Kennett Square Borough launches initial plan to support the business community
By Steven Hoffman
At the June 15 Kennett Square Borough Council meeting, Mayor Matt Fetick shared his recommendations on some small steps the borough can take to support the business community as shops and restaurants reopen. Kennett Square Borough Council agreed with the recommendation to close the 100 block of East State Street to traffic on Thursday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., on Friday starting at 5 p.m., and all day Saturday and Sunday.
Closing the 100 block of East State Street will allow restaurants and retailers to expand their physical operations out onto the sidewalks and streets. This will allow for increased social distancing and safe practices and provide an opportunity for businesses to expand their allowable capacity and support more customers.
Thursday, June 18 was the first day that State Street was closed.
All the businesses will be required to comply with the Pennsylvania state guidelines on reopening and Chester County Health Department safety requirements, borough officials said.
Fetick said that this initial plan will be evaluated for its effectiveness with the potential to expand the closures and parking restrictions into additional blocks of the business district.
Fetick added that Historic Kennett Square has been actively seeking the input of businesses on how the borough can most effectively support them during this difficult time as shops and restaurants reopen following the economic shutdown that was prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Last week, Fetick also provided emergency relief allowing businesses to operate within their property boundaries, utilizing their parking lots and available space to conduct business outside. Additional relief was also granted for temporary signage.
The borough is also supporting two financial initiatives to help the local businesses. One is a small business loan program through the Borough’s Revolving Loan Fund. This loan is up to $10,000 and allows for businesses to access a low-cost loan to support their business operations. The loan is being administered by True Access Capital and all businesses are encouraged to apply. The Borough has made available up to $500,000 for this loan program.
The other initiative is a grant program which is available to businesses within the borough to support their ongoing operations. Grant applications are available through Historic Kennett Square and are available in both English and Spanish.
Fetick said that the borough will continue to look for ways to support the business community and to assist wherever possible. Recommendations and ideas are always welcome, and can be shared with Fetick at MayorFetick@KennettSquarePolice.org.
During the council meeting, there was some discussion about also closing the 100 block of West State Street to traffic for certain hours. However, some restaurants like Talula’s Table and Lily Asian Cuisine are very reliant on take-out orders right now, and it’s better for them to allow customers and delivery drivers to park close by. It’s difficult to take steps to help the downtown businesses because what might be useful for a few businesses could also hurt other businesses.
Fetick said that they have been sure to work with business owners throughout the process. The police chief, fire chief, and the emergency management coordinator will also be consulted whenever a street closing is considered.
Also at the council meeting, Kennett Square Borough Council approved a rental housing policy that outlined some goals and initiatives. The memorandum declares that Kennett Square Borough is interested in “promoting and establishing a diverse, sustainable, well-maintained, accessible and affordable range of rental housing stock available to residents of the borough. The borough understands that these goals require both short- and long-term efforts, in cooperation with all key stakeholders. The borough also recognizes that fostering these educational, land use and regulatory measures is vital for the betterment of the community. The borough has and shall continue to remain neutral on individual landlord tenant disputes, and no actions of the borough in this regard should be perceived to be determinations of any party rights thereunder (jurisdiction of which may vest elsewhere). The borough seeks a robust rental housing market that can provide safe, code-compliant housing, available to residents across all communities and economic income levels, and in a manner that provides stabile housing through both economic up- and downturns.”
Council member Mayra Zavala applauded the passage of the rental housing policy.
Kennett Square Borough Council authorized a grant application for funding to conduct a joint Act 537 Plan study. The last known sewer planning study was conducted in the 1990s, Kennett Square officials said. An update will help the borough plan to meet the current needs for sewer service in the area. There is a grant available that could pay for 50 percent of the study’s costs. The borough will be applying for the grant with Kennett Township, which is taking the lead in writing the grant application. The two municipalities will each be paying a portion of the costs of the study, with the actual amounts determined later on, once they determine how much work will be necessary for each municipality.
Borough council approved the proposed land-development plan for Red Clay Manor with several conditions, including the completion of a stormwater easement agreement and a stormwater operation maintenance agreement. Confirmation must also be received declaring that Kennett Township has no objection to the installation of the infiltration bed discharge piping on the Duran property. Final security must also be established in the amount of $1,327,870.05.
Borough council agreed to appoint Liam Warren as Kennett Square Borough’s representative to SECCRA. Warren had to resign from this post in August of 2019 because he was awarded a one-year scholarship by the Federation of German-American Clubs to study water sciences at the graduate level at the prestigious Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Karlsruhe, Germany. Due to the Pandemic, he is back in town and asked if he could begin a new term as the borough's representative to SECCRA, effective immediately. His new term would expire on Jan. 1, 2025.
Borough manager Joseph Scalise reported that work on the expansion of the parking garage is nearing a completion. Borough council approved the fifth change order, for $9,719 for a number of items that needed to be changed as work on the project progressed.
Scalise also said that the borough has plans to reopen its offices when Chester County is in the green phase and it is safe to do so.
During public comment, Kennett Square Borough resident John Thomas said that borough officials haven’t done enough to communicate with residents about the prevalence of the coronavirus in Kennett Square and the surrounding communities.
“Do more to let the public know what’s going on,” Thomas said.