The Schuylkill Center announced on Thursday, August 10, that it has protected 24 acres of its property from future development using a conservation easement. In March 2022 leaked memos revealed that the Schuylkill Center was exploring a sale of the land, known as the Boy Scout Tract from its history as a campsite for the Boy Scouts. Later in the spring the center released a request for proposals from developers. That proposed sale kicked off widespread opposition from both community members and center staff. In September the center announced that it would suspend the request for proposals process. In December it announced that it would no longer be pursuing a sale due to a then-anonymous $3 million donation made to preserve the tract with an easement.
The most recent announcement identifies the donors as sisters Jessica and Joanna Berwind, longtime supporters of the center, according to the center’s press release.
Conservation easements are restrictions placed on a property’s deed restricting the use of the property in perpetuity. The land can be sold, but the future buyers are obligated to honor the restrictions. Often, as in this deal, a third party compensates the owner of the land for the loss in its dollar value.
Jennie Love owns a flower farm near the Boy Scout Tract and had opposed the sale proposal. “I am, of course, delighted and relieved to hear the official announcement that the Boy Scout Tract is at long last fully protected from development!” Love commented by email. “It’s not often in our modern world that we get to celebrate a major win for conservation without compromise. I’m tremendously grateful for the donor who heard the outcry and made the easement possible… Kudos to all who worked over the past year to make all of this happen!”