Planning Commission Employee Takes on Open Space Coordination Role

Whether she is tending to her garden in rural East Vincent or making phone calls from her desk in West Goshen to land trusts and conservancies, one thing is for certain: Rachael Griffith has a strong appreciation for Chester County’s open space. And she’s looking forward to leading open space coordination efforts between the Chester County Planning Commission and other agencies.

Rachael is a Pennsylvania-registered landscape architect who has been a staff member at the county’s Planning Commission since December 2016. Rachael now will be handling open space coordination efforts for the county agency and will be the main point of contact for people with open space inquiries. She is available to answer questions about the Planning Commission’s Protected Open Space Tracking data

She said she feels “really lucky” to be taking on this role, especially since the topic of Open Space & the Environment was voted a very high priority by participants of the public survey for Landscapes3, the county’s next long-range comprehensive plan.

“Chester County and all the land trusts that are active here have done such a good job in preserving open space, and I think that makes my job easier,” said Rachael. “It’s also great that there’s so much public support for preserving open space.”

In addition to handling open space initiatives, Rachael is the project manager for a plan to extend the Chester Valley Trail westward across the county to connect with the future 29-mile multi-use Enola Low Grade Trail located just outside of Atglen in Lancaster County. The Chester Valley Trail West project includes eight Chester County municipalities: Caln, Downingtown, Coatesville, Valley, Parkesburg, Sadsbury, West Sadsbury, and Atglen.

The Enola Low Grade Trail eventually will link to the Northwest Lancaster River Trail that goes to Harrisburg. She said the Chester Valley Trail West is the last piece of trail that needs to be planned to create an interconnected trail network between Harrisburg and Philadelphia.

“Long-distance trails like that can have huge economic development benefits that come with them because people will travel hundreds of miles for a long trail,” she said.

There will be a public meeting about the Chester Valley Trail West project in mid-October and a public survey opening soon. Click here for more information about the project.

Prior to working for the Planning Commission, Rachael was a landscape architect for both large and small firms. She also was a designer and project manager for an environmental nonprofit organization. She has a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture from the Temple University School of Environmental Design. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public administration at the University of Pennsylvania.

Rachael loves all things homemade. She enjoys gardening and cooking and experiments with cheese making and herbal medicine making in her free time.

So how did Rachael gravitate toward this career?

“I’m the type of person who likes to see physical results from my work,” she said. “One of the most rewarding things is designing or planning for something and seeing it come to fruition.”

To contact Rachael, send an email to rgriffith@chesco.org or call 610-344-6285.

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