UPPER DARBY, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — The Upper Darby School District voted Tuesday night to authorize a study on whether or not to build a new middle school on popular athletic fields in Clifton Heights.
Clifton Heights residents have been pushing back at the idea of building the school at the site of the Clifton Heights Athletic Field on North Springfield Road. But at a standing-room-only public meeting, the Upper Darby School Board gave a thumbs-up to a study to see what it would look like if they went ahead with construction.
The district says another middle school is necessary because of overcrowding at the two existing schools, Drexel Hill and Beverly Hills Middle Schools.
Residents like Dawn are not happy that the fields are even being considered.
“Another spot, not our field. It’s our only open green space we have. It’s the only land we have left and it’s the heart of Clifton,” she said at the meeting. “Please, Clifton will not be the same without that field. Please. I’m begging all of you, please.”
Another woman said residents are all for smaller class sizes and high-quality education, but they ask: Why not just pour more resources into existing facilitites that really need it?
“We have buildings deteriorating,” she said. “And if you walk through — we came for a visit here at the high school. We were walking around buckets, because the roofs are leaking.”
Others spoke about why they’re so attached to the field. One man said, “Don’t uproot history.”
It’s not just baseball, football and other sports being played at the fields. The Clifton Heights community has events there throughout the year, including the annual Fourth of July fireworks.
The school district actually owns the land and has been leasing the fields to the borough for a dollar a year since 1977. District officials say, if they build elsewhere, they’ll have to spend a lot more money because they’ll have to buy property.
“here wasn’t one person that spoke last night from Clifton Heights Borough that wasn’t passionately against them putting a school on the field,” Clifton Heights Mayor Joseph Lombardo said. “I would love the opportunity for our Borough officials to sit down with the school board to explore other options that we believe are out there.”
If the middle school will be built, officials have thrown around summer 2022 for it to open. Officials say this study will cost up to $60,000.