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East Marlborough Township buys land for new park

06/06/2013 02:49PM, Published by Administrator, Categories: In Print, Today, News


A New Park Could Be Here Soon.



On June 3, the East Marlborough Township Board of Supervisors authorized the purchase of 4.5 acres to complete the 26-acre park that will be located behind the post office on Route 82 in the village. The land, purchased from the Po-Mar-Lin Fire Company, includes an access road that will connect the park with Route 82.

The purchase price of $225,000 for the final acreage “is equal to the fair market value that was determined by an independent appraisal several months ago,” said board chairman Cuyler Walker. “The money comes from funds that the township has on hand for open space and recreation, and will not come from the general fund.”

The park project, which has been in the works for some time, could begin construction in early September if the bidding process and approvals go according to plan, said township engineer Jim Hatfield. “Once we begin, the construction should take about two months, so it's realistic to expect that this will be done by the end of the year,” he said.

Township manager Jane Laslo said on Tuesday morning that the first phase of the park will be pedestrian paths. "Ultimately, there will be a tot lot, picnic pavilion, exercise stations along the walking paths, as well as lookouts at environmentally sensitive areas, and some educational signage about the history of the area and the wildlife," she said.

The 26 acres of open fields and woods extends up to the back yards of houses on Wollaston Road and Merrimack Road.

"There was an old quarry down there," Laslo added, "and it's been used to dump trash for some time, so we have to clean that up. The land itself was where the circus used to come to town in the old days."

The parking lot that's in place behind the post office will remain, sparing the township the expense of building a new parking lot. The property includes the old engine house for the fire company that was most recently used by a church, next to the post office. There have been extensive renovations done inside the building, and plans for it are uncertain at this point, according to Laslo. A smaller outbuilding that used to house the Unionville Ambulance Company may be repurposed to hold park maintenance equipment, Laslo said.

The township will have responsibility for the park and the access driveway. The project will move ahead if the zoning board approves the details, Walker said. In the final vote, four board members approved the purchase of the piece of property, and board member Richard Hicks abstained. “I've been wanting this for some time, and I think it's a great thing for the fire company and for the residents of the township,” he said.

On Monday night, the board also approved a conditional use order for the TD Bank branch that will be constructed where the Burger King used to stand on the south side of Route 1. There was discussion of who was responsible for construction of sidewalks near the proposed 3,800-square-foot bank, which will have 31 parking spaces and a drive-up window. There was concern that a pedestrian bridge would have to be built over a stream that runs through the wooded area of the property, and a representative from TD Bank questioned what that expense might be, particularly if it is within the PennDOT right-of-way and must be built to PennDOT specifications. That issue will be discussed at a later meeting since cost estimates were not available.

The board approved final plans for a new, two-story storage building that will be built in a limited industrial area at 210 Gail Lane. Jim Fritsch of Regester Associates outlined the plan for the building, which will be used to store light bulbs and electrical fixtures. The board unanimously approved the plan.

Representatives from Longwood Gardens and Bancroft Construction asked the board to approve their land disturbance plan that's part of the reclamation of the meadow surrounding the old Route 52 near the gardens. Longwood will be renovating the farmhouse on the former Webb Farm property, and building several pedestrian bridges, walkways and shelters in the meadow. Longwood will also be planting some 1,800 new trees and restoring the native plants in the meadow. The project has already received approval from the Department of Environmental Protection. The board unanimously approved the proposal for the project, which is due to start construction on July 22.

The board also saw renderings by architect Brad Bernstein for a project at Hood's BBQ on Route 82 in the village of Unionville. Bernstein is proposing tearing down the white house that is attached to the restaurant, and extending the roofline of the one-story building, creating a more unified appearance. There will also be a porch added to the front of the building where patrons can sit, and plantings along Route 82 that will keep cars away. The narrow parking lot at the front of the restaurant is frequently too crowded, and cars have to back out onto busy Route 82.

Inside, there will be a new dining room and counter area, as well as new bathrooms, Bernstein said, and a rear door where takeout customers can walk up. The jumble of outbuildings behind Hood's will also be “cleaned up,” he said, and the whole project will fit within the present footprint of the business. There will be seating for 70 people in the new building, instead of 36 in the present space.

“From a safety standpoint, the way you've reconfigured the front of the building is a great improvement,” board chairman Walker said.

There will be variances needed, Walker added, since the parking lot does not include the number of spaces specified in local zoning ordinances, so the project must go before the zoning board. Hatfield suggested that Bernstein's plan would probably be approved since the improvements to the problematic site are so substantial.

“This will be a real improvement,” added board member Eddie Caudill.

Walker agreed, telling Bernstein, “Once you know what you need from the zoning board, you can come back before this board. But generally, I think the board sees this as an attractive change.”


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