Residents ‘Get Re-Kennected’ to Greenway Trail
By Richard L. Gaw
To those local residents who have already made walking,
running or bicycling on the Kennett Greenway a regular component of their
routine, last Saturday’s “Get Re-Kennected” event sponsored by the Kennett Trails Alliance served as the marketing of trail features they have already
familiarized themselves with.
For those who were enjoying the easy accessibility to the natural beauty of the trail for the first time however, what they experienced on Oct. 3 may soon become a new and lasting ritual.
For four hours, several dozen visitors traversed the portion of the Greenway that stretches from Herb Pennock Park in Kennett Square to the newly-completed and now reopened Chandler Mill Bridge in Kennett Township – by way of the Parrish Trail.
Along the way, they stopped to visit five information stations, hosted by Crossfit Kennett; Friends of the New Garden Trails; CasaGuanajuato; two stations hosted by The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County; and Unknown Studio, a Baltimore-based landscape architecture and urban design company charged with the future development of the trail network.
“We’re working with [local partners associated with the Kennett Greenway] to think about establishing larger scale connections, and understanding how people might want to use the Greenway and what they want to connect to,” said Dana Kash, a landscape designer with Unknown Studio, who asked those who participated in the event to provide feedback for what they wanted to see on the trail. “It’s about creating place, making opportunities and how we may be able to make the trail a visually cohesive experience for people.
“A big consideration will be balancing accessibility with sustainability,” Kash added. “We’re determining how we will be able to make the trail accessible for someone who is differently mobile or for a mom with a stroller, while at the same time designing something that is environmentally responsible and stable.”
For Kennett Trails Executive Director Christina Norland, the continuing development of the Kennett Greenway has been generously supported by a consortium of partners that include Bike Kennett; the Chester County Planning Commission; East Marlborough, Kennett and New Garden townships; representatives from nearby New Castle County; and the Square Roots Collective.
Clear evidence of this collaboration was most recently seen on Sept. 16, when the Kennett Township Board of Supervisors approved a motion that will lock the township in partnership with the Kennett Borough in a joint grant application for a Multimodal Transportation Fund (MTF) in the amount of $1.8 million.
If the grant is awarded, the funding will go toward two key components of the Kennett Greenway Connectors Project: the reconstruction of Birch Street and the construction of the Magnolia Underpass.
Washington, D.C. resident Stephanie Almanza enjoyed the Kennett Greenway with her husband, two-year-old son, sister and parents Dot and Michael Bontrager, the founders of Square Roots Collective.
During her college summer of 2010, Almanza, a 2008 graduate of Kennett High School, was part of the earliest efforts made to engage local municipalities in the concept of pooling their many natural resources together in the formation of a connective trail system.
“The question was, would there be a possibility of creating a trail network that connected the downtown Kennett borough with the nearby township parks, greenways and eased land?” she said. “We started with what land the borough owned, what the Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County (TLC) had eased in conservation, and what additional parks were out there.
“At that time, the Parrish Trail was a parcel that wasn’t being used, but it made great sense as a natural corridor, a natural greenway and a part of a larger trail system. We began to explore how this relationship could work, and so we began having conversations and linking partners who hadn’t been linked before.”
While the Kennett Greenway is a constantly evolving canvas of open space parts carefully sewn together, Norland said that the trail networks’ core mission remains the same.
“We focus on several aspects of the trail, but a key one has to do with ‘connection,’” she said. “We are always asking, ‘How do we create this trail in a way that it connects people to each other, to community assets and services and to nature?’ The Greenway is designed to enable people from all different neighborhoods to get to a Kennett Square restaurant, to their appointments at La Communidad Hispana or to afterschool programs at The Garage Community & Youth Center.
“It all comes back to the core principle and commitment that we have to the community, which is that everyone, no matter whom they are and where they live, should have access to the places that help make their lives great.”
To learn more about
the Kennett Greenway, visit www.kennettgreenway.com.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected]