Sports complex proposed in New Garden Township
● By Richard Gaw
The New Garden Township Board of Supervisors listened to plans at their Oct. 15 meeting for the construction of a new indoor and outdoor recreational sports complex on a 9.4-acre wedge of property that connects two major roadways in the township.
The complex, which is currently being proposed on property owned by Eastern Athletic Clubs Realty, LLC and has been designed by Hillcrest Associates, is planned to be located at 163 Sheehan Road, in an area just south of the Hartefeld National Golf Course, that borders Kaolin Road (Route 7) to its east and Gap-Newport Pike (Route 41) to its south.
The company plans to build a 55,000-square-foot multi-purpose indoor sports building – highlighted by a white, boomerang-shaped roof – that will feature three full-size basketball courts, a front desk check-in area, meeting rooms, rest rooms and areas for sports performance training.
An adjacent 54,000-square-foot, multi-purpose outdoor athletic field, will be made of artificial or synthetic turf, and available for a variety of sports. The complex will also include 165 parking spaces and adequate landscaping and lighting.
The property site is located in the unified development district of the township, and included in a number of uses by right in that district is for recreational use, such as a fitness center, skating facility or sports facility, said attorney John Jaros, who is representing Eastern Athletic Clubs, Realty, LLC.
“This is a by-right use in this district, and we're here this evening in a sketch plan presentation to just give you the facts of what's being proposed,” Jaros told the board.
Alan J. Hill, president of Hillcrest Associates, told the board that he and others associated with the project have met with McMahon Associates, the township's traffic engineers, to discuss traffic access to and from the proposed site. Hill said that McMahon proposed a full-turn movement on the north side of the proposed facility, opposite the entrance to the Hartefeld residential community, and an access to Route 7 on the east side of the property.
Hill said that the design plan complies with all setback requirements for landscaping, building and parking; that a wetlands study has been done on the property; and that the site poses no environmental concerns.
Planned construction will be done in two phases: The first 30,000 square feet of the 55,000 square-foot indoor facility will be constructed first; and the construction of the remaining 25,000 square feet will follow.
Bob Carpenter, the spokesman for Eastern Athletic Clubs Realty, LLC, told the board that the proposed facility will not mimic – in infrastructure or mission – the nearby Hockessin Athletic Club, which he has owned since it first opened in June 2007. The new complex will not be a membership-based facility but used on a rental basis, he said, and will serve as the playing field for a variety of recreational basketball leagues and team- or individual-training sessions, for athletes of all ages.
“We feel that there is a strong demand in a facility like this,” Carpenter said.
The board recommended that Eastern Athletic Clubs Realty, LLC discuss their site plan with the township's Planning Commission.
In other township business, Michael C. Bucklin, a board member with the Brandywine Polo Club, told the supervisors that in an effort to help subsidize operating funds, the club is exploring the possibility of using the property on Polo Road as a site for weddings and special events. The club is planning to enter into a contract with Philadelphia-based Jeffrey A. Miller Catering to cater all events at the club.
Bucklin called the idea a “low-impact source of revenue” that would help offset the cost of maintaining the non-profit organization, and said that the club has no plans to change the existing facilities.
“We could take a portion of one of the barns and make it a wedding venue,” he said. “Barns are pretty exciting to brides right now and they're selling well, so the more rustic, the better. Our plan is to stay within our existing footprints, and use the same infrastructure that we already use for polo.”
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email firstname.lastname@example.org.