August 16, 2022
“Authorization to Advertise for Sealed Bids for 1215 McCormick Road Residential Structure” is back on the UAT agenda for tomorrow night, August 17, as Item 6f.
We have reached out to Ken Martin for a further explanation on this as we thought the Township was going to make a good faith effort to evaluate and seek grant funding for preservation of the farmhouse and it is surprising to see it on the agenda again after only two weeks since acceptance of the Master Plan.
Please try to attend this meeting so we can hopefully gain a permanent reprieve for the farmhouse. We are expecting a key Letter of Support which should go a long way toward convincing the Commissioners of the farmhouse historic importance to McCormick Rd. and the broader community.
We believe there are few, if any, of the two front doors, 4 Bay German-Georgian, farmhouses restored to period and accessible to the public. Preservation is important so we may all gain a better understanding of how people of the Civil War era lived. And this farmhouse is less than 32 miles from the Gettysburg Battlefield National Park. Preserving the farmhouse is what can make the Upper Allen park “first class”.
We continue to do historic research. Attachis a list of Civil War Soldiers from the Krall, Lantz, Lambert and Scherich families. The contributions of these local families to the Civil War effort and broader community is astounding.
August 4, 2022
The Commissioners agreed at their August 3, 2022 meeting to delay advertising for sealed bids for the (farm)house at 1215 McCormick Rd.; however, they would like to resolve the matter of its disposition by the end of the year (2022). There has been continued deterioration of the house likely due to water intrusion. We suggest the township take simple actions such as putting a tarp on the roof, etc. to secure the structure. This will hopefully allow sufficient time to make a good faith effort to evaluate or seek grant funding for a reasonable preservation effort. The Commissioners also took action to accept the Master Plan developed by Derck & Edson.
August 3, 2022
Item 6c. on the UAT Board of Commissioners Agenda for TONIGHT includes “Permission to Advertise for Sealed Bids for the House at 1215 McCormick Rd.” and Item “7a. Acceptance of 1340 E. Lisburn Road Master Plan”. We ask that any bid advertisement be DELAYED.
Those of us who have followed the farm/park realize that the project has understandably moved in fits and starts. There now seems to be undue haste to remove the historic farmhouse, one way or another, from the park. One reason for preparing a Master Plan is to seek and determine grant funding. Why remove the farmhouse without first determining what grant funding may be available to preserve it?
The Master Plan lets us now begin to explore the possibility of whether there is grant funding available and that we owe it to ourselves to at least take the time to investigate this possibility. And second, that in researching the farm we discovered what has turned out to be an incredible amount, way more than we ever imagined, of documented detailed history of the property and the people that lived here. It’s our own unique Upper Allen Township/Yellow Breeches Creek history and the restoration of this historic farmhouse may just be worth saving to preserve and tell the story of our roots.
Derck and Edson told us that they “set out to design a unique park, unlike the many other parks they looked at as part of their process.” It could well be that the historic farmhouse, more than any of the features that were carefully crafted into the overall design, provides that uniqueness that sets us and the park apart. Above all, it’s certainly worth giving the time for full consideration before deciding to dispose of it.
The more we study the Master Plan, the more we see Derck & Edson has done an excellent job balancing interests – and that this can be an award winning park that will garner recognition and prestige for the Township as well as the enjoyment of area residents for generations to come. The aesthetics of the site certainly lend itself to this. We note Ms. Lee of Derck & Edson indicated the farmhouse can still be part of the Master Plan.
What makes for a first class park? We suggest it include homage to the land’s history. Sadly, from what we can see at this point, one thing lacking in the park will be historic features, especially if the historic 1855 farmhouse is removed and the historic 1825-30 barn is changed into a venue for events. Having no historic feature will, in effect, be turning our back on our history and excluding a significant group of potential park visitors who have interest in local history. We note the farm is bordered by Lower Allen and Fairview Townships, whose residents have a stake in this park and it’s historic aspect as well.
Fearing demolition of the farmhouse, for the past several months, Friends of the Farm has been quietly doing more historic research. We now know what the farm looked like in 1860 per Michael Lambert’s advertisement at that time. This is what led to our suggestion to remove the ill advised additions and return the farmhouse to its pre Civil War appearance. This would be a cost effective preservation solution and make for a compelling park feature. How many 1855 period German-Georgian (2 front doors) farmhouses can one visit in the local area to gain an understanding of how people lived back then?
Here are some results of our research that demonstrate the historic significance of the farm property.
The Original Owners
The original owners of the farm at 1215 McCormick Rd. were the Indians; specifically, the Susquehannock Indians and then the Shawnee Indians. Alas, “original owners” is a misnomer because the Native Americans believed that man belonged to the land, not that the land belonged to man.
Mr. Robert Rowland wrote an informative article, “History of the Callapatschink / Yellow Breeches Creek”, in 2001 and which is included as part of the 2020 second printing of Happy Yellow Breeches. Mr. Roland relates the Indian history of this area:
“The Indians had a burial ground approximately two miles upstream along the Yellow Breeches on Rich Hill at a loop in the Yellow Breeches. Rich Hill no longer exists due to a quarry operation. The property owner was of the opinion that there were also lodges there. There are also some undocumented reports of Indian villages further upstream and in the western portion of Cumberland County but no specific locations are known. Other than the obvious use of the Yellow Breeches for fishing and transportation, there is no known other use by the Indians. In 1728 the Shawnees departed the local area and headed out to western Pennsylvania and joined forces with the French to fight against the English.”
“In 1732 the three Lancaster jurists wrote a letter to the Shawnee chief in an enticement to get the Indians to return, offering them a 7,500 acres manor along the Susquehanna River in what would later be known as Lowther Manor. Their description of the boundary included the “Shawna Creek” on the south side, the name by which the Shawnees knew the Yellow Breeches.”
Early Architecture in Upper Allen Township (1976) provides a description of the Lambert farmhouse (see #35, page 44) including:
“Set into a cinder block wall of a modern addition is a carved oak lintel beam marked “W.S. 1789” which came from the log house formerly occupying the site built by William Scoot, who was taxed for a log house on this land in the 1798 Direct Tax”
After much tedious research, we believe we have found the original Land Warrant issued to William Scoot, or William Scott if this is one in the same person. This William Scott received two (2) other land warrants in Cumberland and Dauphin Counties; however, he lived in Allen Township per the Census and Tax reports.
This Land Warrant, dated April 24, 1769, was for 300 acres and reads as follows:
“The land which lies at the mouth of Red Stone Creek, which I settled on in the year 1761 and 1762, I was obliged in the year 1763 to remove on account of the Indians – about 15 acres of said land I cleared and improved – I built on said 15 acres a dwelling house and barn house.”
We believe, but have not yet confirmed, that Red Stone Creek is the creek or stream on the West side of the farm between it and the current Goetz property. There were few landmarks or roads in 1769 to determine a property location, so it made sense to use creeks as the reference point. This descriptive method is found throughout the Blunston Licenses, 1733/34 for Lancaster (now Cumberland) County. The trail from Eastern, Pennsylvania to the then Western frontier ran along the Yellow Beeches or Yellow Britches as it was called back then. As some neighbors along McCormick Rd. can attest, Indian artifacts can be found in this area along the Yellow Breeches.
So, when a future park visitor utilizes the “wetland walk” park feature, they will be on the 15 acre site of known Indian activity and be looking out over an old Indian trail and possible settlement.
On the 1785 Tax and Exoneration Lists, it lists: William Scott being taxed on owning 200 acres of land, 2 horses, 3 cows, 1 still. There is a John Scott, Sr., possibly a son, owning 200 acres, 4 horses, and 2 cows.
On the 1798 Direct Tax Lists, it lists William Scoot with 4 dwelling houses: For house #1 , William Scott was both the owner and occupant and it was 24 by 20, made of wood, one story, with 4 windows and 24 lights (glass panes) on 2 acres of land, valued at $250.
Love & Unity: The Scherich, Lambert, and Crall Families
The Schirch, Scherich or Sherrick surname evolved from the Schurch family who began immigrating from Switzerland to America in the late 1600’s. The Shurch’s were mostly weavers and they hailed from a region of Switzerland known as Sumiswald. How many ways can one spell the Schurch name? Answer: 60 or more at last count. See schurchfamilyassociation.net
One of the original Schurch immigrants, K(C)asper Schirch is a historically significant figure for having survived the 1732 voyage of the Love & Unity. Like the Indians as original owners, the voyage of the Love & Unity was anything but – 98 of the original 156 passengers perished during the voyage as a result of alleged brutality (starvation) and murder on the part of British Captain Jacob Lobb. Casper Schirch’s first wife and child were among the dead. While we have yet to confirm it, we believe Casper Schirch was either the father or uncle of Christian Scherich who would later own the farm on McCormick Rd.
The voyage of the Love & Unity led to later reforms in shipping law in which a Captain could no longer arbitrarily determine a ships half-way point and thus be entitled to full fare for any passengers who died during the journey.
Ben Franklin’s Pennsylvania Gazette published the Palatine’s “appeal” on February 15, 1732. To wit, during this (one) six week period:
“in one night seven persons miserably are starved to Death and thrown into the sea; one must throw the poor People naked into the Sea… one could not have a little Sand to sink the Body to the ground… or dare not ask anything from the Sailors… we were kicked, beat and used… as Slaves and maleficent Persons .. they were kept onboard for six days while in the harbor, allowing no communication between us and the people on shore – telling them we were Turks and not Christians…to prolong the journey, the ship sailed only during the day, the rudder being tied at night”
For a more complete account of the travails of the Love & Unity, we include, with the authors permission, Chapter 1 of the Westhafer family history at friendsofthefarm.org
The chain of title between the 1769 William Scott Land Warrant and Christian Scherich ownership of the farm beginning in 1803 is not yet known. We have secured; however, a Writ of Partition, entered May 12, 1807 by George Stroop, then High Sheriff of Cumberland County, directing the “Tract of land situate in the (Allen) Township and (Cumberland) County aforesaid, adjoining the lands of Benjamin Anderson, Andrew Mateer and others containing (290) two hundred and ninety acres more or less with the appurtenances” and “Whereupon it is considered and adjudged by the Court that said Christian Sherrick (2nd), eldest son of the said Christian Sherrick (1st), deceased, hold and possess the said Tract of land and with the appurtenances to him, his heirs and assigns forever”.
So, Christian Scherich (the 2nd or Jr.) assumed title to the farm in 1807. He then married Ann(a) Regina Spitzer of Fairview Township, York County on April 2, 1811 in Harrisburg. Ms. Spitzer came from well to do parents who likely supplied quite a dowry and later inheritance for the couple. Per Conrad Spitzer’s Will dated August 29, 1810, Ann was to receive “all the residue of my aforesaid plantation adjoining lands of Martin Coppenheffer, Michael Hart Esq. and William Chandler… I also give and bequeath to my said daughter Ann the sum of one thousand six hundred pounds lawful money of Pennsylvania paid to her in the following manner – -“
Anna’s mother, Barbara Horst, was wealthy in her own right and the Horst family cemetery can be found near present day Evergreen and Gaumer Rd.’s in Fairview Township. Fairview Township historians may be able to shine more light here.
Christian and Anna Scherich had five Children; John (1812-1886), Barbara (1814-1889), Anna (1815-1857), Frances “Fanny (1816-1820) and Mary (1818-1861). Sadly, Christian Scherich died at the young age of 36 on May 10, 1822.
Christian Scherich is buried in Grantham Memorial Park overlooking present day Messiah University. Some ancestry.com information shows Christian Scherich as owning the land Messiah now occupies but this has not been confirmed.
Anna Scherich married Christian Crall as her 2nd husband on March 27, 1828. Christian Crall was the oldest son of Mathias Crall (1744-1812) who took over the Glen Allen Mill from Hugh Laird and later sold it to George Lantz in 1810. Christian was 17 years older than Anna and they had no children. Christian Crall died on April 4, 1843 at age 67 and is also buried in Grantham Memorial Park. Christian’s son, Joseph, would later marry Anna’s daughter, Barbara, born 1814.
Anna Scherich Crall must have been a strong woman. When her 2nd husband Christian Crall died in 1843, his Estate “was not sufficient to pay all his just debts.” So, Anna pulled together $5,953.12 and bought 237 acres from the Estate of Christian Crall on April 1, 1846.
Anna Scherich Crall sold 106 acres in 1846 to John and Rachel (Millard) Scherich. John was Anna’s son born 1812. Anna later sold 104 acres (the farm at 1215 McCormick Rd.) to Michael and Mary Lambert on April 20, 1855 for $3,500. Mary Lambert was Anna’s Daughter born 1818 and married to Michael Lambert. About this time, Anna also sold X acres to William and Anna Lambert. Anna being her daughter born 1815 and married to William Lambert. We suspect the land sold to William and Anna was part of the 237 acre (1846) or 290 acre (1807) tract.
The result of all this buying and selling was that Anna Scherich Crall’s four (4) surviving children (John, Barbara, Anna, and Mary) and their spouses all built new or “encased” German Georgian farmhouses along Lisburn and McCormick Rd. in the 1850’s. We have three (3) remaining:
*John and Rachel Scherich home at 1450 Main St., Lisburn, Lower Allen Township. Shown on 1858 map. Registered with Cumberland County Historic Society.
*William and Anna Lambert home at 13xx Main St. Lisburn (demolished sometime after 1975). Shown on 1858 map. Listed as #36 Early Architecture in Upper Allen Township.
*Michael and Mary Lambert home at 1215 McCormick Rd. (future undetermined). Shown on 1858 map. Listed in #35 Early Architecture in Upper Allen Township
*Joseph and Barbara Krall home at 443 McCormick Rd. Shown on 1858 map. Referred to tenant house, Nauman farm, circa 1815 (page 6-Figure 5), Early Architecture in Upper Allen Township. This home is a brick cased log home. Also listed in Brick Cased Log Homes of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania (Nancy Van Dolson 1988).
We also have the area identified as Scherich’s Fording shown on the 1858 map where present day Lisburn Rd. crosses into York County. And we know the brick for the farmhouses came from the J. Hickernel Brick Yd. adjacent to the J. Scherich farm.
Anna Scherich Crall is listed in the 1850 Census as living with Michael and Mary Lambert and it is likely that she died while still living with them on March 13, 1859. Anna was 67 when she died and is buried at the Lantz Cemetery. Her April 21, 1858 Will named son in law Michael Lambert as Executor and her Estate was equally divided among her four children and/or their surviving spouse.
The Lambert family in the Lisburn area started with the immigration of Michael Lambert (the 1st or Sr.) from Germany to America about 1790 when he was 2 years old. Michael married Catherine Schneider Thome about 1809 and they had five (5) children; William (born 1812), Joseph (born 1813), Michael (born 1817), Mary (born 1819) and George (born 1826). Son William Lambert married Anna Scherich born 1815 and son Michael Lambert married Mary Scherich born 1818.
Michael Lambert (Sr.) was reported as blind in the 1850 Census and living next to William and Anna. Michael died in 1852 and is buried at Lantz Cemetery. Catherine died in 1854 but is not shown in the Lantz cemetery record.
Our research started with Michael and Mary Lambert whose name is on the capstone of the farmhouse at 1215 McCormick Rd. The capstone is above the South facing gable window and reads “Built by Michael & Mary Lambert 1855”. For the longest time, we could not determine what happened to Michael Lambert, why he sold the home on the eve of the Civil War, or where he was buried. Michael and Mary had seven (7) children and we wondered what happened to them as well; Anna Mary (born 1845), Joseph (born 1847), Margret “Maggie” (born 1850), Jacob (born 1852), George ( born 1854), Sarah Alice (born 1855) and Ira (born 1860).
Death after death occurred in the Lambert family soon after the four beautiful homes were built along Lisburn and McCormick Rd. and the many children were born. Anna (wife of William) died November 16, 1857 at age 42. Anna Scherich Crall died on March 13, 1859 at age 67. Mary (wife of Michael) died January 15, 1861 at age 42. We suspect that Mary Lambert might have been in poor health which is why Michael began advertising his “Valuable Farm at Private Sale” in August 17, 1860.
So, what happened to Michael Lambert (Jr.)? As noted on the Deed transfer of the McCormick Rd. farm to Abraham Witmer on March 29, 1861, Michael had moved across the Yellow Breeches to Monaghan Township. He is shown as living in Monaghan in 1862 and paying tax on a horse and buggy valued at $75. In about 1864, Michael married Elizabeth Reneker as his 2nd wife. They had two children; Mellie (born 1865) and Frank (born 1867).
Michael died on December 12, 1867 at age 50 and is buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Dillsburg, PA. When his Estate was probated in 1868, Michael had assumed Guardianship of six (6) Krall children in addition to his own children. Michael’s 2nd wife, Elizabeth, lived to be 99 years of age and died in 1932. Elizabeth was known as “Mother Lambert” and is buried next to Michael.
There is a Biographical Sketch (see 432) of John “JNO” Scherich in the History of Cumberland County (1886) as “a representative of one of the old families of Cumberland County.”
“JNO Scherich was “the eldest of four children, worked on his father’s farm near Lisburn until he was sixteen, when he was apprenticed to the carpenter’s, cabinet-maker’s and painter’s trades, at New Cumberland and Shepherdstown, and at twenty years of age had learned his trade; having aptness and energy soon became one of the first mechanics of his day. He then located near Lisburn, where he carried on his trade. He superintended one section of the first railroad bridge across the river at Harrisburg. He quit his trade about 1850, bought a tract of land west of Lisburn, erected commodious brick buildings, and soon became one of the first farmers of the county. In connection with farming he extensively carried on the brick-making business for many years. In 1875 he came to Mechanicsburg and continued in the insurance business, in which he had been engaged for more than forty years. He was married, November 30, 1832, to Miss Rachael Millard, born nearLewisburg, York County, March 14, 1814, daughter of Jonathan and Phoebe (Thornburg) Millard, old settlers of York County. Mr. and Mrs. Scherich have been members of the United Brethren Church for the past forty years. While at Lisburn their home was the home for all Christian workers, always active in the cause of morals and religion. They have seven children living: Christian, a carpenter, but engaged in the agency business at Lisburn, married to Miss Eliza A. Floyd; AnnJane, wife of Elias Rhiver, a puddler at West Fairview; Jno. Andrew, a farmer near Lisburn married to Miss Margret J. Hickernell; Phoebe Samantha, wife of Geo. Forry, a farmer near Mechanicsburg; Jonathan H. Clay…”
What Is Historic Preservation?
From the National Park Service website:
“Historic preservation is a conversation with our past about our future. It provides us with opportunities to ask, “What is important in our history?” and “What parts of our past can we preserve for the future?” Through historic preservation, we look at history in different ways, ask different questions of the past, and learn new things about our history and ourselves. Historic preservation is an important way for us to transmit our understanding of the past to future generations.
Our nation’s history has many facets, and historic preservation helps tell these stories. Sometimes historic preservation involves celebrating events, people, places, and ideas that we are proud of; other times it involves recognizing moments in our history that can be painful or uncomfortable to remember.
Within the National Park Service, many people work in historic preservation: archeologists, architects, curators, historians, landscape architects, and other cultural resource professionals. The National Park Service carries out historic preservation both within and outside the National Park System.”
Why Preserve Historic Buildings & Neighborhoods?
“Across the nation, citizens appreciate historic and architectural character as being essential to the identity and unique character of their communities. They promote historic preservation because to do so is essential to cultural, social, economic and environmental sustainability. Historic resources are key ingredients in neighborhood livability and quality of life, minimizing negative impacts on the environment and yielding economic vitality and reward”
What will be the name of the park ?
There has been no discussion of the name for the park and the Township recently changed the park address to 1340 East Lisburn Rd.
We offer three suggestions to start this discussion:
• Scherich Park
• Lambert Farm
• Love & Unity Park
July 26, 2022
The Carlisle Sentinel published a July 22, 2022 front page story on the farm/park following the July 20 Master Plan presentation. The article is positive and Friends of the Farm appreciate the coverage. We expect the Commissioners and Derck & Edson do too. Please consider subscribing to the Sentinel. See.
The Township is not planning to release the Derck & Edson presentation until the Minutes of the July 20 meeting are approved. Here is the newspaper version of the story and photos of most presentation slides used at the meeting. We will let the Sentinel and these 26 slides do the talking for now.
July 14, 2022
Derck & Edson, the consultant hired by Upper Allen Township to develop a Master Plan for the 61 acre farm at 1215 McCormick Rd. will be presenting its plan at the July 20, 2022 Board of Commissioners (BOC) Meeting. Please mark your calendar and plan to attend this important meeting. This is where “the rubber meets the road”. Meetings start at 6:30 PM at the Municipal Building at 100 Gettysburg Pike.
A master plan is a conceptual layout for a site. It looks at placement and relationships of facilities, plans for implementation, and acknowledgement of future growth. According to Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the master site plan is generally viewed as a research, public input and an analysis process that leads to a size, type and location plan for the full development or redevelopment of a park site.
When South Middleton Township recently approved its Master Plan for Park Drive, Supervisor Chairman Bryan Gembusia said “Having this plan in place helps us to get state and federal grants so that we can implement this. It also allows us to create a development that isn’t all discombobulated.” See:
When Ms. Jennifer Lee of Derck & Edson presented the findings of the (four) Public Input Sessions (held last Fall) at the March 16, 2022 BOC Meeting, a healthy discussion ensued on what the farm/park at 1215 McCormick Rd. might look like and the possible activities and amenities. See pages 16-18 of the Meeting Minutes at:
Some highlights of the March 16th discussion:
There were 231 participants with 2308 votes. The top option at 19% was walking/biking/hiking trails, the second option at 13% was pollinator/butterfly/native gardens, the third option at 13% was nature walking areas and the forth option at 9% was pump track/skate park.
Every single comment was recorded and Derck & Edson organized them into groups. They identified what uses would be passive, transitional and active and what activities fall into each definition. Derck & Edson developed a diagram that depicted the types of use in different areas. They need to take this design and overlay it on topography, stream corridors and vegetive. There may end up being something on the site analysis plan that might not allow for what is suggested. The next step is to get started on design.
Eric Fairchild (of 1224 McCormick Rd.) said the main (design) concern he has is what type of parking is envisioned, how many spaces, would it be centered in one place and would it require roadways to other areas? President Martin said there would be pockets of parking because it is such a big area, that is just an idea as he is not a designer. Mr. Fairchild said he counted 200 spaces at Winding Hill Park. Commissioner Cochran said that Winding Hill Park is an active park set up for use of fields and that he would not expect to see that type of parking at McCormick.
Mr. Fairchild asked Ms. Lee and the Commissioners if they came up with a park that was a best case park to visualize and how close is it to Lower Allen Park. President Martin said this park will be a wow factor compared to Lower Allen Park. Ms. Lee said they looked at other parks as examples, but this park is not going to be like others, it is going to be unique.
Commissioner Anderson said that we worked a long time at Winding Hill Park and McCormick Park will take every bit as long. Commissioner Cochran said we need to have a park that is easy and affordable to maintain. President Martin said planning is an evolving process and it never stops. It is going to take time and part of that is the funding. Mr. Fairchild suggested elicting for volunteers. President Martin said that sometimes interest wains and can be a challenge.
Jady Conroy, resident of Fairview Township. She is an avid bird watcher and wanted to put a word in for birds. Ms. Conroy shared how important it is to maintain native plantings, that a manicured lawn offers nothing to birds, you want to attract insects and you need caterpillars. She said it would be a great loss if the Township does not protect native trees and plants. She said that all you need for star gazing is dark skies.
Bruce Schwartz of 1025 Appache Trail, stated that Ms. Lee did a good job and without bias. He said he was surprised there were not a lot of teenagers represented and that he had to look up what a pump park was. He said he played lacrosse when he was younger, before it was as popular as it is now. He said if we are going to put something there for young people, it would be wise to see what kinds of things have traction for young people as we look forward to 10 to 15 years out. Commissioner Cochran mentioned BMX. President Martin said he likes the reminder that we must design this with the idea of what will the generations after us appreciate.
Mike Goetz of 1117 McCormick Road said he takes exception to what was said about BMX and Lacrosse. He thought we were going to try to maintain rural areas and have passive activities and BMX is contrary to that. Commissioner Cochran said it is not racing, it is like a skateboard park. Mr. Goetz does not think we want to maintain the rural character of this area. He wants to make another plug for passive activities and keeping as many of the natural species that we can as it develops over the years. President Martin said that they hear his concerns and that in return, he wanted to share that this property had every possibility of being a big apartment complex and the Township does not want this and the neighbors do not, we want to be sensitive to that. Mr. Goetz asked if the buffer area included passive areas or was just buffer. Ms. Lee said it is some of both and that walking trails can be in the buffer and that in other areas, it may be appropriate to help buffer.
Mr. Schwartz wanted to say that he was not advocating for BMX or lacrosse field, rather he mentioned it to say he has total unawareness of what young people do today. He mentioned lacrosse because it was unpopular years ago and now it is popular. He suggests we look at what could be popular for young people in the future. Commissioner Anderson asked how many of us heard of bocce ball or pickle ball ten years ago. Commissioner Cochran said that pickle ball is an active use of the land and that bocce ball and shuffleboard are a different kind of active – it is smaller scale active.
At the May 4, 2022 BOC Meeting, Ms. Debbie Goetz (of 1117 McCormick Rd.) made Public Comment and provided a Letter of Support for passive use and urged the Commissioners to consider buying the Banzhoff tract (currently “For Sale”) to bolster Upper Allen’s Park, Recreation and Open Space and provide creek access. See:
Here are some excerpts from Debbie’s letter:
“As I see it— In regards to the design of the Lambert Farm Park— The results of the methodically-run resident input sessions revealed that a solid majority of the residents expressed interest for and cast their votes for a nature-centered calm and passive park. All of those votes (52% of all votes cast) are consistent with and dependent upon providing habitat and a place for all species of wildlife to survive and flourish— otherwise without the habitat there will not be any wildlife, and consequently, there will be nothing to look at while walking along the nature trail.”
“To date, the overwhelming majority of open space in the township parks is devoted to meeting the needs of the younger crowds. The demographic segment of residents that have not ever been considered is the 50+ year old group, the empty-nesters. This group showed up during the township planning process to voice their need for open space and passive park activities dedicated to fulfill their outdoor passive recreational needs. This demographic makes up a significant percent of the population of the township and deserves to have a peaceful place, away from traffic and cars, to unwind from the hustle and bustle of this fast moving world. We need a park that caters to our demographic. We want to pack our binoculars and go out into a natural area for a walk to see if the migrating Cedar Waxwing or Indigo Bunting has arrived in our area. We want to see the Monarch lay eggs on the milkweed, and over time, watch as the caterpillars eat milkweed, form a chrysalis, and then fly away to complete the life cycle. We want this park to be where you go to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. A comfortable place to meet up with friends for a game of shuffleboard or horseshoes and talk about your family. It would be great to have a quiet place to go for a walk along a nature path in hopes of spotting a fox in the field, a favorite songbird in a tree or a butterfly enjoying the nectar from the wildflowers. A quiet place to go for a walk with your loved one after dinner. A quiet place to observe the wonders of nature.”
“In closing, please allow the Lambert Farm to continue to be a totally passive space and a place of quiet reflection of life. A place where nature prevails and where those of us who are 50+ feel like we belong there. A quiet, comfortable park to enjoy each others’ company in harmony with nature. I would love to see UAT embrace the fact that this park is in a historic area of the township. An area already widely used by walkers, casual bicycle riders, nature lovers, and those seeking the quiet solitude of nature. Why disturb a wonderful part of the township.”
At the May 4, 2022 BOC Meeting, Eric Fairchild shared an August 17, 1860 advertisement in the (weekly) Carlisle Herald placed by Michael Lambert for his “Valuable Farm At Private Sale”. This ad appeared on the same (front) page as an advertisement to elect Abraham Lincoln for President and provides a detailed description what the farm and farmhouse looked like at that time. See:
We have suggested to the Commissioners that the 1855 Lambert farmhouse be moved instead of being demolished if demolition is indeed the final decision. Wolfe House Movers of Bernville, PA is active in this field and has some amazing videos of houses being moved. Wolfe moved the Enola Miller house on Wertzville Rd. in March, 2021 and is scheduled to move the Junkin House in Silver Spring Township. See:
While it’s feasible to move the Lambert farmhouse, we continue to believe the best option is to leave it in place as the historic resource that it is. We believe removing the ill advised addition(s) and returning it to 1855 period would likely be the most cost effective option as well since no indoor plumbing or electricity would be needed.
At this point, the farm is still an “intact historic resource” per Preservation Pennsylvania’s August 25, 2021 Letter of Support to Friends of the Farm and we continue to urge Derck & Edson and the Commissioners to tread lightly and respect our shared McCormick Rd. and other local history. See:
Incorporating the historic features is not only good stewardship; it will create a theme, help make the park distinctive, make neighbors and history buffs happy, and provide an opportunity for grant funding. The Lambert farm is as much a part of Lower Allen Township history as it is Upper Allen. See this new website:
At the June 15, 2022 BOC Meeting, a proposal was made to rezone the 20 acre Maplewood Farm at 1206 South Market Street from Agricultural (Ag) to Industrial (IND).
1206 South Market St. is also where Ms. Joanne Hocker relocated her Total Equine Learning Center and Home Away Horse Rescue. Now what? The programs Ms. Hocker runs for Mechanicsburg and other local REC Boards are known to be immensely valuable for young people and those suffering PTSD, etc.
The concept plan presented is for flex space warehousing with the existing buildings being demolished. This property adjoins the Webercroft development and contains the 1850-55 Weber Family House – listed as #59 in Early Architecture of Upper Allen Township.
It continues to make sense for Upper Allen to provide permanent security and a place for Equine programs at the farm at 1215 McCormick Rd. Equine programs are largely self sustaining. We doubt this can be said for any multi-million dollar renovation of the Lambert barn into something else.
ABC 27 News just did a story on a similar equine program in Lebanon County:
Shiloh Paving will soon begin construction of the entry drive to the farm/park from Rt. 114 and this work will occur between August – October, 2022. The drive will consist of 1,000 linear feet of paved drive and 770 linear feet of stabilized stone roadway. The entrance drive will run from Rt. 114 to the existing farm drive. The overall bid price for this project was $447,131.
What say ye? Our beautiful and historic Township is under tremendous development pressure. As the old saying goes, “when it’s gone, it’s gone”.
Do we “pave paradise and put up a parking lot” or do we come to the meetings and engage with our Commissioners – in a friendly way – to seek positive solutions and better balance between history, development and open space?
February 24, 2022
Ms. Jennifer Lee of Derck & Edson made a review presentation of the Public Input Sessions at the Park & Recreation Board Meeting on February 23, 2022.
Four public input sessions were held in November, 2021 regarding activities and amenities desired for the farm/park at 1215 McCormick Rd. Participants were given 10 acorns in cups to “vote” for 17 choices under the categories of passive zone, transition zone, active zone and barn events. A “leaf board” was available for participants to suggest “What park activity would you drive to do?”
Here are the results:
231 Participants (appx. 1% Township population)
19% Walking / Biking / Hiking Trails
13% Pollinator / Butterfly/ Native Gardens
13% Nature Watching Areas
9% Pump Track / Skate Park
7% Environmental Education
6% Barn – Community Festivals / Seasonal Events
5% Kids Adventure Play Area
Ms. Lee provided age and UAT demographic information on the participants:
Participant Age / UAT Demographics
60+ 52% / 65+ 18.9%
19-59 39% / 18-65 56.1%
13-18 3% / 5-18 19.6%
12 < 6% / 5< 5.4%
Home address of attendees showed fairly wide dispersion through the Township.
The leaf board produced similar results to the available choices with additional interest being noted for Equine, Creek Access, Composting, History, Wildlife and Stargazing.
Ms. Lee provided additional descriptive information on the various “zones” and activities that could be included in each zone as well as a first draft or concept Master Plan using the Zone Approach (see photo @ FotF website).
The Zone Approach considers:
1 Creates an active zone through the center of the property, away from the edges
2 Passive activities are kept to the edges of the property, McCormick Rd. frontage & creek.
3 Transition zones along perimeter for activity stations adjacent to walking trails and in areas to transition to passive uses.
A PDF copy of the presentation should be available on the UAT website on February 24 and the Friends of the Farm website shortly thereafter.
February 14, 2022
The Carlisle Sentinel is out with a Page 1 story on the February 2nd Upper Allen Board Of Commissioners meeting discussion regarding the farmhouse at 1215 McCormick Rd.
“Although the fate of the structure is not yet decided, Upper Allen Township commissioners expressed skepticism at this month’s meeting that the partly historic home at 1215 McCormick Road could be renovated or re-used as part of the planned township park on the property”
Here is the link to story:
There is more to the story and demolition is clearly on the table. For more details, we offer our own transcript of the discussion as follows:
January 31, 2022
There will be a “Discussion on 1215 McCormick Residential Structure” at the February 2, 2022 Upper Allen Township Board of Commissioners Meeting. Meetings start at 6:30 PM at the Municipal Building at 100 Gettysburg Pike, Mechanicsburg, PA.
Websters defines discussion as “1: consideration of a question in open and usually informal debate”. The residential structure in question is the 1855 Brick Farmhouse that was recently evaluated by Mr. Doug Tilley of TKS Architects. A copy of Mr. Tilley’s detailed 55 page presentation, including many photos, is available at our Friends of the Farm website / information links. This evaluation also includes the ca. 1825 Barn as “Act II”.
Those of us who heard Mr. Tilley’s presentation in early December heard many things, but we did not hear Mr. Tilley say the Farmhouse has significant structural issues, asbestos, lead, or mold. Nor did we hear Mr. Tilley recommend the Farmhouse be demolished. The main issue, from a historic standpoint, are certain “additions” which are out of character with the original 4 Bay German Georgian structure.
Friends of the Farm has suggested for nearly two years now that the Farmhouse be subdivided and sold if no other use can be found for it as part of the park. To our knowledge, neither the Township or Derck & Edson (the consultant hired to prepare a Master Plan for the property) has identified any uses for the Farmhouse and there were no “acorn jars” for the Farmhouse at the November public input sessions.
Selling the Farmhouse will preserve it and the historic character of McCormick Rd. as well as avoid public funds being needed for its restoration. The Township can put whatever conditions it feels necessary on a sale and proceeds could be used for other park or Barn improvements. The main condition we suggest is that the exterior of the Farmhouse be restored to period in keeping with the other historic homes on McCormick Rd. We note that there is more than a 150 ft. separation between the Farmhouse and the Barn.
Our original $250,000 estimate of sale proceeds seems lighter and lighter as time moves on and real estate values increase. Another financial factor to consider is that by returning the Farmhouse to the tax roles, it will generate County, Township and School District tax revenue again going forward. The net positive financial impact for the Township by selling the Farmhouse could be well over $500,000.
Chairman Ken Martin has promised an open and transparent process regarding the farm property. Ken has also said the Commissioners want to be rationale and are in no hurry. It would be good process for Derck & Edson to provide a preliminary report and design concept(s) Before any decision is made regarding the farmhouse. Derck & Edson should be able to provide design concepts with or without the Farmhouse as it occupies only a small portion of the 61 acre parcel. It would also be good process to have the Farmhouse appraised before making any decision.
Please attend this meeting. We fear some Commissioners are determined to see the Farmhouse demolished despite all the evidence in support of saving it.
December 3, 2021
The Carlisle Sentinel has published a story on the farm/park which should appear in tomorrow’s newspaper. If you don’t already support the Sentinel, please consider a subscription! Here is the link to the story:
Special thanks to Matt Taylor of the HARB for attending the December 1 Commissioners meeting and providing much “color” to Doug Tilley’s presentation and the Sentinel story. Matt and family had rented the farmhouse some years ago while their house further up McCormick Rd. was being renovated and have unique perspective on what it was like to live in the farmhouse.
The Township Manager, Scott Fraser, has forwarded us a PDF copy of Doug’s (58 page) presentation and we hope to have it posted as an information link shortly. Here is a link to the PDF.
December 1, 2021
There will be a “Presentation of Evaluation of Buildings at 1215 McCormick Road by Doug Tilley of TKS Architects” at the Commissioner’s meeting tonight, December 1, 2021. Meetings start at 6:30 pm at the Municipal Building at 100 Gettysburg Pike and this presentation will occur early in the meeting under “recognition of visitors”.
The Commissioner’s hired Mr. Tilley’s firm back in September to conduct this evaluation of the Farmhouse and Barn at 1215 McCormick Rd. Based on viewing Mr. Tilley’s earlier presentation on a house in the Shepherdstown Historic District, we can expect plenty of photo’s documenting the condition of the buildings.
Our main concern at this point is with the 1855 brick farmhouse as it has been clear all along that the Commissioners see value and possible uses for the ca. 1825-30 Barn – but not so much for the farmhouse.
The farmhouse was “Built by Michael & Mary Lambert 1856” per a capstone visible near the top of the South gable of the home (facing McCormick Rd.) Per the Deed History, the Lambert’s sold their farmstead, then referred to as a “plantation”, on March 29, 1861 and apparently left the area.
The 1858 Map (cover of Early Architecture of Upper Allen Township) shows the William Lambert farmhouse near the Rt. 114 side of the current 1215 McCormick Rd. property at the time. Given the Lambert family ties and their relationships with the Lantz, Krall and Sherich families, it would seem that some serious misfortune befell Michael and Mary Lambert ca. 1861. If anyone has an ancestry .com account or can otherwise help determine what happened to Michael & Mary Lambert, it could be quite helpful in saving the farm and understanding it’s history.
The interior of the Farmhouse is understood to be in poor condition per its use as a rental property in recent years and for police training drills. The “W.S. 1789” oak lintel beam and/or other interior trim may or may not be intact. A member of the Historic Architecture Review Board (HARB) who rented the farmhouse some years ago said some interior trim remained then and that the farmhouse has an advanced (for its time period) wood and metal roof truss system.
The consensus of historic preservationists we have spoken to is that missing some historic details does not render a property “unhistoric” and that interior trim could be remade based on details contained in Early Architecture or the nearby 1852 Scherich farmhouse.
From the outside, the Farmhouse appears structurally sound with no visible cracks in its masonry, no leaning chimneys, no sagging roofline, etc. Mr. Tilley can provide his professional expertise here. The main historic “integrity” issue is the ca 1970’s addition facing McCormick Rd. that it is out of character with the original structure. This addition is reached through former window openings and can likely be removed for a more period look should this be desired. It also appears that the rear balconies are not original.
The 1879 lithograph of the nearby Lantz farmstead (see photo above) gives us a good idea what the farmstead would have looked like originally with buildings laid out in a grid pattern with plenty of fencing.
There appears little reason to suggest tearing down the Farmhouse. The bigger issue is likely how best to use it and how much it may cost to provide for that use. Repair and/or restoration costs can be reduced through grant funding, donations and volunteer efforts. Friends of the Farm has suggested selling the Farmhouse if a suitable use can’t be found.
Many of the “Barn Uses” suggested by Derck & Edson in the recent public input sessions could be applied to Farmhouse use as well; i.e. weddings, special events, art classes, gallery space, community festivals, and seasonal events.
A supporter has provided us with yet another example of historic buildings being incorporated as part of a passive park; this being the 47 acre Bondsville Mill Park operated by East Brandywine Township near Downingtown, PA (Chester County).
From the Bondsville Mill Park Mission Statement:
“The Bondsville Mill Park is a unique township park. Our aim is to study, restore and preserve the natural habitat and to provide support and information that will inspire our neighbors to respect and care for nature in their backyards. A park where visitors can see and contemplate history, and take time to honor and remember those that lived and worked in this historic village. Vision: To inspire dreams for children and adults and to promote fun-filled activities that benefit health, well-being for the community and the environment.”
About 250 to 300 Upper Allen Township residents participated in the four (4) public input sessions recently conducted by Derck & Edson (the consultant hired by the Township to prepare a Master Plan for the farm). Participants were given ten (10) plastic acorns to drop in jars representing seventeen (17) choices for Passive Zone, Transitional Zone, Active Zone and Barn Use. From what we hear from attendees, there was/is strong support for passive use vs. active uses.
There was confusion as to what many choices entailed. We started a Petition for people to list their individual preferences to include choices originally identified by Derck & Edson in its October 20, 2021 presentation. “Compost Facility” came back as a leading choice; however, it wasn’t clear what this meant. Fairview Township recently built a new compost facility off Old Forge Rd. and it is about 2 acres of asphalt surrounded by chain link fence and barbed wire. We stopped the Petition as we thought it could increase confusion and do more harm than good.
ABC 27 News did a story on the public input sessions. Follow this link to view that story. https://www.abc27.com/news/local/cumberland-county-to-get-a-new-park-on-recently-purchased-farmland/
November 13, 2021
Good Morning Everyone. Today is “Public Input” Day at the Municipal Building at 100 Gettysburg Pike from 11:00am to 1:00pm. The issue is what Upper Allen residents would like to see happen with the farm at 1215 McCormick Rd. now owned by the Township. One more session remains after this on Tuesday, November 16th from Noon to 2:00pm.
In earlier posts at our friendsofthefarm.org website and on the Residents of Upper Allen Facebook page, we have detailed what to expect at the session(s) and your available choices.
There are two sides to most stories. Friends of the Farm is admittingly biased in wanting to “Save The Farm” based on our research and serious consideration of the issue. Commissioners Jim Cochran and Ken Martin have detailed some opposing information and views on the Residents Facebook page as well.
Unfortunately, what is supposed to be an open and transparent process has turned out to be, arguably, much less than that. It has also become confusing. Choices that were presented by Derck & Edson, the consultant hired by the Township, at the October 20th public meeting have subsequently been changed by the Commissioners outside of the public meeting process. Commissioners Cochran and Martin have not responded to our emails seeking clarification or remedy.
There will be a White Board (see photo) for “What park activity would you drive to do?” and we suggest residents utilize this board for choices previously identified and presented by Derck & Edson but now eliminated by the Commissioners; i.e. Community Gardens, Compost Facility, Creek Access, History, Horses and Maintenance Facility. This would also be your opportunity to write in your own other preference. We do not know if the “write in” will be tabulated or otherwise counted by Derck & Edson.
We will be out in the parking lot with “Save The Farm” signs on top of our car.
We will have available a PETITION TO SIGN based on the October 20th choices presented by Derck & Edson as result of their data collection. The PETITION will ask for your Name, Address, and TOP THREE (3) park preferences. We will present this PETITION at the next Board of Commissioners meeting on Wednesday, November 17th.
Thanks in advance to all who participate today.
November 8, 2021
This update is to give everyone a heads up on what to expect at the Public Input sessions for the 1215 McCormick Rd. farm that have started at the Upper Allen Municipal Building at 100 Gettysburg Rd.
Three (3) sessions remain:
Monday, November 8th 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Saturday, November 13th 11:00am – 1:00pm
Tuesday, November 16th, Noon – 2:00pm
There is a sign in sheet as you enter the main public meeting room near the main entrance which is staffed by two (2) Derck & Edson employees. You will be asked if you are an Upper Allen resident and to sign in with your name, address, and check a box for your age group.
You will be given ten (10) plastic acorns to deposit in seventeen (17) covered jars that represent various choices of park amenities and activities.
The choices have been substantially changed from the twenty (20) “circles” presented by Derck & Edson on October 20, 2021 and listed in our previous post. Choices for Community Gardens, Compost Facility, Creek Access, History, Horses, and Maintenance Facility have been eliminated – apparently at the behest of the Commissioners.
The revised / available choices are now:
1 Walking / Biking / Hiking Trails
2 Nature Watching Areas (Birds, Insects, Butterflies)
3 Pollinator / Butterfly / Native Plant Gardens
4 Environmental Education (Interpretive Signage / QR Code’s)
1 Kids Adventure Play Opportunities
2 Yard Games (Quoitis, Cornhole, Horsehoes, Croquet)
3 Amphitheater (Movies, Lectures, Performances)
4 Pavilions (Picnics, Family Reunions)
1 Senior Playground Fitness
2 Hard Surface Courts (Bocce, Pickleball, Basketball)
3 Pump Track / Skate Park
4 Ice Skating
5 Sports Field
1 Weddings / Special Events
2 Performances / Lectures
3 Art Classes / Gallery Space
4 Community Festivals / Seasonal Events
There is a separate table with self stick paper tree leaves and pens in which you may write in (another park preference?) and post on a board that says “Which park activity would you drive to do?”
Yours truly wrote in “Historic Farm” and “Equine Events” and saw others writing in “Hiking”, “Walking Trails” and “Pump Track” – even though there were already jars for such choices. Readers may be the better judge of whether my vote counts as a “write in” or whether it will count at all with the “drive to do” qualifier.
There is a good size “1215 McCormick Rd. Existing Plan” document by Derck & Edson on display which everyone should take time to study in absence of being allowed on site. This is the clearest document we have seen yet showing the property attributes. Having been on the farm when horses were boarded there, people should know there is more of an elevation change than you might expect walking in from McCormick Rd. and the large riding ring near the center of the property is a little past the highest elevation. This area has great views in all directions.
Two (2) additional boards of photos are on display. These photos really don’t do the farm justice. For those who are interested, we have many more photos in the “Photo & Map Gallery” at friendsofthefarm.org website as the last farm manager (Ms. Donna Shade) was an avid photographer. Please see our “Latest News” section for more photos of this mornings session as well.
And please excuse a slight editorial: In our last post, we mentioned these decisions will shape our Township and its reputation for years to come. We can be known as a Township that values it’s history, beauty and natural resources or a Township that values sports fields, skate parks and being #1 in development. The Commissioners have unilaterally and unfairly limited our choices. We can only overcome this by many many residents coming out to the remaining sessions and filling the “passive zone” jars with plastic acorns and writing on paper leaves: History, Horses and Greenway.
November 6, 2021
Upper Allen residents finally have a say on the Master Plan for the farm at 1215 McCormick Rd. and it’s incumbent on all of us to make the trip to the Municipal Building at 100 Gettysburg Pike during one of the four (4) upcoming public input sessions and go on record with what we’d like to see happen with the farm.
Monday, November 8th 7:30am – 9:30am
Monday, November 8th 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Saturday, November 13th 11:00am – 1:00pm
Tuesday, November 16th Noon – 2:00pm
If you’re reading this post, please tell your Upper Allen friends and neighbors about it and encourage them to attend one of the sessions. These decisions will shape our Township and its reputation for years to come.
The format of the sessions will likely be that attendees are given a number of “tickets” to “vote” on various “features, characteristics, and activities that Township residents would use at this park”. We expect that stations will be set up by Derck & Edson with photos and other information on the farm and the choices. We hope that there will be plenty of Derck & Edson staff on hand to answer questions and guide the process.
The available choices for the park would seem to be the twenty (20) “circles” presented by Derck & Edson at the October 20, 2021 Board of Commissioners meeting; i.e.,
Barn for Event Space
Bocce / Horse Shoes
Outdoor Classroom / Amphitheater
Wildflowers / Meadow
What is included in some of the categories or how they will be presented / defined is still unclear, but all are reasonable choices and we are fortunate to have them and such a beautiful site for a park.
As people weigh their choices, we feel there is some important additional information to be aware of and consider; i.e.
1 There has been no outreach or involvement of UAT’s own Historic Architecture Review Board (HARB) or local historical societies despite this being a historic property.
2 There is no mention of the 1855 brick farmhouse or what to do with it as a park option. The Township has hired TKS Architects to evaluate the farmhouse and barn but their report is not yet available.
3 The August 25, 2021 Letter of Support to Friends of the Farm by Preservation Pennsylvania has not been acknowledged by the Township or placed in the minutes. We should all carefully weigh the words of professional historic preservationist Mindy Crawford:
“first and foremost should be the protection, preservation, and maintenance of the historic buildings and the surrounding land that connects these buildings and their original uses”.
4 Messiah Lifeways was not contacted in generating options for public consideration despite being a large institution in the Township and our suggestion to do so.
5 The Township has ignored suggestions to hold an Open House session at the farm so residents can see for themselves what all is there. Multiple “No Trespassing” signs are posted around the property.
6 “Sports fields” are being presented as an option without adequately being defined or the public being adequately informed that more sports fields are already planned and that $2.0 million has already been borrowed by the Township for an “turf facility” and “soccer complex”. (See uatwp.org > Government > Board of Commissioners > BOC Minutes > 2021-04-21 page 24 and 2021-05-19 page 2). This field is understood to be planned for the Winding Hills park but that could change.
7 The prior 2016 Park, Recreation and Open Space Plan is not being referenced or it’s recommendations noted. This plan noted an existing imbalance of passive vs. active parks and Goal #1 of that plan (see pg. 15) is to “Provide recreation opportunities that balance the protection of open space and natural resources with the need for active recreation facilities and space.”
8 Viewing this 61 acre farm/park in isolation when it’s main entrance will be less than 1/2 mile from the main entrance of the 110 acre Lower Allen Community Park may result in costly and redundant features.
9 Our suggestion to utilize McCormick Rd. as “Greenway” or “Green Rt.” has not been considered nor is it presented as an option. A Greenway could safely extend walking and bike trails outward, highlight historic features along McCormick Rd. and connect the farm/park with Lower Allen Community Park, McCormick Park and (possibly) Simpson Park. An opportunity also exists to connect the North side of the park with the Liberty Forge Golf Course. Per Pennsylvania DCNR: “Greenways are becoming one of the commonwealth’s most powerful tools to achieve sustainable growth and livable communities.”
10 The option for writing in a different park preference is not clear.
A picture is worth a thousand words. We have updated our friendsofthefarm.org Welcome page and vision to include a picture of the 143 acre Norlo Park near Fayetteville, PA. See guilfordtwp.us > Norlo Park for more.
Other Townships have “Saved The Farm” and created a beautiful park and we can too. We humbly ask everyone to support “History” as a top choice in the upcoming sessions.
October 28, 2021
Upper Allen Township has posted information on the October 20, 2021 presentation (as updated) by Derck & Edson on its website and will be holding four (4) “Open House” sessions in November to seek public input for the Master Plan for the farm at 1215 McCormick Rd. Postcards will be mailed out to Township residents about the upcoming events.
We thought it best to wait for the now published slides used by Ms. Jennifer Lee of Derck & Edson in making our recap of her October 20 presentation. We note there have been some changes to the original presentation in terms of narrative and color coding.
The Derck & Edson presentation has four (4) sections:
• Our Observations and Site Analysis
• What We’ve Heard
• Guiding Principles
• Next Steps
“Observations” are based on a “Regional Analysis” noting the farm is in the South East corner of the Township and identifying other parks, etc. within a 2.5 and 5.0 mile radius. Lower Allen Community Park, Liberty Forge, McCormick Park, Simpson Park and Winding Hills Park are all within the 2.5 mile radius and the 5.0 mile radius covers almost the entire Township. The farm was characterized as a “destination” park within Upper Allen Township with the expectation that most visitors would drive to the park. Mention was made that McCormick Rd. is a narrow road used by walkers, bikers, etc. and that the primary vehicle entrance will be from Rt. 114
“Site Analysis” included a color coded plot plan showing pasture, meadows, woodland, wetland, drainage, ridge line, steep slopes, structures, etc. This document represents several different plans (or analyses) that were combined into one document. This plan shows things about the site itself; things like drainage areas, ridges, high points and what the topography is doing. It also shows the vegetative cover such as wetlands, forest and pasture area.
Ms. Lee noted the section of the property that fronts on the creek and the meadow, septic system, woodland and wetland areas before you get to the Yellow Breeches. She also noted the “interesting area where a little pocket created by woodland area that creeps along stream” near the North East corner of the property. She said “along the periphery- woodland areas (there is) unfortunately alot of invasive species in those woodland as well”.
Ms. Lee said the (Derck & Edson) “team spent a lot of time on the property itself walking and creating photo documentation while we were out there”. She noted there are many different structures on the property right now and part of the Master Plan will be to determine any possible or logical repurposing of those structures as part of the design.
“What we heard” section of the presentation is based on “interviews ‘so far’ with a select group of community members and Township staff”. (These included neighbors, community groups that are in the Township, Park & Recreation Committee, Commissioners, Messiah University, and Township staff).
Derck & Edson developed lists of “Undesirable” and “Desired” uses based on those interviews. The first part of each list, comprised of items printed in * (RED) are those particular things which ended up on both lists. (By way of clarification, RED doesn’t mean these items are more or less important, just that they ended up on both lists.)
Ms. Lee then introduced circles as a way to conceptualize the possible uses and their popularity. She said “I will caveat this that there is nothing mathematical (about this) but generally things that were repeated most frequently are (shown by) larger circles”.
“Walking trails were a very popular comment that we (residents) could use more of as well as lawn space not dedicated for anything specific. Throwing a frisbee with your family, spread out a picnic blanket .. might be lacking in other Township parks. Close behind that would be playground, large barn event space, and ‘senior park’ with activities for that particular age group. Other things that came up as part of that use (would be) pavilion for gatherings, outdoor amphitheater, bocce or horse shoes, sports fields and creek access”
“Some of those things on the desired list that didn’t get as many mentions were bee keeping, making sure the was acknowledgment or recognition of history of the site, environmental education opportunities and wildflower meadows”
“The reason that we do all of this is because it forms the design of the Master Plan. Some topography is better for some features than others and vegetative cover that’s going to be appropriate. Certainly what we gather in terms of input … inform that design”
“Guiding Principles” to be used by Derck & Edson were identified as:
1 Design a park that complements our other parks, and addresses the needs of residents of Upper Allen Township.
2 Design spaces to be accommodating for all ages and abilities.
3 Develop the new park property in a way that is fiscally responsible with the Township’s resources considering original development costs but also ongoing maintenance, management, and upkeep costs.
4 Provide a variety of activities to make the park a destination within the community.
5 Utilize environmentally sensitive design and construction practices.
6 Maintain buffers between the park and adjoining properties to be respectful to adjacent property owners.
Ms. Lee asked that “Commissioners consider these (principles) as we move forward with design of the park”
“Next Steps” suggested by Ms. Lee were to seek broader public input and to do so before the start of the Holidays. The initial suggestion is for an open house format (at the Township building) to invite people in and gather input – not a presentation session but there would be extensive photos on display.
The Commissioner’s and Township Manager (Mr.Fraser) discussed finding a variety of dates and times and how to best to communicate with residents.
Commissioner Martin expressed hope the public would validate what we’ve already heard and a wide age group would attend. He also mentioned seeing if there are any (additional) activities that should be on the list and that be a goal as well.
Commissioner Walter asked how we propose to get the information out to the residents and Ms. Lee said we typically suggest you publish it on your township website and what the timeframe will be. Mr. Walter expressed concern that many people don’t visit the website unless they have an issue.
Commissioner Cochran asked about an email to residents. Mr. Fraser said the Township email list is presently about 800 people at this point and not as good as we hoped. Mr. Fraser said postcards have been done in the past and it won’t take long to do a turnaround.
Commissioner Martin asked if there were any public comments about the process.
Mr. Eric Fairchild suggested an open house day at the farm so people could walk the farm for themselves and better see what all is there.
Mr. Phil Walsh asked when the Derck & Edson presentation might be posted on the Township website. Commissioner Cochran suggested that an additional slide be made first to include the dates and times for the sessions at the Township building.
The Public Input Dates / Times since developed:
Monday, November 8th 7:30am – 9:30am
Monday, November 8th 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Saturday, November 13th 11:00am – 1:00pm
Tuesday, November 16th 12:00pm – 2:00pm
Mr. Mike Goetz suggested that one of the guiding principles be to recognize that McCormick Rd. is highly valued as a scenic and nature corridor with many walkers, bikers, etc. and to be cognizant of the impact of the park on this existing use. Commissioner Martin said they have anticipated this issue and he anticipates only pedestrian and emergency access would be from McCormick Rd.
Commissioner Martin said “I think we want a well planned, rationale process” and “we are not in a big hurry”.
October 8, 2021
Consideration was given at the UAT Board of Commissioners Meeting Wednesday night (October 6) for TELC’s request to lease part of the farm property at 1215 McCormick Rd. to continue equine programs.
At this time, the Commissioners have voted “NO” to allowing TELC to use the facility.
The discussion was reasoned and amicable and the door may be open to a future request that addresses the Board’s concerns. The chief concerns, as best we can summarize:
• The Board isn’t far enough along in the Master Plan process to be comfortable in allowing TELC’s use at this time or considering an indoor facility (ring).
• Current Township ordinance prohibit anyone from living in parks such as a caretaker for the horses.
• Ms. Hocker’s operation consists mainly of herself and three (3) volunteers. There is not enough organizational depth or back up.
• The Board’s concern is mostly for UAT residents and the number of UAT residents participating in TELC programs through the Mechanicsburg REC Department has been minimal.
• The proposed $900 a month rental rate is below a fair market rate for the facility, especially if an indoor ring needs to be built.
The entry drive project has been delayed until Spring because the sole bid came in about 30% higher than estimated.
Ms. Hocker is now negotiating a lease of the 20 acre Maplewood Farm at 1206 South Market St., Mechanicsburg (Upper Allen Township). If Ms. Hocker is able to successfully transition to Maplewood, TELC may modify its proposal at a later date so as to align with the Master Plan and address the Board’s concerns.
The support of an academic institution, county extension service or other municipalities that may want to utilize the equine programs continues to be needed.
A supporter has provided us with perhaps the best case study of what is possible in terms of Equine programs at a public park. See this link for Carousel Park near Wilmington, DE:
Carousel is a 200 acre County park with an Equestrian Center that features Riding Lessons, Therapeutic Riding, Pony Parties, Horses for Hero’s, Scouting Programs, Bark Park, etc. The Park and Walking Trails (See PDF Map) provides an excellent overview of how the park is designed and organized. We note the park has an indoor ring and is home to the New Castle County Mounted Patrol.
“Save the Horses” is one aspect of the Friends of the Farm vision. We have focused on this aspect lately because of TELC’s pressing need for a facility. Moving to Maplewood will save the TELC horses for now and we hope that Ms. Hocker may downsize and reorganize her operation so as to be a better fit for the Master Plan for 1215 McCormick Rd. still to be determined.
“Save the Farm” continues to be as much about preserving the historic features, passive development of the farm, and utilizing McCormick Rd. as a Greenway connector and extension of the farm/park.
We are approaching 2,400 visitors to the website and 5,300 page views. While we don’t know the location of visitors, we believe there is significant support in the community for our vision and we thank everyone for their patience and support through this process.
September 9, 2021
Ms. Hocker has submitted the business plan information requested by the Township and has provided Friends of the Farm with a copy of most of the material. This is in context of Total Equine Learning Center (TELC) request to use part of the farm at 1215 McCormick Rd. to continue its programs. TELC’s mission is to provide recreational and therapeutic riding instruction on surrendered and rescue horses to improve the lives of children and adults in our community.
In her cover letter, Ms. Hocker says “I am happy to be part of this project and know first hand how hard it is for a dream to become a reality. I was involved in the design and construction of the first facility I managed. I designed the building, was there for the construction and did a lot of the barn work to finish the stalls. I opened the doors in January, 1980 and know how hard it is to get established in any business, let alone in the dead of winter.”
“I come to this project with the same energy and perhaps a little more insight as I did for the first opening of a equine facility. At this time I have the benefit of having a strong knowledge and following which puts me higher on the success ladder. I hope we can make this a ‘win win’ partnership and have the equine facility bring community members to the park to enjoy both the nature and what nature has to offer… the horse experience. I believe this will be the only park in the Central PA area that will be able to share the equine experience with nature lovers and still have areas for sports and games”.
Ms. Hocker proposes either a retainer/stipend paid BY the Township if the programs are to be limited to UAT residents only or a rental rate paid to TO the Township if she is to continue the full complement of programs for Mechanicsburg Recreation, West Shore REC, etc. The rental rate proposed by Ms. Hocker is $900 per month.
TELC operates Monday-Saturday typically between 8am and 8pm. Sundays 10:30am till 6:00pm. Staff typically consists of Ms. Hocker and three volunteers. An average of fifty (50) students are serviced per week. Most days the number of cars in the parking area is 4-6 which are coming or going according to the lesson schedule and activities offered.
Based on an overview of possible income from different programs and averages over the past 10 years; $75,000 appears to be a reasonable annual revenue projection for equine programs going forward – if there is an indoor facility. Ms. Hocker says “each recreation department has an office fee on top my contracted price which they offer to the community”.
Whether an indoor or covered riding area is something the Township and Derck & Edson will consider as part of the Master Plan process remains to be seen. Ms. Hocker suggests an indoor facility include horse stalls, spectator area and bathrooms. A pole barn structure could likely be built over top of the existing large ring to minimize equine usage area and cost; however, Derck & Edson is best able to determine a possible location.
Ms. Hocker is proposing use of the Barn, pastures and riding rings totaling about 12 acres of the (61 acre) farm. She is proposing having more horses on site than the 10-12 previously suggested with the rationale that many of the horses are ponies and minis which will collectively weigh no more than 12,000 lbs. total. Ms. Hocker stresses the need to have a variety of horses available so as to meet a wide age group and skill level of riders as well as being able to rotate rescue or injured/lame horses in and out of programs. The number of horses may be limited based on total acreage for possible equine identified in the Derck & Edson Master Plan and/or Ordinance 245-14.55 for Riding Academy; i.e., “No more than 10 equine animals are kept with the exception that one additional equine animal may be kept for each additional acre of land over five acres.” Ms. Hocker continues to consider other off site options for housing the additional rescue horses.
Manure management may involve cooperative relationship with local agriculture or landscaping business, 20’ x 24’ storage unit, or red worm breeding to accelerate decomposition. Locating a compost area near Black Landscaping may allow mixing or resale of manure and/or the opportunity for the Township to compost as well.
When Ms. Hocker and supporters addressed the Board of Commissioners in April, Board Chairman Ken Martin thanked all those who gave input and said he doesn’t think there is anyone among the Board that would doubt the merits of the program. From the Board’s perspective, he said it is a use and financial issue.
Apart from Ms. Hocker’s proposal, the 20 acre Maplewood Farm at 1206 South Market St., Mechanicsburg has recently been sold to a Limited Partnership and has been advertised for lease. This farm has an indoor riding facility and Ms. Hocker is exploring this possibility as well. It was the Township that mentioned Maplewood as an alternative for Ms. Hocker, so there is recognition and concern by the Township for continuing the equine programs.
Moving to Maplewood may be the better alternative for Ms. Hocker short term but it may not provide long term security for the programs if the Maplewood Farm is developed as well. It would; however, allow more time to consider Ms. Hocker’s proposal and better integrate equine programs and indoor facility into the Master Plan.
September 2, 2021
Two (2) Agenda items relating to the farm/park were approved by the BOC last night.
7a. The access/entry drive is 24’ wide and extends 450’ into the property. It makes a gentle turn to the right as it proceeds in from Rt.114 so as to align with the narrow “panhandle” portion of the property leading to the farm. The first 50’ will be paved at this time with the remainder being stone for now. The Township wanted to get this bid out now so as to have the work done before the end of the paving season. Construction includes storm water management improvements and the total cost is estimated at $70,000. Commissioners Ken Martin and Rick Castranio provided a copy of site drawing which we have posted under Photo, Map and Plant Gallery / Rt. 114 Entry on the website.
7b. TKS Architects were engaged to provide a full evaluation of both the farmhouse and the barn. This project and associated research is expected to take 9 weeks which puts us into early November for a report. Approved cost of the work is $7,650.
On behalf of Friends of the Farm, Mr. Fairchild presented hard copies of the Letter of Support from Preservation Pennsylvania to the Board Secretary and Commissioners and asked that it be included with the minutes of the meeting.
While not our charge, there was some discussion of the Bishop Bridge Inspection Report by C.S. Davidson as Item 4a. It appears this scenic and historic iron bridge is potentially repairable which would extend its service life, especially if more ways could be found to keep heavy vehicles off of it.
According to HistoricBridges.org “Bridge Browser” for Cumberland County, the Bishop Bridge has a 7/7 rating and was built in 1898 by Wrought Iron Bridge Company of Canton, Ohio and represents the last chapter in the history of the prolific Wrought Iron Bridge Company. (bridges/browser/?bridgebrowser=pennsylvania/bishoproad/).
August 31, 2021
Activity with the farm/park project is increasing. While our big news is the receipt of the Letter of Support from Preservation Pennsylvania, other events have been occurring as well.
We attended the Park & Recreation Board (“P&R”) meeting last Wednesday (08/25/21) and asked its members to state their views on the farm/park project since they were understood to have recently shared their views with Derck & Edson, the consultant hired by UAT to prepare a Master Plan for the property. We think it important to have a sense of where the P&R Board members stand. Members are appointed by the Commissioners and serve five (5) year terms.
Four (4) members of the seven (7) member P&R Board responded to our query.
Mr. Jeff Williams, Chairman, was forthright in stating his opposition to horses, but did not wish to give his reasons at the time, suggesting that it may lead to a debate and that further information is needed by Ms. Hocker. Mr. Williams also said he expected the park to be passive with many trails but that land needed to be set aside for future needs of the Township such as athletic fields.
Ms. Lauren Sanker indicated she was supportive of the Friends vision, but had concerns with such things as liability.
Ms. Christina Dryden indicated she was supportive of the Friends vision. She said a lot of things line up but there are some different ideas as well.
Mr. Daniel Harrison indicated he was supportive but had some concerns as well.
The other members of the P&R Board in attendance were Mr. Jason Saposnek and Mr. John Walton. Mr. John Burch was absent.
Commissioner James Cochran, who attends the P&R meetings along with Commissioner Rick Castranio, said the Commissioners themselves had not yet shared their views with Derck & Edson and raised issues he had with an email Mr. Fairchild had sent him last October.
Ms. Joanne Hocker of TELC attended the meeting as well and was available to answer questions.
A more detailed summary of the P&R discussion will be available when minutes of the 08/25/21 meeting are (hopefully) released next month. Agendas and Minutes are available online at the Township’s website. This leads us to our next update item.
The September 1, 2021 Board of Commissioners (“BOC”) Agenda has been published and it includes two (2) items on the farm/project:
“7a. Ratification of Decision to Authorize Advertisement for bids for the 1215 McCormick Park-Lisburn Rd. Access Project
7b. Discussion/Consideration of TKS Proposal to Evaluate Building at 1215 McCormick Road”
7a. has to do with construction of the Rt. 114 entry to the farm/park. We do not know how far the construction will extend into the property at this point because the design has not been presented or discussed at recent BOC meetings. We expect the design of the entry drive itself will be something Derck & Edson is involved with as part of the Master Plan.
7b. has to do with an evaluation of the farmhouse by an architect. TKS is a Mechanicsburg based architectural firm founded by Mr. Doug Tilley. TKS recently did work and made presentations to the BOC about a house in the Shepherdstown Historic District that was subsequently demolished as part of Linlo property development plan. We do not believe demolition will be the result here; rather it is that the BOC found Mr. Tilley’s work to be thorough and well presented.
Having the farmhouse evaluated is another step forward.
August 28, 2021
This is a momentous day for Friends of the Farm. We have received a Letter Of Support from the widely respected Preservation Pennsylvania. Please enjoy reading this letter and the recognition it provides for the beautiful historic farm on McCormick Rd. Preservation Pennsylvania is forever in our heart.
August 18, 2021
An Update on the 1215 McCormick Rd. Master Plan is on the Board of Commissioners (BOC) Meeting Agenda for tonight as Item 7a. Meetings start at 6:30 PM at the Upper Allen Township Building, 100 Gettysburg Pike, Mechanicsburg, PA.
This will be a verbal update from the Township Manager to the Board, letting the Board know where Derck and Edson stands with completing interviews and which they have left to complete as well as letting them know of their work mapping and visiting the site. A more formal update will be given to the Board in the future by the consultant.
We wanted supporters to be aware of this Update in case anyone wants to attend the meeting and hear the report first hand.
We have been talking with several historic, preservation, conservation and planning professionals who would like to have a tour of the farmland, farmhouse, barn, and other outbuildings at 1215 McCormick Rd. The interested parties are with the Cumberland County Planing Office, Cumberland County Historical Society, West Shore Historical Society and The South Mountain Partnership. We also suggest members of the Upper Allen Township Historic Architecture Review Board be included.
These individuals and organizations may be able to provide information, suggestions and assistance to Derck & Edson and the Township in shaping the Master Plan for the property. We suggest their input be sought as part of the “data collection” phase of the project.
One additional “case study” for a farm/park that has come to our attention is Corker Hill Farm in Greene Township, Franklin County. This is a 35 acre farm with 1810-20 Mansion House and mid to late 19th century stone end Bank Barn on the National Register of Historic Places which received a grant from The Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission and The South Mountain Partnership for a “Historic Reuse Study”. The study may be found at https://www.twp.greene.franklin.pa.us/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Corker-Hill-Reuse-Study-for-Website.pdf
Ms. Hocker is just about finished with the Business Plan information requested by the Township and expects to have this information to them next week.
August 2, 2021
There has been a bit of a lull in recent farm/park activity as the park consultant geared up to receive public input.
Ms. Hocker is still working on submitting the Business Plan information requested by the Township – so no decision has been made regarding TELC’s request to use part of the farm for equine programs. We are encouraging Ms. Hocker to get her materials into the Township so the staff will have adequate time to review the materials and the Commissioners adequate time to consider it before October, 2021.
TELC has an indoor ring at its current facility which allows programs to run rain or shine. Ms. Hocker is concerned with how to operate from the farm without an indoor ring, especially over the upcoming winter months and with Covid again on the rise. We feel an indoor ring could be a future possibility with enough community support, but it would be a drawn out process in terms of design, engineering, and funding. As Ms. Hocker is near retirement age, she is also interested in developing an affiliation with a local College or University to help support the equine programs now and into the future. This could also serve to broaden resources and educational opportunities at the farm/park.
The park consultant (Derck & Edson) has begun seeking input from neighbors to the farm via (four) 45 minute Zoom sessions through August 12th. D&E will then seek input from the Park & REC Board, Township Commissioners and other key persons similar to what was done in the 2016 Park & Open Space Plan. We expect that input from the general public will not formally be sought until September, 2021.
The project manager for Derck & Edson is Ms. Jennifer Lee. Ms. Lee says at this stage, what they are doing is “data collection” and no design has been generated. The format for the discussions is informal with such topics as:
“What types of recreational opportunities do you feel the Township is lacking / missing?”
“What do you think the most appropriate uses of the farm might be that would best fit both the needs of the entire community as well as the physical characteristics of the property?”
“Are there specific recreational uses you think are not appropriate for the property? Why ?”
“What concerns do you have with the development of the property into a Township park?”
We feel the vision presented by Friends of the Farm addresses the “lacking/missing” and “appropriate uses” questions quite well. There are no historic features, equine or gardening opportunities at existing UAT parks and McCormick Rd. provides a wonderful walk and bike friendly greenway opportunity to extend the farm/park outward. There is tremendous natural beauty and wildlife on site which can be enhanced and enjoyed by the entire community. Most people support preservation, education and environmental stewardship.
In the “not appropriate for the property” category, we would place creek access and athletic fields. Not that they aren’t important and popular recreational activities; just that they can be better done at other UAT parks or off site from the farm/park. Having a passive and coherent theme for the farm/park is what will make it a great experience and destination for the entire community.
“Concerns” that have been raised are increased traffic on McCormick Rd., creek access, destruction of historic and natural features, extensive earth moving, loss of habitat, separation of uses, buffers, active uses that conflict with a passive theme, and activities that require large parking areas.
We asked Ms. Lee about other farm/parks in Pennsylvania or elsewhere that could serve as a model or visual aid for features that could be incorporated here. She said that is something Derck & Edson is researching. We encourage everyone to share what they have seen in their travels which should be considered here. Some names that have come up in recent discussions are Fort Hunter in Harrisburg, PA; Linden Hall in Lititz, PA and Indian Steps in Airville, PA.
To date, we have had 1,522 “visitors” to the Friends of the Farm website and 3,457 “page views”. As the farm/park is near the boundaries with Lower Allen and Fairview Township, we have interest there as well as the UAT area surrounding the farm. Almost everyone who has contacted us has been supportive and there is much angst over the level of development occurring in the Township. A common refrain is that there is too much development and we already have enough sports fields. We doubt that people who haven’t contacted us are somehow against a farm/ park; it’s just that they aren’t aware, not interested at the moment, or are busy doing other things.
Our main goal is to create awareness of the plight of the farm and TELC so that the public will be informed and ready when input is sought. We have 106 yard signs remaining and hope to place more in major UAT developments such as Mt. Allen, Winding Hills, Meadowview, Rosegarden, etc. If you or anyone you know lives in these or other UAT developments and can host a yard sign, please contact us so we can get more signs out!
June 2, 2021
“A crowd of roughly 100 supporters gathered at the historic Sheepford bridge in Lower Allen Township Wednesday for a dedication of a historical marker commemorating placement of the 1887 bridge on Cumberland County’s Register of Historic Places” (see The Sentinel 06/04/21 pg. A1). Historic preservation is a bi-partisan issue and it is encouraging to see such strong local support for it. The Sheepford Road bridge over the Yellow Breeches Creek is appx. 2 miles from the proposed main entrance to the UAT farm/park and Lower Allen Township provides a creek access point adjacent to it.
June 1, 2021
Ms. Joanne Hocker was provided a tour of the farm with her brother and a member of the Upper Allen Township staff. The Township has requested further information from Joanne on how her TELC programs would operate on the farm, financial data, equipment needs, manure disposal, etc.
May 29, 2021
Friends of the Farm (FotF) website officially launched and first signs go out.
May 26, 2021
Commissioner Jim Cochran announced at the monthly UAT Park & REC Committee Meeting that the Township is considering locating an artificial turf field at the Winding Hill (North) park. (This is viewed as positive for the farm/park in that it will help avoid conflicting land use requests and hopefully allow for more of the “passive” design/theme that FotF suggests).
April 21, 2021
Ms. Hocker and several supporters spoke at the Upper Allen Township Board of Commissioners Meeting regarding TELC’s request to use part of the farm at 1215 McCormick Rd. to continue the REC Board programs. Here are the Minutes of the Meeting as recorded by the Township Secretary:
PRESIDENTS RECOGNITION OF VISITORS
President Martin noted a topic that people want to address. He mentioned that since the items on this section are not on the agenda, seldom do we take any action, but we want to give citizens an opportunity to express their ideas. He said there is interest in the Township’s 1215 McCormick Road property. He noted that the property, a former farm, consists of 60.93 acres. The Township purchased it on May 1, 2020 for $1.1 million and was the only bidder on the property. He said the Township bought the farm as land banking or a future asset to the Township. He said we have a Comprehensive Recreation and Open Space Plan and we are aware that the Township is growing and that land is not readily available. He said the Board purposely decided amongst themselves to take their time and plan the future of the land to see how it might integrate with other Township parks and programs. He said the Board has expressly stated previously that we aren’t in a hurry to determine what we will do next. He said five firms that have experience in park development were interviewed to do a Master Plan. The Board chose Derck & Edson out of Lititz and they have been engaged to evaluate the site and get input from the Park &Recreation Committee, the Board of Commissioners, athletic groups, non-profit groups, and citizens in the Township. He said we purposefully want a transparent process and don’t intend to do anything with the property in the immediate future.
Vice President Castranio noted that there was a plan submitted to carve out buildable lots on that land at one time. President Martin said there is an approved Land Development Plan already recorded to build 6 or 7 houses on the northern part of the tract but that is not our intent. He said one decision we have made is to erect or construct an entrance to the site from E. Lisburn Road, noting that the Board recognizes that McCormick is a narrow rural road that can barely take two-way traffic, plus there is a lot of recreational use by residents walking and biking. He said our intent at this time is to use the McCormick Road entrance as secondary or emergency access, with the main access off of Lisburn Road, and that is basically the only decision the Board has made.
President Martin asked those who wish to speak to give their name, address and municipality. He asked speakers to limit their comments to 5 minutes, and asked that since we have a full agenda beyond the public comment period, that speakers let the Board know if they have the same sentiments expressed by others rather than repeating the same things over and over.
Eric Fairchild, of 1224 McCormick Road, said he lives across from the horse farm. He thanked President Martin for setting up the background of the purchase. He said he is no horse expert but his wife helped feed the horses at the farm and said most people in the horse community know of Joann Hocker, from Total Equine Learning Center (TELC) and Home Away from Home Equine Care. He said Ms. Hocker is in need of a facility to continue her businesses. He said her current facility is on Sawmill Road but she has long-term relationships with recreation boards in the area. He said he knows it is a complex issue to work through and nobody expects a decision tonight, but he would like to see it given some fair consideration. He said lots of people are interested in it and hopefully we can find a way for children to have the same opportunities that we had growing up. He said he would like to see the program stay in Upper Allen Township.
Joanne Hocker, of 645 Sawmill Road, Fairview Township, said she has been at a farm on Sawmill Road for 21 years and the property owners are now going to use it differently and she has to relocate and would like to stay in this area. She said she does recreation programs in the area and she had asked the Mechanicsburg Recreation Department to be here tonight, but they were unable to attend. She said she does programs for handicapped individuals and if she has the opportunity, the programs she has been operating for many years would be a good asset for citizens of Upper Allen Township. She offers riding lessons, training, and recently held a birthing party for a foal. She said she would like to offer her expertise to Upper Allen Township in that she can give the Township programs that would help that piece of property thrive by attracting people. She said a wide base of people would use it through West Shore, Mechanicsburg, Hampden Township, and Silver Spring Township recreation departments. She said she has had over 5,000 students over the years. She said she usually has about 65 per week but with COVID it dropped down to almost nothing last year. She said she has a waiting list of 15-16 people that she can’t serve now because of possibly having to move.
Commissioner Cochran questioned whether TELC is for-profit or non-profit. Ms. Hocker said it is both—she takes in surrender horses instead of them going to slaughter, and then they retrain the horses and use them in recreation programs. Instead of buying horses, she said they rescue them. She noted that Home Away from Home Equine Care is the non-profit. She said she hopes they can fill a need in the Township.
Karen Vandernoot, of 10276 Allentown Boulevard in Grantville, Northern Lebanon County, said she is 42 and has been riding with Joanne since she was 7. She said she rode with her, then went to college for horses, and worked with horses before starting a family. She teaches handicapped riding lessons once a week and helps out during the summer. She said she wants Joanne to keep going and be an asset to the community. She said she touches kids and adults in amazing ways. Ms. Vandernoot said she is a volunteer and has three stalls at her house in Grantville where she quarantines horses for Joanne. She also has two of her retired horses, so she helps her out in that way also.
Deshawn Richards, 406 North Meadow Drive, spoke on behalf of the Canniff family, whose daughter rides at TELC. In their absence they asked her to read the following: “Our family has been involved with Joanne Hocker, Total Equine Learning Center and Home Away from Home, Inc. for about 10 years. It all began through the Pony Rides by Mechanicsburg Area Parks & Recreation. The very next week our daughter began private lessons and was evaluated on her abilities and which pony/horse would work best. She is now participating in group lessons, winter projects and horse shows. She also helps during the Pony Rides, cleaning stalls, feeding/watering and stacking the hay. Our daughter had social issues when she was younger. Being around the ponies and horses has helped her come out of her shell and become a more confident, responsible and caring teenager. She is currently working with a horse by the name of Caramel, which has PTSD from a horse trailer accident. She has gained his trust in which he has finally allowed her to ride him. The knowledge and education that Joanne instills with the riders is paramount to the type of program she runs. Taking something that no one wants and seeing the potential of what could be.”
Ms. Richards said she also has a daughter that rides and she testified that everything in the letter is true. She said her daughter is still young but started a strong interest in horses two years before she allowed her to grow as a result of Ms. Hocker’s program. She reiterated that taking something no one wants and seeing the potential that could be is what Ms. Hocker does on a daily basis. She said she had a vision to assist in the communities she serves but also to assist the horse community with Home Away from Home Equine Care for horses no one else would have wanted. She said many of the horses are slated for slaughter. She said Ms. Hocker has chosen to dedicate herself.
Nancy Julian, 35 Mayberry Lane, Mechanicsburg, said she has been a horse enthusiast for over 60 years and has known Joanne a long time. She said Ms. Hocker has special skill sets. She said she is a child expert and is very good at indoctrinating extremely small children. She has patience, is good with children, good with adults, and gives everyone a chance. She said riding is an expensive hobby for some people but Joanne makes it affordable and it is not for just privileged people. She has a scale so that people can ride. She rescues animals and retrains them so they are safe for anybody. She said many adults never had a chance to ride, and as society changes and we have to protect our youth from drugs and alcohol, this is a very healthy avenue. When children and young adults are introduced to horses, she said it gives them a very different outlook. She said the facility at 1215 McCormick Road is a very nice piece of ground and lends itself to this pursuit. She said it would be a great asset to the Township and she hopes the Board would consider the venue to be used for that purpose.
Sharon Heagy, of 1224 McCormick Road, said she worked there, rode there, and trained there. She said it’s not just little girls who benefit from TELC, but young men and adults as well. She said lives were changed by coming to the farm and working with the horses. She said it is amazing what horses will do and said they are very giving themselves.
Jennifer Downy, of 105 Clydesdale Court in Etters, Fairview Township, said her daughter Delayne met Joanne through the pony ride program when she was 4 years old. She fell in love with horses. Ms. Downy said she was excited for the program through West Shore Recreation, and has been there ever since. She takes riding lessons, participated in a project where at 7 years old she worked with a horse that has never been ridden. She said it is amazing what Joanne has given her daughter. She said she is a joy and she hopes she can continue to help other children.
Karen Gibson, of 6017 Robert Drive, Mechanicsburg, said she does not ride but the program encourages her grandchildren to ride. She said they go to mini-camp classes and thoroughly enjoy them. She said Joanne allows them to be at the barn around the horses, which has been very important to her because she recently recovered from a stroke, and to see the horses one on one has been helpful. Without the program, she said it wouldn’t be possible as there are no other programs near us. She said Joanne is genuine and is very loving and giving, and the horses are happy and well taken care of. She said they need us as much as we need them, and asked the Board to please help keep this program alive as it is so worth having for our future. She said it is a good program and very much needed.
Karen Overly Smith, of 855 Oak Oval in Messiah Village, said she didn’t know there was a program nearby. She said there are Messiah Village residents that go to Gettysburg to ride and she knows there are others who want to ride.
Debra Beilman, of 1057 Allendale Road, said she has been a resident of Mechanicsburg for the past 30+ years, mostly in Upper Allen Township. She said her granddaughter has taken lessons from Joanne since September. She said she drives to Cleona every week to get her and bring her here for the program. She said the riding and interaction with the horses is proven to be beneficial to people, both mentally and physically. She told of people in New England making money by having CEOs come to learn communication skills through working with horses. She said high schoolers get the same benefit. She said she watched her granddaughter blossom and go from a young lady excelling in various sports such as swim team and softball and living a life of privilege and being a bit spoiled, to now stepping up and taking responsibility for things she didn’t before. She said the time with Joanne really has been quite a learning experience. She believes in the sustainability of keeping the farm as a green property and said there is plenty of room there for the Township to do other things, but she would like to see the Township keep a portion of that as recreational space for an activity that isn’t available anywhere else. She said she has friends in Mechanicsburg who are looking for a riding program and the closest one is in Elizabethtown through the Intermediate Unit, but it is $125 per week for 3 hours a day. She said Joanne is perfectly capable of providing the same service locally, and does it now. She said Joanne has a winter project where children are actually learning to
train horses. She said there is tremendous interaction that all have not had before, and they learn about responsibility, communication, and other things that are totally invaluable. Also, she said there would be plenty of fertilizer available.
Beth Fisher, of 626 Colonial View Road, was in attendance with her daughter Ella. She said Ella has been riding with Joanne for a long time. She said Ella became responsible working with the horses and has stepped up a lot since then. She helps with pony rides and projects and has been able to learn a lot from the programs Joanne offers. Ms. Fisher added that horses are a very expensive hobby but Joanne’s program is affordable for them. She said her daughter has done awesome in the program and is staying out of trouble. President Martin noted that Ella is brave to come up to the podium, and it shows leadership.
Commissioner Cochran asked Ms. Hocker to describe her current location of 21 years. He questioned whether she leases the property. Ms. Hocker said the arrangement is pro bono—she maintains the facility in exchange for use of the property. She said the previous owner was Peters, and she was in charge of rebuilding fences, changing the stalls around, working with the water system, adding to/taking down, etc. She said the property had been empty 7 years prior. Currently she mows the grass and maintains the fencing as best she can. Commissioner Cochran questioned who owns the equipment. She said it is hers and her brother’s. There are no other people on the property; just a house and the owner lives on the other end of the driveway. Ms. Hocker said he wants to reuse it for something else when his daughter comes home from college. She said she lives in a travel trailer on the property.
Commissioner Cochran asked Ms. Hocker what kind of resources she is looking for in order to run her program at the 1215 McCormick Road property. Ms. Hocker said she needs the front quarter of it with the barn and two rings, front paddocks, and possibly one of the paddocks behind the main ring behind the annex building that has the bedrooms in it. She said the biggest thing she needs is indoor and she is currently trying to get some funding to put up a temporary indoor area. She said most of her programs run rain or shine, so she needs a 120’ x 60’ indoor area. She said the McCormick Road property has extensive pastures and noted that her horses currently are hayed year around; they are considered hot house horses. She said she would live on the property in the travel trailer and construct an indoor ring on the property over the existing outdoor ring until the rest of the park plans would be finalized. She said she would also need complete use of the barn and front paddocks. She said she was on the property previously with other people but would like permission to walk it again. Commissioner Cochran asked about manure management plans. She said that would be her responsibility and either there would be a dumpster to take it away, or Messiah University was taking it away for their horticulture center with the last owner of the property. She said the third way would be to convert it to straw instead of shavings and then the mushroom growers would pay her to take it. She said she would probably have to build some kind of concrete bin to throw it into to make it easier for dump trucks to pick it up. She said she currently has a compost pile and was spreading it on the ground in increments until the property owner on Sawmill Road decided to lease the ground for production, which gave her a limited window for spreading between crops. She said Diller’s Nursery also took it and composted it and used it in their operation.
President Martin thanked all those who gave input and said he doesn’t think there is anyone among the Board that would doubt the merits of the program. From the Board’s perspective, he said it is a use and financial issue.
March 17, 2021 Commissioner’s approve Derck & Edson to do Master Plan for 1215 McCormick Rd. From the meeting minutes page 12:
President Martin noted that the Board of Commissioners interviewed five firms to look at the Master Plan for 1215 McCormick Road. Vice President Castranio commented that he learned a lot during the presentations and thinks all five firms are capable, which he didn’t realize prior to the presentations. He said each had a little different idea about the possibilities, and all five included a desire to obtain citizen input.
President Martin said after the Board hires a firm, they will negotiate the final amount, and Vice President Castranio said selecting someone right now does not commit the Township to any amount. Discussion ensued.
Vice President Castranio made a MOTION to approve Derck and Edson to prepare the Master Plan for 1215 McCormick Road at a price not to exceed $45,000, SECONDED by Commissioner Cochran. President Martin, Vice President Castranio, and Commissioners Cochran and Walter voted yes; Commissioner Anderson voted no.
Eric Fairchild, of 1224 McCormick Road, questioned why the Board chose that firm. President Martin responded that they are a central PA firm located in Lititz and have done work in the Township previously. They do primarily town planning, park planning, parks and recreation, and athletic complexes. He said they have experience in urban to rural situations. They use a lot of photographs and illustrations to present to and get feedback from officials and citizens, and they stressed that in their presentation. He said they have done similar projects. Vice President Castranio noted that they submitted a slide show that can be shared with the public, and staff can provide it to Mr. Fairchild.