Save Williamson Park, Inc. is a non-profit made up of individuals from the Morrisville, PA community and surrounding areas dedicated to helping protect and preserve Morrisville's very own Williamson Park for the use and enjoyment of all. Williamson Park has been used as a public park since 1939 and was given to the Borough by a gift from the estate of Henry S. Williamson. We seek to prevent any development of this park so that it may continue to be used as a safe and beautiful place for all to enjoy this slice of nature and the outdoors in our Borough.
Save Williamson Park seeks to protect Williamson Park as public parkland as it was originally intended when given to the Borough by the estate of Henry S. Williamson and as it has been used since the park opened in 1939. The Donated and Dedicated Property Act (“DDPA”) protects all land “dedicated to the public use” as public land and requires that land be used for the purpose for which it was dedicated. It also requires a municipality to go to Orphan’s Court before it can take public land for private use and even then only if the use as a park “is no longer practicable or possible and has ceased to serve the public interest.” This law makes the public the beneficiary of land dedicated or donated to public use.
However, on December 21, 2020, Borough Council passed Motion 9J to “accept the conceptual proposal submitted by Select Morrisville for the Williamson Park Town Square Project and to authorize Borough staff and professionals to engage with Select Morrisville and the Bucks County Redevelopment Authority to aid Select’s completion and submission of a full subdivision and land development plan application for the Project in compliance with all Borough Ordinances and the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code.” Select Morrisville seeks to build a shopping center and luxury apartments in the park. The motion passed 7-0.
Residents of Morrisville Borough brought suit in Pennsylvania Orphan’s Court in October 2021 against the Borough Council to enjoin the Council from taking any further action to support the sale, transfer, redevelopment, alienation, or condemnation of Williamson Park.
While Select Morrisville sought to obtain the park for private development, the Bucks County Redevelopment Authority (“RDA”) issued a report which designated Williamson Park as blighted. Once a park is deemed blighted under the Urban Redevelopment Law, the RDA can move forward to condemn this public land and take the park through eminent domain for purposes of redevelopment. Despite vocal opposition at two public meetings with thirty-four people speaking in favor of the park and seven in favor of the RDA plan, Borough Council on November 30, 2021 voted 4-3 to approve Motion 8F “to adopt a Resolution of the Borough of Morrisville, amending the boundary of the Morrisville Borough Certified Redevelopment Area” which designated the park as blighted and added it to the Certified Redevelopment Area.
Save Williamson Park wants to preserve the park and work with the Council to find ways to promote and improve the park where needed so that residents of Morrisville and the surrounding areas can continue to enjoy our wonderful community green space. To do so, we need the Council to repeal Motion 8F of November 2021 to remove the RDA from the park and prevent the RDA from taking any property in the future through eminent domain based on the false assertion that the park is blighted. We also need the Council to repeal Motion 9J of December 2020 to revoke the Council’s permission to Select Morrisville to pursue development of the park. Finally, we need the Council to state publicly that it supports Williamson Park remaining as a park.
Unfortunately, the Council has repeatedly failed to do so and has refused to take the simple actions to repeal what it has already passed and declare the park as public land. So far, all it has done is pass Motion 8G on February 15, 2022 which states that the Borough Council “does not support the Concept Plan of Select Morrisville, LLC as presented beginning in August of 2019 through December of 2020.” Motion 8G is meaningless. It does not prevent Select Morrisville from making a new proposed development project or prevent any future developers from taking this public land for private use. The Borough has repeatedly failed to bring any other motion to a vote since the February meeting. Meanwhile, a hearing in the legal action has been repeatedly continued. All that is required to settle the suit is that the Borough Council rescind Motion 8F adding the park to the Certified Redevelopment Area, rescind Motion 9J permitting Select Morrisville to develop plans for the park, and recognize that Williamson Park is a public park protected by the DDPA.
Save Williamson Park remains committed to preserving and promoting Williamson Park for the benefit of all. We hope the Borough will join us.
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