The article below is a well-written article that appeared in the Chester County Press regarding the proposed park in Penn Township. It is reprinted here with the permission of Chester County Press. For further information regarding their article please contact them directly at www.chestercounty.com.
Penn officials seek input
Residents asked to comment on proposed Active Park
By Nancy Johnson
Penn Township residents had the opportunity to the view the latest map of the township’s proposed active park and express their questions and concerns at the Planning Commission’s Wednesday, October 14 meeting.
Not surprisingly, many of those in attendance reside in the Estates of Londonbrook, which borders the proposed park site.
Dennis O’Neil, a professional engineer with MacCombie Engineers and Surveyors, who served as facilitator, began by giving the audience a summary of project to date, which has been accomplished in conjunction with the Planning Commission and a study committee consisting of township officials, appointed members of the Planning Commission, Recreation Committee, residents and business leaders.
O’Neil explained that when the township first prepared a master plan for Penn Township Community Park in January of 2001, they quickly realized that the site adjacent to the municipal building was not large enough to accommodate the recreational needs of the Township. In addition, they looked at population projection data, which indicated Penn Township’s population would be 4,310 in the year 2020 and 4,760 in the year 2030. However, it now appears that these numbers could be off significantly as the Penn Township’s municipal officials project the township’s population for the upcoming 2010 census to be 5,050. Township officials then decided to maintain the 7-acre site as a passive park and look for a site that would accommodate their current and future needs for an Active Park.
The Township acquired four contiguous parcels of land, located off Lewis Road and Route 796, totaling 93 acres with this purpose in mind. The study committee, which was formed about a year ago, reviewed many plans and documents and began to set guidelines to determine what fields should be built in the park. They determined active recreation facilities should accommodate Little League baseball, Big League baseball, football, soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, deck hockey, BMX/mountain bike trails, and a playground for younger children. In addition, passive recreation facilities would include picnic pavilions, a walking trail, wetland education stations and an area for organized group camping. Considering the fact that Penn Township currently has no active recreational facilities, they set the principal design objectives to:
- Develop active recreational opportunities for residents within the approximate boundary of the Avon Grove School District within a centrally located Active Recreation Park facility.
- Not only promote local recreation, but to protect the community’s natural resources, by promoting native plantings, watershed protection, habitat enhancements, or other environmentally friendly facilities.
- Provide for community-wide and group activities at the site for groups such as the Avon Grove Little League, Avon Grove Wildcat Football League, Avon Grove Recreational Association (AGRA), and the Avon Grove School District.
- Make all hard court facilities designed for multi-purpose capabilities to ensure the best use and provide for multi-use fields to be used for multi-season recreational use.
- Provide an integrated trail system that can be connected to similar proposed facilities throughout the Township and adjoining regional connecting greenways in neighboring townships.
- Take advantage of community park grant funds to aid in construction and maintenance of park facilities.
- Integrate the recreational organizations into the design, funding, construction and maintenance of the proposed facilities to ease the financial burden to the Township.
- Enhance the site with managed plantings and landscaping.
- Ensure all proposed park facilities meet all Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility standards.
The plan is to build the facility in three phases starting with the eastern most area with two Little League fields, one Big League field, and one football field. O’Neil indicated that the plan must still go through a public hearing and get the Board of Supervisors’ approval, hopefully in time to apply for April grant money. If as goes as planned, construction would begin in 2011 and it would be “late 2012 or 2013 until any facility would be ready for use.”
He offered copies of the planning draft to those in attendance and emphasized that while it accommodates most of the comments received by the study committee to date, there would definitely be several more opportunities for residents’ input.
As he invited comments from the audience, O’Neil indicated, “We know there are a number of concerns from the residents of Penn Township about traffic, lighting, and policing.”
He was absolutely correct as nearly every comment made was related to those three issues. In addition, one resident from Jenner’s Pond, which also borders the proposed site, worried about noise and there were some questions as to the cost of building and maintaining the park if grant money was not as accessible as expected.
“We’re here to hear your comments so we can take them back and address them,” O’Neil assured the residents.
Several people thought many residents were not aware of the opportunity to give their input on plans for the park and asked if meetings could be better publicized.
One noted that they were not listed on the website.
“The meetings have always been open to the public,” confirmed Supervisor Victor Mantegna.
O’Neil recommended that they set a study committee meeting for some time in November. Tom Sinsheimer, Vice Chairman of the Planning Commission, suggested posting the meeting on the Township’s signs that many residents see while driving down Baltimore Pike.
“We’ll certainly try to get the word out,” O’Neil confirmed.
Township will post dates of meetings once the Recreation Committee notifies the Township.
Wednesday, May 5th, 2010 at 6:00 p.m.
Public Recreation Meeting along with Board of
Master Plan - Planning Draft (PDF)
Conceptual Plan for Penn Township Active Recreation Park (PDF)