was crucial in developing recommendations that are inclusive of all Delaware County communities. The Task Force researched opportunities to implement the County’s Open Space, Recreation, and Greenway Plan, which was established in 2015. In 2018, County Council authorized a $10 million bond to create the first county Open Space and Parks Fund, which funded the Delco Green Ways grants to municipalities.
The objective of Delco Green Ways is to assist municipalities in achieving their local open space and recreation goals, while also furthering the objectives of Delaware County’s goals of open space and recreation across the County.
McBlain noted, “The $4.5 million in Delco Green Ways grants helped these municipalities leverage an additional $20 million in other funding to complete these acquisitions and projects.”
There are 4 categories of projects reflecting the goals of The Open Space, Recreation, and Greenway Plan:
Conserve projects encompass the acquisition of land for preservation.
Enhance projects include capital improvements to existing recreational facilities, parks, and open space.
Connect projects develop trails.
Professional Services projects aid municipalities in creating plans, conducting studies, and completing the design and engineering of projects.
The 26 municipalities which were awarded funding submitted their applications detailing the use of monies in the above categories. Eligible projects included fee simple acquisition of land, conservation or trail easements on private land, capital improvements to existing public park facilities, regreening efforts, construction of trails, and professional services such as comprehensive open space planning, feasibility studies, design/engineering and permitting.
More information on Delco Green Ways can be found here: www.delcopa.gov/planning/currentprojects/DelcoGreenWays.html
More information on The Open Space, Recreation, and Greenway Plan can be found here: www.delcopa.gov/planning/pubs/delco2035/OpenSpaceandRecreationPlan.html