Kennett Township puts focus on clean water

The health of area waterways dominated the Kennett Township Board of Supervisors’ meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 7.

Kennett Township Supervisors Whitney S. Hoffman (from left), Richard L. Leff, and Scudder G. Stevens listen to a request from The Land Conservancy of Southern Chester County to improve groundwater filtration through riparian buffers.

Kennett Township Supervisors Whitney S. Hoffman (from left), Richard L. Leff, and Scudder G. Stevens listen to information from The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County regarding riparian buffers.

After about a half-hour of discussion, the supervisors voted to pledge a $50,000 match for a $50,000 grant from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources that The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County hopes to secure.

“I think it’s a very important project,” commented Township Manager Lisa Moore.

If the conservancy wins the award to establish and replenish riparian buffers, four areas of the township would be targeted: Bucktoe Creek Preserve, Barkingfield Park, the Parrish Trail, and the New Leaf Eco-Center. Gwen Lacy, TLC’s executive director, said she hoped the grant would be the first of many.

Lacy said the four areas, which will impact about 20 acres, were chosen because they are all controlled by the township or the conservancy and won’t require permission to access. Adding native trees and shrubs to riparian buffers – the land surrounding waterways – is regarded as one of the best ways to protect and improve creek water quality. Lacy said she hoped the sites would also serve as demonstration areas, showing residents what they can do in their own backyards.

Another environmental agenda item involved a presentation from Matt Sabo, chairman of the township’s Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC) a group that works with the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors to promote conservation.

Sabo said the committee did research on the health of the township’s waterways and learned that the assessment data, which is 20 years’ old, shows an annual decrease in volume for the township waterways. A projection for the east branch of the Red Clay Creek generated the most concern, showing a 22 percent net withdrawal by now.

County standards indicate that losses aren’t considered problematic until they reach 25 percent, Sabo explained; however, the numbers from two decades ago don’t reflect recent activity. For example, the Yeatman tract well will soon become operational, and a number of high-density residential developments hooked to Kennett's public sewage system will increase  groundwater withdrawals.  No new spray irrigation fields are planned to offset that loss, he added.

To determine whether the township should be taking steps to reverse the downward trend, Sabo said the committee recommended updating the numbers, and the supervisors agreed to have Moore get estimates.

“I want to thank you and the EAC for taking on this challenge,” said Supervisors’ Chairman Scudder G. Stevens.

In her report, Moore reminded residents that the public presentation on the results of the economic development study for the Kennett region would be held on Thursday, Sept. 8, at 6:30 p.m. in the American Legion building in downtown Kennett Square.

Moore said the township was looking for volunteers to assist with “Rock the Park,” a fundraiser for Anson B. Nixon Park. It will be held in the park on Sunday, Sept. 18, from 2 to 7 p.m.

She also presented the township’s six-month 2016 financial report. It can be viewed by clicking here.

Supervisor Richard L. Leff said he appreciated the “rate of return” on some of the township’s investments. Stevens said the township’s Business Advisory Committee, which is chaired by Bill McLachlan, deserved credit for assisting the township with its finances.

Supervisor Whitney S. Hoffman noted that while police costs have risen this past year, the increase in the size of the police department seems to have been well-received by residents. Hoffman said she has received many positive comments from neighbors.

“That’s good to hear,” Police Chief Lydell Nolt responded.

In other business, the supervisors approved a $207,356 bid from Eagle Contractors to stabilize the collapsing banks of the Marshall Bridge, and Moore said she expected work to begin in about a month to correct a failing stormwater basin at the Granite Ridge subdivision.

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