Native Meadow to be Installed at Abington’s Deal Memorial Park

By Erin Landis, Water Programs Manager

Deal Memorial Park is a 1.9-acre open space area that runs alongside the Sandy Run in Abington. The land was acquired by Abington Township in 1998 under tragic circumstances. A sudden deluge of rain in 1996 caused the Sandy Run to rise quickly – some reports stated that it rained over 8 inches in 2 hours! The intense thunderstorm flooded 200 homes and caused 1 million dollars in damages to Roslyn Elementary School, but the biggest loss by far was of Francis and Marie Deal, a couple who lost their lives in their home in the flood.


Multiple houses, including the Deals’, were purchased by Abington Township through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Hazard Mitigation Grant Program in 1998. This program funds the purchase of homes, which are then demolished, and the land remains open space in perpetuity. This program prevents future loss of life and infrastructure from further flooding. Since 1998, Deal Memorial Park has been open space and maintained as a lawn area, with a few large shade trees.


But the Park will soon be looking different! Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) is working with Abington Township and the ecological restoration company ArcheWild® to install a native meadow in the park! Within a few years, the park should support attractive native grasses and flowers, which will require minimal maintenance long-term and provide many benefits. A walking path will be regularly mowed so that people can use the park and enjoy the beautiful meadow. The meadow installation project is being fully paid for through a grant that PEC received from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Following 2024 installation activities, Abington Township will take on meadow establishment and maintenance responsibilities.


The meadow conversion has many benefits, but given the history of the park, perhaps the most critical is addressing flooding! Stormwater, or water that runs off our roofs, roads, and lawns during storms, is the main cause of flooding. Mowed grass does not absorb much water during rainfall because turf grass roots are very shallow (just a few inches) which does not allow for much water absorption. Regularly used heavy mowing equipment further compacts the soil, which prevents water from soaking into the ground and creates more water runoff. The meadow will be full of plants that are deep-rooted and absorb lots of water. These plant roots loosen soil and create pathways which allow water to better soak into the ground. Soils that are less compacted due to reduced mowing also can absorb more water. This lawn to meadow conversion will greatly enhance the land’s capacity to absorb stormwater and will take a small step towards reducing downstream flooding during future storms. Abington Township and partners like Wissahickon Trails are collaborating on other stormwater management practices along Sandy Run that seek to further reduce rainwater runoff to reduce flooding and stream bank erosion.


But those are not the only benefits! The meadow will be planted with ‘native’ plants, or plants that are indigenous to this area and have evolved to thrive in our region’s climate. ArcheWild® is carefully selecting specific plant species that will do well at this location. While the plant root systems will be providing much better stormwater management, the plants and meadow will also be providing habitat for birds and butterflies and supporting wildlife! The meadow will require less maintenance, with a reduced mowing schedule that will save the Township time and money.


Throughout spring 2024, ArcheWild® will prepare and install the meadow at Deal Memorial Park, which includes suppressing the turf grass and other non-desirable vegetation prior to sowing the native seeds. Although the mature meadow can take a few years to establish, the park will exhibit signs of germination this summer and continue to improve aesthetically and functionally each year. Other than dead grass, erosion control fencing, and exposed soil with a covering of straw, Deal Memorial Park will look largely unchanged during the initial establishment. Although the seeds will start to grow this summer, it will take a few years for the meadow to look vigorous and mature.


Although in the long-term, the meadow should require minimal maintenance, ArcheWild® and Abington Township will work to care for the meadow this summer to help ensure project success. We are excited to support this meadow installation and see how it grows and evolves over the next few years. Projects like this and others that manage stormwater aim to reduce the risk of future storms and flooding and the subsequent loss of life and infrastructure/property.


We would love to hear from neighbors and the Roslyn community on any questions or other input about the meadow project. Please reach out to at PEC, who is managing this project or Abington Township at to share your thoughts!