Conservancy looks to the future

Chadds Ford Township Manager Maryann Furlong, standing left, questions Bruce Davis, standing right, of Cooper Robertson.

The Brandywine Conservancy brought the public into a discussion of a long-range master plan Monday with a town hall type meeting at Chadds Ford Elementary School. On hand were Virginia Logan, the conservancy’s executive director, as well as representatives from two architecture firms who shared a general concept for the plan that, Logan said, would be for the next 30 years.

“It will be relevant for generations to come,” Logan said, adding that the plan would be consistent with the conservancy’s mission of preserving and presenting art and nature. She referred to the master plan as a “road map.”

The consulting firms on the project are Cooper Robertson, a New York-based architecture and urban design firm, and OLIN, a landscape architecture firm from Philadelphia. Also included on the team, Logan said, are engineers, ecologists as wells as transportation consultants.

Bruce Davis, of Cooper Robertson, said developing the plan comes in four parts. First was a study of current conditions. Second, the current phase is a needs analysis, then establishing a program of requirements which, he said would be a synthesis of the first two phases. From those phases, then the final plan would be developed.

Hallie Boyce, from OLIN, said the mission is to “enhance life,” both for people and nature.

Ford Draper, of Chadds Ford Township, says he would like the conservancy's master plan to include the Brandywine Battlefield Park.

“The Brandywine,” Boyce said, “is a unique confluence of art and environment. It needs to remain a place of rest and relaxation, a place apart where people can be transformed by nature and art.”

Another OLIN representative used the imagery of Russian nesting dolls to explain part of the process. There would be a focus on the main museum building, which would fit in with a look at the conservancy’s main campus. In turn, there would also be a look at other properties — man-made and natural — in the outer campus in the village area of Chadds Ford. Among those properties — 50 in all — are Potts Meadow, the Kuerner Farm and Roundelay.

No specifics were discussed, just the general concept at this point in the plan’s development, with the aim of hearing from the public, what people might want or not want.

Several people expressed concerns. Among them were Jenny Fenton and Aaron McIntyre, both of Pennsbury Township.

Both said they feared Chadds Ford would lose its “smallness” and unique characteristics if overdeveloped and that increasing access to the Brandywine Creek could pose a problem if people aren’t responsible.

McIntyre added that he wants to keep Chadds Ford a quiet place, keep the smallness and doesn’t want “any more busy-ness” in Chadds Ford.

Chadds Ford’s Debbie Reardon said she would like to see the conservancy work more closely with the First State Park, part of which is in Chadds Ford, to keep better control over parking and other uses.

A general concern was that any growth would have a negative impact on the character of the Chadds Ford area. To that, Logan responded, “We will always care about the character of our community.”

Other comments included those of Ford Draper, also of Chadds Ford. He complimented the conservancy for its Greenway initiative and added that he would like to see the Brandywine Battlefield Park included in the plan. Draper said the park is seriously underutilized, especially by locals. He later said the master plan idea is “a marvelous start for an evolving institution.”

Among Logan’s final comments was a response to a question of what the conservancy really wants.

“That’s one of the things we’re looking at,” she said. “We don’t want to keep everything internal. We want to preserve art and nature while preserving the character of the community. We want to engage the next generation and to have a sense of welcome to preserve and present our world-class art collection.”

The roughly 50 people who attended the meeting were handed a list of questions when they entered:

  • What draws you to the Brandywine and return to it?
  • What experiences do you look forward to when you visit?
  •  What aspects of the Brandywine would you like to see improved?
  • Are there experiences you would like to have that aren’t currently offered?
  • How could the Brandywine’s future align with Village, Township and Regional goals?

Even those not in attendance can respond. Email answers to kmiller@brandywwine.org no later than Monday, April 12.

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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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