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Chester County Press

New Garden committees share updates with supervisors

03/03/2021 11:16AM ● By Richard Gaw

By Richard L. Gaw

Staff Writer

Representatives from three New Garden Township committees provided the township’s Board of Supervisors with news and notes that detailed their latest initiatives, during an online work session meeting held on March 1.

Don Peters and Chris Robinson of the Friends of the New Garden Trails provided the board with an update on the groups’ projects for 2021, which will include maintenance on the three trails along the White Clay Creek (Mill Race, Laurel Woods and Landenberg Junction); maintenance on the Airport Trail, located near the New Garden Flying Field; and exploring preliminary ideas for how it will reconfigure the Candlewyck Trail.

Projects slated for the future will include determining the scope of work for the nearly-completed Sproat Trail; designing a preliminary plan for the Hiles Trail; and participating in the trail development throughout the 137.5-acre Saint Anthony in the Hills property that the township owns.

Despite the work that the group has done to create several trails in the township, the maintenance of these properties comes with the need to fix weather-related structural issues that continue to arise. Peters said that the Landenberg Junction Trail currently has a sink hole beneath a picnic table, and despite volunteer efforts to fill the hole, the problem still exists.

In the Laurel Wood Trail, Peters said that stormwater erosion in the parking area and upper trail leading to the trail’s meadows has required the need for more gravel and stone to fill. In addition, the Mill Race Trail has experienced a major washout of its railroad bend that is about 100 feet long, ten feet wide and six feet deep.

More funding for Friends of the New Garden Trails?

Peters said that while the six-person leadership group of the Friends of the New Garden Trails continues to provide steerage for and maintenance of the township’s trail system, it continues to explore ways to increase the number of its volunteers, post COVID-19.

The need for more volunteers, Peters said, will be necessary to perform the heavy lifting goals of the group, such as the physical creation of trails that often requires the need for proper machinery and a younger volunteer demographic.

Open Space Review Board member Randy Lieberman expressed an even greater need for the township that ultimately affects the Friends of the New Garden Trails. The township’s aggressive work to create conservation easements – many of which leads to the growing tapestry of trails in New Garden -- requires a larger investment in the infrastructure necessary to build and maintain these trails, he said.

“[The Friends of the New Garden Trails] are out there with their own tools, with their own chainsaws, with their own weed whackers and their own shovels,” Lieberman said. “They have done a great job to date, but if New Garden plans to maximize the public benefit of these open space purchases, there is no way that they are going to be able to stay on top of this.

“If you want to have it done right, you’re going to have to have professionals,” he added.

Supervisor Steve Allaband recommended funneling a portion of the township’s Open Space Fund in order to pay for maintenance and planning on the trails – about $100,000 (25 percent) of the Open Space Fund’s $400,000 annual budget.

Township Solicitor Bill Christman and members of the Open Space Review Board (OSRB) reviewed and updated the OSRB’s property acquisition checklist, a 12-step procedure of protocols that is used during negotiations with township land owners to acquire their property for the purpose of placing a conservation easement on it.

In an effort to tighten up how it works with the Board of Supervisors, the OSRB appointed township Manager Ramsey Reiner as the township’s communication liaison to the board.

Township Planning Commission Chairperson Kris McLennan said that the seven-member group meets the fourth Wednesday of every month at 7:30 p.m. to review all township subdivision and land development plans prior to their going to the Board of Supervisors for approval.

She said the two active projects currently before the Commission are the Church Street Mews and the Thompson Road property.

Cost-cutting needs for township’s fire company

The supervisors also heard from Tom Quinn and Bill Shore from the Avondale Fire Company, who shared the company’s need to restructure its financial picture in the wake of the decision by London Grove Township last fall to choose the West Grove Fire Company as its single-source EMS provider for 2021. Consequently, the Avondale Fire Company has been left scrambling to find how to manage its services without the $300,000 in revenue it had been receiving from London Grove.

Quinn said London Grove’s decision has forced the company to rework its budget by exploring cost-cutting measures.

“What we’re trying to do is find out if we can operate without [London Grove’s contribution] at this point,” he said. “Can we afford to keep on moving forward, and what do we have to cut out in order to make it work? I want to look at what we have to work with, and whether we can live within those means.”

Quinn recommended that a township supervisor sit on the fire and EMS company’s board of directors, which he said would be a “huge value to the fire company and the township,” he said.

Board Chairman Pat Little asked Quinn and Shore, the company’s vice president, if the company is exploring additional ways it can improve its response time for fire and EMS incidents in the township.

“We try to make sure that an engine gets on the road before the three-minute time is up, which is based on the volunteers getting there in time to drive the rig out,” Quinn said. “We’re all short on manpower. Volunteering isn’t what it used to be, but we’re trying.”

Quinn called for the township to provide the Avondale Fire Department with an updated list of road and bridge closures.

“The time that it takes to get to an incident depends on knowing the state of the transportation routes, so keeping in touch with your people allows us to preplan that, so that everyone knows what they’re doing,” he said.

The purpose of the township’s work sessions will be to “connect the dots” between its various committees, in an effort to create more transparency and open up lines of communication. Additional work sessions in 2021 will be held on June 7, Sept. 7 and Dec. 6, beginning at 5 p.m.

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].