Supervisors commit to increasing open space in Kennett Township
● By Richard Gaw
Photo by Richard L. Gaw Kennett Township signed a resolution on July 17 that commits the township to explore ways of increasing the amount of open space by ten percent over the next 21 years. In October 2016, the township officially opened the 45-acre Barkingfield Park.
Kennett Township, one of the greenest municipalities in southeastern Pennsylvania, could be on course to become even greener in the future, thanks to its Board of Supervisors.
Scudder Stevens, Dr. Richard Leff and Whitney Hoffman voted unanimously at their July 17 meeting to adopt Resolution No. 2019-20, which sets into motion a series of open space aspirations for the township to achieve, that are contained within “Open Space, Trails & Parks Master Plan and Needs Assessment,” which was presented by land planner Tom Comitta at the meeting.
By adopting the resolution, the supervisors have created a long-term plan for the township that will include expanding the township's open space from 20 percent to 30 percent, through land acquisition, conservation easements and private partnerships with land owners.
The resolution also aims to:
* Create an additional 10 acres of active recreations pace and 10 more acres of passive recreation;
* Increase the number of township trails, and link them to existing trails;
* Continue to advocate for the stewardship of public and private open space; and
* Promote strategies and programs for public education and outreach.
In terms of land, the resolution gives the township the challenge of finding, acquiring and preserving an additional 668 acres of open space from 2019 through 2040, a 21-year timeline specified in Comitta's 80-page report. It said that additional property can be acquired through the use of 1) capital reserve funds; 2) proceeds from the Earned Income Tax for open space initiatives; 3) conservation easements; 4) the Recreation Fee-in-Lieu fund; and 5) grants from state and county agencies.
Affixing supervisors' signatures to the plan comes as little surprise, given that Kennett Township is already earning high marks for its commitment to preserving property, in association with several land preservation agencies and its own Land Conservation Advisory Committee. In 2018, in partnership with The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County, the township purchased the 63.8-acre Lord Howe/Speakman property and the 103-acre Spar Hill property next to it.
In 2016, the township purchased a 45-acre property from developer Michael Pia, Jr. that is now known as Barkingfield Park.
While the township's priorities in preserving open space remain strong, it's also high on the wish lists of many of its residents. Included in Comitta's report were the results of a questionnaire that 357 residents responded to, which placed expanding the township's trail network, preserving the rural character of the township and acquiring more open space at the top of their preferences.
In other township business, the board voted in favor of the township becoming one of six local municipalities who are contributing $2,000 each toward a $43,000 Vision Partnership Program to support ongoing efforts to promote the heritage of the Brandywine Battlefield. The county has committed $29,000 toward the initiative.
The board also signed on to an intergovernmental agreement with East Marlborough Township in order to make traffic-flow improvements at Cedarcroft Road, the Route 1 bypass and Route 82 – where the two municipalities connect.
The board tabled a decision on whether the township should fund a $6,400 architectural study for the historic Isaac Allen House, located at 427 McFarlan Road, until its next meeting in August. Township Historical Commission Chairman Sara Meadows told the board that the original structure was built in the 1750s, and in September 1777, British troops marched past it on their way to the Battle of the Brandywine.
The board also signed a resolution that authorizes the township to apply for a $2,036,880 grant from the Department of Community and Economic Development that will be used for the development of a roundabout at the Five Points intersection, where South Union Street, Kaolin Road, Old Kennett Road and Hillendale Road converge.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email firstname.lastname@example.org.