Kennett buys land for township-owned park

Kennett Township has purchased 45 acres of land at a cost of almost $750,000 for a township-owned park, but the final cost may only be 10 percent of the price.

Township Manager Lisa Moore announced the deal during the Feb. 17 supervisors’ meeting, though the board did discuss the matter in a roundabout way in October. She said details couldn’t be released at the time because the deal hadn’t been finalized. The township closed on the property Friday, Feb. 12.

Anticipated uses for the park include trails, flower meadows, a dog park, a butterfly garden, and a place where kids can throw Frisbees and footballs and kick a soccer ball, Moore said. It will be open from dawn to dusk.

This will be the first park owned by Kennett Township. While Anson B. Nixon and Pennock parks are in the township, Kennett does not own them.

butterflyThe property — known as Barkingfield Farm —is adjacent to the township’s maintenance garage location at Bayard and Hillendale roads. Moore said the sale was a collaborative effort between Kennett’s Land Conservation Advisory Committee, Michael Pia Jr. and Stephanie Pia, the Deleeuw family, and The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County.

The total site is 56 acres. The Pias will keep 11 acres, and the township will get the rest. The price was $748,374, but according to Mike Guttman, the township’s grants program coordinator, the township is applying for grants from the state and Chester County totaling more than $673,000. Those grants would cover 90 percent of the purchase price.

Another first involved in the deal was the use of transfer of development rights, a move that Moore said would allow a high-density development in another “more suitable” area of the township.

Pia purchased the rights for the entire 56 acres, but will transfer those rights to a property on North Walnut Road for a multi-use development.

Citing the grant applications and transfer of development rights, Supervisors’ Chairman Scudder Stevens said the deal represents “a significant change in the way the township does business.”

That new way of doing business was also displayed in some resolutions passed by the board, resolutions to apply for grants involving other projects.

The supervisors approved a resolution to apply for a PECO grant for a nine-station fitness circuit system at Pennock Park. The grant — a joint application with the township and the Kennett Area Park and Recreation Board — is for $10,000 split between the two parties.

They also approved applying for another grant, for $50,000, through the Pennsylvania Municipal Assistance Program, which would cover the cost of developing alternative transportation — bicycling and walking paths — in the township and Kennett Square Borough as part of the Brandywine Creek Greenway Project.

Both resolutions passed 3-0.

Stevens said inter-municipal cooperation between Kennett and other neighboring municipalities is a way to join forces in applying for grants and sharing services.

“It’s a new way of looking at common problems,” Stevens said.

Earlier in the evening, Dan Maguire, the supervisor of technology services for the Kennett Consolidated School District, gave a brief presentation on how the school district is working to improve communication with the township.

He said the district is involved in a project to bring free high speed Internet to the entire community and that the district’s website is being improved to make it more appealing.

Those improvements, based on feedback from a community survey, include weather and emergency notification, improved site navigation, and parent and community resources.

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About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.



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