In a 1926 land acquisition, the City of Erie covenanted to forever “keep and maintain the premises hereby conveyed, as a public golf course or for public park purposes, or both.” When the city recently sought to sell the land (now a public golf course) for development to raise cash, the Lake Erie Region Conservancy (LERC) intervened.
LERC prevailed in the Court of Common Pleas, but the Commonwealth Court reversed the lower court. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is now reviewing the Commonwealth Court’s decision.
The case has major implications for public parks and open spaces in Pennsylvania. The Commonwealth Court’s decision ignores over 100 years of precedent on a municipality’s duty to hold dedicated parklands in trust for the public and essentially enables parks to be sold or converted to other uses at a municipality’s discretion. If the Supreme Court affirms the Commonwealth Court’s decision, parks and open spaces across Pennsylvania would be constantly threatened by shortsighted municipal whims and budgetary needs.
In defense of conservation, the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association, as lead amicus, filed an amicus curiae brief with the Supreme Court. Joining the Association are the PA Recreation and Park Society, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and others.
The Association thanks the attorneys who donated their time in this effort: Samuel C. Stretton, who prepared the brief; Debra Wolf Goldstein and Pat Pregmon, who provided substantial input for the brief; and Steve Schiffman for his early work on the issue. The Association also thanks LERC for taking action when the local government ignored its conservation responsibility.