Lower Merion School District mulls eminent domain to take over Villanova park

Jim Melwert
May 10, 2018 - 12:52 pm
Stoneleigh is a 42-acre property near the Villanova Law School.

Jim Melwert-KYW Newsradio


VILLANOVA, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) —  An estate-turned-public garden in Villanova could be taken by Lower Merion School District as a site for a new middle school. That’s according to the group behind the garden, and the warning comes just days before its gates are opened to the public. 

Lower Merion School District has named a seven-acre part of the Stoneleigh property, near the Villanova Law School, as a part of a potential target for a new middle school. 

Molly Morrison, president of Natural Lands, the conservancy group behind Stoneleigh, said  “We made it clear to the school district that we had no interest in parting with any portion of Stoneleigh.”

She says the district sent a second letter saying they’re going to return to inspect the entire 42  acres.

“They were indicating their interest in acquiring the entirety of Stoneleigh, which is 42 acres, and re-itereated the possibility that eminent domain may be required to acquire the property,” she said. “The worst case scenario is that the school district would exercise their right to condemn Stoneleigh.”

Stoneleigh is the former Haas estate at Spring Mill and County Line roads. The family donated the land for public use.

The garden opens to the public this weekend.

The district says an inspection of the full property is just due diligence. 

Morrison is urging supporters to attend the May 21 Lower Merion School Board meeting.