Questions with state over grant terms have project in limbo
By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times
EAST MARLBOROUGH — About a dozen township residents attended Monday night’s Board of Supervisors meeting to voice their support for a one-mile bike path along Route 82 near Unionville High School and Patton Middle School, a project currently in limbo as township officials attempt to negotiate grant terms with the state’s Department of Transportation.
While the township has already paid more than $200,000 for design of the project, the initial understanding of the project was that state and federal funds would pay about $1.7 million for construction and acquisition of easements along the roadway. The major stumbling block appears to center over whether the township would have to cover any cost overruns, as the board discussed in detail in December.
“We’ve found things in the agreement that we find to be unacceptable,” Township Manager Jane Laslo said. “Hopefully, they will agree to amend the agreement.”
But multiple residents said they wanted the Board of Supervisors to know that they support the bike path. Peter Waterkotte, who described himself as an avid biker, express his strong support for the project, noting the safety benefits. Various residents also brought up the impact of the project on local property values, making the area even more desirable. The path, they said, would also offer a safer route for students from the high school and Patton to walk to the Landhope Farms store on the corner of Routes 82 and 926, a frequent student destination.
And while the board has narrowly supported the project by a 3-2 margin — supervisors Robert Weer and Richard Hicks have been in opposition — residents urged the remaining supervisors to try to stay on board and try to work through the grant issue.
Unionville-Chadds Ford school board Vice President Victor Dupuis, who is also a township resident, echoed the comments of other residents, and added that the school district had already agreed to easements for the bike path from in front of the schools to the roundabout — all property owned by the school district.
While Laslo said there was no news on negotiations with the state, she did reveal one tidbit that had not been discussed previously: the bike path would allow the township to do something it has sought to do for many years, lower the speed limit from the roundabout to Route 926 to 35 MPH from the current 45 MPH.
In other business, the Board of Supervisors held its annual reorganization meeting. Cuyler Walker was again elected chair of the board, with Hicks reelected as Vice Chair.