In December, the Lower Merion Board of School Directors announced its plan to acquire two properties for field space for the new middle school planned for 1860 Montgomery Avenue. An amicable settlement has been finalized with the former owner of the property at 1800 W. Montgomery Avenue. However, the same cannot be said for the property at 1835 County Line Road.
Throughout the month of January, District representatives engaged in good faith settlement discussions with John Bennett and Nance Di Rocco, who owned the property at 1835 County Line Road and had planned to sell it to Villanova University. The School Board authorized paying up to $9.95 million for the property and approved a lease permitting Dr. Bennett and Ms. Di Rocco to stay on the property through May 2023. Settlement negotiations had to be put on hold due to Dr. Bennett and Ms. Di Rocco having an outstanding mortgage on the property.
This month, the District was dismayed to receive notification from an attorney representing Dr. Bennett and Ms. Di Rocco, stating that they are planning to go to court to stop the District from retaining title to the property. The attorney's communication further stated that Dr. Bennett and Ms. Di Rocco wanted to go ahead with the sale of their property to Villanova. In the cover letter, the attorney wrote that his clients would, however, agree to a full resolution of their claim if the District agreed to "a quick sale for $12.9 million."
The District remains hopeful that an amicable settlement can be reached in connection with its acquisition of 1835 County Line Road, but the Board will not spend nearly $3 million more than it has already approved for the sake of expediency. The Board reserves all rights and remedies in connection with any further litigation to the extent pursued by Dr. Bennett and Ms. Di Rocco.