On Thursday June 6, the Southern Chester County Chamber of Commerce and Chester County Economic Development Council jointly hosted the third annual Municipal Update, filling a great need for municipal leaders to share new projects and initiatives with their peers and the local business community. The Chamber member venue was Hartefeld National Golf Club in Avondale, Pa.
James Turner, Chester Water Authority and the breakfast's Presenting Sponsor, opened with remarks sharing Chester Water Authority’s appreciation for being able to serve Southern Chester County, and how excited everyone is about what’s happening along the Route 1 corridor:
"When we started this journey, we worked together to figure out what was needed in the community. As we talked with different municipal leaders, we found great opportunities to help strengthen this part of the region. Today we hope we are able to glean from one another the information necessary to continue to build the Southern region."
Turner shared his gratitude for the municipal leaders for they all represent the important aspects of what it takes to make a strong community.
Premier Sponsor, Executive Director of Transportation Management Association of Chester County Tim Phelps, shared updates on the SCCOOT bus service in Southern Chester County, affirming that the SCCOOT is a lifeline for many. With service providing 14 runs daily Monday thru Friday, running from Oxford into West Chester, SCCOOT represents 19% of all riders in the municipal system as a whole. These routes are designed to connect riders to shopping, entertainment, medical appointments, school, and more.
Phelps provided an update from the Southern Chester County Opportunity Network, a community-wide initiative made up of a growing group of people who want to see poverty addressed in comprehensive, collaborative ways. As part of the Opportunity Network, the Transportation Discovery Team is working hard on researching the origin and destination of riders of SCCOOT in order to increase the number of runs within the schedule. The hope is to unveil a new schedule to serve the community at large next year.
Brian O’Leary, Executive Director of the Chester County Planning Commission, gave the crowd an update on the Vision Partnership Program, a grant available to Chester County municipalities seeking to improve their planning programs while achieving consistency with and implementation of the goals, objectives, recommendations, and map of Landscapes3. This area on the Chester County Planning website shows how communities can work together to do the best planning they can.
An example of communities working together on a larger scale would be the 140,000 acres of preserved open space within the county, which includes farmland, nature preserves, and parks. Protected open spaces provide substantial economic, environmental, and health benefits to surrounding communities, but these benefits are often overlooked or undervalued. A better understanding of these benefits can demonstrate how protected open space contributes to economic development and fiscal stability.
For a summary of the economic value of protected open space in Chester County, check out the “Return on Environment” report on the Chester County Planning Commission’s website here.
On the transportation front, the Chester County Planning Commission received a grant to conduct a study to find a route for a regional rail in Southern Chester County. This would include alternative routes to connect all the communities in Southern Chester County and eventually connect to the rail network in the greater Philadelphia region. For more information on funding, rails, highways, public transportation, and more visit http://chescoplanning.org/transportation/transportation.cfm.
MaryFrances McGarrity of the Chester County Economic Development Council provided updates on the second year of reinvigorating the Route 1 Corridor through the Route 1 Economic Development Initiative. It is the mission of the individuals committed to the Route 1 Economic Development Initiative to promote a region that provides jobs, expands its tax base and invests in business districts. To provide an easy-to-use format to view available development sites, the partnership created a mapping tool to perform property searches designed for viewers to learn about available properties across the Southern Chester County region.
An update on the US Route 1 Opportunity Sites map was given including a proposed master plan for New Garden provided by students of West Chester University. Interested parties are now able to identify sites available for appropriate development by visiting chescoplanning.org/resources/mapping/USRoute1/ and searching for sites across the 50-mile US Route 1 Corridor. Contact MaryFrances McGarrity at email@example.com for additional property information, photos, demographics, potential incentives and/or community data.
New Garden Township Manager Tony Scheivert addressed major transportation projects affecting the area including the intersection of Newark Road and Hillendale Road which will be shut down for a six-month period to improve traffic flow and safety. The project is scheduled to begin in spring 2020 and run through the fall of 2020. The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) and the Township are collaborating on a streetscapes and revitalization plan for Toughkenamon, to be wrapped up mid-year next year. The Township is also working with PennDot and McMahon Associates on a Preliminary Design for the Baltimore Pike and Newark Road intersection, with construction starting in 2023.
East Marlborough Township Manager Laurie Prysock announced several commercial projects along the Route 1 Corridor. Currently under construction is the redevelopment of the Phillips Mushroom site to be turned into a Quick Service Auto center and a mattress store. Second redevelopment update is a site across from Walmart on Route 1 where a Royal Farms received conditional approval.
On the residential side, a Toll Brothers development received final plan approval containing 42 homes off Route 82 by Willowdale Chapel. Part of this Toll Brothers project includes a 26-acre parcel of open space in which Toll Brothers is turning over to the Township. East Marlborough will be working with the Chester County Planning Commission and Brandywine Conservancy on redoing the open space environmental resources plan to prioritize what spaces should be targeted for preservation.
On road projects, the Township received a Safe Routes to School grant from the Department of Transportation to conduct traffic calming and pedestrian safety in front of the Unionville schools on Route 82. This project is in the design phase, with construction set to begin next summer.
Karen Versuk of Penn Township, whose tagline is “a great place to live, work and retire,” spoke on the importance of their adult communities. Home to five active adult communities with a sixth starting this year, Penn Townships’ adult communities provide critical financial support to the Avon Grove School district and currently constitute 41% of the population.
Updates to traffic improvements include the $2.4 million intersection improvement plan which is underway at the Route 796 and W. Baltimore Pike intersection in Jennersville at the township-owned Red Rose Inn. The original historic part of the Inn will remain intact and is being carefully refurbished. The project is set to be completed in August.
A new addition to the open space program will be the Penn Sports Park off Route 1 behind the Red Rose Inn. This project will also satisfy a promise that the supervisors made to the community many years ago, which was to provide a place for active playing fields for kids and adults in the area.
Penn Township also prides themselves on their healthy free events schedule, which is part of their commitment to make sure everyone is included. Events to look forward to this summer include:
Summer Concert Series – June 9 and July 14 from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Summer Fun Days – June 20, July 18, and August 15 from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Sunset Park Day – August 11 from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Brian Hoover of Oxford Borough shared how Oxford is flourishing since addressing a major parking problem. After years of working on the issue, Oxford store fronts are now 95% full and continue to grow. Currently there is about 30,000 sq./ft. of downtown business space available, making right now “a great opportunity to invest.”
In March, the long-anticipated multimodal transportation center, garage and borough building broke ground and is scheduled to open in March 2020.
Oxford has also seen an influx of younger people moving into the borough with 50 new homes ready to be constructed in Sycamore Crossing and several other construction sites in the area. Hoover reiterated that the Borough is headed in the right direction, and all these revitalization projects are slowly putting Oxford back on the map.
Jake Chalfin represented West Marlborough Township; is a small rural township known to hold 78% of its land for conservation interests. Chalfin spoke about how the commuter traffic can be a challenge since it can interfere with the tranquility and safety of its residents. Supervisors are currently working on traffic safety measures with PennDot to preserve their way of life.
Robert Weer of London Grove Township announced that they are working on two properties for open space to add to Goddard Park.
Nate Echeverria of Kennett Township and the Borough of Kennett Square provided an update on the Regional Economic Development Study along with the Kennett-Area Development Map. The Kennett-area development map is used to track development in the Kennett area and provides a great snapshot of what is happening in Kennett. To review the development map, visit
Greg McCummings of West Grove Borough wrapped up the Municipal Update and announced they are working through Habitat for Humanity of Chester County public improvements that will provide 40 new affordable town homes in the Borough. Construction is set to begin in July, with completion set for 2024.