Squawks over new campus for Hawks

PHILADELPHIA - September 3, 2009 Currently, Saint Joe's baseball and softball teams do not have a place to practice or play on campus.

University officials have a plan to change that by transforming land they purchased from Episcopal Academy several years ago, however, some neighbors aren't too happy about it.

A quiet street in Lower Merion Township is at the center of the controversial development plan proposed by Saint Joe's University.

The school wants to transform its newly acquired land around North Latches Lane, Berwick Road, and City Avenue into its new Maguire Campus.

The area would consist of athletic fields for baseball, softball, tennis, and field hockey, but neighbors are concerned.

"The current plans that Saint Joe's has are excessive," Merion Community Coalition Co-Director Lauren Wylonis said.

Their chief complaint is noise from three proposed loud speakers.

"It does appear that this plan will certainly negatively impact the quality of life in our neighborhood," Wylonis said.

Saint Joe's says they have responded to the community.

"We have accommodated some of their requests throughout this process," Harriet Goodheart of Saint Joseph's University said.

Saint Joe's says it wants to install a sound system that won't exceed the township's noise ordinance level.

Neighbors are also worried that motorists will ignore the school's plans for parking to be directed to an existing garage on the University's campus and will end up parking on their street.

Also, some are upset about a proposed 35 foot tall netting, to catch baseballs along North Latches Lane; the school promises it will be set back from the road and blocked by landscaping.

Despite their differences, it appears both sides are willing to compromise:

"We remain willing and hopeful of working things out with our neighbors," Goodheart said.

"There is a common ground that can work for all of us. This plan has to be something that works for the neighborhood, as well as Saint Joe's," Wylonis said.

For more information on the Maguire Campus, click here.

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