Greater West Chester’s abundant parks, playgrounds and green spaces offer opportunities for active recreation and quiet reflection that would be hard to match anywhere else.
“We feel strongly about the value of green space,” says Nancy Mohr, executive director of Chester County 2020, which serves as a catalyst for engaging citizens in addressing community issues, including thoughtful land use and regional planning for growth.
“Our parks are an important part of the fabric of our lives. If all of that fabric was concrete, we’d be in trouble,” she says.
From any location in one of Greater West Chester’s communities, a public park is only moments away. That’s no accident, says Kenneth Lehr, park and recreation director for West Goshen Township, which has carefully planned community parks to offer easy access to open spaces.
“There is a social benefit and a psychological benefit to getting outside. Parks help us develop a sense of community,” he says.
West Goshen Township’s 13 parks provide recreational opportunities to suit anyone’s tastes, whether they want to play a sport, take a walk, cast a fishing line or just enjoy the outdoors, Lehr says. The largest park, 32-acre West Goshen Community Park, provides space for activities ranging from softball, tennis and other sports to an amphitheater for concerts and movies. Picnickers can find comfortable shelter in the pavilions.
East Goshen Township’s two main parks also fulfill specific missions. East Goshen Township Park provides ample opportunities for sports and active recreation. Applebrook Park is a “passive park” with green space and walking trails, says Frank Vattilano, the township’s recreation director. Other parks provide open space throughout neighborhoods.
“People have a sense that our parks help maintain the quality of life that we enjoy here,” says Vattilano. “These parks are a treasure.”
Westtown Township’s Oakbourne Park preserves 140 acres of priceless green space for sports and quiet contemplation. Pets are welcome, and the park features a dog walk. The park also preserves an important piece of the region’s history, the beautiful Smith Mansion, which was built in the late 1800s.
“We’re definitely committed to preserving open space for the enjoyment of the citizens,” says township spokeswoman Helen Greer.
In West Chester, 11 parks provide numerous outdoor opportunities, says Shelagh Purnell, the borough’s director of parks and recreation. The borough’s largest parks are Everhart Park, with its beautiful trees and historic gazebo, and Hoopes Park, with its convenient ball fields and recreation buildings. The borough’s two newest parks are playgrounds for children.
“If you look at the history of West Chester, our forefathers preserved common space. It goes back to the design of the borough itself,” says Purnell.
That commitment is alive and well throughout the area, Mohr says.
“West Chester is a beautiful place. Our commitment to preserving green spaces ensures that it will remain beautiful,” Mohr says.