Kennett Township approves hiring of three full-time police officers
● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw, Staff Writer
Less than a half hour after he was formally sworn in as the new Police Chief for Kennett Township on July 15, Lydell Nolt received yet another gift, and it's likely to be a gift that will keep on giving.
By a vote of 2-1, the township's board of supervisors approved the hiring of up to three full-time police officers, who are expected to be vetted, interviewed, tested and hired to begin 40-hour-a-week positions, beginning in August, which will boost the department's coverage time during the 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. time period.
Township Manager Lisa Moore said that she and Nolt have begun interviewing potential candidates.
The current budget for the township police is $300,000, which represents the salary still being paid to now retired Police Chief McCarthy, as well as Nolt's salary and the salaries of two part-time officers. These additional appointments will add approximately $100,000 to the police department's annual budget.
Board chairman Scudder Stevens and supervisor Robert Hammaker voted in favor of the motion, while supervisor Richard Leff voted against. Although he agreed that the needs of the police department are growing, Leff believed that the force should grow at a more gradual rate – to hire two officers instead of three, he said.
"Previously up until ten years ago, we had no police force," Leff said. "Five years ago we had one [officer], and the last couple of years, we had two. I would be comfortable going up to the three and seeing how it went."
Stevens mentioned that when he first campaigned for supervisor, there was a lot of discussion on the need for a police force in the township, given that the State Police Avondale were nearby and could respond to calls quickly.
"My experience is that they are down the road, but they don't get here very quickly," said Stevens, who estimated that the average response time for the State Police to get to Kennett Township "is upwards of an hour."
"I don't find that adequate," Stevens said, who referred to a recent incident of group violence that occurred in the township in the late evening, and the slow response time of the State Police to the incident. "We have to be more proactive in order to protect our needs. [By hiring additional officers], our expectation grows from more than an hour to a couple of minutes [in response time].
"This is not an end decision," he said. "We can cut back. We can go forward. We have to be careful in what we do, but we have to establish a baseline."
In other township business, John Haedrich of the township's Greenway Project provided the supervisors with an update on the revised landscaping plans for the new restaurant that is being built by Hionis Properties on the Kennett Pike next to the Mendenhall Inn.
Haedrich said that in conversations he and fellow Greenway Project member Tom Nale had with the residents of the Deerfield development -- which is located just to the south of the new restaurant site -- did not believe that the revised plan provided enough of a buffer between the restaurant and the edge of the development. At the suggestion of the board, Haedrich and Nale met with the residents.
After a site visit and meetings between builders and property owners, Haedrich said that Hionis Properties would present a check in the amount of $5,000 to the township on or before Sept. 15, who will then forward those funds to the Deerfield Home Owners Association, in order to pay for the cost of planting buffer trees and plants adjacent to the restaurant. The purchase and plantings of these buffer materials will be coordinated according to the wishes of the Deerfield property owners.
The revision to the landscape plan is a win for the Deerfield residents, Hionis Properties and the township, Haedrich said.
"The plan is that we would go with this revised lansdcape plan, which we feel is compatible with what we're trying to achieve on the Greenway landscaping along the Kennett Pike," Haedrich said. "I think Hionis Properties feel that it's more compatible with what they want to achieve as far as having a high-quality restaurant, with the kind of landscaping you would want for a property along the Kennett Pike."
The board voted in favor of the amended landscape plan.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.