Scenic byways proposed in New Garden

Red Clay Valley Association asks New Garden for consideration of scenic designation for area roads

By P.J. D’Annunzio, Staff Writer,

The proposed Red Clay Scenic Byway includes roadways in Delaware and in the Kennett and Unionville areas.

NEW GARDEN — Red Clay Valley Association (RCVA) Executive Director James Jordan approached the New Garden Township Board of Supervisors Monday night to propose what his organization refers to as a “watershed-based planning effort unlike any other scenic byway designation in the United States.”

“We’re proposing a scenic byway in the Pennsylvania portion of the Red Clay watershed,” he said, “This project started in Delaware…we’re trying to conserve and preserve the historic, cultural, and scenic qualities in the watershed. We’ve been very successful with that, and what we’re trying to do is extend that into Pennsylvania.”

As Jordan stated, the RCVA scenic byway initiatives originated in the Red Clay region of Delaware. There the organization, in conjunction with the Delaware Nature Society, successfully designated 28 secondary roads as scenic. These roads are protected by the RCVA, which derives its funding from memberships. This success prompted the RCVA to consider expansion north of the border into Pennsylvania, including the areas East of Newark Road in New Garden territory.

In order to successfully extend the conservation effort, which the RCVA states as working “cooperatively to preserve and promote the natural, scenic and historic resources of the Red Clay Valley,” the organization must not only get the approval of local government to proceed, but also have its members involved in the planning and management of the byways on an inter-regional level.

“We’re not here to ask you to open your checkbook,” Jordan continued, “What we do want is to hopefully have New Garden Township as part of this effort, to have a representative on the steering committee and help us take this to the next step…we’ve spoken to other townships, Kennett Township is the largest stakeholder geographically, they’ve been brought into it and so has East Marlborough, so we’re hoping to have New Garden embrace it.”

The floor was then turned over to John Gott of Gott Perspectives, a consultant for the RCVA on the issue.

“The idea is that we’re forming a like-minded coalition determined to manage and protect the resources of the Red ClayValley,” Gott said, “And we’re not looking to stay within municipal boundaries necessarily; we’re looking to form a sort of coalition of entities, and those are the townships. It involves the county as well, it involves local landowners coming together to help preserve the intrinsic qualities of the valley.”

The proposition was met with some questions by the board.

“Portions of New Garden are pretty roads already,” board member Bob Norris stated, “Do they have to get into the Red Clay Valley scenic byway program if they’re pretty well protected? I mean what are you bringing that’s not already there?”

“I think what we bring is long term protection,” Gott responded, “The idea that things change, could those roads be developed or redeveloped? Could there be the need over time, because of traffic conditions on route 41 or elsewhere, that people are using these roads and generating a lot more traffic? So PennDOT comes in and the Township decided ‘we need to do something here.’ This way you have a strategy for how you’re going to go about preserving these roads in the future, and I think there’s some value in that. If they’re pretty today, how can we go about keeping them that way? And this planning effort helps to answer that question.”

The board was in turn satisfied with the potential benefits associated with the scenic byways project, despite it being unclear whether or not the implementation of the new designations of local roads would increase property values.

After brief discussion the board appointed Warren Reynolds as the Township’s representative to the RCVA steering committee.

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