KAPA plans improvements for soccer fields in the park01/25/2021 11:21PM ● By Steven Hoffman
A presentation by the Kennett Area Park Authority (KAPA) topped the agenda for Kennett Square Borough Council during the meeting on Jan. 19.
Richard Lyon, the chair of KAPA, explained that the conditions of the soccer fields in the Anson B. Nixon Park have declined to the point where the Southern Chester County Soccer Association has moved on to other fields in the area. When the Southern Chester County Soccer Association wasn’t using the fields, they were usually open to the community.
There has been noticeable settlement of the fields which has led to the decline in quality. Last year, Lyon explained, KAPA members met with officials from the Southern Chester County Soccer Association, the Southeastern Chester County Refuse Authority (SECCRA), and Kennett Township manager Eden Ratliff to try and come up with a solution for the declining condition of the fields. The site was previously a landfill. Total remediation for the soccer fields is estimated to be more than $250,000.
Anson B. Nixon Park is owned and operated by KAPA. When the Southern Chester County Soccer Association found other venues to use, KAPA lost a significant source of revenues.
Lyon was joined by KAPA board members John Gaadt, Mark McGreevy, and Nancy Ayllon-Ramirez, all of whom talked about how the KAPA board believes there is a strong need for recreational soccer fields in the community, and they outlined some options on how KAPA can proceed.
Lyon explained that the KAPA board has approved a preliminary redesign that would have them develop two, high-quality irrigated sports fields on about three and a half acres of the 15 acres of land. Another approximate one-third of the 15 acres would be set aside for a meadow, woodlands, and pollinator gardens, while the remaining one-third of the land would be used for community agricultural crops. There is even an opportunity for an educational outreach component for the community agricultural crops.
Lyon explained that the concept for the natural habitat and agricultural cropping areas was inspired by the movie “Kiss the Ground” since farmland can not only be used for food production, but can also have a positive impact on climate change through carbon recapture practices.
While there is a lot of excitement about the potential for the meadows and gardens in the park, an essential component of the planning is ensuring that there are two good sports fields at the conclusion of the renovation project. A preliminary estimate of the renovation work on the sports fields is about $100,000. Lyon said that they are working to put the project out to bid and then they will have a better idea of the actual costs.
KAPA asked Kennett Square Borough Council to consider enacting a fee-in-lieu ordinance that would generate revenues that could be allocated for park improvements. As part of the land development process, a Pennsylvania municipality may require the developer to dedicate land to the municipality for park and recreation purposes. When it might not be possible to dedicate land, a fee-in-lieu of that dedication is possible. Council president Brenda Mercomes asked borough solicitor Michael Crotty to research fee-in-lieu ordinances.
Meanwhile, Lyon said, KAPA will be making a presentation to Kennett Township.
Council member Peter Waterkotte said that it would be a shame if residents didn’t have a place to play soccer in the borough.
Council member Ethan Cramer said that he’s had some discussions with KAPA about the situation prior to this meeting, and he encouraged the board members to make the presentation so that borough officials had a full understanding of the situation.
Lyon said that the importance of the park and its offerings can be seen every day by the large number of people who visit it.
“The park is an incredible part of this community,” Lyon said. “Our goal is to serve the community as best we can.”
SGR begins work on borough manager search
Council member Doug Doerfler reported that Strategic Government Resources, Inc. (SGR), the firm enlisted to facilitate a search for a new borough manager, has started its work by interviewing council members, borough staff members, and other stakeholders. This is being done in preparation for advertising the vacancy.
New commission member
Kennett Square Borough Council approved the appointment of Dwayne Bradley to the borough’s Human Relations Commission. Bradley, who has an extensive background in the corporate world, has been a resident of Kennett Square for 29 years.
Kennett Fire Company earns praise
During public comment, resident John Thomas lauded the work of the Kennett Fire Company. Thomas said that firefighters recently responded to a fire not far from where he lives, and he was able to see their work firsthand. They put out a fire at a row house and prevented it from spreading to other homes, Thomas said.
“They did a wonderful job on something that could have been tragic,” Thomas said.
To contact Staff Writer Steven Hoffman, email [email protected].
SLUG: Kennett Square Borough January 19