Barnard House put on temporary hold again

For the second meeting in a row, concerns about the interior of the Barnard House surfaced during the Pocopson Township supervisors’ nearly two-hour meeting on Monday, April 27.


The Pocopson Township supervisors voted 2-1 to delay the bid package on the Barnard House interior to ensure that it meets the township's needs.

And, for the second time, the supervisors tabled a vote on a “scope of work” bid package from Melton Architects, despite assurances from Dennis Melton that all the remaining questions and details could be resolved as work progressed.

The early 1800s stone house, a stop on the Underground Railroad, is being repurposed as the township’s administrative offices and a home for the Kennett Underground Railroad Museum.

“I don’t think we’re ready for this,” said Supervisor Ricki Stumpo, noting that Melton had not addressed security or technology needs.

Although Supervisor Georgia Brutscher advocated moving forward with the “Phase 2 scope of work bid,” Supervisors’ Chairman Barney Leonard agreed with Stumpo. “It’s not quite done,” he said to Melton.

Leonard said he wanted to make sure that the interior layout met the township’s needs “to ensure a tight bid package” that would not lead to cost overruns. “We have to get the specifications right,” he said. “We don’t want to repeat the mistakes of Phase 1.”

He added that he had emailed Melton some suggestions and urged the other two supervisors to add their input.

“I will be very dedicated to working with the team to get it right,” said Melton, lamenting the fact that the project has been done “in pieces” that make it feel “a little ragged.”

Township officials have said that more than $600,000 has been spent on renovations so far, and the 2015 budget includes $825,000 in projected costs and a $750,000 facilities loan that will be needed to cover them.

In other news, the supervisors heard upbeat reports from the Kennett Library and the Founders Day Committee.

Donna Murray, the director of the Kennett Library, said exciting changes have occurred at the former Bayard Taylor library – including its new name. Although the library plans to move to a new facility in Kennett Township, that move is not imminent and so the current space has been spruced up. “We know we’re going to be there for five years,” Murray said.

She said the library, which has introduced many new programs, experienced a circulation increase during the first three months of 2015. She said that Spanish classes have proven popular and that the library now runs a mail-order service so that residents can receive materials at their homes at no cost.

Murray said 31 percent of Pocopson’s residents have a library card, and she urged the supervisors to support the library, noting that half of its operating budget comes from the seven townships and borough it serves.

“We’re a hip, happening library,” added Susan Mackey-Kallis, the library board’s president.

The supervisors said they would review the materials Murray and Mackey-Kallis supplied. “I think you’re doing a great job,” said Stumpo.

Colleen McKinney, Christine Hagen, and Karen Cresta said plans are underway for the township’s ninth annual Founders Day, a celebration that has been growing in popularity. It will feature improvements designed to make the experience even more positive, such as ensuring that participants will be able to see the fox hunt and replacing the pie-eating contest with a watermelon-eating competition.

Founders Day is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 27, at Pocopson Park. This year’s theme is “Harvesting a Great Community.” Applauding the theme, the supervisors voted unanimously to approve the committee’s operating budget of $9,816.33.

The supervisors grudgingly approved a change order for Wawaset Park for $29,520, primarily driven by federal Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, according to Brutscher. An additional $1,050 expense is also expected for the removal of a tree that came down. “I just wish the bleeding would stop,” Leonard said.

Finally, the supervisors reopened public comment at the end of the meeting to address concerns from Peter Photopoulos, a homeowner whose property had been discussed at the board’s March 23 meeting.

“I’m confused,” Photopoulos said, explaining that he believed the issue of drainage in the Cannon Hill subdivision had been resolved previously by multiple engineers.

Leonard said the board had authorized the township’s engineer to review documents regarding a 1983 drainage easement and make a recommendation, based upon complaints from other residents about stormwater runoff. He said the issue would be placed on the supervisors’ agenda once the report was completed.

Photopoulos said that he wanted to be informed when that occurs so he can make sure he attends the meeting, and he also said he did not want anyone on his property without his permission.

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