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Local costs for Chandler Mill Trail increase by $1M as pressure builds elsewhere on Township

Updated: Nov 1, 2022

... while a “mold outbreak” keeps supervisors at bay.

As we have explained elsewhere, Kennett Township likely expected 70% of the $5.5M price tag (i.e., about $3.85M) for the Chandler Mill Trail (CMT) project to be covered through state grants, like the $1.5M grant application to rushed through this past July. In documents shared at the September 21 meeting of the Kennett Township Board of Supervisors (KT-BoS), Township Manager Eden Ratliff revealed in his department report that the state funding agency would allocate no more than $3M of state funds to the CMT project. With at least $200K of state funds already expended on the rehabilitation of Chandler Mill Bridge (costs not included in the $5.5M price tag), this increases the local costs for the CMT project from $1.7M to at least $2.7M.

And these total local costs may well increase. The unusually expensive CMT project includes design costs approaching 20% of the total cost, but state funds cannot be used to cover any design costs that exceed 10% of total project costs. With agreements yet to be reached with any of the landowners concerned 15 months after the “final design” was approved, it also looks increasingly likely that Kennett will either have to try to seize the private lands needed (adding new legal costs to the total bill) or redoing the design (adding new design costs to the total bill).

These new expenses were announced at a meeting where other significant budget items were discussed. For example, the KT-BoS announced that it was continuing to develop a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the demolition/rehabilitation of buildings on the 100 acre Spar Hill parcel, expected to exceed $500K. Kennett took out a loan to purchase Spar Hill for more than $3M more than 3 years ago, but has yet to formally open Spar Hill to the public because of concerns about the state of structures on the property.

Later in the same report, Ratliff revealed that Kennett Township and the Borough of Kennett Square had arrived at sobering conclusions about future sewer expenses:

“In approximately 5 years, the Borough’s plant will be at maximum capacity and unable to serve any additional connections. This means that development in and outside of the Borough will be halted until the plant can be upgraded. Depending on the project, sewer plant upgrades can be tens of millions. A moratorium on sewer connections will have cascading effects on affordable housing, new development, redevelopment, and infill projects. The Borough and Township are in the early stages of planning for plant capacity increase.”

In the meantime, meetings of the KT-BoS continue to be held at the New Garden Township building, because of a “mold outbreak” first reported prior to the August 17th meeting of the KT-BoS. Nothing has since been reported regarding when the “outbreak” will be resolved, or what the cost of remediation might be. With 2023 budget discussions slated to begin within a next month, the KT-BoS could find itself debating $1.5M in new expenses associated with CMT and Spar Hill in 2023, with millions more of sewer expenses on the horizon, and a township building showing signs of decay less than 20 years after it was dedicated.

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