Borough OKs pacts, adds 2 police officers

Memorandums of understanding (MOU) and issues involving police and money dominated a two-hour Kennett Square Borough Council meeting on Monday, Oct. 3.

Kevin Thompson (left) is sworn in as a part-time police officer by Kennett Square Mayor Matt Fetick (right).

Accompanied by relatives, Kevin Thompson (left) is sworn in as a part-time police officer by Kennett Square Mayor Matt Fetick (right).

The council voted on two MOUs. One renewed a partnership with Longwood Gardens to run shuttle service into the borough over the holidays. It passed quickly and unanimously. Borough Manager Joseph Scalise said the shuttle would run on Saturdays from Nov. 26 through Dec. 17.

The second involved an MOU with Historic Kennett Square, which serves as the borough’s Main Street organization, and Kennett Township. The agreement, which is not a contract, puts the relationship between the borough and Historic Kennett Square in writing and encourages continued collaboration with the township, explained Mary Hutchins, executive director of Historic Kennett Square.

But two Borough Council members – Ethan Cramer and LaToya Myers – expressed concerns about what they perceived as a role expanding beyond Historic Kennett Square’s business expertise into community engagement, background they believe it lacks.

In particular, they questioned the inclusion of Historic Kennett Square’s “being responsible for overseeing and coordinating any future Elm Street Program initiatives in either the borough or the township.” Elm Street is a program that aims to revitalize older, failing residential neighborhoods that border Main Streets or central business districts.

“I think it’s an overreach,” Cramer concluded of the MOU.

The MOU also included language that Historic Kennett Square would be responsible for the oversight and implementation of the recently completed Kennett Region Economic Development Study, and Hutchins said meetings were being scheduled with Kennett Township to discuss moving forward.

Hutchins’ comment prompted Councilman Wayne Braffman to question whether those efforts were premature since the study has yet to be approved by Borough Council. Scalise said the document would come before council after the county reviewed it, and Hutchins said the meetings were simply intended to prepare for the process.

Miguel Juarez (left) recites the oath from Mayor Matt Fetick (right) to become a part-time police officer.

With relatives at his side, Miguel Juarez (left) recites the oath from Mayor Matt Fetick (right) to become a part-time police officer.

Two residents, John Thomas and Ken Edwards, also expressed reservations about the MOU, suggesting that non-borough residents should not have so much influence. “We are getting all our advice from people who don’t live in the borough,” said Thomas. “That’s not necessarily in the borough’s best interest.”

But the majority of council disagreed. Borough Councilman Geoffrey Bosley said he particularly valued the continuing partnership with the township. “They view the borough as their town,” he said. “I think that’s a positive.”

The MOU passed with a 4-2 vote. Councilman Jamie Mallon did not attend the meeting.

Borough Council also spent time discussing its revolving loan fund, where they found more common ground. Scalise explained that the fund originated through a state grant and was designed to assist with challenging revitalization projects. He said that previous loans were recently paid back and that council needs to make decisions on future loan candidates.

Council agreed with Scalise’s recommendation that an outside firm, Seedcopa, would assess applicants’ credit worthiness at the applicants’ cost and that the borough’s Finance Committee would come up with criteria that could be used to evaluate the proposals.

Fetick reminded the audience that the borough and township police departments are hosting a Public Safety Forum – the first in a series – in the lower atrium of the Genesis Healthcare building at 101 East State Street on Tuesday, Oct. 11, starting a 7 p.m. The event, which will feature presentations from the police chiefs as well as an FBI agent, will also include a question-and-answer session.

The mayor also presided over the swearing-in of two part-time police officers, calling it “my favorite part of the job.” He welcomed Kevin Thompson, a Downingtown East graduate who grew up in Exton, and Miguel Juarez, a native of Mexico who became a U.S. citizen in 2012 after living in Pennsylvania for 20 years.

Thompson, who is employed by the Bridgeport Borough Police Department, has also worked in Malvern and for the Chester County Sheriff’s Office. Juarez, who attended Octorara High, graduated from the Municipal Police Academy at Delaware County Community College this past June.

Stephanie Everett (left) is sworn in as a member of the Civil Service Commission by Mayor Matt Fetick.

Stephanie Everett (left) is sworn in as a member of the Civil Service Commission by Mayor Matt Fetick.

Fetick also provided an update of the search for a new police chief following the resignation this past summer of Chief Edward A. Zunino. He said a search committee, including himself, Zunino, Myers, Borough Councilman Doug Doerfler, Scalise and two residents, was in place.

“I think it’s an excellent group,” said Braffman.

Scalise noted that the Kennett Library Board of Trustees would be seeking public opinion on Thursday, Oct. 13. The public is invited to drop in from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the conference room of the Kennett Fire Company, 301 Dalmation Street, to express views on what a new library should include.

The borough manager also responded to a concern raised by resident Jeannie Jims about the 2015 audit, which has not yet been posted on the borough’s website. “I would like to see the 2015 audit before the 2017 budget,” Jims said. Scalise cited delays and said he expected the audit to be posted later this week.

Borough Council President Danilo Maffei announced that the borough currently has a number of vacancies that need to be filled. They include three Civil Service Commission alternate positions and single vacancies on the Zoning Hearing Board, Historic Architecture Review Board, and Property Maintenance Appeals Board.

One of the Civil Service vacancies occurred earlier in the meeting when Stephanie Everett, previously an alternate, was sworn in as a regular member of the commission.

Maffei also reinforced a reminder from resident Penny DiOttavio that the borough’s Streetscape Committee needs volunteers to assist with an inventory of all sidewalks and street trees on Saturday, Oct. 8 and Saturday, Oct. 22 (with short training sessions the evenings of Oct. 6 and 20).

“We would greatly appreciate your participation,” Maffei said.

Earlier in the meeting, DiOttavio said that she was ready to collect names. “You’re not going to escape me,” she joked.

 

 

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About Kathleen Brady Shea

Kathleen Brady Shea, a nearly lifelong area resident, has been reporting on local news for several decades, including 19 years at the Philadelphia Inquirer. She believes that journalists provide a vital watchdog service in the community, and she embraces that commitment. In addition to unearthing news, she also enjoys digging up dirt in her garden, a hobby that frequently fosters Longwood Gardens envy. Along with her husband, Pete, she lives in a historic residence near the Brandywine Battlefield, a property that is also home to a sheep, a goat, and a passel of fish.

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