Reading will give 12 acres near Angelica Creek Park to Berks Nature.
City Council recently authorized the transfer of the undeveloped parcel to the nonprofit, formerly known as the Berks County Conservancy.
The roughly triangular parcel is south of Route 724 at the intersection of New Holland and Mountain View roads in Cumru Township.
Council’s decision was passed unanimously at a meeting this month after a presentation by Lawrence E. Lloyd, senior ecologist for Berks Nature.
Lloyd said the land is part of the Angelica Creek watershed.
Councilwoman Marcia Goodman-Hinnershitz said the land transfer makes sense since Berks Nature already manages the watershed and the wetlands in city-owned Angelica Creek Park, where the nonprofit has its environmental education center and headquarters, The Nature Place.
“This was a very strategic move since Berks Nature is in a position to really do more for environmental sustainability and stewardship,” Frank Denbowski, Mayor Eddie Moran’s chief of staff and interim city manager, said, calling the move a win-win.
Denbowski said the transfer will alleviate the city of the responsibility of maintaining the parcel.
“A few years ago, we had illegal dumping there we had to clean,” he said. “There were dozens of tires. So we want to reduce our holdings outside the city. That’s really key.”
Plans are to maintain the parcel in an undeveloped state that will benefit the watershed environment, Tami J. Shimp, vice president of development and community relations for the nonprofit, said in a voicemail message.
Shimp provided no further information, noting representatives of Berks Nature will be happy to discuss details later.
“We typically love to talk about our land projects,” she said, “but not until they’re complete.”
Lloyd said Berks Nature will cover the cost of any fees involved in the land transfer.
At the same meeting, council also voted to accept a 0.18-acre parcel at 2049 Hessian Blvd.
The land next to Mineral Spring Park is being donated to the city by retired Berks County Judge Arthur E. Grim and his wife, Louise C. Grim.
Berks Nature approached the mayor and council with a proposal for what Lloyd termed a land swap after the Grims first offered the lot to the nonprofit.
The city has a good partnership with Berks Nature, Goodman-Hinnershitz said.
The conservancy has been preserving land, protecting water, managing trails, providing educational programs and more since 1974.
It manages four woodland preserves and trails, including the Angelica Creek Trail, Bob’s Woods at Earl Poole Sanctuary, Neversink Mountain Preserve and the Gravity Trail.
The latter connects the Neversink Mountain Preserve to the county-owned Antietam Lake Park, traveling through the city’s Pendora, Mineral Spring and Egelman parks.
“It is in our best interest to have as much holdings there as possible,” Denbowski said of the city’s woodland park system, which follows the course of Rose Valley Stream and includes the three contiguous parks.
Although the parcel is not large, he said, it is critical due to its proximity to Mineral Spring Park and the city-owned Mount Penn Preserve.
“This is a natural fit,” Goodman-Hinnershitz said of the land giveaway and acceptance.
The councilwoman said she cannot speak more highly of the work Berks Nature has done in the city’s wooded areas.
“I think we should continue to dialog with them as we have so much woodland, and we need support as far as how to preserve and maintain it,” she said.
Source: Berkshire mont