Borough honors historic preservation efforts

In recognition of May as Historic Preservation Month, Kennett Square Borough Council recognized home and business owners who have made outstanding efforts to restore, renovate or preserve structures in the borough’s National Register Historic District at the council’s meeting on Monday, May 16.

Borough Council President Danilo Maffei (left) and Mayor Matt Fetick (right) pose with award recipients Pat and Silvia Mahon and their children.

Borough Council President Danilo Maffei (left) and Mayor Matt Fetick (right) pose with award recipients Pat and Silvia Mahon and their children.

Established in 1973 by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Historic Preservation Month works with local preservation groups, state historical societies, and business and civic organizations across the country to instill national and community pride, promote heritage tourism, and show the social and economic benefits of historic preservation, according to its website.

Council President Danilo Maffei stated that “preservation efforts not only improve and enhance buildings, but also contribute to the character and integrity of the immediate neighborhood and the entire historic district.”

The following people received honors at the meeting:

Pat and Silvia Mahon of 231 S. Union Street demolished and rebuilt two additions at the rear of their home after the sections collapsed, choosing construction materials that maintained the historic character of the house.

Attorney Anita D'Amico (second from right) is joined by her husband and daughter as well as Borough Council President Danilo Maffei (left) and Mayor Matt Fetick (right).

Attorney Anita D'Amico (second from right) displays her award. She is joined by her husband and daughter as well as Borough Council President Danilo Maffei (left) and Mayor Matt Fetick (right).

Anita D’Amico was praised for selecting materials, colors and finishes to retain and enhance the simple features of the 1840s “Old Kennett Village” house when she upgraded the exterior of her law office building at 204 N. Union Street.

Restoring and repurposing a carriage house on Church Alley won praise for Andy and Susan Froning. The carriage house is now a quaint and comfortable living space.

Bob and Debbie Norris were recognized for their extensive renovations to a carriage house on Sycamore Alley and additions to the main house at 221 S. Union Street. The challenging undertaking upgraded both historic buildings, ensuring continued use and enjoyment.

Moving on to other Borough Council business, the council unanimously approved a resolution to establish an Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs. In his introduction of the resolution, Councilman Ethan Cramer shared that the resolution’s language followed the wording in the governor’s Advisory Committee on Latino Affairs. Since the borough is more than 50 percent Latino, it seemed timely for the borough to include its Latino residents in the body politic of the community.

Andy Froning shows off his award with Council President Danilo Maffei (left) and Mayor Matt Fetick (right).

Andy Froning shows off his award with Council President Danilo Maffei (left) and Mayor Matt Fetick (right).

“We’ll be a healthier community with their official participation,” said Cramer. The Advisory Commission will advise the Borough Council on matters that impact the borough’s Latino community.

Not all of those in attendance at the meeting were enthusiastic about the new commission. Resident John Thomas expressed his dismay that no such commission exists for the elderly or the poor of the borough.

Maffei responded that “we fully support addressing the needs of all segments of our population.” And Councilman Doug Doerfler added that this is a proactive step to get over our biggest barriers – language and culture – to help a large segment of residents.

Mayor Matt Fetick also pointed out that “just because we talk about one issue or one segment of the population tonight” doesn’t mean the borough doesn’t care about other issues or residents. “It’s just the topic of the night,” Fetick explained.

Borough resident and immigration attorney Lindsey Sweet also supported the commission. Sweet has represented more than 800 clients in the past two years, many of them Kennett Square Borough residents. She sees the commission as a way to disseminate information about rules and regulations in a way that is understood by Spanish-speaking residents of all educational levels. It also offers a great way to encourage political engagement of Latino residents, she said.

Councilman Wayne Braffman summed up the discussion by quoting the opening words of the preamble of the U.S. Constitution, “We the people.”

Bob Norris (right) receives congratulations from Borough Council President Danilo Maffei for his historic preservation award.

Bob Norris (right) receives congratulations from Borough Council President Danilo Maffei for his historic preservation award.

“America is at its best when we act as one body. The Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs is a shining example of this concept put into action. I am proud to support this resolution,” Braffman said. Those wishing to be considered for the Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs should send a letter of intent by June 15.

The council revisited the Historic Architectural Review Board (HARB) temporary use permit for 401 Birch, LLC. The company is renovating a 1.84-acre property in the area of Birch Street, formerly the site of a creamery, to become an outdoor beer garden.

Sandra Mulry, project manager, explained changes in the original plans and satisfactorily addressed council’s questions and concerns. Mulry also assured the Borough Council that her company would comply with all borough codes.

“I am completely in support of any project that would restore and repurpose unused properties in the borough,” Maffei stated.

Mulry said the company hopes to open the beer garden in a few weeks. “Our intention is to move forward with something that is wonderful for the community,” she said. “Our project is about creating a social meeting place for the community where currently there is none.”

In other business, the council heard from Laundromat owner James Dovidio, who objected to the parking lot near his business being changed from a metered lot to a permit lot. His customers currently have to park and walks several blocks to use his business. This is not convenient for his typical customers, mothers with small children, and he brought a petition opposing the change that was signed by 500 customers.

Fetick promised that he and the council would take Dovidio’s complaint under consideration.

 

 

 

 

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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