Clifton Heights Mayor Mark Campbell and Clifton Heights Borough Council welcomed the signing of a formal agreement with Upper Darby School District that will result in the renovation and transfer of ownership of the youth athletic fields to the borough while permitting the school district to move forward with construction of the new Clifton Heights Middle School. Representatives from Upper Darby School District joined borough officials at a meeting of Clifton Heights Borough Council Tuesday February 15th to sign the agreement, which also addresses community concerns related to traffic and parking.
“We are thrilled that the borough and the school district could come together to reach an agreement that represents the best possible outcome for members of our community,” said Clifton Heights Mayor Mark Campbell. “These fields, which represent our borough’s only open greenspace, have been home to our youth athletic programs and a range of community events for decades. Preserving these fields was a high priority for the borough because they are such an integral part of our community and the quality of life of residents.”
Under the agreement, the Upper Darby School District will renovate the existing athletic fields as part of the construction of the Clifton Heights Middle School on the portion of the property closest to North Springfield Road and then turn ownership of the athletic fields over to Clifton Heights Borough. While the property is currently owned by the Upper Darby School District, the land has been leased by the Borough of Clifton Heights for $1 a year since 1977 to utilize as youth athletic fields and a community gathering space. The proposal to construct a school on the site had been a topic of contention and disagreement between the school district, the community, and local elected officials.
“When the school district first proposed this location as the site of the new middle school, there was significant concern that we would lose these athletic fields that are so vital to our youth sports programs,” said Michael Humphreys, President of Clifton Heights Borough Council. “We are pleased that the school district was willing to work with the borough to find the middle ground that meets the needs of the school district and addresses the concerns of residents.”
During the construction phase of the new Clifton Heights Middle School along Springfield Road, the Upper Darby School District will allow the borough’s athletic teams to utilize other school district fields. Once construction of the school is completed, the athletic fields and open space will be subdivided and deeded to the borough guaranteeing that the fields will be available to the borough’s youth teams and community organizations. The school district has also stated it will allow local youth sports organizations, such as the Clifton Heights Police Athletic League, to utilize the indoor athletic facilities of the new school for youth basketball programs in the local community.
The agreement also addresses community concerns related to parking and traffic. One major concern was the potential loss of street parking in the borough’s business district. That parking will be retained through the widening of intersections and the addition of a turning lane along North Springfield Road at the intersections of Oak Avenue and North Sycamore Avenue. The school district has also committed to developing a plan to address parking concerns raised by residents along Sycamore Avenue.