I was distressed to learn in late July that the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education is seeking proposals for the development of 24 acres of the property it was originally given.
I was distressed to learn in late July that the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education is seeking proposals for the development of 24 acres of the property it was originally given with the understanding that it would use it as part of its mission to help us all learn more about our environment and what we can do to preserve it.
I think it would be a gross misdeed for an organization with a mission of educating people about the environment to consider selling open space land and habitat at the nexus of its mission.
With much experience in the management of nonprofit organizations, I can understand that if a drastic financial crisis looms a board [of trustees] might need to take a controversial action to sell open space in direct conflict with its publicly-stated purpose.
The Center says sale proceeds will be used for much needed capital improvements. However, it has not said if the improvements would be revenue enhancing or support increased programming. If the planned improvements will generate revenue, I know many local foundations that would likely be receptive to applications for grants to support income-enhancing improvements. Similarly, I know of several foundations that would likely consider supporting new environmental education programs – particularly if they reached new audiences with creative ways to encourage enthusiastic environmental activism.
If the Center believes land can be traded for cash without creating an immense amount of adverse reaction from its supporters throughout the community, it is making a very serious miscalculation. I know the immediate neighbors in the Roxborough area will mount a vigorous anti-sale campaign.
I urge the [Center’s] Board to withdraw the request for proposals and open up a serious conversation with the neighborhood organizations that would rather figure out how to help the Center than fight with it.
Chris van de Velde