No V.A. Cemetery for Pennhurst
Friday, January 6th 2006
EAST VINCENT -- The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has selected a Bucks County site for location of a veterans cemetery over the proposed site overlooking the Schuylkill River at the former Pennhurst State Hospital, according to Township Supervisor Ryan Costello.
The official announcement is expected by February.
At U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach's urging, township supervisors expended significant efforts in order to create a scenario under which the Pennhurst site would emerge as the top choice for the cemetery. Supervisors had recently adopted a zoning amendment allowing for mixed use on property owned by Gambone Development Co.
The amendment created the opportunity for a land swap that provided the scenario under which the cemetery could have been located in the township.
As part of the deal, Gambone planned to convey a 20-acre parcel of land to the Owen J. Roberts School District on which a future elementary school could have been constructed. In return, the school district promised to convey to the township the land the district owns at Pennhurst, creating the critical complement of land area necessary for the site to be considered for the cemetery.
Last month, Gerlach, R-6th, of West Pikeland, and Costello made their pitch in Washington, D.C., extolling the many positive characteristics of the Pennhurst site to officials from the Department of Veterans Affairs. World War II veteran Gus DiMino, chairman of the Central Montco All-Vets Council, also appeared to outline the reasons Pennhurst remained the most desirable site among veterans in the area.
Gerlach expressed his disappointment with the official decision.
"While it's gratifying to see legislation I worked so hard for lead to the creation of a national veterans cemetery in Southeastern Pennsylvania, I'm very disappointed in the secretary's decision to site the new facility in such a far-off eastern edge of the region," he said.
"It is illogical to select a property that is more expensive for the taxpayers to acquire, will allow for fewer burials than the Pennhurst site and is located in an area that will likely be accessible for more veterans in New Jersey than here in the southeast as we had originally intended," Gerlach said.
Costello shared Gerlach's disappointment in the site selection and stated that he had not been advised of specific reasons the Pennhurst site was eliminated from consideration.
"Congressman Gerlach is looking into that," he said.
He stated that with the decision, the zoning amendment recently adopted for the Gambone parcel essentially becomes "null and void." Without the cemetery and the land swap, he said, "It's not possible to meet the criteria through which to create the residential mixed use there."
"Gerlach has done everything he possibly could in order to create opportunity there (Pennhurst)," Costello said. "It would have created a lot of other recreational, environmental and tourism possibilities along the Schuylkill River," he said of the proposed cemetery.
"Now the questions are: What proposals are going to come in for the Jones Motor tract and what's going to happen to Pennhurst?" Costello said.
Costello said residents "who paid attention to the issue" can take comfort in knowing that the board of supervisors "did everything they could have to have the cemetery located at Pennhurst."
He expressed his gratitude for and pride in the "tremendous outpouring of support from local veterans."
This article was written by Barbara Worthington and published by Daily Local News on Friday, January 6th 2006 and NOT owned by nor affiliated with opacity.us, but are recorded here solely for educational use. The photographs featured in the article are randomly selected from the Pennhurst State School galleries on opacity.us unless noted otherwise; they may not directly relate to the article subject matter except for the site location - any other relation is purely coincidental.