Click on the Myth to Find out the Real Facts about Kardon Park

Myth: The new development will take away our park.

Myth: Kardon Park is perfectly safe to use as a public park right now. No remediation is necessary.

Myth: There are public grants available to remediate the site without the development.

Myth: The development will worsen traffic which is already terrible.

Myth: Our taxes will go up.

Myth: Our property values will go down.

Myth: There will be no loss of jobs if this project does not proceed.

Myth: The development will worsen flooding problems in the Lake Drive community.

Myth: We won’t have a pleasant walking experience along the Lion’s Trail because of the view of the new homes.

Myth: The remediation process will be hazardous to nearby residents.

Myth: The ponds are already in a sorry state. The development will degrade them further.

Myth: We’re losing trees and the new development will worsen pollution in our area.

Myth: Downingtown needs more parks.  

Myth: Single Family homes are a better choice for this site.

Myth: the market is terrible and the homes will not sell.

Myth: The new development will take away our park.
Fact: The development not only preserves the park but improves it. The land area devoted to park use will double -- from approximately 10 acres used currently to approximately 22 acres available to the public. Woods, trails and ponds will remain and extensive new trails will be built including three new footbridges across the millrace, opening up a multi-acre wooded meadow for public enjoyment. For pictures of what the park will look like after the development click here. To see the new public parking will also be built for users of the Lions Trail and Struble Trail. Instead of cars dangerously sprawled along Norwood Road on a busy weekend, there will now be a safe public parking lot protected from oncoming traffic. The existing crumbling trails will be rebuilt so they will no longer hold muddy puddles and ice. For the location of  the new public parking and trails proposed, click here.

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Myth: Kardon Park is perfectly safe to use as a public park right now. No remediation is necessary.
Fact: Fact: In the early 1990’s the Borough learned from regulatory authorities that the property it had acquired years earlier from various industrial and other land owners was contaminated from residue of years of dumping and would require remediation. To see the past dumping areas on the site click here. In order to avoid burdening Downingtown taxpayers with the cost of clean up,  the Borough Council and Main Street civic leaders at the time decided to sell the property and have a private developer remediate the site. To do so, they sought and obtained an Act 2 clearance from the State Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The Borough’s consultants presented results of detailed surveys of the nature of the use of the park to determine the exposure levels. The surveys documented that 77% of the park users stayed on or very near the paved trails, 74% of park visitors were adults not teenagers or children, and the average visitor duration on the property was 10 minutes. Based on these limited exposures, the DEP cleared the property to be used as a passive park, delineating the areas to be off limits to the public unless remediated. The DEP further conditioned its approval on the usage patterns and exposures remaining consistent with the surveys. For a copy of the map showing areas off limits to the public unless remediated click here. For a copy of the  DEP Act 2 approval order, click here.

If the area proposed for development now were to be used for a passive park, it would have to be remediated to the same higher standard now proposed by the developer of Kardon Ponds.  Should the development fall through and the land made available for use as a public park, it would have to be cleaned up at taxpayer expense.

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Myth: There are public grants available to remediate the site without the development.
Fact:
Downingtown has indeed received a nearly $1 million State matching grant to add to the developer’s contribution, to remediate the contamination of Kardon Park. However, these funds are conditioned on the rest of the mixed use development going through since the State seeks to support jobs, economic development and tax revenues for the Borough with its grant. Should the development fail to start in time in order to spend the funds by July, 2011, Downingtown tax payers will lose this grant. The Borough is not aware of any other public grants available to clean up a public park alone, especially when the large, active Kerr park is immediately nearby.

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Myth: The development will worsen traffic which is already terrible.
Fact: Traffic improvements to be paid for by the developer will improve traffic conditions over today.   Though traffic engineering studies forecast only modest increases in traffic from the new residents due to the site’s proximity to the Route 30 bypass and to the ability of residents to walk to Main street and to the train, extensive traffic improvements paid for by the developer  will alleviate current congestion as well as improve pedestrian safety. For a list of the proposed traffic improvements click here.

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Myth: Our taxes will go up. 
Fact: The new development generates more revenues than expenses --  meaning that Borough residents receive a net surplus of over $120,000 each year.  The School district and Chester County benefit even more. Projections show that this project will help stabilize taxes, not cause them to rise.  Case in point: if development were in place today, Borough Council would not have had to raise taxes over 14% the past two years to pay for operating expenses. Further, with the large one-time revenues generated by the land sale the Borough can pay down it’s capital debt, resulting in less debt service each year and lower operating expenses. Tax increases are an inevitable trend unless new residents move in to help shoulder the tax burden or services are cut. For a summary of the costs and revenues generated by the development as well as the number of school children projected, click here.

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Myth: Our property values will go down.
Fact: The development should actually increase surrounding property values. The more new residents who come to Downingtown, the more desirable our town becomes. Also, many of the new residents are expected to be first time homebuyers; as they start families and outgrow their space, the most convenient choice are single family homes in the Borough. And cleaning up the contamination and beautifying adjacent streets will enhance property values of the surrounding residences. 

Myth:There will be no loss of jobs if this project does not proceed.
Fact: An estimated 250 jobs will be created during the remediation and construction phase. If completed, over 25 jobs would exist as part of the commercial establishments built at the frontage along Pennsylvania Avenue. 

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Myth: The development will worsen flooding problems in the Lake Drive community.
Fact:
Storm water controls will be carefully designed and permittedby the regulators to accommodate the new development.  The ponds are actuallystarved for water now and do not flood. In fact their health will benefit fromreceiving the cleansed storm water generated by the new development.  Anyproblems existing on Lake Drive due to high ground water will not be affectedby the ponds at Kardon Park ­ now or in the future.

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Myth: We won’t have a pleasant walking experience along the Lion’s Trail because of the view of the new homes.
Fact: The new homes will be heavily screened and set back from the trails. The developer has agreed to set back the new homes further from the trail and to lower the heights of the buildings closest to the trail as well as to add a heavily landscaped berm to buffer the view of the new homes. The beautiful old sycamore trees along the ponds edge today will remain in most cases due to careful hand digging.  For details on the proposed screening and the trees to be preserved, click here.

What will change from the present day experience is the following, click here.

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Myth: The remediation process will be hazardous to nearby residents.
Fact:
The clean up involves capping the site with two feet of clean material. The State Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) has approved a detailed clean up plan which protects the health and safety of the residents. The contaminants are heavy metals which tend to bind to the soil. During the grading, dust control measures will be carefully monitored by regulators to prevent disturbance to the air and water. For an excerpt from the Pennsylvania DEP-approved clean up plan that deals with controlled conditions during the capping process click here.

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Myth: The ponds are already in a sorry state. The development will degrade them further.
Fact:
Currently storm water, fertilizers and pet waste from the yards surrounding the ponds is running directly into the ponds without filtration. The development will engineer a steady source of fresh water to the ponds to keep them flushed. Cleaned storm water and freshwater from Brandywine Creek will be routed to the Mill Race to feed the ponds with fresh water.Extensive new wetlands plantings will be added around the edges of the ponds to improve their quality. For more information on how storm water will be managed click here. The developer will fund and a homeowner’s association will maintain fountains or other aeration devices to keep the water circulated.  

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Myth: We’re losing trees and the new development will worsen pollution in our area.
Fact:
A landscaping plan will be produced as part of the approvals which will call for extensive new trees to be planted, many more than will be taken down.  According to environmental experts, the quality of the existing trees on the western half of the site is poor and invasive plants predominate. As part of the development, new wetlands trees, shrubs and grasses will be planted all along the ponds edges creating a more desirable habitat for flora and fauna to thrive. Finally, the mature trees along the ponds’ edge will be maintained wherever possible. For the wetlands planting plan A click here.   For the wetlands planting plan B click here.

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Myth: Downingtown needs more parks.
Fact:
Downingtown already has 6 public parks totaling 122.76 acres, nearly 10% of the land in the Borough. According to the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission metrics, approximately 60 to 70 acres of park land would be optimum for a community of the size of Downingtown, or roughly half what already exists. The nearby Kerr park alone has over 60 acres of active and passive park land. For a list and description of Downingtown’s parks, click here.

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Myth: Single Family homes are a better choice for this site.
Fact:
Due to the geotechnical conditions of the soil and the cost of cleaning up the site, it is not economically feasible to build and sell single family homes. Nor is it certain that the State would grant environmental approval for single family homes with private yards on this site.  According to Chester County Planning Departments “Landscapes” and “Landscapes II” plans, as well as the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, Downingtown is one of their recommended locations for higher density development­ with train service and a town center that is walkable for residents.

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Myth: The market is terrible and the homes will not sell.
Fact:
The types of homes planned for this development are in demand. For seniors and “empty nesters” who want to stay in the area but don’t want stairs or the maintenance burden, there are few homeownership options. Similarly, there are few affordable close-in options for first time homebuyers in Chester County.  Communities nearby to town centers with access to public transportation are continuing to sell. The homes will only be built as they are sold so in no event will there be a community of empty, unsold homes. For pictures of the proposed homes see kardonponds.com/homes/

 

 

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