Staff input into Barnard House interior sought

For now, it’s back to the drawing board for the interior of the Barnard House, the Pocopson Township supervisors decided at Monday night’s meeting.

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Pocopson Township Code Enforcement Officer Richard Jensen discusses possible layouts of the interior of Barnard House.

The supervisors tabled a vote on a “scope of work” bid package from Melton Architects after discussion about the space dominated the 1½ -hour-long meeting. Work has been proceeding on the exterior of the building, an early 1800s stone house and a stop on the Underground Railroad that is being repurposed as the township’s administrative offices and a home for the Kennett Underground Railroad Museum.

Richard Jensen, the township’s code enforcement officer who is overseeing the project, explained that the supervisors and township staff need to decide how the inside space will be configured. “All of these rooms right now are in flux,” he said, pointing to plans that showed two different layouts.

Supervisors’ Chairman Barney Leonard said he supported the project but was uncomfortable approving more funds until the township’s employees had an opportunity to discuss their needs with the architect. He said the township’s current building falls short in many ways, and he believed Barnard House offers a solution as long as the details are planned carefully.

“It can’t fail,” he said. “We have too much at stake.” He added that the building “needs to serve the township at least 15 to 20 years.”

“I think we have a lot more work to do before bid packages,” Supervisor Ricki Stumpo said, citing security as one of several concerns about the layout. She said more than $600,000 has been spent on renovations so far.

Supervisor Georgia Brutscher pointed to one drawing that included a proposed addition that was eliminated because of its $400,000 price tag. She said a lot of progress has been made, and she recommended continuing to move forward by setting up a meeting with Melton and the township staff as soon as possible, a suggestion met with approval.

The 2015 budget includes $825,000 in projected costs and a $750,000 facilities loan that will be needed to cover them.

In other business, the supervisors heard about the difficulties of responding to noise complaints regarding dirt bikes. Jensen said he needs more information from residents who have complained, such as where the bikes appear to originate.

“At this point, it’s like chasing a ghost,” he said, noting that complaints frequently occur on weekends.

The supervisors applauded PennDOT’s recent announcement that it will install a traffic light at Route 52 and Pocopson Road during the Route 926 bridge reconstruction project, now slated to begin next spring. Leonard said Stumpo deserved credit for a two-year effort to make it happen.

A park reservation protocol submitted by the Parks, Recreation and Trails Committee received approval and will be posted on the township’s website, the supervisors said.

Public Works Director Mark Knightly reported that work on the township’s ball field is done and all the trails have been checked. The supervisors, who earlier read two letters from residents who praised the Public Works Department, approved his request for a boom mower, a $20,000 expenditure that had been placed in the capital budget. Previously, the township had been borrowing one from West Marlborough Township, Knightly said.

The supervisors also approved the expenditure of $1,100 to send two members of the township’s Historical Committee – Kris Firey-Poling and Sarah Mims – to a two-day conference in New York. They said the committee has the funds in its budget.

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