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Chester County Press

Kennett Square church to be demolished

05/23/2023 03:38PM ● By Richard Gaw

Photo by Richard L. Gaw         The Kennett Township Board of Supervisors voted at their May 17 meeting to act on the recommendation of the township’s Planning Commission to move forward with the demolition of the Christ Temple Church on Rosedale Road.

By Richard L. Gaw, Staff Writer

As Kennett Square’s infrastructure changes to reflect its surging growth, pieces of its past fade from view, and one part of that past will soon be the Christ Temple Church on 551 Rosedale Road in Kennett Township.

The township’s Board of Supervisors voted at their May 17 meeting to approve the demolition of the building,

On April 26, Karen Marshall and Linda Dillow of the township’s Historic Commission met with Pat Muller and Anne Verplanck of the township’s Planning Commission, Bob’s Cranes owner Richard Nichols and Robert Bowers, a representative from the church, to discuss Nichols’ request to have the structure demolished.

Built in 1950, the structure does not meet the criteria to be considered on the National Register for Historic Places, and has been severely damaged from time and neglect. The Historical Commission remarked in their report that the building’s roof is sagging, its chimney is out of plumb, a side wall is bulging and side walls appear to be on the verge of collapse.

As stated in the Historic Commission’s report, the congregation – who has not met at the church for the past several years -- cannot afford the cost of repairs, some of which have been estimated to be over $150,000.

The group also met with Richard Nichols of Bob’s Cranes -- whose property borders the church – to discuss his purchase of the site and his request to have the building demolished. Nichols, the report said, has a long-standing relationship with the congregation and said that he plans to retain the church sign, and its semi-circular steps and apron leading the building – as well as create a commemorative marker to reflect the plot’s prior usage as a house of faith.

At their May 4 meeting, the Historic Commission considered Nichols’ request and unanimously recommended to the Planning Commission that the demolition permit be granted, with the understanding that Nichols would continue to work with the Historic Commission on his plans to preserve structural components of the church.

The date of the demolition has not yet been determined.

Local agency provided assistance to nearly 500 township residents

Kennett Area Community Service (KACS) Executive Director Leah Reynolds gave the supervisors a post-pandemic update on the organization that included its work in providing emergency housing assistance; crisis and case management services; its food cupboard; its association with several local agencies; and the workshops it provides.

The community’s need for food, Reynolds told the board, continues to be staggering. In the 2021-22 fiscal year, KACS Food Cupboard provided food to 4,119 individuals: 427 seniors, 2,350 adults and 1,342 children, who received over 616,002 pounds of food.

The community’s need for services does not stop at the KACS Food Cupboard. In 2022, KACS provided emergency assistance support for 1,665 individuals: 136 seniors, 912 adults and 617 children.

Reynolds told the board that during the 2021-22 fiscal year, KACS provided food, emergency assistance and crisis services to 490 unduplicated individuals who live in Kennett Township – a total of $480,248 in support.

While acknowledging the $5,000 contribution the township made to KACS in the last fiscal years “as really a very small amount of money,” board chairman Geoffrey Gamble said that the township will be looking at larger ways of supporting the agency “with the resources that we have.”

“We continue to be humbled and amazed by the work that KACS does in and for the community,” supervisor Scudder Stevens told Reynolds. “It is such a crucial and important effort, and we thank you for that continuing effort that has been going on for years. The organization and all of its permutations and personalities has been a meaningful force in the community, and we thank you for that.

“We acknowledge that we have in various ways in the past supported KACS, and we fully intend to continue to support KACS. What that means every year as we deal with budgets and other sorts of requests will evolve as time goes on, but it is certainly our intention and our goal to do that.”

“We have fantastic partners [in the non-profit sector],” Reynolds said. “That’s why this community is healthy and robust. To continue to enjoy that, there needs to be more intentional investment in these different non-profits.”

Reynolds said that when KACS moves from its current location on Cedar Street in the Kennett Square Borough to its new home on West Cypress Street in the township – estimated to be in the summer of 2025 – the organization will have the opportunity to convert its Cedar Street location into affordable housing units.

In other township business, Public Works Director Ted Otteni announced that staff member Jeff Lawrence has retired after 18 years of service to the township.

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