Kucera: Kennett Square is on the upswing

Photo by Fran Maye Dining in the streets for Third Thursdays is just the latest in a series of events in Kennett Square that has made it a destination stop for many.
Photo by Fran Maye This property at 410 W. State Street was once the home of a gas station and three 1,000-gallon tanks were recently discovered underground. LGB Propertiesis looking to develop the lot for about 25 additional parking for The Market at Liberty Place.

By FRAN MAYE

fmaye@21st-centurymedia.com

Kennett Square may have the second highest tax rate in southern Chester County, but residents get good value for their money.

That was the message from Brant Kucera, Kennett Square borough manager, in response to a resident’s complaint that taxes in the borough were too high.

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“Although on the surface it appears taxes are higher than other communities, there is a big difference in the kinds of services we have,” Kucera said. “There are times you need to invest in your community, and that’s how we progress.”

Kennett Square, which is about one square mile and has about 5,000 residents, levies a municipal tax of 5.25 mills, the second highest in southern Chester County. Oxford levies 12 mills.

But, Kucera said, Kennett Square has its own 24-hour, seven days a week police force. Nearby West Grove Borough, which levies a tax rate of 3.5 mills, must rely on state police.

And Kennett Square has become a destination spot for tourists of late. Special events like the Mushroom Festival, the Kennett Run and the Kennett Brewfest attract tens of thousands of people.

“Economically, I don’t think anyone can deny which of the boroughs (in southern Chester County) is doing the best,” Kucera said. “If you look at our population growth, we’ve’ grown faster than any of the other boroughs in the area. And when we do have a vacancy in the downtown, it’s filled very quickly.”

Because of this, Kucera said, assessed values in the borough have gone up “substantially” in the past 10 years.

“Our taxes are definitely not stopping anyone from investing in this borough,” Kucera said.

Last year, more than $1 million was spent on downtown economic development in Kennett Square. Eleven new businesses opened. The borough obtained a $50,000 façade grant from the state, improving the aesthetics of storefronts. Festivals throughout the year, including the Mushroom Festival and Brewfest, attract tens of thousands to a borough of just one square mile.

Special events

In other business, council approved several special event applications:

- National Night Out, Aug. 5.

- - Carter CDC Block Party (formerly Historic East Linden Project) Aug. 23.

- - Mushroom Festival Parade and Dining, Sept. 5.

- - Mushroom Festival, Sept. 5 to Sept. 7.

- -- Homecoming Parade Sept. 19.

Stop signs

Council also agreed to approve the installation of stop signs on Magnolia Street at South Garfield Street, in both directions.

Parking spaces

Council authorized Kucera to submit a letter seeking funding from the Pa. Dept. of Community Development Industrial Sites Reuse Program. The borough is searching for a developer for the lot at 410 West State Street for parking spaces. The site was once a gas station and it was discovered there were three 1,000-gallon tanks underground. LGB Properties wants to develop the lot for about 25 additional parking spaces for the Market at Liberty Place. Should the borough get some state funding, it will be used to pay for remediation costs, estimated to be about $50,000.

112 E. State St.

The building at 112 East State Street, formerly the home of the Kennett Paper and recently the home of Mystique, was authorized for a temporary use. Bayard-Taylor Memorial Library wants to use the space to hold a computer camp sponsored by Google.

Appointment

Sue Holloway was approved by council to serve on the borough’s Architectural Review Board and the borough’s Planning Commission.

Facebook

Mayor Matt Fetick told residents at the council meeting July 7 that social media sites, especially Facebook, are not the venue for people who have concerns with the police department. Fetick said he will not respond to any Facebook comments about the department.

Council president Leon Spencer agreed.

“If you have issues with government, or issues with any of the departments in the borough, there is a process,” Spencer said. “Social media is not the way to do that. If you have a complaint about the Kennett Square Police Department, go to the Kennett Square Police Department.