Update: Agnes Irwin responds Radnor-Irwin field suit

Agnes Irwin head of school, Mary F. Seppala, issued a statement Wednesday in response to the complaint filed in Delaware Count Common Pleas court by a group of area people calling themselves “Citizens to Keep Radnor Parks Public,” who are seeking to nullify the agreement reached between Radnor Township commissioners and Agnes Irwin for use of the township’s Memorial Park field.

The text of Seppala’s statement follows:

“We were disappointed to learn of the court filing in Delaware County regarding our lease agreement with Radnor Township for the use of Memorial Field.

“Agnes Irwin believes the lease agreement is a great example of an effective public-private partnership that truly serves the interests of both parties, the Radnor community and the School, as well as many others who will have the opportunity to play on the field.

“Agnes Irwin will renovate the field and share its use with Radnor Township. Publicly accessible areas, including the walking trails, will be maintained and remain open to the public at all times. It is our hope that Radnor residents will see this partnership as beneficial to all.”

The “Citizens” are seeking a declaratory judgment and injunction to stop Agnes Irwin from constructing the turf field, part of the bargain with the township, at the park on Matsonford Road.

Clint Stuntebeck, a former solicitor for Radnor Township’s zoning board and board-of-commissioners president, identified himself and Fronfield Crawford, a former township solicitor, as council for the plaintiffs. The complaint names five Radnor residents as plaintiffs.

Stuntebeck called the “Citizens” group, at present, “informal, 10-15 people. We hope to attract more people who are interested.”

Stuntebeck had said earlier that “not too many people knew about [the arrangement between the township and Agnes Irwin], and that the appearance of a “letter to the editor [of the Main Line Suburban Life] by Dave Humphrey” was his first indication of what was happening. Humphrey is one of the plaintiffs. The others are Al Murphy, Heather Murphy, Gayla McClusky and Thomas Ralph.

The text of the group’s press release follows:

“July 15, 2011. For Immediate Release: Citizens to Keep Radnor Parks Public announced today the filing of a Complaint in the Court of Common Pleas, Delaware County, Pa. seeking a Declaratory Judgment and Injunction against Radnor Township and Agnes Irwin School (AIS) in connection with a Lease granting AIS the right to construct a turf field and stadium and to use Radnor Memorial Park (land near the intersection of King of Prussia and Matsonford Roads originally donated to the Township by the Sun Company) to the exclusion of the public during designated time periods. The Complaint alleges that the Lease is illegal under Pennsylvania public trust laws, the Radnor Township Zoning Code and the Covenants Agreement among Radnor Township, the Radnor School District and Radnor Center Associates.

“Many members of the Citizens to Keep Radnor Parks Public are former members of Radnor Boards and Commissions, or other local civic organizations. Fronefield Crawford, Esquire, a former Solicitor for Radnor Township, and Clint Stuntebeck, Esquire, a former Solicitor for Radnor Township Zoning Board and a former President of the Radnor Board of Commissioners, are serving as Counsel for the Plaintiffs.”

The complaint names Radnor Township, Agnes Irwin and the four commissioners who voted in favor of the agreement, Hank Mahoney, Bill Spingler, Don Curley and John Nagle, as defendents.

Spingler, learning of the complaint, he said, for the first time last Friday, said “The problem is that it is public land. People lease the Willows for parties. We lease land all the time. This is a great public-private partnership…. I have no concern over this. We lease public land all the time for public use…. This isn’t anything unique.”

Curley said, “We’ll have to find out about it and then respond.”

The complaint asks for no money damages and is not a class-action suit.

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