TEMPLE University last week said that it will stop pursuing plans to build a new 23,000-square-foot boathouse on the east bank of the Schuylkill. The university ran into problems because those plans came in direct conflict with a city ordinance to protect open space. That law prohibits acquiring public land without offering a replacement parcel of parkland in return, which Temple didn't do.
Of course, in a city with tens of thousands of parcels of vacant land, some might find it ironic to have a law designed to protect open space. But that law is critical to the long-term preservation of public park space - it prevents city leaders from selling off to the highest bidder land that belongs to the people of the city.
This was the first test of the ordinance since it was enacted in 2011. The Parks Alliance in particular should be commended for pushing back on City Council. Something tells us that, left to their own devices, Council would have ignored the open-parkland law as being too inconvenient to follow.