Brandywine Battlefield Task Force talks more regional approach

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Bike paths, hiking trails and linking sites from Kennett to Chadds Ford seen in plans

By P.J. D’Annunzio, Staff Writer, UnionvilleTimes.com

Local proponents of the Brandywine Battlefield area showed off plans for regional preservation and bike and trail links connecting areas of the battlefield area. On this map, presented Thursday night, potential bike paths connecting the areas are shown in orange

CHADDS FORD — In a time when government funding for parks and historical sites is at an all-time low, keeping an historical treasure like the Brandywine Battlefield operational is a battle in and of itself.

Because of these government cutbacks, The battlefield site was nearly closed in 2009 after the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission eliminated nearly all of the park’s funding. It was only thanks to the effort of a non-profit group called Friends of the Brandywine Battlefield that the site was able to remain in operation.

The Brandywine Battlefield Task Force (made up of local community leaders, township officials and others dedicated to preserving the battlefield and its historic sites), is generating ideas that could potentially drive income and alleviate some of the fiscal burden the park is currently shouldering.

Long terms plans for the site, based on recent changed to the designated area of the battle to include areas where armies maneuvered prior to the fight, expand the reach of the battlefield area as far west a New Garden. County planners and battlefield supporters have been working on preliminary plans to designate possible routes for hiking trails and biking paths to connect the various sites — as well as highlighting areas where efforts for open space preservation should be focused. Those plans, which have been making the rounds to local municipal bodies in the area in recent weeks, were presented publicly for the purpose of residential feedback.

“In terms of bike routes, we’re doing okay. We have pretty good potential from what we’ve seen so far,” said, Jake Michael, a senior Community Planner with Chester County, who has been spearheading local planning efforts on long-term plans for the battlefield region.

The plan focuses on linking existing trails as well as proposed trails into a corridor that interconnects historical significant sites from municipalities such as Kennett Square, Kennett Township, East Marlborough, Pocopson, and Western Delaware County.

“We want to try to link these destinations without people having to drive,” Michael said.

The logic behind the plan is that the increased foot, bicycle, and potentially horseback traffic, would spike local commerce generating revenue for applicable municipalities and thus, garnering revenue for The Battlefield’s operational expenses — and issue of particular interest to merchants in the village of Chadds Ford, who would like to see economic activity spurred relating to the battlefield and tourism.

Though ambitious, the proposal was met with some flak from homeowners in properties abutting The Battlefield stating that the trail system is not only unmerited, but would also disrupt residential privacy

“Why impose something on us that will get little to no usage,” a Chadds Ford resident who declined to be identified said. “It’s like they’re telling us we’re too dumb to know what’s good for us; they’re just partitioning our property away.”

Michael emphasized to attendees that the plan was only in the theoretical phase of development and that nothing was set in stone.

“These are all valid issues that the public have,” Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission Public Affairs Director Howard Pollman said. “We’re just listing all the assets, all the routes, all the ways people can access these historical resources around the region. That’s why we have these public meetings, so they can voice those concerns.”

As of now the trail system remains in the preliminary phase. The outlook for its usage as a means of preservation is yet to be determined — the BBTF is also looking toward other courses of action, such as partitioning areas of the park as open space, for the overall conservation of The Battlefield.

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