From background on the township’s trail network to an update on the Barnard House to mementos from the Locust Grove Schoolhouse, history in various forms dominated the Pocopson supervisors’ 1 ½-hour meeting on Monday, March 28.
The supervisors first heard from Sheila Fleming, a senior planner with the Brandywine Conservancy who provided insight into the township’s open space and trail planning. Fleming said in her 17 years with the conservancy, Pocopson has always been regarded as progressive in that area.
Fleming said the conservancy is working with Pocopson and 25 other municipalities on the Brandywine Creek Greenway. When completed, the trail would stretch from the Delaware state line, just south of Chadds Ford, to Honey Brook. In Pocopson, a segment of the 30-mile trail that extends from Routes 52 to 926, goes along the shoulder of Pocopson Road.
“For safety and enjoyment, we are trying to realign it so it’s off the road and closer to the creek,” she said.
She said the conservancy has been working with three property owners and most recently has focused its efforts on negotiating an easement with Lenape Forge. She said that no deal has been finalized and that it might be helpful to schedule a meeting with the company that includes a township representative.
If no agreement materializes with Lenape Forge, resident Scott Kirkland, president of the Riverside at Chadds Ford Homeowners’ Association, pointed out that his subdivision has an existing trail that parallels Pocopson Road. Although that trail is farther from the creek, Fleming said it was beneficial to have a backup option.
Fleming said her purpose in making the presentation was to ensure that the conservancy is “on the right track.” The supervisors said they appreciated her efforts and asked to be kept updated, agreeing that township secretary Susan Simone would continue to be the liaison for the project.
Another history project, the Barnard House, is nearing completion of the work necessary for the Kennett Underground Railroad Center to occupy its portion of the building. Once a stop on the Underground Railroad, the building was originally envisioned as the home of KURC as well as the township’s offices; however, the latter use has hit obstacles related to the building’s layout and renovation costs.
Public Works Director Mark Knightly said he expected to get a bid on the security system, one of the final requirements, later this week. Supervisors’ Chairwoman Ricki Stumpo said she was getting information on a cleaning service for the public bathroom in the building.
Stumpo asked Knightly if he would review the complaints about shoddy workmanship at the Barnard House presented to the board last year by resident Sean Rafferty. Knightly said he didn’t believe he was the best choice since he deems some of the examples subjective.
Supervisor Alice Balsama noted that if a contractor put nails through a roof that should have been clipped then someone should be able to identify that. Kirkland suggested checking with the manufacturer, who could then go after the contractor if the product were improperly installed.
Supervisor Elaine DiMonte said with a grant deadline looming next month, the board still needs to make decisions on which of the building’s windows to replace and whether they need to be historic or just energy-efficient. She said because of the board turnover, she planned to give the township’s treasurer information that would likely lead to an extension. "I don't want to give up the grant," she said.
Kris Firey-Poling, chair of the Historical Committee, presented a number of options the committee is considering to raise funds for the historic Locust Grove Schoolhouse renovations. The supervisors said the township solicitor had raised concerns about a couple of them, such as organizing a breakfast at Applebee’s restaurant and holding a cow pie bingo event; however, they expressed enthusiasm for the garage sale scheduled for May 21 and suggested speaking to the Founder’s Day committee about a proposed silent auction for that event.
The supervisors also applauded an initiative that Firey-Poling debuted at the meeting. She said Guy Land, one of the schoolhouse contractors, had suggested making use of the leftover slate from the installation of the schoolhouse blackboard. She said that suggestion morphed into a collaborative project that involved Mike Berkeihiser, a tech education teacher at Unionville High.
Firey-Poling credited Jake Mims, a junior at the high school and the son of two Historical Committee members, Sarah and Randy Mims, for the creation of about 50 engraved pieces in two sizes. On the first, the size of a coaster, Locust Grove Schoolhouse is printed along with the date: 1870. A larger rectangular design that could sit on an easel boasts an image of the schoolhouse, as well as the name and date.
Because Firey-Poling had just picked up the completed mementos, she said the committee would have to determine a nominal price, and the pieces would then be sold.
In other business, the supervisors authorized Knightly to purchase a $6,475 walk-behind blower and a $19,435 mower, both of which has been budgeted at $7,000 and $38,000 respectively.
The supervisors said preliminary land development plans for a Ducklings Early Learning Center on Winston Lane in the Riverside development, a proposal opposed by the HOA, would be discussed at the next supervisors’ meeting.
Gary Summers, chairman of the Pocopson Township Planning Commission, said documents presented at the March 14 supervisors’ meeting by the HOA’s attorney, did not necessitate further review. “We’ve done our job,” said Summers.
Finally, Stumpo urged residents to attend the PennDOT meeting on Wednesday night at Pocopson Elementary School, starting at 5:30 p.m. regarding the replacement of the Pocopson bridge.
Stumpo also asked Simone to request a job description from Donna Murray, director of the Kennett Public Library, for the library’s board of trustees. Once she receives that, Stumpo said she would interview the five residents seeking that position.
After the meeting, board members said they are still waiting for a response from the Chester County Commissioners regarding a meeting to discuss options for the Barnard House. When the county sold the building to the township for $1 in 2008, the purchase came with restrictions on its use that the supervisors want to clarify.