I am Richard Leff, and I’m running for re-election to the Kennett Township Board of Supervisors in November 2019. When I ran for the Board in 2013, my platform emphasized four areas: accelerating open space conservation, improving public safety, implementing rigorous financial transparency, and fostering economic development. Since then, major accomplishments of the Board that I have championed have included:
- Open Space: The Township has funded the conservation of almost 380 acres of preserves and parks, including the popular Barkingfield Park, all with public access. In addition, we have planned and funded the development of the award-winning Kennett Greenway, a multi-use circuit trail designed to connect all the Township’s preserves and parks.
- Safety: The Township has expanded our Police Department from limited to full-time coverage, and made it one of the first in Chester County to have body cameras. In addition, we have invested in many road safety measures, such as 4-way stop signs at dangerous intersections.
- Financial Information Sharing: The Township has reorganized our books to conform to the recommendations of our auditor, properly reflecting our true financial condition, and creating special dedicated funds for projected long-term needs. In addition, the township checkbook was put on-line, so that everyone can see it and provide helpful comments.
- Economic Development: The Township completed a Joint Economic Study with Kennett Borough and, based on its recommendations, hired a joint Economic Development Manager who is now focusing on several shared “Economic Opportunity Zones” that are ripe for development. In addition, we are working to streamline our zoning codes and other regulations to better support new and expanding businesses, and to encourage development that leverages existing roads, utilities, etc., saving the costs of providing and maintaining new ones.
Going forward, I’ll continue working for improvements in all these areas, as well as pushing for greater energy efficiency and the expanded use of renewable energy, and for a variety of affordably priced housing. Another principle I will continue to strongly support is constructively working with surrounding municipalities to our mutual benefit in such areas as transportation planning, fire company, ambulance service and policing.
Some examples of Kennett Township's accomplishments during my first term:
Barkingfield Park came about due to the efforts of many people and was made possible by working with those interested in preserving Kennett Township's open space, making it accessible while being fiscally responsible and allowing development where it makes sense. In Kennett Township, we have allow "transfer of development rights" which for Barkingfield lowered the cost to acquire the 45 acres by about half! The two fenced in areas for dogs to run without leashes are shown here. For more information visit: https://www.kennett.pa.us/273/Barkingfield-Park
The benefits of preserved of open space extend beyond its borders: "Open space limits development which keeps the cost of community services (roads, schools, emergency services, etc.) down for everyone. Residential properties on a national average cost municipalities between $1.15-1.50 for every $1 of taxes received and so result in a net loss to municipalities. Open space and farm land costs on average between 30-50¢ for every $1 of taxes received." TLCSCC Autumn 2016 newsletter.
The Kennett Township Police Department has steadily grown, at residents' requests, from the 2 member force to a full-time department in 2018. They are professional, able every day to respond to calls quickly and are one of the first in Chester County to have body cameras. I am proud to be a support of our Police Department, including permitting the necessary funding. To learn more visit: https://chester.crimewatchpa.com/kennetttownshippd/38495
An Emergency Services Commission was started in 2018 with 5 surrounding municipalities to oversee 3 Fire Companies and Ambulance (EMS) services. More information can be found at: https://kennett.pa.us/335/Emergency-Services-Commission
Kennett Township's checkbook has been online since 2012, when I joined Scudder Stevens on the Board of Supervisors, so that everyone can see where our township's money is going. The latest "Check Registers" (under finance and billing) can be found at: https://www.kennett.pa.us/Archive.aspx?AMID=37
The Fussell House, also known as The Pines, was preserved due to Kennett Township purchasing it from a local landowner. An article in the Chester County Press can be found at: Preservation Of The Pines: Kennett Township Brings New Life To Historic Home. The article states: "... reportedly more than 2,000 runaway slaves were helped on their journey to freedom by Dr. Fussell and his wife, Lydia. The house is now recognized as one of more than three dozen Underground Railroad sites in southern Chester County, and is part of the largest concentration of URR sites in the United States."
In March 2019, Kennett Township became recognized as an official Audubon Bird Town for its bird-friendly actions and policies, such as open-space preservation and community-based Land Stewardship Program. See this article for more detail: kennett-township-gets-audubon-bird-town-distinction. This will allow Kennett Township and local land conservation agencies to partner to provide education and outreach to land owners in Kennett Township to learn how they can become bird-friendly and the many additional benefits that ensue.