Deerfield Twp. gets public input on future of Kingswood site

Deerfield Twp. residents had plenty of suggestions for the future use of a former golf course — and none included the building of more “big box stores.”

Coffee and wine shops, walking trails, a dog park, an amphitheater, and open spaces that preserve large trees were among the things that about 50 residents said they want to see become of the 30-acre mixed use project is being called Downtown Deerfield.

Monday’s public input session was the first of three planned for the hotly contested development and offered a chance for feedback on conceptual drawings of the proposed public use areas.

Township officials say Downtown Deerfield offers the potential for $300 million in economic development that will balance the area’s housing stock, strengthen the local schools, eliminate debt, create jobs and improve quality of life.

Some residents who make up the Keep Kingswood Park group are opposing future development of the 110-acre property.

Officials said the guiding principles for the project include preserving 30-plus acres for public spaces and a 3 percent limit on retail.

A number of residents said the proposed ideas could work as long as they did not include “big box stores.”

“I think it’s a real interesting idea,” Deerfield Twp. resident Jason Fremder said. “I used to run in Kingswood and it would be a unique area and help create a community identity if it’s done right.”

“I think the township has done a great job of managing development,” he said. “I’m glad they’re doing this and I’ll be interested to see how it changes the next time. I understand what they’re trying to do. This is the first step in making sure this gets done right.”

Resident Allison Bruns would like to see coffee and wine shops and other places to hang out in the new development. However, she does not want to see more chain restaurants, big box stores or apartments and offices.

“I’m not sure if it’s the best idea to keep it just a park,” she said.

The next public input session will be in late November, according to Deerfield Twp. Administrator Eric Reiners, and will provide more refined information about the public use area.

He said the vision plan will be presented that will include the other types of mixed uses envisioned for the development such as residential, medical and professional offices, a hotel and other uses.

The third public input session will be in early 2018.

“That would focus on the nuts and bolts to identify issues and solutions as well as how the new development would impact local schools and traffic, and the financial-related issues and terms of the master development agreement,” Reiners said.

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