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Chester County Press

Township to bid out projects for Kennett Greenway along Chandler Mill

06/27/2023 12:58PM ● By Richard Gaw

Photo by Richard L. Gaw            Kennett Township is continuing to pursue trail projects along Chandler Mill Road, as part of the construction of the Kennett Greenway. 

By Richard L. Gaw, Staff Writer

By a vote of 3-0 at their June 21 meeting, the Kennett Township Board of Supervisors authorized township Manager Eden Ratliff to execute a change order related to the final design and engineering of the Kennett Greenway along Chandler Mill Road.

The board approved a change order in the bidding documents to construct the Greenway from Oriole Drive to Hillendale Road; and two additional sections to be bid as bid alternates -- from Round Hill Road to the scenic lookout area along the Bucktoe Creek Preserve, and from Round Hill Road to the Chandler Mill Bridge.

In total, the total cost of the change order in the bidding process is $52,000.

The board’s authorization frees the township to proceed with the Greenway project to provide a multi-purpose path from the Falcons Lair neighborhood (Oriole Drive) to destinations on the Kennett Greenway. Further, the township will bid the last two alternate projects and make a determination to proceed with their construction dependent on their estimated costs.

The projects along Chandler Mill Road form a major component of the 14-mile Kennett Greenway that when completed will serve as a multi-purpose trail connector from the Borough of Kennett Square to Pennock Park, the Parrish Trail, Bucktoe Creek State Park, Stateline Woods Preserve and Auburn Valley State Park.

The projected cost of the trail’s construction along Chandler Mill Road is estimated to cost the township $5.196 million, which will call for the development of a six-foot-wide trail beside the length of the road.

In other township business

By a vote of 2 to 1, the board agreed to authorize supervisor Richard Leff to execute a mitigation credit commitment agreement with First Pennsylvania Resources, LLC for the amount of $42,000.

In providing a background on the agreement, Ratliff said that the Kennett Greenway project along Chandler Mill Road is nearing the point where the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is about to issue a permit to the township that will enable the project to be completed.

However, one of the conditions of granting permit issuance, he said, is that the township must have an agreement in place with a mitigation credit bank, where the township is required to purchase wetland mitigation credit for the project. Ratliff said that while the condition that requires municipalities to undertake wetland mitigation restoration efforts on projects like the Kennett Greenway is not new in Pennsylvania, purchasing credits to do so is a new concept, and one that will use the purchase of credits by other municipalities in the state to pay for various mitigation projects.

“As a matter of philosophy, some of the township’s staff and some of its consultants are in disagreement with this statute and new application of restoration efforts,” Ratliff said, “but the reason we are recommending [approval] is that it is a requirement in order for us to get the DEP permit so that we can proceed with the project."

The $42,000 purchase of credits will be sent to the Quaker Mitigation Bank, the cost of which will be regulated by the DEP and the Army Corps of Engineers.

“The issue that we have run into is that $42,000 in taxpayer funding is going to leave the township and go to another bank and do environmental improvements elsewhere in the commonwealth,” Ratliff said. “Whereas, if part of our project required us to create a wetland restoration work within our township, that is something that our citizens would probably embrace and probably have in the past.”

Referring to Ratliff’s comments as his argument, board Chairman Geoffrey Gamble opposed the condition that requires municipalities to purchase mitigation credits.

“The idea that we’re spending taxpayers’ money to improve wetlands in Erie, Pa. strikes me as not a very good bargain, even if improving something in our own township costs more,” Gamble said. “I just don’t like the deal. It just strikes me as environmental communism, and I’m not for it.”

Stevens asked Gamble to consider the “large picture” of the agreement in that the money placed into mitigation banks for projects around the commonwealth can, in fact, serve to benefit the township.

“In a hundred years, you may be right, but I am thinking of the here and now, and I think it will be a long, long time before we get paid back.”

While he agreed with Gamble’s assessment, Public Works Manager Ted Otteni said that the agreement helps the entire commonwealth.

“By putting it in into this bank, it sort of pools the wetland efforts, and instead of [the township digging] a hole on the top of Spar Hill somewhere, it is actually going toward the construction of a sizable wetland where wildlife can survive and allow the state to sustain itself in the future,” he said. “It will all go toward projects in Pennsylvania.”

The supervisors agreed unanimously to authorize township Ratliff to execute a work authorization with the infrastructural consulting firm AECOM for the development of Phase I of the Act 537 Plan, in the amount of $56,000. The authorization to initiate the work proposal – that will provide increased wastewater treatment capacity for the township and the Borough of Kennett Square – is required by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and is a necessary step toward DEP approval of an expanded wastewater treatment system. The project will be created in partnership between Pennoni and AECOM.

Janet Krevenas of Bird Town Pennsylvania and awarded the township with a plaque designating the municipality as one of 41 official Bird Towns in Pennsylvania, and provided the supervisors with an update of the organization’s many projects throughout the commonwealth.

Now owned by the Pennsylvania Audubon Council, Bird Town Pennsylvania works in partnership with local municipalities and like-minded organizations to promote community -based conservation actions to create a healthier, more sustainable environment for birds, wildlife and people.

Krevenas said that the organization has recently embarked on several new initiatives that include holding pop-up native plant gardens and sales; developing numerous proclamations, resolutions and ordinances; offering informational materials at table events; supporting and running community science programs; educating about invasive plants and running workshops for their removal; leading birding walks and holding speaker events; and providing education about storm water management, rain water garden design and reducing pesticide use.

Additional commentary

At the conclusion of his opening remarks, Gamble referred to the origins of the Juneteenth holiday in terms of the event that took place in Galveston, Tx. on June 19, 1865, when enslaved African Americans were proclaimed free. While the condition of slavery was largely confined to the southern states, Gamble said that Pennsylvania’s history should not absolved of the fact that it too was involved in slavery, until the Quakers intervened.

“In 1750, there were 6,000 slaves in Pennsylvania owned by Quakers and other residents,” he began. “A century before, even the Swedes and the Dutch had slaves in the Delaware Valley. The Quakers began to see that human servitude was not consistent with their beliefs, and in 1780, Pennsylvania passed the Gradual Abolition Act, which prohibited the buying and selling of slaves, but did not abolish slavery as an institution.

“By 1840, there were only 64 slaves left in the Commonwealth, and in 1850, the U.S. Census showed that there were none. As for the rest of the country, the 1860 U.S. Census showed there were 3,900,000 slaves in the United States, and they were all ‘gone with the wind’ by 1865.”

Gamble said that many forms of slavery still exist in the world; he estimated that the number of enslaved people number stands between 21 million to 45 million. Commonly referred to as modern day slavery or human trafficking, it appears in the form of sex trafficking, domestic servitude, forced and bonded labor, debt labor, child labor and forced marriage. He said that as of a recent estimate, there are 403,000 enslaved people in the U.S.

“Let me end with a quote from Confucius,” Gamble said. “’It does not matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop.’”

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