Blogs > 37th Frame

Photography, notes, commentary and much more from former Reporter Online Editor Chris Stanley.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Moving out

As most in our area know by now, the Archdioscese of Philadlephia is planning to shutter three local Catholic high schools, including Lansdale Catholic, and replace them with state-of-the-art facilities in Hilltown and Upper Providence.
Now I never have attended Catholic schools, nor do I have any stake in the LC's existence one way or the other. Having visited the school scores of times over the years covering various events, I am well aware their current building is inadequate, and that the adjoining land that was sold off a few years ago is gone and nothing is going to bring it back.
Yet as a Lansdale resident, I really hate to see yet another cultural institution abandon the borough for a greener (and larger) pasture in the hinterlands of Hilltown. Students who once walked to the school from nearby neighborhoods will now board a bus or drive to the new site, followed by parents and friends attending their school functions. This means more cars, more parking lots, and more traffic for Hilltown.
In fairness, I don't think that relocating one high school will destroy the bucolic nature of Hilltown by itself, nor will it take Lansdale off the map. But the cumulative effect of similar development and the waves of population that naturally follows very well could. Boroughs like Lansdale, Norristown and Pottstown have struggled with mixed success to bring back the culture and businesses that once dominated their downtowns, but every church, business and school that relocates elsewhere is a small chip away from the cultural 'personality' that makes each of these older towns unique and desirable. Meanwhile, drivers sit at new traffic lights out in what used to be the country wondering where all the cars have suddenly come from.
Change is not always bad, and for the students of the gleaming new high school, whatever it is called, there will be many benefits that they will certainly enjoy. But the lesson not learned will the price we will pay by pursuing greener pastures down an increasingly crowded road.


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