The York City Redevelopment Authority has reached an agreement with the Historic Newton Square Neighborhood Association allowing it to maintain an open lot
The York City Redevelopment Authority has reached an agreement with the Historic Newton Square Neighborhood Association allowing it to maintain an open lot at the corner of West Princess and South Newberry streets. (John A. Pavoncello photo)

The residents of a historic York City neighborhood are the new keepers of a city-owned vacant lot that's proved to be both desirable building space for developers and precious green space to the people who live near it.

The Historic Newton Square Neighborhood Association entered into an agreement with the city's Redevelopment Authority last week that will allow the group to preserve and main-

tain the lot at the corner of West Princess and South Newberry streets -- for now.

The agreement seemed to please members of the neighborhood association, though the RDA is maintaining its right to consider future development proposals.

"We are built up all throughout our neighborhood," said the group's president, Judy Eby. "It's really our only green space."

Neighbors use the space to walk their dogs and play football, Eby said.

Shilvosky Buffaloe, the city's deputy director of economic and community development, said the agreement resembles other agreements with neighborhood associations that plant community gardens on vacant, city-owned lots.

However, Buffaloe said, the RDA could receive proposals for the lot as it has in the past.

"We don't know what five years might bring," he said.

Andrew Paxton, a member of the RDA, said he is sympathetic to the neighborhood's desire to preserve its only green space. But, he said, the RDA must also recognize the "high value" of the property.

Any development must be a good fit for the neighborhood and the city, Paxton said.

RDA member Aaron Anderson said he is not eager to see the space developed unless the neighborhood wants it.

The neighborhood has endured various proposals over the years for the lot, "some of which have made people's hair turn gray," said resident Marcella Marshall.

"It's nice to have a little breathing space," she said.

For example, last year, a private Christian school submitted a proposal to the RDA to purchase the lot and build townhome-style houses for its teachers and administrators.

Some neighbors reacted with vehement opposition.

The RDA submitted a counter-proposal to Logos Academy, and the matter hasn't moved forward since, Buffaloe said.

Jason Lewis, the head of the school, did not return calls seeking comment.

-- Reach Erin James at ejames@york dispatch.com.