Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Tredyffrin Township Parks Board

Deteriorating bridge, parking safety concerns, liability issues . . . Why spend taxpayer money on open space and not maintain?

Back on November 15, the Tredyffrin Township’s Board of Supervisors agenda included awarding the Swedesford Road Open Space bridge repair contract. (The lowest qualified bidder was Bill Anskis, Inc. in the amount of $84,655.50.) This bridge repair has been on the Township capital projects list for a long time and had finally found its way to the top. The Swedesford Road Open Space property is located directly across the road from my house, so I am acutely aware of its usage and its associated parking issues for anyone attempting to use this Township open space.

I spoke at the November 15 supervisors meeting to explain the Swedesford Road Open Space usage, particularly during spring and summer trout fishing season. Swedesford Road is a highly traveled road and I assumed that once the liability issues to the township were understood, this project would move forward. In fact, in the township’s five-year plan, improvements to the Swedesford Road Open Space project specifically state, “bridge and parking lot safety improvements”. Additionally, the necessary repairs needed for the Swedesford Road Open Space bridge and parking improvements is included in the implementation of the latest Township Comprehensive Plan. Rather than approving the Public Works project, the supervisors voted to pass it to the Parks Board for further discussion.

The Parks Board met last week and the Swedesford Road Open Space bridge project was on their agenda for discussion. It is my understanding that the Parks Board voted unanimously not to support the bridge repair and parking safety project. I simply do not understand. Either the members of the Parks Board did not visit the Swedesford Road site (and see the deteriorating bridge and existing parking liability issues) or they are choosing to follow the lead of some of the supervisors. But it does surprise me that members of the Parks Board would not support the needed repairs and maintenance of one of the parks they are appointed to protect. As an appointed member of the township’s HARB (Historical Architectural Review Board), I liken their decision to . . . me not supporting the historic buildings in the township. I guess I do not understand the Parks Board motivation.

If the township (1) supports open space through purchase of property and (2) advertises the use of the open space and parks, then (3) doesn’t the township have a responsibility to maintain the property so that it is accessible and safe for the residents to use?

Back in 2006, there was a firestorm of debate over the purchase of the Swedesford Road property (and its price tag). The purchase price for the 5.7 acres of open space was $825,000. However, a Chester County grant paid for more than half the cost. The Swedesford Road Open Space ordinance in 2006 stated the property was to be “utilized perpetually for park, recreational and natural-resources conservation purposes.” Many in the community thought that the price was too high for this property but that debate is long gone . . . the taxpayers own the property and it should be accessible for use.

It is also important to note that the Swedesford Road Open Space project is a capital expense and not included in the township’s operating budget. The project is funded through bond and grants money and would not affect the supervisor’s passing of the 2011 budget.

In reviewing the agenda for the upcoming Board of Supervisor meeting on Monday, the Swedesford Road Open Space bridge repair and parking improvements is listed. With the reinforcement of the Parks Board member’s unanimous vote not to move the repair project forward, it is doubtful that the supervisors will approve this Public Works project.

I do hope that the supervisors recognize that there is a liability issue for the township by choosing not to repair the bridge or improve the parking situation. Residents see the township’s sign ‘Swedesford Road Open Space’ and attempt to pull off the road on to the open space property. With no room to turnaround, drivers are often forced to back out on to Swedesford Road . . . a risky proposition!

If the supervisors are not going to repair the bridge and improve the parking, I suggest that the township remove signage and close the area of Swedesford Road Open Space to discourage visitors. However, before taking down the Swedesford Road Open Space sign and closing the area to public use, perhaps the township supervisors should notify Senator Andy Dinniman and Commissioner Carol Aichele. Chester County dollars through a grant were used to fund this open space purchase and their names appear on the sign!


Additional notes:

Following the November 15 Board of Supervisors meeting, an article, ‘Tredyffrin has its own bridge to nowhere’ appeared in the Mainline Media News newspaper – here is a link.

For those that are unfamiliar, I have included some photos of the Swedesford Road Open Space property – the bridge and the parking area. In the last few weeks, there has been a traffic accident at the Swedesford Road Open Space where the guard rail has become dislodged.

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