WEST CHESTER - The Chester County commissioners have named a new director of open space preservation.
William D. Gladden II, who assumes the post June 28, will implement and coordinate all as-pects of Landscapes, the county's comprehensive plan, in conjunction with county department heads.
His duties include advising the commissioners on policy as well as on operational and funding matters for open space initiatives. He also will serve as the commissioners' liaison to conservancies, land trusts, agricultural preservation organizations and federal, state and local governments.
Gladden previously worked for Chester County from June 1994 until September 2003, earning $56,217 as open space facilities contract coordinator.
His new position, which has a starting salary of $76,000, is a reclassification and an expansion of his prior post.
"It's just a great opportunity," said Gladden. "The streamlined reporting will really make the job ... more challenging."
In his new post, he said he will serve as a contact person for the commissioners, various department heads and the public.
"They don't have to be an expert, just to know who to ask a question," he said.
Gladden, who has served as East Bradford assistant township manager since September, said his new job will offer a broader range of tasks than his previous county position.
He said his priorities will be familiarizing himself with the commissioners' vision for Landscapes, reintroducing himself to county administrators and getting to know the volunteer members of the commissioners' open space task force.
A week before they were elected in November, Republicans commissioners Carol Aichele and Donald Mancini announced the formation of an open space advisory committee.
They named seven Republicans to the task force Peter Hausmann, a commercial developer and head of the Chester County General Authority; Molly Morrison, Natural Lands Trust senior vice president; Judy DiFilippo, vice chairwoman of the Tredyffrin Board of Supervisors; Carmen Battavio, an East Goshen supervisor; Ryan Costello, an East Vincent supervisor; Charlie Brosius, former agriculture secretary; and Robert McRae, the chief county assessor and an Agricultural Land Preservation board member.
Democratic Commissioner Andrew Dinniman, however, sought to make the group a bipartisan committee. In April the commissioners also named Paul Fitzpatrick, West Chester Borough Council member; Samuel Goodley, chairman of the East Nottingham Board of Supervisors; and Densey Juvonen, of West Marlborough, to the task force. Juvonen is past chairwoman of Safety, Agricul-ture, Villages and Environment (SAVE), which was formed in opposition to PennDOT's proposal to widen Route 41.
Hausmann was pleased that Gladden was returning to Chester County in an expanded post.
"He understands the programs. He certainly is familiar with the issues in Chester County. He knows the players," Hausmann said. "And I think he's a creative guy that helps get deals done. And that's what we really need - somebody that understands the larger vision of what we want in Chester County."
Lee Ledbetter, a Schuylkill supervisor, had a slightly different take on Gladden's new county post.
"I'm not sure how relative the position would be to us," he said.
Schuylkill is the only one of the county's 73 municipalities that has not signed a memorandum of understanding for Landscapes.
The commissioners, however, said Gladden will help define clear goals of Landscapes and measure the county's progress toward those goals.
In January, county administrators who oversee open space grant programs presented the commissioners with their initial estimates of the expected 2004 grant requests. Estimates for the six open space programs totaled $15 million to $17 million.
The requests included $7 million for agricultural easement purchases, $3.6 million for municipal grants, $2 million for conservancy/preservation partnership grants, $650,000 for vision partner-ship grants and $2 million to $4 million for community revitalization grants.
John Mikowychok, parks and recreation director, said he did not expect any funding requests for county park acquisitions this year.
"This is a lot of money that we're spending," said Dinniman after the commissioners meeting last week, "and we want to make sure it's spent in the best possible way."
During their campaign, Aichele and Mancini pledged to allocate $60 million in the next four years to continue Landscapes initiatives.
Asked if he could bring Schuylkill on board with Landscapes, Gladden said, "I don't know. People have the right to do what they want. Time will tell."
Ledbetter said Schuylkill has not signed the Landscapes memorandum because, as an advisory plan, the initiative has no enforcement provisions to make developers abide by municipal ordinances.
However, Ledbetter, who said township officials already consider Landscapes policies in their decision-making process, did not rule out the possibility of signing the memorandum.
"If it happens, it will be when we finish our regional comprehensive plan creation and adopt it," he said.
Schuylkill is partnering with Phoenixville, East Pikeland, Charlestown and East and West Vincent to develop a regional comprehensive plan that would give the municipalities legal backing for their planning policies. Ledbetter expected this plan to be complete in about 18 months.