perspective: it takes too long for dangerous bridges to be fixed

A friend of mine took this photo today Pennswood Rd Bridge, Bryn Mawr, PA

This is not a post about Chester County it’s about orphaned and other bridges in need of repair in our area, state, country.

Pennswood Rd Bridge 2007

The bridge in the photo opening this post and throughout this post is the orphaned railroad bridge on Pennswood Road in Bryn Mawr, PA. It’s in Lower Merion Township. This bridge has been falling apart for decades quite honestly. I started photographing it in 2007.

Pennswood Rd Bridge. 2007.

It takes far too long for unsafe and run down bridges to be repaired in this country. I photographed the deterioration of this Pennswood Road bridge between 2007 and 2012. I think I had some other photos once upon a time but I can’t find them.

Pennswood Rd Bridge 2012

This bridge had holes that you could see through to the railroad tracks and rattled like all get out. Underneath this bridge runs Amtrak and SEPTA trains. The bridge is on the orphaned list like many others that were built by railroads and then orphaned – original railroad companies go out of business successor railroads disavow responsibility. I don’t quite understand how it all works but that seems to be how it works.

Pennswood Road Bridge at some point between 2007-2012

What happens is the federal government will pay for most of this repair, the state will pay for some of the repair, and the final bit will be the responsibility of the local municipality. In this case, Lower Merion Township. After the bridge is rebuilt it becomes the responsibility of the municipality.

Pennswood Bridge 2012

I have to give credit here to the local commissioner in Lower Merion (Scott Zelov) who has been at this since he became a commissioner in 2006. It’s absolutely ridiculous that it took so long to get to this point. And the bridge was failing long before he took office. It’s been failing since I was in high school.

This is a definite problem across the country. I have seen programs on news shows that run nationally like network news on orphaned and dangerous bridges. In 2019 Pennsylvania was still on the short list of states with the worst bridges. Our state was number 2 in the country according to the CBS news affiliate in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh Post Gazette also covers the topic.

In 2013, Penn Live published an article about bad PA bridges. In 2017 the York Daily Record said PA was number 3 in the country for bad bridges. The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote about the topic in 2018 and many other times. (Click here for some sort of state database.)

Anyway glad this Lower Merion Township bridge is finally getting replaced. I just wish it didn’t have to take so long. Do you have a failing and/or orphaned bridge where you live? What’s being done (if anything)?

Here are two articles about the Pennswood Road Bridge:

Main Line Media News: Bryn Mawr bridge on Pennswood Road to be replaced
Richard Ilgenfritz rilgenfritz@21st-centurymedia.com @rpilgenfritz on Twitter Dec 13, 2019

Main Line Media News: Work could begin later this year on last orphaned bridge in Lower Merion
By Richard Ilgenfritz rilgenfritz@21st-centurymedia.com @rpilgenfritz on Twitter May 23, 2018 Comments

Pennswood Road Bridge 2012.

human trafficking in malvern?

Mind blown. Human trafficking broken up in Malvern, East Whiteland Township.

It started with a news release from the Chester County District Attorney’s Office:

HUMAN SEX TRAFFICKING ORGANIZATION DISMANTLED IN MALVERN
A 14-year-old’s message, “I don’t want to be here anymore,” assisted in an investigation that uncovered an East Whiteland Township human sex trafficking organization that entrapped child and adult victims in Malvern, PA.
East Whiteland Township police, along with the Chester County Detectives and Homeland Security Investigations, rescued the 14-year-old victim at a Wawa parking lot in Malvern on May 30, 2020, after she was held against her will for weeks at various locations in the area. Investigators subsequently learned that she and an 18-year-old were both victims in a human sex trafficking organization run by three men, as well as other unidentified and unnamed individuals. These codefendants engaged in a criminal conspiracy and criminal course of conduct by recruiting, enticing, soliciting, transporting, obtaining and maintaining individuals who they benefited from financially while they were subjected to sexual servitude, as well as other sexual assaults and criminal activity.

Then the news exploded.

NBC10 Philadelphia: ‘I Don’t Want to Be Here.’ Girl’s Message Uncovers Chester Co. Sex Trafficking Ring

Three men face charges for running a human sex trafficking organization in the Malvern, Pennsylvania, area

A Facebook message from a 14-year-old girl asking for help led to the discovery of a human trafficking ring in the Philadelphia suburbs.

East Whiteland Township police, Chester County detectives and Homeland Security investigators rescued the girl from the parking lot of a Malvern, Pennsylvania, Wawa on May 30, Chester County District Attorney Deb Ryan said Wednesday.

Investigators said the girl had been held for several weeks against her will in various locations in the area. Investigators then found out the 14-year-old and an 18-year-old woman were being forced into sex by three men and others….Authorities want to know if other girls or young women were victimized.

“The allegations in this case are difficult to digest because of the calculated and deviant sexual exploitation of the two victims,” Ryan said. “Our office will continue the investigation to determine if there are other victims of this human sex trafficking organization.”

So this all took place in that no man’s land of ramshackle rental properties that go from like the Wawa at Planebrook through to Sloane Toyota? All along Lancaster Avenue a/k/a Route 30? And maybe from the Wawa headed east on Route 30? I’m all turned around. I have an idea where a couple of the locations were because of the NBC10 video.

Sorry not sorry this is just horrible and very scary.

Interestingly enough I learned courtesy of the East Whiteland Township meeting this evening that they have no rental inspectors. So basically no one keeps tabs on any rental properties? Does Chester County keep track of them? This is foreign to me because municipalities along the Main Line do have rental inspector people.

I asked if they knew all of the property owners involved in these various Lancaster Avenue rental properties especially those involved in the trafficking bust and yikes? The answer came from someone who I am not sure of was residents can look things up on Chesco views (paraphrasing).

Well yes, kind sir, I realize that but the maps get confusing. What is it they don’t understand about the fact that news like this makes residents in the area feel uneasy?

Human trafficking is terrifying stuff. And it’s crazy that it was going on in Chester County. Maybe I’m naïve. But you just don’t think of hideous crimes like that here. You think about that in big cities. One of the other things that I can’t wrap my head around is did the parents of these girls report their daughters missing?

Be safe out there. Hug your kids. Love your kids. What a cruel world we live in sometimes.

Next to Wawa. Not involved with what was on news.

slightly disgusted with mankind and we need to come together and find peace

This is just one of my photos. It has absolutely nothing to do with the post.

I am beginning to understand why people move to cabins at the tops of mountains and don’t talk to people. We are living in very strange and angry times and I really wish people would just hit the pause button or take a freaking breath sometimes.

I saw pictures (media coverage) this weekend of people who went to Washington DC. They went to party with Trump on the White House lawn for 4th of July. Now no one can dispute going to Washington DC on the Fourth of July is a very American patriotic thing, the thing that disturbed me is all the coverage I saw of this event no one really was wearing masks. No one was social distancing. And it looked more like a political rally than a celebration of the nation’s birthday. That in and of itself was very distasteful to me. Right or wrong, to me it was very much a Marie Antoinette let them eat cake pre-French revolution kind of a thing.

But now I can’t help but wonder who in those crowds will get COVID-19 or bring it home and give it to somebody else? Because I don’t think they’re going to self quarantine do you?

I had another friend tell me again yet today about how uncomfortable their neighbors make them because all they’ve done essentially is party since coronavirus broke out. And I’m not trying to be a wet blanket, everyone likes to get together with their friends and family. But we don’t live in normal times and there are things we have to pay attention to. The proof is in the pudding as it were because there are spikes occurring all over the country of this pandemic virus.

I mean how embarrassing is it that European countries do not want to let an American in across their borders right now because of the virus and because of how our country is treating the Coronavirus?

Then there is the incredible tension because of well, racism in this country. We’ve had protests, incredibly violent protests at times from coast to coast. We are long overdue in truly addressing this heinous issue.

No one can have a conversation about anything and every conversation is combative and too many of them take place online and not face-to-face. Again, because of the times we live in having newly emerged from stay at home orders. We are truly living in the era of nasty keyboard idiots.

And another new thing that keeps happening. For every community where you say “Hate Has No Home Here“, “ Black Lives Matter“, or other similar signs there are also signs once again supporting local police departments. The impetus of course is to remind people that not everyone in law-enforcement is a bad person. And that’s true. I think, however, all of these different kinds of signs are stirring up people positively and negatively and I have to wonder can we take our protest signs down for a while across-the-board in general? And learn to co-exist peacefully?

And then there is the economy. There are a lot of people out of work. There are a lot of small businesses who are suffering greatly and will never open their doors again in some cases. There are people who also have gotten their salaries cut. I think with everything that has been going on since 2020 started is just creating so much tension that no one knows how to process it.

We need a do-over on 2020.

Global pandemic, unstable economy, and racism. They say bad things come in threes let’s hope this country is done now for a while, right?

Here’s a novel idea: maybe we should all just stop fighting one and other for five minutes and try to shut our mouths and open our ears and listen to what other people are saying. Maybe we should be open to hearing the points of view of others. Maybe we should all try to be better people. Maybe we should pay it forward with something positive however we can.

Part of the problem today again is no one can have a conversation any longer. No one can have a civil discussion about anything. You never know when you open your mouth if you’re going to say the right thing or the wrong thing, so I find myself for me being unusually quiet. Until now.

The impetus for this post, is all the stupid stuff I see going on in community Facebook groups. We’re all supposed to be neighbors, yet all I see is people who want to tear other people down or just starting fights. I would like to think that therapy is cheaper and perhaps anger management as well.

We live in an angry, hateful world right now. And we have to do our part to make it better to enact positive change. But change comes with trying to be tolerant of other people, walking away from stupid online arguments. I think life is hard enough right now at times, so hard, we need to just pause.

Once again, as I’ve said before, I think a lot of the fuel to the fire of negativity in this country comes from Washington DC. They only have one goal: benefiting themselves.

Our forefathers fought and bled and died and suffered so that all of us could be free. What would they think of us today? Would they be shaking their heads in disgust?

I don’t have the answers. I wish someone had the answers. But it’s too damn hot and I think people have to start to take a breath so we can come together as a nation.

Peace people. We need peace. We need love.

playing mad scientist with sourdough bread

So since March, you all know I have been learning about bread, specifically sourdough (read this post and this post). It has been quite the process and learning curve.

Bread is literally a science to learn, and it’s also trial and error. as I said to my friend Chad who owns the Master‘s Baker in West Chester yesterday it is a fascinating process to see how things like even the weather affects your bread baking.

I am now working with two strains of sourdough starter. One came from my friend Tracey Deschaine who owns Dixie Picnic in Malvern, and the other strain comes from San Francisco and has a very old strain of starter. As in more than a century old. You can find these strains from places like San Francisco and Europe and I wanted to try one just to see.

So what I’ve discovered in my learning curve here is I like the San Francisco instructions better for feeding the starter, but I use Tracey‘s recipe for making a loaf of bread. The difference between the San Francisco and local instructions for feeding the starter is they suggest you use distilled water. So I’ve been using distilled water. It seems to make a difference. We are on a well here and there are a lot of minerals in the water.

When I make up my dough I use half San Francisco starter and half Dixie Picnic starter. They both live in my refrigerator side-by-side like thing one and thing two when I am not feeding them or using them up to bake with. I’ve also discovered that getting my starter out the night before I wish to prepare dough is more effective.

I don’t know if this is all right or wrong but I am feeling way way through and it’s nice to be conquering my fear of bread making. Because before this I didn’t think I could do it.

But I am discovering I can and it’s kind of fun!

Next up? Learning how to make other kinds of bread. My husband gave me this awesome bread cookbook for a present. It’s called Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast. It’s an awesome book.

Stay cool today and I hope everyone’s enjoying the holiday weekend. Thanks for stopping by!

malvern borough have you learned nothing since eastside flats?

Development is a funny thing. I see all of these amazing adaptive reuse and other projects everywhere but in the area we call home. Chester County is overrun with bad and/or inappropriate plans. And yes there is one that concerns me in Malvern Borough. But first we need to talk about the last development which caused me concern there before due to it’s hulking nature: Eastside Flats.

And at the end of the day one of the biggest problems STILL with Eastside Flats is lack of human scale and inappropriate design for the area.  They tower over everything and citify a small town in a way that is architecturally inappropriate. And I would still like to know how fire trucks can navigate this site completely in the event of fire? 

Eastside Flats still is in my opinion, architecturally unimaginative and looks like hulky, looming Lego buildings that created a canyon effect in tiny Malvern. That is NOT a reflection on the businesses there which I love and patronize. Nothing about these buildings ties into the quaint Borough of Malvern or it’s history. I said this in 2013 and I still think that.

Empty lot that used to be old store fronts

And again, this has NOTHING to do with the businesses. It’s the aesthetics, lack of human scale and even the crappy scored-to-look-like-brick-concrete-sidewalks which are a slip and fall and trip hazard. And the fact there is STILL no curb cut from the public parking lot so you don’t have to walk over MULCH. I mean how many years will it take to correct that? And there is little room for delivery trucks, so it’s not uncommon to find UPS and other trucks blocking a pedestrian’s path from parking lot to sidewalk. The finishes on the facade of the buildings are also already showing wear.

Eastside flats being built.

The consequences of Eastside Flats caused an election upheaval in 2013. Yet, Malvern Borough is still facing inappropriate development that will be completely out of scale again, in my opinion, if built. And no, I don’t have a horse in this race. I will merely be around to say I told you so if it gets built the way it looks now in the plans.

Here are the documents you can peruse that were sent to me by concerned residents in Malvern Borough (screenshots below are from these documents – it shows the evolution of proposed plans and note it doesn’t look like it’s Malvern at all):

What the resident said to me (in part):

So much local development that happens before people are aware of it, and then the only thing people can do it complain after the fact. It would be great to get public input on this before it’s an inevitability.

The residents who attended the last PC meeting raising the several concerns about this project are:
* Height – it will be out of scale and character with the surrounding buildings and neighborhood behind. They are requesting a variance for height.
* Traffic – The proposed design will have people entering leaving at the intersection of King and Bridge, adding to our current rush hour traffic woes.
* Construction – How are they going to stage this kind of construction on our overcrowded streets. They are refusing to consider another entrance off of Woodland, which would make this easier. To get the Woodland entrance they would need to purchase 2 parking spaces from the current owner.
* Aesthetics – This is a gateway to Malvern. Do we really want a corporate monolith looming above the street as our welcome to Malvern?

Another resident said:

“I think the applicant should turn his building 90 degrees on its eastern axis nearest Woodland. The short side of the structure takes up only half the King St. frontage of the current proposal. Run the remainder of the building back to the property’s 160′ depth, ending up with the same size building. Plenty of window light all around because the Woodland and King neighbor is small and not deep anyway (which the applicant should buy if possible, anyway). A now 65′ wide frontage (by 43′ high) is far more compatible with the current scale on King.
Now, what do you do with the remaining half of the lot to the west? You put in a beautiful hardscape (cobblestones, bricks, maybe even pervious, etc) all the way to the property depth, studded with lots of trees (diminishing a couple or three parking spaces, for sure, but that’s all, and don’t forget, trees reduce bare ground temperature by 30%). Maybe the drive comes in from Bridge or maybe it goes in from Woodland, but that doesn’t matter to the concept. (Woodland is clearly better for traffic, though.)
Office parking on the hardscape during business hours. The Borough gets the parking in the evening, without security concerns because no one has to go through the off-limits parking under building.On special occasions we would have a new park-like hardscape area for public events. And most critically, we all enjoy the view from Bridge, seeing lots of trees and openness at Our Town’s last main entrance.”
It’s a creative solution instead of a box building that checks all of the bureaucratic boxes. In Malvern it seems we use our ordinances to justify buildings that no one wants. “

I am told that developer folks are asking for like 4 variances: height relief, parking relief, buffer relief (going from 20 ft. to 5 ft.), relief from having to install some kind of parking island? So, if these variances are granted without conditions, such as making them subject to PC recommendations based on SALDO issues, there will be very little the Borough can do to require changes to the plan, right?

Ok so I wrote about the site in 2015 when the original buildings were coming down. I felt back then that although I understood there probably there was no way to save the 19th century storefront and other structures given the decrepit buildings they was attached to. But this is the kind of waste that makes me crazy because someone had seemingly sat on this land for the better part of what? A decade or better?

Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society
History Quarterly Digital Archives October 1961 Volume 11 Number 4, Pages 88–93 . The history of Malvern by Cherri Quann

From the UpHome Facebook page years ago.

Still lost? Remember where the lovely store UpHome had their first home? Across King from The Flying Pig? What was reported to have been Malvern’s last 19th century store front? There.

So Malvern Borough, you got rid of Malvern Victorian Christmas for something not quite as memorable, although nice. Are you slowly going to be overtaken by things too large and hulking for a small Main Street oriented town? Please consider better.

And Malvern Borough residents? Some of you will send me nasty comments or post them because I am expressing concern here. That’s on you. You can be ostriches or you can get involved with your borough again.

Your choice.

If I lived and paid taxes in the Borough of Malvern I would want better for my community. I would want new construction to fit and reflected the character of the borough. So ask your borough folks when meeting will occur for this plan. Or not. Again, it’s up to you. I am merely expressing my opinion and concern.

maybe we need the equal rights amendment (era) now?

Starting this post with Shepherd Fairey’s political poster art because I think they’re gorgeous images. Think it speaks to the nature of diversity of women in this country.

I have never considered myself to be a feminist. But I think there is a middle ground and the Equal Rights Amendment should be ratified.

What got me thinking about the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was the FX/Hulu series “Mrs. America”. It tells the story of the movement to ratify the ERA. As a kid born in 1964 I was aware of a lot of this going on in the background of my childhood but I didn’t have a mother who took part in either the conservative woman movement or the feminist movement. It’s just some thing I remember is like background music of growing up years. Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Shirley Chisholm, Bella Abzug and Jill Ruckelshaus were names on the news and in magazines. I never actually remembered hearing the name Phyllis Schlafly until the late 1970s. I remember seeing her newsletters somewhere when I was in high school and thinking she was a nut job. Sadly her Eagle Forum is still alive. I actually have never met anybody who belonged to it. I also never heard of her group before the “Mrs. America” series- just her.

So I am not a “bra burner” feminist as it were, but I was fascinated with this series. Why? Because of all of the names from the 70s and 80s that have peppered American politics through to the Trump presidency today. Not the feminist names…the men. Gary Hart, Jesse Helms, Dick Cheney, Paul Manafort, Donald Rumsfeld, etc. You don’t see all of them as characters, but the series is peppered with their names. And it really just makes you stop and think.

And me after watching the series? Well why ISN’T the ERA ratified yet? Given what we are dealing with today in this country, don’t you have to wonder all that might be different if the ERA was finally ratified?

I look as a woman some days at this country we live in with dismay as the future of our rights hang in the balance. There is still sexism, racism, and more in the workplace and world in general. NOW doesn’t seem so radical to me anymore. I understand why it was considered radical when it was founded, but now? Not so much.

To an extent the #MeToo movement has reinvigorated the ERA movement. But I also think 2020 may play a part as well. Mother Jones has a fabulous piece about it, written in 2018.

Now I read an article in the L.A. Times where Gloria Steinem herself takes issue with the Mrs. America series. I get she lived it, but for me as a viewer, I had a hard time keeping up with all the intersecting politics of the era the series represented. And maybe it of course had Hollywood poetic license, but it was fascinating and made me pause to think about it, like the suffragettes who came decades before these women.

Steinem said in the article: Mrs America” is hopelessly wrong. I don’t think it’s necessarily on purpose, but it is just factually, historically wrong, because the Equal Rights Amendment was defeated by the insurance industry and other people who were profiting off women’s cheap labor. Phyllis Schlafly never changed one vote. I’m very disturbed that people may look at “Mrs. America” and feel that women are our own worst enemies. Because even when we disagree, we don’t have the power to be our own worst enemies.

I disagree with her there because women are their own worst enemies at times, and the worst enemies of each other. Women spend way too much time fighting with each other, and women in politics can be some of the worst offenders, followed closely by women on social media, for example. We are part of a somewhat barbaric and tyrannical sisterhood at times. We hurt each other as much as we help each other.

There is an interesting op-ed in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle this weekend titled Pandemic accents need for Equal Rights Amendment
By Rosanne Nash Guest columnist
. Give it a read. After all the ERA has been in the works for what? About a century? Why not now?

Food for thought and check out the series.

I think regardless of our political persuasion, ratifying the ERA is long overdue.

did you hear the one about a meeting in a municipal garage, a porta potty and no air conditioning? ask westtown…

I am going to let Mindy’s words stand on their own. Yes, Westtown is trying to hold the FINAL planning commission meeting for Crebilly and Troll Brothers in a public works garage.

No air-conditioning, July.

No plumbing, July.

Porta potty in the time of coronavirus, July.

With all residents have been through with this AND coronavirus, this is the plan? Wow. One would think that with all the money the developer and family selling would stand to make one would think they could rent a ballroom in a hotel like the Desmond, right? Or hold it when all could gather safely, right?

But nooooo, it’s a saddle up occasion and here is whom to contact ASAP:

Westtown Township Main Number: 610-692-1930Rob Pingar, Township Manager: rpingar@westtown.orgWill Ethridge, Secretary Planning Commission: wethridge@westtown.orgBoard of Supervisors: supervisors@westtown.org

As Mindy says with every post, IF NOT YOU THEN WHO?

call to action: west whiteland weston OVERdevelopment plan being heard at virtual planning commission TONIGHT 6/16/2020

Picture 104 house here on West King Road in West Whiteland just a short hop from East Whiteland

West Whiteland is perhaps the worst offender overall in the development cram plans game. And it only keeps getting worse IMHO. Their township manager used to be the township manager of Tredyffrin. When she was “retiring” from Tredyffrin she was quoted as saying “a job is not a life”.

Oh OK, and we believed this? (To be honest I did not.)

So she has been the manager of West Whiteland since what? 2014? Has anyone ever tracked the development from when she became manager? Seems like every year the pace of development becomes more frantic in West Whiteland doesn’t it? (I ask this as a question because I do not know for certain.)

So tonight there is a VERY important planning commission meeting at 7 PM (and you can register to zoom it):

There is virtual meeting etiquette so I guess I can’t use the word fakakta sadly.

I wrote the Planning Commission in West Whiteland a letter (questions@westwhiteland.org):

I will start with saying I am appalled by the staggering amount of development overall in West Whiteland.   


I find your virtual planning commission agenda for June 16, 2020 alarming and deeply troubling.


You will be affecting not only your residents but those of us in other municipalities like East Whiteland.  I live in East Whiteland.  


I live fairly close to the Weston Tract proposed development off of West King.  It is hard enough now to safely get out of our street onto King by car.  Many also walk at Immaculata, so they walk across King.  The proposal for 104 crammed in houses will add 208 cars or other vehicles at a MINIMUM. I say at a minimum because very few families have ONE car.  That doesn’t count for additional service providers, etc. Also to be considered is the giant pipeline right of way smack dab in the center of this proposed development.  I realize that probably doesn’t faze you but it should because if you approve all of this density you are creating another ticking time bomb.  Can you say another Lisa Drive sinkhole situation would NOT occur? No you can’t because of where we are situated and the geology of the area. Also such density when those pipelines will be carrying such volatile products?  And the land there is densely wooded and we will be losing nature and point of fact you will drive all of the deer from there to our properties. Thanks, but no. The environmental impact will be devastating, do you care? 


We in East Whiteland are also facing way too much development and with development close to where I live going up on Morstein and down off 352, plus the OTHER development your township seems hip to get on Route 30?   Lincoln Highway at Ship, across on Ship behind Philip and James and the thing also on tonight between Locheil Farm and Church Farms School absurdly called Exton Knoll? 319 densely packed in living units?  And lest you forget, lots of residential planned in East Whiteland on Route 30 too (old Frazer Lanes).  Plus all of the development currently built off Planebrook, at Linden Hall (352 and 30 which was supposed to get a left turn arrow and did not so the residents can barely get out of the development) and more (cruise on down to 29 and beyond.)  Further east of us you have the development planned for Easttown and I am sure Tredyffrin.  West of you is already density overload.  Go to other neighboring municipalities like West Goshen and that is bad too and even East Goshen is getting in on development overload.  When is enough actually enough? When there is not any real open space left?  And don’t say developers care about open space because the open space they give back is mostly stuff they can’t build on.


NO ONE needs all of this development and once you get past the municipal short term high of ratables, all of these developments are not sustainable long term.  The economy is questionable as it is, and we are trying to emerge from the first global pandemic since when? 1918? So why for THAT reason do we want so much density?  Social distancing is hard enough as it is.  I also think you seriously overestimate the appeal of so many apartment buildings.  We are not King of Prussia or Center City Philadelphia.  We don’t live out here in Chester County to experience uber urbanism. We live in Chester County because it used to be quite literally one of the most beautiful places on earth. But I use the past tense because every development destroys more of the beauty.

  
I will close by saying that although I appear to be 100% anti-development I actually am not.  If development is responsible and thoughtful I actually shut my mouth.  Only no one has seen plans like those in years and years. They don’t even have a decent design aesthetic, human scale or good setbacks, or even roads that are wide enough in these new developments,  it’s just build, build, build.  Neither of the plans before you this evening ( Weston Tract, Exton Knoll) are responsible or thoughtful or give a rat’s fanny for those of us who live in adjacent townships, let alone West Whiteland Township. NONE of your current plans meet that criteria, truthfully. And let us not forget the impact all of the development in all of these municipalities has on the various school districts. And basics like first responders, the infrastructure. 


I hope you do not find me rude, that is not my intent.  But your Weston Tract proposal especially affects me and my neighbors and that is not ok.  We would like to be able to safely get out of our driveways and streets. We don’t want more stormwater issues. You have zero idea what flows down King Road now in an average thunderstorm.  We don’t want to lose all of those trees and you also need to consider the little league fields. The Weston Tract will affect them too.


Please say no. Or find a way to say no. Enough new urbanism fairy tales.  


Now in all fairness someone told me they did not think West Whiteland likes the Weston development proposal. But I trust no townships much anymore when it comes to development. That is my opinion and my right. I think if you have an interest in either of these plans to take the time to zoom this evening. You don’t have to drive anywhere and you might make a difference.

new penn med at radnor is spectacular!

Inside looking out to the courtyard and newly planted gardens

Today I had my second Mohs surgery for skin cancer. I had another one two years ago. Today my procedure was in the brand new Penn Medicine at Radnor At 145 King of Prussia Road in Radnor.

Reception in the front.

It was a little dicey getting into the new complex because the brand new PennDOT installed left turn arrow light was broken. And there is road work going on. But then you see the new building and a big parking garage. If you have gone to Penn Medicine in Radnor over the years at the old location you know one of the biggest problems has always been parking, so this is welcome.

It’s a giant building. It’s pristine and amazing. I did get lost but I think that is because I was so used to the old building.

Central registration

The two wings of the new building have an amazing courtyard in the middle complete with a garden. The garden in the center of Chester County Hospital is one of my favorite things about the hospital so I’m really glad they did this year as well. it has little tables and benches and once things are more opened up I’m sure people will be able to sit outside.

When you go in you are greeted by reception and they take your temperature. They then direct you to where you were going when I got upstairs to where I was going which was on the third floor, the first thing I saw getting off the elevator was central registration where I checked in.

One thing I did not care for as I was charged a co-pay and I was not supposed to be charged a co-pay today because I was there for a day surgical procedure. But I think those are kinks they will work out in this new registration process. That step did occur at the old building.

The exam rooms are bright and spacious and so are the waiting room areas. What I am missing however, is all the art from the Delaware Valley Art League they hung on the walls of the old building. My exam room had a view of the natural pond being built. It had a couple families of Canadian geese complete with goslings so it was really kind of fun to see.

This is an amazing building that one commissioner in Radnor Township in particular fought and still is. Commissioner Booker, please give it up. It is an amazing and necessary facility and you’re lucky they didn’t leave Radnor Township…because they could have.

Well my face literally hurts so that is all from me today.

Thanks for stopping by.

historic preservation is inspiring and infectious

This was something the greeted me this morning when I popped open my tablet. An update from Meg at Life’s Patina about the restoration in progress of the Jenny Lind house in Historic Yellow Springs Village. this morning she was talking about antique fire backs and it triggered a memory in me, reminding me of my late father upon seeing these fire backs.

When I was very young, as I have written before, my parents bought a wreck of a house from the redevelopment authority in Philadelphia. Literally a wreck.

An 1811 double front townhouse turned into bad apartments in the depression (if memory serves.) This was the early 60s and most of Society Hill was a slum. I remember my father hunting for fire backs for all the fireplaces (and almost every room had one except for the back building.)

This was the original “sale sign” on the house my parents bought in the ‘60s in Society Hill

Yes above you see the actual sale sign that was hanging on the house my parents bought from the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority in the early 1960s. I will note that in today’s world, realtors and others get the actual date of this house I was born in wrong. Sometimes it’s just buy a couple of years, other times it’s been by decades. I don’t know how they can’t do their research.

I have distinct memories of Society Hill when I was really little and it was like a giant construction site. There were so many houses that were beyond repair being torn down, other houses being restored, and in some cases entire blocks being leveled for new construction. Including next door to our house.

From Philadelphia government archives. Photo dates to 1957

From Philadelphia government archives. Photo dates to 1930s

If you look at those photos, the one immediately above the one that was taken in the 1930s when the house was part of an entire row of homes built in the same early 19th century. The photo above that is from 1957 and a bunch of the houses had already been demolished. I will further note that the house at the end of the row in the 1957 photo (269 S. 4th) was torn down by the time my parents bought their house (271 S. 4th.)

When I was a little girl until they started building, right next-door to us was a big old empty lot with a giant sycamore tree in the back corner.

The two screen shots above are from the PhillyHistory.org amazing photo archives. This next screenshot is from Philadelphia Architects and Buildings and was taken in the 1980s:

When I look at that photo I get wistful because the little street tree is a pin oak tree my father planted when I was a little girl. I also have that memory of him planting the street tree and taking care of it throughout the years. Just like I have memories of my mother scrubbing down by hand the white marble steps.

The next screenshot is a Google shot my parents’ house today. I have no idea who owns it I know it’s sold a couple of years ago. I presume it is still single-family. It would kill me if it was put back to apartments after all these years.

And look to the left of my parents home townhouses built in the early 1970s. I don’t think it was late 1960s, but maybe they were at least in planning. Look at the difference between what you see being built today and what was built then. It has a better size and scale to fit into the existing neighborhood and the design while modern nods to the past. It is a shame we can’t get that today with new construction, isn’t it?

Society hill in the 1960s was a very different place than a place you see being gentrified today. It was like this unspoken word-of-mouth saying that when houses were being either taken down or strip to the studs, people from the neighborhood that were in the middle of restoration projects always got a pick at salvage basically.

Meg’s photo of her firebacks took me back to when my father was restoring the fireplaces in our house back then. I have no idea if the fireplaces are still wood-burning, but they were when I was a child. And I remember my father going in and out of houses being torn down or houses that had been torn down and all were left were piles of rubble looking for hardware and firebacks and even some mantlepieces. The mantlepieces in this house I was born in were predominantly marble. A lot of them were black marble with beautiful veining.

The PhillyHistory.org is a treasure trove of photos. You can see how bad a lot of the houses were on the inside, let alone the outside. I haven’t been able to find archival photos of my parents house from before they bought it but here’s a screenshot I took from one of the neighborhood homes of these archives that will give you an idea of the restoration that was necessary:

It’s crazy when I think about the way it was to what it has become as an area today. One thing no one ever talks about is how Society Hill got the name Society Hill.  Cue USHistory.org :

Named after the long defunct Free Society of Traders, this area of Philadelphia extends from Walnut to Lombard Streets, from Front to 8th Street.

The Society for which Society Hill is named is now defunct. The Free Society of Traders, a stock company to whom William Penn made liberal concessions of land and privileges, encountered virgin territory and woodlands stretching westward to the Schuylkill. They found some Dutch and Swedes living here as well. Though by 1683 the Society’s assets already included a sawmill, a glasshouse, and a tannery in Philadelphia, but two score years later they were bankrupt. The Assembly put the property of the Society in the hand of trustees in order to pay its debts.

Home to many members of the federal government when Philadelphia served as the nation’s capital, the area also attracted the locally wealthy and international nabobs as well. As the land juxtaposed the river and the seat of government, it was the most valuable in the city. From greed and speculation, lots were divided and divided again. The result: the serpentine walkways, abrupt angles, and tiny alleys that today make the area so appealingly intimate.

Over decades the area lost its cachet and ultimately became a dilapidated slum with a massive food distribution center located on Dock Street