Almost $140K was spent in meetings alone, most of which were unplanned
Even as the Chandler Mill sidepath has stalled despite assurances from the Greenway team, the costs have continued to climb. We project that the design costs incurred to date will soon pass the $1M mark, if they have not done so already. With no assurances that the Right of Way (RoW) can be acquired from at least two of the landowners concerned, it is not even clear when - or even if - the sidepath as currently designed will ever be completed.
We have completed our review of hundreds of pages of billing covering all of the work of the current design team (McMahon, Meliora, and Unknown Studio under the direction of Biohabitats) obtained through a Right to Know request. Between July 1, 2020 and November 25, 2022, Kennett paid out more than $940,000 in fees to the current design team. With an average of $25,000 in fees in each of the past 3 months, we project that the design team will have surpassed the $1,000,000 mark by the end of this month or the next.
Most of the costs (about $617K or two-thirds of the total to date) was spent on work and permitting on the “final design” approved by the Kennett Township Board of Supervisors (KT-BoS) in June 2021. Other significant costs include engineering to propose the final design (about $96K). About $140K was spent on meetings and public engagement, including almost $90K occurring in 2022 to address concerns about the final design AFTER it was approved. At least $100K is left to be paid, bringing the total cost of the final design approved in June 2021 (including unplanned meetings) to more than $800K. Note that these bills underestimate the total cost to the Township, because they do not include the cost of contracted legal counsel and engineers, or township staff.
While some minor work replacing old culverts and drainage pipes has begun on Chandler Mill, no actual work on the trail itself has begun, nor is it likely to begin soon: permits from the Army Corps of Engineers have yet to be issued, and Kennett is still addressing issues raised by the Chester County Conservation District. Of greater concern is the fact that $1M will have been spent even though the RoW has only been acquired on about 25% of the proposed route for the sidepath - about 1800’ in two disconnected sections. As of the writing of this post, landowners have stood their ground in the face of intense pressure from the Greenway team, pressure now resolved with the announcement by the KT-BoS that they would not use Eminent Domain to seize the land needed for the Greenway.