WEST CHESTER West Chester Borough Council has voted to purchase the Barclay Grounds, but volunteers must raise $1.2 million in grants and donations to see the park in the heart of the borough saved from development.
"The parties came together and agreed upon a structure for success," said resident John Cottage. "But success will only be secured when at the end of next year, we raise $1.2 million. Otherwise, the property does go back to the developer, and it will be developed."
The privately owned 1.3-acre tract, in front of an estate house formerly used as a Quaker home for the elderly, came under the threat of development last year when a company that had recently purchased the land proposed tearing down many of the 130-year-old trees and building four luxury homes.
Residents in November persuaded the Borough Council to consider seizing the land by eminent domain and gathered more than 2,000 signatures in support of the plan.
Instead, the council voted unanimously Monday night to purchase the property from the owner, StanAb, in installments, using grant funds it anticipates raising over the next year.
Cottage said the Barclay Grounds Preservation Alliance, a group formed to save the park, is hoping to receive $500,000 preservation grants from the county and state. The alliance would then be left to raise the final $200,000 through donations.
Cottage said the group has already received about $30,000 in donations needed for an initial deposit and grant-writing services, some from former residents living as far away as Illinois, Georgia, and Japan.
But he said the group could have to raise far more than $200,000 if grant applications are not successful.
He said the alliance is looking for volunteers willing to help in fund-raising and other tasks. More information is available at savethebarclaygrounds.org.
The sales agreement requires a $600,000 payment on June 30 and another of the same amount on Dec. 30.
If the money cannot be raised in time, the borough also has the option of canceling the deal by Nov. 30, transferring the property back to the owner.