By Richard L. Gaw
In an effort to enhance its channels of information to its residents, New Garden Township is forming a six-member communications committee, it was announced at the Board of Supervisors meeting on March 17.
As part of its efforts, the committee will create and distribute an electronic newsletter for distribution to township residents, beginning with its first issue in June; will support the township's police department in creating surveys to residents related to various policing issues, as well as coordinate other township surveys; and develop a strategy for short- and long-term upgrades to the township's web site and social media connections.
In his presentation, committee member and supervisor Patrick Little said that a goal of the group will be to “go paperless. One of the reasons why we will be able to do this at low cost is that it's all going to be electronic,” he said. “Once we can get the web site in place, we don't have to wait for the newsletter. We can send out a special vote or a special event, and be able to communicate with those who have e-mail access.”
Eventually, Little said, the newsletter will be self-sufficient and will solicit advertising, in order to help defray any incidental costs, which is expected to include the cost of computer applications, as well as compensation for consultant Michael Mika.
Little said that the electronic newsletter will be written by township staff, and appointed and elected officials, with supervisors giving final approval on text. He said that the newsletter is not expected to include a “letters to the editor” section written by township residents. Rather, such letters may become a part of the social media the committee is expected to improve.
The committee is currently in the process of selecting appropriate – and secure – computer applications.
In addition to Little and Mika, the committee is made up of township webmaster Chris Robinson, township residents Stan Lukoff and Shane Morgan, and New Garden Police Chief Gerald Simpson. The members are in the process of coming up with an official name for the group. The board approved the start of the committee, as well as $5,000 in start-up funding.
In other township news, Township Solicitor Vince Pompo brought residents up to date on the issue of the planned White Clay Point town center on Gap-Newport Pike, as developed by the Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT). request for an appeal by PREIT to overturn a one-year-old order of the Court of Common Please of Chester County – one that ruled against PREIT's request to be allowed to convert the proposed White Clay Point development on Route 41 to condominiums without going through the appropriate procedures – was recently upheld. Should PREIT wish to proceed on litigation in a third attempt to overturn the ruling, Pompo said that the company would have to file with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court by March 29. To date, Pompo said that no action has been taken by PREIT.
Pompo said that State Sen. Andy Dinniman sent a letter on March 5 to the Regional Director of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), stating his disappointment with the DEP in giving the green light to Delaware-based Artesian to activate a well on Broad Run Road in Landenberg, in order to conduct a 72-hour aquifer test at the 225-foot-deep well sometime during the first quarter of 2014. Pompo said that in the letter, Dinniman wrote that activating the well is inconsistent with township ordinances and laws, and that the water should be used in support of existing homes in Pennsylvania.
In connection with the recent announcement that St. Anthony's in the Hills is exploring the possibility of starting a concert series, beginning this year on its Chester County campus off of Limestone Road, Pompo said that he is in the process of tightening the wording on a planned ordinance that regulates the holding of special events in the township.
The board passed a motion to approve a “Memorandum of Understanding” with Kennett Township -- as well as enter into an agreement with Kennett Township – on the development of the Cypress Street sidewalk project in Kennett Square. Under this agreement, the township will jointly apply with Kennett Township for a grant through the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission. If the grant is awarded, 80 percent of the funding necessary to complete the project -- which is estimated between $300,000 and $500,000 -- will be paid for by both the state and federal government transportation programs. The remaining 20 percent of construction costs would be split between the two townships.
Interim Township Manager Spence Andress said that New Garden's share of the project costs will be paid for with cash-on-hand, or from funds received through the elimination of certain line items in the township's budget.
The board gave approval to re-configure the intersection of Sheehan Road, Sharp Road and Gap-Newport Pike in the township, at a cost of $225,000. Last year, the previous board of supervisors expressed concern about developing a long-term plan for the intersection, which has for many township residents long been considered a safety hazard. The engineering firm of McMahon & Associates then presented the township with three options for the improvement of the intersection, one of which was selected by the previous board. Under the design of the chosen plan, the area will be converted from a Y-shaped intersection to a T-shaped configuration, and will include a traffic barrier, a quick curb link, as well as pavement removal and the addition of grass areas.
Andress said that the project will be paid for, in part, through a reduction in other township line items in the 2014 budget; through a shifting of priorities -- and subsequent funding -- in township road projects; as well as through cash on hand.
The project is expected to be completed in a matter of months, following final design approval and the acquisition of all permits.
The board also gave approval to the hiring of Jose G. Reyes and Ryan D. Kushner as part-time officers for the township's police department.