On Barnard House, supervisors report progress

Commissioners get tour to see renovations

By Karen Cresta, Staff Writer, The Times

PocopsonPOCOPSON – The township meeting on Monday night was adjourned after only a half an hour with few residents in attendance – but progress regarding the unoccupied historical Barnard House was reported by supervisors Ricki Stumpo and Elaine DiMonte. (Alice Balsama was not present.)

The supervisors announced two meetings that occurred on Oct. 11 and Oct. 14 to pursue the controversial topic of the historic building’s occupancy readiness. The Kennett Underground Railroad Center (KURC) plans to occupy the lower lever portion of the renovated building pending resolution of some consistent outstanding issues.

The Oct. 11 informational meeting and tour of the building included county representatives – Commissioners Terence Farrell and Kathi Cozzone as well as Rep. Steve Barrar, R-160 – who the supervisors wanted to see first-hand the renovations done thus far (approximately $900,000 in completed work) and the condition of the rest of the building.

The building originally included plans for the township offices to relocate to the building but increased renovation costs and questions about suitability put the brakes on those plans.

The supervisors welcomed any ideas that the county representatives might submit to balance the preservation of the building while keeping in mind the additional amount of financial burden imposed on taxpayers.

DiMonte added, “We want to know how we move forward while being considerate of the taxpayers’ money.”

The Oct. 14 meeting included the KURC members and the agenda revolved around solutions to the center being able to access the front room and meeting room and not just the intended renovated office space. The supervisors reported it would require installing doors with locks to close off the rest of the building to tour groups that the KURC would be entertaining.

Director of Public Works Mark Knightly interjected by informing the supervisors the certificate of occupancy would require electricity and handicap accessibility in those rooms. Knightly and the supervisors need to verify the work required for compliance.

The supervisors also discussed the 2014 formal lease would need updating and the outstanding $30,000 payment towards a grant and $30,000 for renovations would be invoiced to the KURC.

“I think it was a good meeting,” DiMonte said.

Stumpo added, “We all walked out okay.”

In other township business, Stumpo reported the Historic Committee raised an additional $902 from Founders Day and a recent pancake breakfast fundraiser to add enough funds for the completion of the Locust Grove Schoolhouse flooring. All the materials will be purchased from funds raised and the labor will be voluntary and no cost to taxpayers.

The supervisors approved to withdraw a civil action suit against Justin Colella on Bragg Hill Road after complying with the request to move a fence 20 feet. The fence housed Penelope the goat who was previously given an official “pet” status by the supervisors and allowed to be kept at the residence.

“It was a $10,000 fence for a $45 goat,” Colella added.

The supervisors gave authorization to the township engineer to proceed with the inspection at the Preserve at Chadds Ford, a Toll Brothers subdivision. If the work is acceptable, the dedication will be resubmitted again and a vote to approve will be in order.

The next meeting will be held on Halloween night, Oct. 31, at 7:30 p.m. DiMonte suggested and invited attendees to come in costume.

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