Faulty drainage basin frustrates Kennett Twp.

The Granite Ridge subdivision dominated a brief Kennett Township supervisors’ meeting on Wednesday, May 4.

Kennett Township Supervisor Whitney S. Hoffman (from left), Supervisors' Chairman Scudder G. Stevens, and Township Manager Lisa M. Moore discuss the Granite Ridge stormwater problem.

Kennett Township Supervisor Whitney S. Hoffman (from left), Supervisors' Chairman Scudder G. Stevens, and Township Manager Lisa M. Moore discuss the Granite Ridge drainage problem.

The development appeared twice on the agenda: once for an update on problems with a stormwater basin in the second phase, and again for the possible release of $245,633 in escrow funds for the first phase.

Both Township Manager Lisa M. Moore and Abbie Kessler, assistant preservation coordinator for The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County, expressed frustration with the developer’s failure to correct the fact that the basin has failed, adversely impacting neighboring properties. The conservancy has an easement on one of them.

Moore, who said she has had multiple communications with the owner, who has sometimes been unresponsive, said a pipe-cleaning is scheduled for Friday. However, Kessler and Roger Lysle, the township’s public works director, said they believed the problem lies with the rock bed beneath the pipes. Lysle explained that 2 ½ feet of stone at the bottom of the basin is wrapped in cloth that has likely become clogged, preventing the water from penetrating.

Supervisor Whitney S. Hoffman voiced concern that the township might be left “holding the bag,” but Moore said the township has nearly $100,000 in escrow funds. Lysle said he couldn’t be sure what the cost might be to fix the problem.

When it came time to discuss releasing the escrow money for the first phase of the project – as recommended by the township’s engineer – neither Hoffman nor Stevens were inclined to act quickly, ultimately voting to table the item.

Moore explained that the work on the first phase had been satisfactorily completed and could not be withheld due to the phase two problem. But Stevens wanted to check with the solicitor to see exactly when the money needed to be released, and Hoffman suggested waiting until Supervisor Richard L. Leff, who could not attend Wednesday night’s meeting, was present so that it could be reviewed more thoroughly.

Moore said she was pleased to report that the township received $200,000 of a $330,000 grant request from the county, which would go toward the $748,374 purchase price of a 45-acre property known as Barkingfield Farm, located next to the township’s maintenance garage at Bayard and Hillendale roads.

The property, which was purchased in February, marks the first park owned by Kennett Township. While Anson B. Nixon and Pennock parks are in the township, the township does not own them. 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.

Mike Guttman, the township’s grants program coordinator, said the township also applied for a $330,000 state grant, and he is hopeful that the township will be able to defray the purchase price further. He credited Tom Comitta, the township’s landscape architect, for preparing the final grant package.

Moore also reported that the township would be conducting another “emergency services tabletop exercise” in July. Last year’s mock scenario involved a train derailment in Mendenhall; this year’s potential disaster is a bomb threat at the Mushroom Festival.

In addition to Kennett Township officials, Moore said participants would include borough officials, Pennsylvania State Police, Mushroom Festival organizers, and Exelon employees.

Supervisors’ Chairman Scudder G. Stevens said the exercises are valuable in making sure that officials are prepared if an emergency occurs.

On a somber note, Stevens reported the passing of Elsie Johnson, a longtime resident who attended supervisors’ meetings for 35 years, including the last meeting on April 20.

Moore said that Johnson’s children knew that they could never take her out to dinner on a Wednesday evening “because she had to attend the supervisors’ meeting.”

“She will be missed,” added Stevens.

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