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Chester County Press

London Grove supervisors discuss planned State Road sidewalk project

06/13/2017 12:01PM ● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw
Staff Writer

With engineering drawings presenting two options to a planned sidewalk project for State Road in West Grove now in their hands, the London Grove Board of Supervisors made plans at their June 7 meeting to enlist the input of landowners along the road, as the project moves forward.
The drawings, submitted to the township by McMahon Associates, present two different options for a five-foot-wide sidewalk which, if built, will extend on the south side of State Road from Route 841-Wickerton Road to Schoolhouse Road, just before Avon Grove High School. One option would present a sidewalk that butts up against State Road, while a second option provides for a sidewalk and a two-foot grass buffer between State Road and the sidewalk.
While the board discussed the necessary punch-list items that normally accompany a project of this kind -- grant submissions, verification of right-aways and construction costs -- the most immediate priority, it agreed, will be to speak with those residents whose properties would be impacted, should the project received final approval. 
"When you're dealing with someone's personal property, I feel it's respectful to a) get them together and b) go to them directly and tell them exactly what's happening -- that we are going to the county, and we will be pulling the deed to their properties," supervisor Mike Pickel said. "I would rather deal with an angry resident who might have their property affected by this at step one and not step three, at a public meeting where we may have township residents who would not be directly affected by this, raising concerns."
McMahon Associates has also informed the township that it intends to schedule a similar meeting with residents. 
In other township business, the township received good marks for its compliance in a collaborative stormwater management pilot program, led by the White Clay Wild and Scenic River Program, and involving New Garden and London Britain and Franklin townships, and the Avondale and West Grove boroughs.
The program is being done with the support of the Environmental Finance Center at the University of Maryland and the Christina Watersheds Municipal Partnership, to reinforce the sustainability and viability of these waterways.
The presentation, introduced by Shane Morgan of the White Clay Watershed Association and township engineer Ron Ragan, provided an update of the township's role in meeting the total maximum daily load plan (TMDL) – required by the Department of Environmental Protection -- as a measure to clean up sediment and bacteria levels in watersheds throughout the region.
By all calculations spelled out by Morgan and Ragan, the township is meeting the goals of the program. It's in keeping with the township's first efforts to keep the levels of sediment and bacteria in the township low, that began in 1995 with the passage of an ordinance that required that Best Management Practice stormwater systems be installed.
“Initially, when we started this collaboration we thought everyone was going to have a huge load to reduce, and it's awesome that [London Grove Township] is being very proactive, and that it's looking like you don't really have to do much,” Morgan said. “You are very close to meeting your reductions, if not meeting them, for both nitrogen and sediment. You are in a position where other townships may come to you, and ask to do a project.
“It's kind of exciting for me as a watershed coordinator to see ordinances actually work, and now we have proof of it, in London Grove.”
The township has until Sept. 16 to submit its executive summary plan on how it plans to comply with requirements.
The board agreed to a motion to enlist the Kennett Square law firm of Lamb McErlane to assist the township in upcoming negotiations with the Heathland Hospitality group, the managing partner of the Inniscrone Golf Course.
"In discussions with the management company, we've had different conversations, [such as] if we choose to continue this relationship, how we want to structure it, and questions came up that we needed answers to that our solicitor could not answer, because he did not have the expertise," said board chairman Richard Scott-Harper.
The township will also use the firm to handle similar negotiations between the township and outside entities -- at an hourly rate.
Tom Szakas, a member of the township's environmental advisory board, was sworn in as the newest member of the board of supervisors.  He was chosen from a field of three candidates, all of whom were interviewed by the current board. Szakas' term will end on Dec. 31, 2017. If he wishes to pursue a full term beginning in 2018, he will need to obtain the recommendation of either the Republican or Democratic party of London Grove Township, in order to be placed on the November 2017 ballot.
Szakas moved with his family to Chester County from Colorado four years ago, and has lived in the township for the past two years. A former General Electric employee, Szakas is a trained chemist and has spent a part of his career studying analytic instrumentation and water testing quality around the globe.
Szakas replaces former supervisor Robert Weer, who resigned to assume the duties of the township's new fire marshal, which was formalized at the June 7 meeting. As part of the township's commitment to developing a codes department, Weer was also appointed as the township's assistant zoning officer, assistant codes enforcement officer and assistant floodplain administrator.
"One of the goals that this board wanted to develop a solid code department that would satisfy all of the health, welfare and safety issues in the township," said Scott-Harper. "Eventually, once this department gets up and running with staff, it should be self-sufficient."
The board agreed that beginning next month, the township will begin posting all right-to-know information requests being made to the township, on its website. The reports will be broken down according to name, the request and the amount of time being spent on the request. The reports will be published monthly.
Public Works Director Shane Kinsey reported to the board that Goddard Park was recently the site of vandalism, seen in the deposit of defecation in the rest rooms and the trash cans dumped and thrown into various locations, including the pond.
Kinsey also said that progress is moving forward on the construction of the township's new maintenance garage on Rose Hill Road, which is expected to be completed by Aug. 9.
Kinsey also said that PennDOT recommended that the township makes necessary repairs to the Hilton Road bridge. The project will likely be repaired at a later date, he said, and improvements will be made to the two-lane bridge's beams. It's among the seven county bridges identified by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission that should be receiving state inspection in the township.
The supervisors also shared news that PennDOT will make repairs to two township bridges. The Avondale Bridge on State Road will undergo reconstruction beginning in July and August and will be shut down until the Spring of 2018; and the Valley Road Bridge will also undergo construction beginning this summer, and will be closed to traffic until it is scheduled to re-open in the fall of 2018.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected] .