Kennett Borough gateway beautification project in early stages
● By Richard Gaw
The Kennett Township Board of Supervisors meetings on Sept. 5 and 19 introduced a new initiative, directed praise toward a township department and reluctantly paid tax on a historic home.
As part of his report to the board on Sept. 5, Nate Echeverria, the director of economic development for Historic Kennett Square, said the Historic Kennett Square's Design Committee, in collaboration with Kennett Township and the township's Environmental Advisory Committee, is in the very early stages of a collaboration with Longwood Gardens to create a gateway beautification project near the eastern entrance to Kennett Borough, at the grassy median area off of Route 1 on State Street.
While the project, Echeverria said, is still in its infancy, it's one that would, if implemented, create a meadow of tall grasses, wildflowers and other foliage in the triangle-shaped patch of ground that serves as the eastern entrance to the borough. Its concept would extend the landscaped appearance of Longwood Gardens and create a beautification link to the borough.
Projects of this shape and scope are in keeping with the objectives of the Design Committee, which coordinates downtown design concepts; helps to establish financial incentive programs for design improvements; and works with vendors to improve the design and appearance of the borough's business district.
The committee serves as a working component of the 2016 Kennett Region Economic Development Study, which implements the economic goals and recommendations of the borough, the township, in conjunction with county's comprehensive plan.
Echeverria announced that the Chester County Planning Commission will host a Planners Forum on Oct. 24 at Longwood Gardens, at which Longwood Gardens' Executive Director Paul Redmond will provide an update on current and future projects there. In addition, the forum will also invite representatives from the Chester County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
In other township business, the board voted 3-0 to adopt the 2015 international code that applies to the township's fire, building inspection, property maintenance, plumbing, electrical, mechanical and energy codes.
The board also appointed five individuals to its Architectural Review Committee. They include architect Ed Rahme, Marla Palmer and Jim Guthrie of the township's planning commission, township zoning officer Diane Hicks and Tom Comitta, the township's landscape architect.
At its Sept. 19 meeting, on the advice of township solicitor David Sander, the board agreed to pay a transfer tax in the approximate amount of $12,500, related to the township's purchase of the historic Fussell House in 2016.
By order of the Board of Finance and Revenue of Pennsylvania, $6,000 of the payment will go to the Commonwealth, $3,000 will be directed to the local school district, and the township will receive $3,200 back. Prior to the ruling, the issue was discussed at the Commonwealth Court and the State Supreme Court.
After weighing another option – which would have the township further appeal the ruling – the board felt that the cost of paying the tax [about $9,000] would be less than the anticipated legal costs of appealing the ruling.
“Our choice is the probability of spending a lot of money [to appeal], or to cut our losses and get on with things, so my inclination is to cut our losses,” said Board Chairman Scudder Stevens.
An estimated 650 township residents have signed up to be included on the 'No Solicitation' list, accessible from the township's website, that indicates that their address is off limits to door-to-door solicitations. Non-profit groups, religious organizations and political affiliations are exempt for the township's solicitation rules.
The Clifton Mill Bridge, closed on June 22 due to structural failure, is on the PennDOT's “funded” list. The township has not received a date for when repairs to the bridge will begin.
Responding to a question about the 597 incidents the department responded to in August, Police Chief Lydell Nolt led a discussion about the use – and effectiveness of – body cameras that are affixed to the uniforms of officers in the department.
“This technology has brought a whole new awakening to the officers, to just how valuable that footage is to them,” Nolt said. “As a police administrator, I find it very important to understand what our officers are doing, above and beyond somebody calling and making a request for service.”
Nolt said that an officer is required to activate their cameras during every police action, which is used to document each incident. A body camera also enables the department to capture interactions between officers and citizens. It's a teaching tool for officers as well, because it gives them an opportunity to study their working habits, and self-correct, if needed.
“We want these interactions to be as professional and positive as possible,” Nolt said. “It also gives a supervisor an opportunity to have a very valid conversation about what occurred [at a particular incident]. When a camera comes into play, it allows a supervisor to render, in his or her own opinion, to determine if there is a problem here, or not a problem here.”
The police department enjoyed a busy summer with appearances at several community service events, that included The Church of the Advent, the Rock the Park event at Anson B. Nixon Park, the Dog Days of Summer event, and an appearance at Longwood Gardens.
The police department will host a drug “Take-Back” event on Oct. 27, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the township building, that will allow residents to drop off unused prescription medication. The drugs will be collected, turned over to the Drug Enforcement Agency, and incinerated.
Public Works Director Roger Lysle and his six-member department received praise for their efforts during the recent late-summer storms that swept through the township and the region. During the heavy rains, they responded to emergency calls, removed fallen trees from roads, and repaired water pipes that had been obstructed from debris. Twenty minutes of a heavy rain, Lysle said, often translates into two-to-three-days' repair work for the department, and often delays progress on other projects, such as paving.
“The Police Department would like to thank the Public Works Department for their hard work throughout the summer, at all hours of the day,” Nolt said. “My officers have routinely called the department for storm-related incidents throughout the summer. We do appreciate their assistance. Their guys have to be on call. No one likes to get those calls at two in the morning, but that department works together, seamlessly.”
“The public's respect is very high for us, and we hope to continue to treat everyone as we would want to be treated,” Lysle said. “We try to do the best we can, and safety is our highest priority.”
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email firstname.lastname@example.org.