Walkable Chadds Ford takes step forward

The dream of strolling across the Brandywine Creek at the bridge near Fairville Road in Chadds Ford, stopping to view an art exhibit or admire the scenic vistas, and then taking a break to dine, shop or visit another attraction inched forward last week.

Despite an apparent hiatus of nearly a year, Walkable Chadds Ford remains a work in progress, said some of its organizers. Chadds Ford Township Manager Amanda Serock explained that a lot of work had to be done behind the scenes before the project could move forward, such as obtaining a $59,000 grant from the William Penn Foundation.

On Thursday, May 21, the first Action Committee meeting was held in the township building, attracting about a dozen participants, including a representative from PennDOT and the Delaware County Planning Department.

In May 2015, the Chadds Ford Township Board of Supervisors accepted the Walkable Chadds Ford Village Master Plan, which aims to connect the village’s myriad offerings by adding pedestrian-friendly walkways and beckoning prospective visitors with attractive plantings and signage.

Prepared by Peter Simone, a landscape architect with Simone Collins, the 65-page master plan outlines a host of recommendations for creating a more inviting, pedestrian-friendly community. Funding came from the Brandywine Conservancy, a consultant on the project, and the William Penn Foundation.

The Chadds Ford supervisors hired the engineering firm of Kelly & Close to assist them in evaluating the plan and guiding them to prepare grant applications to get portions of the plan funded.

“It’s expensive,” acknowledged Chadds Ford Township Open Space Committee Chairman Debbie Reardon. “We’re just going to have to be creative. If we can milk a dry cow, we will do it to get this done.” [something missing in quote]

Serock agreed. “Our goal is to maximize taxpayer dollars,” she said.

Some of the plan’s recommendations include possible zoning changes, adding a traffic light at Route 1 and South Creek Road, and changing Station Way Road from one-way northbound to one-way southbound.

Jim Leader of Leader’s Sunoco, located at the corner of Route 1 and Station Way Road, said that change would hurt his business.

Virginia A. Logan, executive director of the Brandywine Conservancy and Museum of Art, said she was initially surprised by that recommendation. “I figured if there was a way to make it work, fine, but we definitely don’t want to negatively impact the community,” she said.

Beth Burnam, a senior planner for the conservancy, agreed, pointing out that the plan is conceptual and subject to change. She also noted that the project is too big to rely and county and township funding and will require state and federal assistance. The number of prospective funding sources increases because the initiative is multi-municipal, spanning   two counties and two townships, Burnam said.

Other proposed ideas include installing a parking lot behind the Chadds Ford Post Office at 1620 Baltimore Pike, utilizing the old train tracks and bridge to extend pedestrian walkways to the elementary school in neighboring Pennsbury Township, adding traffic-calming devices, reducing the speed limit, and creating a boardwalk with periodic overlooks from Hank’s Restaurant to the Chadds Ford Historical Society.

As the project advances, Serock said a request-for-proposal (RFP) for a design is in progress, and Burnam said the existing roads would need to be surveyed.




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