June 10, 2018

Lower Merion School Board,

We are writing to share the perspective of the Penn Valley neighborhood concerning use of the St. Justin‘s property on the Welsh Valley Middle School campus.  Please consider that our neighborhood hosts 1,700 students between Penn Valley Elementary and Welsh Valley Middle School—more than any other neighborhood in Lower Merion.  As a result, our area is over burdened by traffic during pick-up and drop-off times because these two schools are within less than a mile of one another and lack the pedestrian infrastructure for a meaningful walk zone.

The intersection of Hagys Ford Road and Tower Lane is particularly problematic as the only entrance and exit to Welsh Valley.  In the afternoons, car and bus traffic backs up on Hagys Ford Road at Tower Lane and at Conshohocken State Road. The former St. Justin church property is currently used to facilitate safe drop-off and pick-up of middle school students via a congested car line.  Further expansion at St. Justin’s would simultaneously remove this buffer of safety and create additional traffic on the surrounding roads. As you know, existing stormwater runoff from the property also creates an ongoing and significant erosion problem along Hagys Ford, something that would be worsened by further construction here.  Considering these significant issues, we do not support re-purposing of the St. Justin’s site for anything other than field space.

Because Penn Valley Elementary and Welsh Valley Middle Schools have already seen serious expansions, we do not believe that the Welsh Valley property can be used any further to relieve district-wide overcrowding beyond the currently proposed 4 classroom addition.

Many of us support the building of a new middle school and urge you to consider again the purchase of 1860 Montgomery Avenue with a plan to purchase field space as it comes available or lease field space from nearby universities, an apparently common practice.  We would also support other locations, especially those that have the most potential for public support and do not overburden existing neighborhoods.

Please be sensitive to the small size of the St. Justin‘s property and the existing use of the field space on that property as well as the overburdening of our neighborhood which would be made worse by establishing uses that are completely out of character for a residential area.

Thank you for working on behalf of our children,

Michelle Detwiler, President

Stephen A. Filippone Jr., Vice President

Jennifer Kelly, Treasurer

Lisa Prosnitz, Schools representative

Penn Valley Civic Association

P.O. Box 753

Penn Valley, PA 19072