Birmingham reluctant to apply for grant

The Brandywine Conservancy is looking to get Birmingham Township to take the lead in a grant application that would tell the story of the parts played by various sites during the Battle of Brandywine. That request was met with reluctance.

According to Sheila Fleming, the conservancy’s manager for municipal assistance, "The idea is to show how the sites are connected from an interpretive point of view."

Fleming’s comments came during a presentation to Birmingham supervisors during their July 9 meeting, during which she said the conservancy wants Birmingham to take the lead in a bid for a county Vision Partnership Program Grant involving five Chester County municipalities that played a role in the battle.

Other townships involved in the larger connectivity plan are East Bradford, Westtown, Thornbury and Pennsbury. Fleming also said they’d like to include Chadds Ford Township in Delaware County because of the Battlefield Park there. Other sites included would be Strodes Mill, Osborne Hill, Crebilly Farm, Birmingham Hill (the Odell property), Sandy Hollow, Dilworth Farm (the Caccio property), Spackman Farm and the Barnes-Brinton House.

Fleming said the final outcome of the project, should it go through, would tell the story of the battle from the perspective of the individual sites, but put each one in light of the battle as a whole. The connectivity, she added, would be with the signage and how the story of the battle would be told. There would be no trail connection between the sites, people would still drive to the various locations, she said.

The project total is $43,000. Each of the townships would be asked to kick in $2,000, but Birmingham would be asked for more.

Having Birmingham take the lead on the grant process involves having the township write the grant — though Fleming said the conservancy would be willing to ghostwrite it — administer the grant monies and pony up $35,000 of which the township would eventually be reimbursed $30,000, she said.

However, it appears that the grant won’t be written this year. Fleming said the paperwork would have to be submitted by Aug. 15, but Supervisors’ Chairman Scott Boorse said he wants to table the matter until he and the rest of the board can talk in more detail with members of the Historic Commission and Recreation, Parks and Open Space Committee.

"We won’t meet the Aug. 15 deadline," he said.

The rest of the board agreed, with Supervisor Mike Shiring saying he wanted to know more about the responsibilities and obligations Birmingham would have if it took the lead.

Fleming said the next time for an application would be in the spring of 2019.

Jeff Janofsky, who was appointed to the Historic Commission at the beginning of Monday night’s meeting, said the project as a whole, sounds as if it would make the area a giant museum with one overarching story.

Also, during the presentation, Fleming responded to questions from residents about proposed plans for the Odell property — known as Birmingham Hill and located between Wylie and Meetinghouse roads, leading up to Birmingham Road.

The conservancy previously bought 100 acres of the property and is looking to buy the remaining 13 acres in the hope of turning it into a public preserve. The site would also be part of the grant program.

Several residents expressed concerns over the possible increase in traffic along Meetinghouse Road should the preserve become a reality.

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About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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