Borough Council welcomes 5 members

The contentious 2016 budget that caused sparks at the Dec. 8 Kennett Square Borough Council meeting was barely mentioned on Tuesday, Jan. 4, as Borough Council convened at the Kennett Fire Company.

Kennett Square Borough Mayor Matt Fetick (right) administers the oath of office to Councilman Jamie Mallon.

Kennett Square Borough Mayor Matt Fetick (right) administers the oath of office to Councilman Jamie Mallon.

Mayor Matt Fetick opened the first meeting of 2016 by explaining that it would begin with a reorganization – one that represents a significant change. New Borough Council members Wayne Braffman, Doug Doerfler and Jamie Mallon were sworn in and joined incumbents Danilo Maffei and Geoffrey Bosley at the front of the room.

Council voted Maffei as the new president, and Bosley as vice president. Maffei pledged to “discharge his duties with fidelity” and shared that, while the other new members were reciting the oath of office, he repeated the oath silently to himself.

Stepping out of agenda order, Maffei invited public comment. All of the speakers congratulated the newly elected councilmen and thanked them for serving.

Resident John Thomas, one of more than 40 people who attended the meeting, expressed his disappointment that there had been no discussion prior to voting on the two new Borough Council members or the newly elected leadership and added that he hopes for positive changes in the borough.

Danilo Maffei, one of only two returning Borough Council members, is elected president during the council's reorganization meeting. returning

Danilo Maffei, one of only two returning Borough Council members, is elected president during the council's reorganization meeting.

Charla Watson shared the quote, “When all minds are thinking alike, then nobody’s thinking at all.” She continued, “When you consider the next two people for the council, consider experience, a variety of professional backgrounds, education and age – particularly pay attention to people with wisdom.”

Walker also expressed disappointment that outgoing Council President Leon Spencer and other councilmen who recently stepped down did not attend the meeting to wish the new council well. Lastly, she referenced the Sunshine Laws and cautioned against holding secret executive meetings where it seems decisions are made in private.

Jenifer MacFarland echoed Watson’s statements and asked if in the future borough residents could be advised when executive meetings are held.

Jeannie Jims read a prepared proposal for semi-annual meetings with the Borough Council. She would like to see interactive conversations between council and residents on matters such as the proposed parking garage. She also asked Borough Council to be fiscally conservative in its spending.

Ken Edwards shared his frustration with his sidewalk’s flooding during heavy rains as well as the use of a narrow passageway behind his property. He said some are using the alley as a road, which he called dangerous, and he asked Borough Council to look into both problems.

LaToya Myers (left) accepts congratulations from Kennett Square Mayor Matt Fetick after her appointment to Borough Council.

LaToya Myers (left) accepts congratulations from Kennett Square Mayor Matt Fetick after her appointment to Borough Council.

Edwards also asked for intervention on what he calls “moochers” – people who take from the borough but do not contribute anything to support its financial health. He cited two examples: “the pool guy” who buys water from the borough at a discount, and the YMCA, which charges residents to use its facilities while causing increased expenses for the borough, such as a new sewer system.

Before returning to the agenda, Maffei said that it was always good to hear from constituents. He then proceeded to fill the vacancies created when two former Borough Council members resigned recently. LaToya Myers, executive director of the Joseph and Sarah Carter Community Development Corporation (CDC), and Ethan Cramer, a Carter CDC board member, were both sworn in and took seats with the other members.

The Carter CDC, formerly the Historic East Linden Project, has been credited with dramatically revitalizing the historic, culturally diverse neighborhood surrounding East Linden Street.

Newly appointed Borough Councilman Ethan Cramer (left) is sworn in by Kennett Square Mayor Matt Fetick.

Newly appointed Borough Councilman Ethan Cramer (left) is sworn in by Kennett Square Mayor Matt Fetick.

During discussion prior to Cramer’s taking the oath of office, Braffman noted the “elephant in the borough” (the significant Latino population) and the need for Latinos to be represented on Borough Council. Maffei explained that two Latinos had submitted letters of interest to join the council, but then rescinded their applications. Braffman pointed out that Cramer is very familiar and friendly with the Latino community and could be viewed as a bridge – one of many to come – that will lead to meaningful future connections.

Maffei expressed his appreciation to the new Borough Council members and led attendees in a round of applause for the democratic process.

Reports were presented by leaders of various boards and commissions. It was announced that two Town Hall meetings are scheduled for 2016. The first will be in February, and when the date is finalized, there will be adequate public notice so all residents can attend.

Highlights of the reports were the activities and positive changes for 2016 for the Kennett Area Park Authority (Agnes B. Nixon Park) and the Kennett Area Park and Recreation Board (Herb Pennock Park). Organizers of the Third Annual New Year’s Eve Mushroom Drop garnered praise for staging another successful event with no major problems.

Principals from ANCHOR Life + Fitness presented their request for relief of eight parking spaces, a request that was granted.

Responding to concerns shared by residents earlier in the evening, Maffei said executive sessions are only held in emergencies on matters involving salaries, personnel, or real-estate purchases. The results of these discussions are typically announced directly after the meeting. He assured those present that Borough Council members do follow and will continue to follow Sunshine Laws.

With his wife, Sally Braffman, holding the Bible, Borough Councilman Wayne Braffman (left) is sworn in by Kennett Square Mayor Matt Fetick.

With his wife, Sally Braffman, holding the Bible, Borough Councilman Wayne Braffman (left) is sworn in by Kennett Square Mayor Matt Fetick.

Regarding Edward’s sidewalk and the alley/cut through, Maffei explained that the streets built during Colonial times did not take into consideration school buses and delivery trucks. He went on to explain that an ad hoc Streetscape Committee would review sidewalk construction, sidewalk network, shade trees and more and report their findings to the council for action.

In closing, Maffei encouraged anyone who has an interest in serving on the borough's Streetscape Committee to submit a letter of interest with a resume by the close of the business day on Jan. 26. He said Borough Council wants individuals with unique backgrounds, strengths and viewpoints who will join together to work as a team.

 

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About Lora B. Englehart

Lora has a passion for art, gardening, yoga, music and dancing. She continues to research the life of locally born abolitionist and 1998 National Women's Hall of Fame inductee Mary Ann Shadd Cary. She is a dedicated community volunteer, working with the American Association of University Women, Wilmington, DE branch (programs chair), Chadds Ford Historical Society (former board member) and Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art. Lora lives in Birmingham Township with her husband Bill and son Brad. Daughter Erika lives in Pittsburgh with husband Bob and baby Wilhelmina. She is a former French, Spanish and ESL teacher, bilingual life insurance underwriter and public relations coordinator for Delaware Art Museum and Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art.

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