when non-profits become bad neighbors

  

Your eyes do not deceive you. This is  indeed a photo taken Monday of a parking lot resembling an obstacle course. This parking lot is not in Chester County thank goodness, the  location is Ardmore, Pennsylvania. In Lower Merion Township where West Chester’s former borough manager Ernie McNeely is now the Township Manager. 

The Junior League of Philadelphia is doing a huge renovation project at the thrift shop and headquarters in Ardmore. I applaud them for all the good works they have done for decades, but they are being astoundingly dad neighbors now.

Ardmore is a town that suffers from parking issues chronically. So if you add a construction project where construction vehicles park every which way and dumpsters get put and left in thru lanes for very tight parking lots,  it creates a driving hazard and an impediment to small businesses.  Believe it or not, close to that dumpster out of the sight line of the photo is an outdoor dining space for a small café. I can’t imagine they have much business with a giant dumpster RIGHT there.

One of my closest friends owns a store that you literally cannot get to through this parking lot a lot of the time right now because of these construction vehicles. So if customers and suppliers can’t reach the stores and store owners and employees are having a hard time, how are small businesses coping? The answer is not really well and it’s just not fair.  (I also have to note that many of these buildings have apartments and office suites above them and all of those people are having a hard time too)

Why can’t the Junior League find other parking close by for the construction vehicles?  Why does it seem like they are getting preferential treatment and everyone is letting them get away with murder in the parking lot? Other businesses can’t stop being in business because the Junior League is renovating their building.  

Don’t misunderstand me, the building they (The Junior League) are in has been long in need of renovation, it’s kind of a pit, but they should be more considerate of their neighbors and they aren’t. If there are projects which have to block portions of the parking lot at times during this project (which keeps occurring), why not start it a little earlier in the morning before businesses open or why not provide neighboring businesses advance notice that the parking lot will be blocked on certain dates for certain amounts of time?

I used to be a big fan of the Junior League of Philadelphia, and hopefully someday I will be able to be once again. But right now they are simply a nonprofit behaving badly. Think of this post as #dogshaming of a charitable organization. Somehow I don’t think when Mary Harriman founded the Junior League in 1901 being a bad neighbor was part of her plan.

This is yet another reason why I am glad I no longer live on the Main Line. I would however love to be able to navigate this parking lot safely so I can patronize my friend’s business. I  used to donate to the Junior League for their shop once in a while and I never will again after this. 

  

surprise! east whiteland is getting a new township manager april 8

nagel east whitelandThe thing about East Whiteland Township that is so marvelous   is that you rarely know what is going on until it is done. You can purportedly sign up to get meeting notices and what not, only you never get them.

Well lo and behold a NEW Township Manager is being sworn in TOMORROW April 8th. You would think they would notify residents of things like this, or in their case send up a smoke signal as no meetings are televised. (I have personally signed up three times for township newsletters and such including today but have yet to receive any notice of meeting agendas and so on.)

His name is John Nagel and here is his Linked In Profile – which was updated already to reflect his new gig for which he gets sworn in tomorrow. I will reserve judgment but I sure hope he makes East Whiteland more user friendly – better communication, maybe even televised meetings???

Here is what I just read (which was echoed on Patch late yesterday only who really read Patch anymore?):

East Whiteland Township Announces Appointment of New Township Manager

East Whiteland Township Supervisors announced today that have agreed to hire John B. Nagel as the Manager of the Township. Mr. Nagel is replacing Terry Woodman who is retiring from the position she has held since 2001.

Mr. Nagel joins EWT from Whitpain Township, Montgomery County where he was the Director of Finance. Prior to that position, Mr. Nagel served as Director of Administrative Services for the City of Reading and as Township Manager of Montgomery Township and in various other positions over a career of more than 26 years in local government.

Bill Holmes, Chairman of the East Whiteland Township Board of Supervisors, “We are very pleased and excited to have John Nagel join our organization. East Whiteland is a vibrant, dynamic community and we believe our efforts have resulted in our selection in the best possible candidate to lead the Township.” John Mott, Vice Chairman of the Board added, “John Nagel is an accomplished individual with a proven track record of successfully guiding business growth and process improvement, and we are confident that he is the right person to lead the Township in achieving our goals.”

In commenting on his appointment, Mr. Nagel indicated, “I am excited about this new challenge and look forward to joining East Whiteland as Township Manager. I am confident that working with our elected officials and dedicated employees, we can achieve our true potential as a premier local government serving the needs of our residents, employers and employees who call East Whiteland home.” Mr. Nagel commended Ms. Woodman for establishing a strong, results-oriented staff and a community and economic center in EWT. “It is an honor to succeed Terry Woodman as Township Manager.”

Mr. Nagel will be sworn in as Township Manager at the Board’s April 8th meeting.

 

And by the way….read the township website about interesting zoning related updates. And this gen in PhillyDeals caught my eye:

Meanwhile, out in the suburbs: Instead of reskinning aging 1970s buildings and tacking on skylit public areas and shops, Liberty Property Trust last week presented plans to knock down a largely vacant 300,000-square-foot group of buildings that formerly housed drugmaker Sanofi in the Great Valley Corporate Center.

The plan is to get East Whiteland Township approval for “600,000, 700,000, 800,000 square feet of offices, six or seven stories high, a 130-room hotel, 25,000 square feet of retail, 600 apartment units,” said Jim Mazzarelli, head of Liberty’s suburban East Coast operations.

“We don’t have any tenants” yet, he told me.

What’s the inspiration? Mazzarelli says his team studied mixed-use urban developments in Washington and Arlington, Va., where you don’t need a car to move from office to bar to grocery, kids’ playground, and home. “We believe these knowledge workers still want that lifestyle after they have kids and come to the suburbs.”

 

Aye yay yay. East Whiteland as Mall of America? Sweet.

west king road east whiteland



This is West King Road in East Whiteland.

Now I know this road is not unique. The roads in multiple counties around Pennsylvania  are in deplorable condition after this winter. The frost heaves alone are incredible.

But if you don’t constantly point out to PennDOT what roads are in deplorable condition, nothing gets fixed. I am also putting this out so State Representive Duane Milne’s  office sees more photos. I emailed them about this recently and once again they never even acknowledged the email.  

I am still finding that the communication between elected officials and regular residents out here leaves a little to be desired at times. I also informed State Senator Andy Dinniman’s office. 

Both the honorable State Representive and State Senator should be glad I am not writing a dissertation on the deplorable conditions of Route 100 and the constant PennDOT construction project there. That road is dangerous and treacherous at this point in places. 

If you know of roads that are in really bad shape and Chester County feel free to post photos and comments on the Chester County Ramblings Facebook page.



stop the crazy

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Brian Williams, now a suspended NBC national news anchor lied. Is it awful? Yes. Can I see it from my window? No. But this whole giant example of ego and stupidity is making as much news around this country as that poor girl Kayla Mueller who was killed by Isis and isn’t that truly almost criminally sad?

So, it is when I read things like the SECOND article linked below from ConservativeHQ.com I am astounded because it just reads crazy, full on crazy. And when we are facing so many things that are so much more important in the world today, why is it that a news anchor losing his job has so much importance in the news? Should this guy who reads the news really be the news?

Someone sent me this ConservativeHQ web article today and I think it is cuckoo for cocoa puffs for lack of a better description.

The whole hypothesis is Brian Williams a national newscaster who lied on an anchor desk is responsible for things like Enron. Or a symbol of those responsible for things like Enron. Either way, I love a good dose of pretzel logic on a hump day don’t you?

Brian Williams screwed up. In a glorious career-fatal way. But Brian Williams on or off and anchor desk for NBC news is not going to affect my quality of life.

Brian Williams has a giant contract has been been put on suspension as I suspect they are trying to undo that contract because he’s not going to be credible on air any longer.

I don’t mean to be rude, but somewhere somehow we all have to stop and take a freaking breath and get out of the extremes. Once again I will say that the politics of extremism are ruining this country.

All of these extremists conservative or liberal give a bad name to American politics. And allowing their voices to continue to grow means the bulk of us who are somewhere in the middle lose again and again and again.

This article actually has some points to consider which get completely lost in the hyperbole of crazy. They aren’t necessarily wrong about Comcast and NBC and how networks produce the “news”, but they go so far off the rails with the rest of it that THAT thought which is actually important, gets lost.

(And speaking of how networks produce the news who has seen the commercial the Comcast has produced for the local NBC 10 News? What’s up with the female reporters and female anchors and the dresses chosen for them for the commercial ? Are they being dressed for a new season of Breaking Amish or Conservative Barbie has an adventure or something? I really wish HBO series The Newsroom had not been ended. I would love to see their take on all of this.)

Brian Williams is NOT a symbol of anything other then how lying and stupidity can tank a career. Wow can’t wait to see what these people do with Colonel Mustard in the library can you?

But again , and seriously, somewhere people in this country need to stop and hit the pause button. The two major political parties are essentially controlled by forms of extremism, and that trickle down effect is running this country into a constantly and consistently angry hole.

Before you read crazy, read the student journalist editorial I have posted before it. At least the future of journalism is not completely bleak.

Williams’ drama doesn’t belong in the newsroom Katherine Waller, Staff Columnist | Posted: Tuesday, February 10, 2015 12:23 am

This week posed a threat to NBC Nightly News’ Brian Williams’ career. Reports testified that he had falsely accounted being on board a military helicopter in Iraq during 2003 that was hit with an RPG and had to make an emergency landing. He is under additional scrutiny about false statements regarding events he witnessed while covering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina….It looks like that handsome face and perfect TV voice can no longer disguise who he really is: a liar…..I’m not saying that trustworthy news sources do not exist. After all, I am a student journalist myself…..News organizations need to value why they can’t just tell people what they want to hear….Seeing everyone get so upset over Brian Williams’ questionable truths makes me wonder why everyone is so surprised. In a business that has become about selling information, selling an ideology and selling people, why are watchers shocked

Brian Williams: Symbol Of The Corruption Of America’s Establishment Institutions George Rasley, CHQ Editor | 2/10/2015

Monday, two more examples of NBC News anchor Brian Williams’ despicable stolen valor lies about his experiences covering the Iraq war in 2003 surfaced, but Williams was not fired.

It was announced late Tuesday he was being put on six months unpaid leave and, most astonishingly, that Steve Burke, the Chief Executive Officer of Comcast, which owns NBC said Williams “deserves a second chance and we are rooting for him.”.

…..In our view it is not because some guy in the personnel department of NBC is going over Williams’ contract with a fine-toothed comb before handing him his pink slip six months from now.

It is because the establishment institutions of America, the media like Comcast and NBC, business, and especially politics, have become so mired in a culture of lies and corruption….This is the “anything to win” culture that led to the ENRON scandal….

malvern borough wakes up to historic preservation

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Malvern Borough has woken up to the real concept of historic preservation.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is will it do any good?

I am a huge believer in historic preservation, do not misunderstand me. It’s just that I have seen too many fights to try to save too many historic properties which have failed. And they have failed not because there wasn’t interest in historic preservation, they failed because zoning on local and county levels were inadequate and hamstrung because as I have said for years, at the state level, the Municipalities Planning Code of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is woefully out of date, isn’t it?

Pennsylvania is a private property rights state. It is also a state with some powerful building, developer, construction lobbyists up in Harrisburg. A few short years ago for brief shining moment there was a proposed law on the books that would allow municipalities to an act a short-term moratorium on development. It was HB904 during 2007 and 2008. It has long since disappeared like it was never even a concept which existed .

A famous recent example of what could not be saved of historic import was La Ronda. It was demolished in 2009.

La Ronda was in Lower Merion Township where I used to live. Innumerable people locally,regionally, and nationally worked with politicians in Lower Merion to try to save the historic Spanish Gothic mansion. I photographed the last few months of the mansion from outside it’s gates and the October 1, 2009 demolition day.

My point is this: Lower Merion is a very powerful municipality. They have a very organized historical architectural review board or “HARB” and historical society and STILL more is lost than is saved. I’ve observed similar situations in Radnor Township. Not trying to be Debbie Downer on this because I applaud Malvern Borough for finally trying to put mechanisms in place, but in the end will it do anything if local municipalities don’t lobby there state elected officials to update what needs updating in Harrisburg as well?

I also in the past worked to put a former neighborhood into a historic district. I’m still waiting and trying to figure out what it actually does to help in the end because since I moved away from this neighborhood there’s just been more development and I haven’t seen or heard of any active preservation.

Again, I am not against historic preservation, I am very much in favor of it. But historic preservation needs to have MORE things on a state level to back it up. And it has always been my belief that in addition to fabulous things like Preservation PA, there needs to be an update to the municipalities planning code because that is the state bible that drives local zoning ordinances, correct?

A more holistic approach is needed so local municipalities from the tiniest of boroughs to the largest of cities have more tools in there tool box to help them preserve their communities historically and in general.

I’m glad Malvern is taking these steps, but I also wonder if they will actually have enforceability with what they want to do? Or if one good Municipal Court challenge by someone will knock it out? What is Malvern Borough doing NOW about the properties which you would think were historic but seem to be falling apart?

Malvern Borough Solicitor Wendy McLean was quoted as saying “This is a much less obtrusive ordinance than most” and supposedly those who didn’t follow the ordinance if enacted would be subject to fines equal to a property’s market value? I just don’t see how they would be able enforce something like that. Maybe they could but is there case law on this before they go forward and spend taxpayer money to enact an ordinance like this? I get it, Malvern Borough is a small municipality finally trying to preserve its character. But if they don’t enact ordinances that they can’t defend in court they could possibly bankrupt themselves in legal fees couldn’t they?

What I don’t see in the media coverage is if Malvern Borough’s solicitor also went over similar ordinances in other communities? I agree Malvern has to begin somewhere, it’s just from reading through the ordinance I just can’t see a developer not being able to knock holes in it as it stands right now. And what will this ordinance do for all the structures in the borough which are currently “demolition by neglect”? How will they handle people who wish to be grandfathered from the ordinance?

Here is the language of what is being proposed – it can be found on Malvern Borough’s website, just CLICK HERE.

And if you are into historic preservation you should also check out “Pennsylvania at Risk”

Here is the news on this:

Malvern wants to protect historic properties Michaelle Bond, Inquirer Staff Writer Last updated: Wednesday, January 21, 2015, 1:08 AM


Malvern, which celebrated its 125th anniversary last year, wants to add an extra step to its building-permit process to preserve historical properties.

The borough is considering a process to review all proposals to significantly alter or demolish historic properties or resources. Officials would work with property owners to try to preserve that which makes the structures historical.

According to a proposed ordinance that would create a Historical Overlay District, the protection of about 250 primarily residential structures is a matter of “public necessity.”

“We have a handful of them that were around during the Revolutionary War,” said Zeyn Uzman, chair of the borough’s Historical Commission. “Unfortunately, one of them will probably be torn down in the next six months.”

Uzman explained the potential ordinance to about 70 residents at a meeting Tuesday night at a church.

A developer plans to build residential units at the site of a house on Old Lincoln Highway that dates to the 1780s. The Historical Commission estimates that the house is the second- or third-oldest structure in Malvern.

The ordinance, which must be approved by the borough council, cannot protect properties from being demolished, but it would allow the borough to preserve the history of those places, Uzman said.

“If we’re going to lose a structure, we at least want to go in there and take pictures and document as much as we can,” he said. Currently, borough officials are not permitted to enter someone’s residence to document it.

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