As Inga Saffron notes in the March 18, 2021 Philadelphia Inquirer article "Upper Darby Mayor is Pursuing an Ambitious Agenda to Make the Town Cleaner, Greener, and More Walkable," Mayor Keffer believes in policies that favor pedestrians, parks and preservation, combined with greater attention to the basics of cleanliness and safety. Some recent improvements are highlighted below.
Mayor Keffer and her Administration worked with the Licenses & Inspection and Public Works Departments to create a two-pronged, proactive Focus Zone approach towards addressing property maintenance and infrastructure issues. Mayor Keffer is committed to improving the quality of life for all residents of Upper Darby Township and, as part of her promise of ‘Reinvestment, Revitalization and Reform.' In the Spring of 2020 Township Council revamped the Township Property Maintenance Code, which forms the foundation of these programs. The Focus Zone Program is a joint effort by Public Works and L&I to identify and address township maintenance and basic code enforcement issues. Each month Public Works looks at the condition of street signs and posts, road painting as well as manholes and storm sewer drains in an organized, systematic way. The Code Enforcement Ticketing Program differs from the prior enforcement system in that it works like a parking ticket. If you’re found in violation, you get a written warning and 48 hours to correct the problem. If the violation is not resolved, a $25 ticket will be issued. The idea is to get the most people in compliance with our code the most quickly. These property maintenance standards have been in force on paper for decades and the ticketing program is a new and consistent enforcement tool. Some of the things inspectors will look for throughout the year are ensuring that trash is contained in trash cans, grass is not too high, shrubbery does not extend over the right-of-way, the discarded mattresses are wrapped in bags, and that house numbers are visible in the front (and the back if there is a shared driveway.) These programs uphold consistent standards for township infrastructure and private property in an organized, forward-thinking way.
In December 2021, Mayor Keffer, Township Council, and the Administration officially cut the ribbon on the new modernized Municipal Parking Lot. The upgraded parking lot improves stormwater management by incorporating 4,000 SF of new landscape areas with sixteen (16) shade trees and one (1) evergreen tree. In order to promote sustainability, there are three (3) electric charging stations that can accommodate up to six (6) electric vehicles. The charging stations are connected directly into the power grid and can be accessed via a mobile phone app. The general design of the parking lot was enhanced by providing ninety (90) degree parking stalls and 24’ drive aisles which improve safety and convenience. Existing overhead lighting was removed to make way for underground conduit with upgraded LED Lighting fixtures. Modern parking kiosks and ADA parking stalls are provided throughout along with compliant walkways. As part of the continuous capital improvement projects to reinvest in and revitalize the Township, Mayor Keffer secured funding to make these needed improvements from the Community Development Block Grant program as well as the Township’s 5 year Capital Improvement plan.
Gillespie Park is a hidden gem in the landscape of Upper Darby Township offering a panorama of green space along the Darby Creek. Unfortunately, in the past decades, invasive vegetation have suffocated native canopy trees and threaten their survival. A restored buffer helps reduce flood damage for the homes across the street and downstream in the Darby Creek watershed. Goats are uniquely qualified to deal with invasive vegetation and in 2020 and 2021 goats were utilized to remove invasive growth from the area. Utilizing goats for landscaping purposes is a widely-used, environmentally-positive practice that helps reduce erosion, fertilizes the soil and protects trees and wildlife. We are grateful to the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and the Delaware County Conservation District for the TreeVitalize grant that made this possible and is part of the streambank restoration project. The next step was to work with the Shade Tree Commission, Tree Tenders of Upper Darby, the Eastern Delaware County Stormwater Collaborative, and many volunteers to plant 300 native trees and shrubs on October 16, 2021.
While the COVID-19 pandemic forced Upper Darby to find a way to broadcast Township meetings, Mayor Barbarann Keffer has been asking for years to have Council meetings videotaped and broadcast to the public. Since March 2020, Township Meetings have been livestreamed to the Township's YouTube Channel. In 2022, Capital Improvement funds were used to upgrade the cameras and sound system in the Township Meeting room to allow for higher quality video and audio. You can view all Township Meetings on the Upper Darby YouTube Channel.
It is the mission of Upper Darby to be a world class provider of municipal services & a destination community for residents & businesses, with welcoming neighborhoods, thriving business districts, and vibrant public spaces. Therefore, we endeavor to provide high quality and cost effective infrastructure as well as thoughtful, responsible development for our community. Upper Darby's most recent Comprehensive Plan was completed in 2018 and the Planning & Land Development division of L&I is responsible for ensuring the goals stated in the Comprehensive Plan are carried out as envisions. Some of the Land Developments approved by Township Council over the last two years include Aronimink Elementary School, Drexeline Shopping Center, DCCC College, Drexel Hill Middle School Athletic Field Improvements, Beverly Hills Middle School Athletic Field Improvements and the new Upper Darby Community Center.