Kennett Square Borough Council addresses 120 North Broad Street demolition and more at meeting
By Steven Hoffman
Kennett Square Borough’s plans to build an expansion to the parking garage are moving forward, and now the borough’s Historical Architectural Review Board (HARB) approved—reluctantly—the application to demolish a borough-owned property at 120 North Broad Street to clear the way for that expansion.
At its July 2 meeting, borough council accepted a series of HARB recommendations, including the one pertaining to 120 North Broad Street.
The building has been vacant for a number of years, but previously served as a borough hall and as a district court.
As the owner of the building, Kennett Square Borough submitted a letter requesting a certificate of appropriateness for the demolition from the HARB. The letter noted that the original parking garage was designed with the eastern walls built to be removed so that the garage could be expanded to Broad Street. The demolition of the building at 120 North Broad will allow for up to 203 additional parking spaces for both public and private use.
“It is of great importance to the community to develop the parking garage as was intended over 20 years ago,” the borough’s letter stated. “Increasing available parking in the business district to support economic development will eliminate the potential for demolition of buildings on State Street and adjacent areas to support individual parking needs. Our desire to retain the library in the borough will displace 59 parking spaces from the lot on Willow and State streets. The vehicles will be relocated to this expansion area, allowing both the library to be constructed and preventing the permit holders from sprawling into residential areas or possibly reducing the available parking and eliminating jobs. Parking requirements often drive the ability for new development and can even restrict occupancy if not enough parking is available.”
The HARB stated in its written report to borough council that, “We recognize the proposed demolition of this historic resource is based on a recognized public municipal project, a parking structure expansion, that has been in the design and planning process long before the HARB and its ordinance has been in place, and is supported by leaders at every level of government, from the borough, county, and state.”
Clara Saxton, a member of the HARB board, explained that they recommended that council’s approval be granted under four conditions:
~ The borough provides a full and accurate documentation of the existing historic resource by producing a report that contains its history, accurate floor plans, elevations, and pictures of the current and historic site;
~ The borough provides options for the salvage and reuse or archive of architectural elements of the historic resource within the borough, including items like bricks, windows, and jail cells, etc. These options will be reviewed by the HARB and then recommended for approval by the borough council prior to the demolition;
~ The borough provides options for creative ways to honor the borough’s lost history by incorporating it into the new parking structure…including some of the salvaged items;
~ The borough provides options for historical markers and interpretative presentations at the site representing the historic resource that was lost.
Council member Wayne Braffman observed that, considering the building’s uses throughout its history, it wasn’t easy for the HARB to reach its decision. He added that he found all the recommendations for conditions to be reasonable. He suggested that the HARB assign a member to work with borough manager Joseph Scalise during the process of securing approval to demolish the building.
Council member Ethan Cramer noted that Kennett Square police officers William W. Davis and Richard J. Posey were slain in the line of duty on Nov. 15, 1972. The tragic crime took place outside the building at 120 North Broad, which was then the home of the borough’s police department.
Several residents expressed concerns about demolishing the building, and council president LaToya Myers encouraged residents to continue to share their views as the borough moves through the process of planning for the parking garage expansion.
At another point in the meeting, Braffman noted that Scalise looked into the possibility of putting a roof on the parking garage with solar panels on the top. The roof would alleviate some of the maintenance issues that the borough has with the top level of the garage, particularly when it snows. However, putting a roof on the parking garage is cost-prohibitive, Braffman said, and will not be pursued any further. Braffman added that the parking garage is being designed in such a way that a roof could be included in the future if grant money ever becomes available to the borough to do the job.
In his Finance Committee report, Braffman informed council that the preliminary work on developing a budget for 2019 is continuing. The Finance Committee met with Chief of Police Bill Holdsworth to discuss the police department budget for the next fiscal year.
Borough council approved the request for proposal for the solicitor position. Marc Jonas of Eastburn & Gray, P.C., the borough’s longtime solicitor, resigned in February, creating the vacancy. Borough council appointed William Gallagher, a partner with MacElree Harvey, as the solicitor on an interim basis. Council member Brenda Mercomes said that the borough prepared the request for proposal to fill the position on a permanent basis.
Borough council also authorized conditional offers of employment to police officers to fill two vacancies in the police department.