The possibility of a multi-use trail on the disused Octoraro rail line has been considered by many since 1971, when service was discontinued. It was brought to the attention of the Chadds Ford and Concord township supervisors last October when the Friends of the Chester Creek and Octoraro Branches group requested (and received) resolutions of support enabling the Friends to apply for a Department of Conservation and Natural Resources grant for partial funding of a feasibility study. The study is an in-depth look at all aspects of a possible trail, with the obvious first task being a determination of legal issues regarding the right of way. Community surveys, public meetings and meetings with close-proximity landowners are held; and engineering studies, cost estimates, parking and restroom provisions, maintenance and security are all issues addressed in the study.
The supervisors of each township have also been asked to provide $10,000 matching funds. With approximately 3,500 residents in Chadds Ford township who might benefit from the study, the cost per resident would be only $2.86, a small price to pay for the pleasure so many might gain: the ability to walk, run, roll or canter along 9.2 miles of off-road greenspace through our beautiful and historic townships. The proposed linear park passes by the Brandywine River Museum and Conservancy, the Kuerner farm, the township-owned Pyle studio, the Brandywine Battlefield, the Newlin Grist Mill, and Chester Heights’ new township park. The opportunity to interconnect with other trails in adjoining townships beckons enticingly.
In tiny Chadds Ford township, with the unfortunate juxtaposition of two major state highways or narrow winding rural lanes, both overpopulated with speeding trucks and cars, what is left for those who seek to restore their souls with the potent medicine of an afternoon outdoors?
It’s been said that you can’t put your foot in the same river twice. There is a river of green flowing at this moment in time, in very available public and private funds. How long it will flow is anybody’s guess. Will the river flow right past our back door and end up downstream in someone else’ back yard? I hope not, at least to the degree that our supervisors take a serious look at the opportunity by committing funds to the feasibility study. I urge them to take seriously their responsibility to act in the public interest by assessing the desires of our citizens. The March 6 Chadds Ford Civic Association meeting is a start, but perhaps a community survey or referendum should be considered.
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