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Longwood Gardens' renovations shared with supervisors

10/22/2014 07:52PM ● Published by Lev

By Richard L. Gaw

Staff Writer

 

Paul Redman, the executive director of Longwood Gardens, shared the concepts and future plans for the revitalization of the Gardens' main fountain, at the Kennett Board of Supervisors Oct. 15 meeting.

The project, currently in the beginning stages of restoration, encompasses six acres and is being done by Bancroft Construction, Redman said. Scheduled to be completed in 2017, the project will save 95 percent of the current historical structure, and will be restored piece by piece. Only 15 percent of the project, when finished, will be seen above the ground; the remaining percentage will involve the reconstruction of an underground city of plumbing, electrical and engineering – which will include underground water tanks that will enable the fountain to be functional throughout the year.

Redman said that during its two-year reconstruction phase, the fountain area will be the site of education workshops and tours that will enable guests to chart the fountain's progress.

This is the heart and core of Longwood, and we're not going to apologize for the construction, because this is something we're proud of and it's going to be such a wonderful thing when it's done,” Redman said.

The garden fountain, originally conceived by Longwood Gardens' founder Pierre S. du Pont, has been in full operation since 1931.

“Thanks to his innovation and great engineering mind, it has worked beautifully, but it's time for it to go to sleep for awhile, so that we can do some long overdue updates and repairs to it, so that we can reassemble it and bring it back to its legacy,” Redman said.

Redman was also the recipient of a letter of recommendation from the township, for being awarded the 2014 Wyck-Strickland Award, given annually to an individual who acknowledges progress and modernity while understanding and being sensitive to the past. Redman will receive the award in Oct. 29 ceremonies in Philadelphia.

“Your innovative vision for the future and respect for the past makes Longwood Gardens such an amazing place and an asset for community,” Board Chairman Scudder Stevens said, in reading from the proclamation. “We are so proud to have such an honorable and exemplary director of Longwood Gardens.”

In other township news, Mike Bontrager, chairman of the township's Sidewalk and Trails Committee, endorsed a pedestrian-only option for the Chandler Mill Bridge, a historic structure in the township.

“While understanding the inconvenience a pedestrian-only bridge creates for some residents, our view is that because of the ability to connect the bridge to other eased and to-be-eased lands, this represents an extraordinary opportunity for the Sidewalk and Trails Committee to further its mission of creating contiguous walking, jogging and recreational biking opportunities for the benefit of Kennett Township residents and the surrounding community,” Bontrager read from the committee's statement. “We respectfully urge the supervisors to choose the pedestrian-only option for the Chandler Mill Bridge.

The township's Safety Committee also weighed in on the bridge. “It is our opinion that the Chandler Mill Road be reopened as soon as possible to restore public safety and the public's right to access it,” Supervisor Robert Hammaker said, reading from the committee's statement. “Through closing forced by the closure of the bridge, this results in avoidable delays in providing emergency service. These avoidable delays can be life threatening. In addition, the public had to the right to enjoy  the Chandler Mill Bridge as a major thoroughfare before it was closed.”

The board will meet on Nov. 5 to decide whether or not to pursue the Chandler Mill Bridge as either a one-lane bridge or a pedestrian-only bridge.

Township Manager Lisa Moore gave an update on the now-closed Burnt Mill Bridge. She received notice form PennDOT that preliminary engineering phase for the revitalization of the bridge is now underway.

Moore also gave an update on the Marshall Bridge Road stabilization project, intended to reinforce the roadway that is being undercut by the Red Clay Creek stream bank. Currently, the township's engineering firm is meeting with the Department of Environmental Protection to review the permit requirements for the project. Once that is established, the project will move to the bidding process. Moore said that the stabilization project is scheduled to begin next year, and will take about three months.

Kennett Township Police Chief Albert McCarthy provided an update on the rash of burglary scams that have occurred lately throughout the township. McCarthy said that one scam involves a perpetrator – usually a woman – calling elderly women with information that a granddaughter has been involved in an accident, and requires $2,000 in bail money. The elderly women are then given a location where they an deliver the money to. McCarthy said that he has heard of four such incidents in the township. 

Another scam involves perpetrators coming to a home's front door, and convince the property owners to come outside and inform their where the property line is. While the property owner is pulled outside, another perpetrator enters the house and burglarizes the home.

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail rgaw@chestercounty.com

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