So the other day I wrote a post about Phoenixville and their governmental quest for a Platinum-clad multi-million dollar borough hall.
And today as I am reading an article in Phoenixville Patch, a name literally leapt off the page: Phoenixville Borough manager Jean Krack . As in former Coatesville Redevelopment Authority head and acting city manager then City Manager of Coatesville Jean Krack.
Lordy how do these old Coatesville people keep getting jobs? I started to pay attention to Coatesville years ago when under Paul Janssen they tried to sieze the farm of my friends Dick and Nancy Saha via eminent domain for private gain. (Don’t remember? See Save Our Farm’s website.)
So if my memory serves, didn’t Jean Krack fill in as acting city manager of Coatesville when Paul Janssen went buh bye? First they hailed him as the second coming of something or another, and then wasn’t their some fuzzy math about some $7 million borrowed from some sort of trust fund to keep Coatesville going circa 2005? And then there was some sort of blame game in Coatesville in the first few months of 2006? And then on March 14, 2006 the Times Herald reported under Ann Pickering that Jean Krack was fired as Coatesville’s City Manager? And then he turns up again in Phoenixville in 2008?
OMG it all makes sense now. When will people stop hiring people Coatesville gets rid of??? I mean let’s get real, for years can it be said that Jean Krack talks a good game but doesn’t quite have the follow-thru in the end? He is good at spending money, however. Haven’t taxes gone up under Krack? Wasn’t it reported in The Phoenix at the end of 2011 that taxes were going up 19%? And the year before that didn’t the Phoenix report a 24% increase?
(Oh and as a Phoenixville aside don’t forget about those condos that did not sell. They get auctioned off on April 15th as per the Mercury.)
Now part of the discussion surrounding this new Phoenixville Borough Hall isn’t just the cost but the stormwater/flooding concerns. Remember the thing in the Inquirer in September about water stuff?
Chester County Inbox: Water-boiling rumor generates steam by Kathleen Brady Shea
Sleep in not in the forecast for borough officials in Phoenixville, which is braced for more flooding and steamed over inaccurate rumors about its water supply.
“We have not had this level of water in recorded history,” said Borough Manager Jean Krack. He said residents who have never had water in their basements before do now, and some trees have toppled because the ground holding them is so saturated. The Schuylkill is expected to continue rising after dark, but Krack said the borough is as prepared as it can be. “We’ve got a great emergency crew,” he said. “When you have a creek (French) going east and west, and a river (Schuylkill) going north and south, you have to take this sort of thing seriously.”
So they are taking this all so seriously now that they are moving forward with the Phoenixville Pagoda? Nice.
So back to Phoenixville in the news. Here’s a little article from 2008 I found amusing on a couple of different levels:
PHOENIXVILLE — The relationship between Borough Council and its Planning Commission has been tested — and testy — over the last months, marked by multiple divergences of opinion and procedural snares.
But Borough Manager E. Jean Krack came before the Planning Commission Thursday evening with initial proposals for organizational reform.
“There’s a relationship that’s a little fractured,” Krack acknowledged. “If you allow me to participate as a conduit” between agencies, he said, “I may be able to foster the symbiotic relationship that should occur between bodies. “I was seven years in that role” in Coatesville, he said, “and I was able to shortcut a lot of things” because of it.
“There are some ideas I want to put on the table,” Krack said. He was concerned first with “my responsibility to the budget,” ….”The Municipal Planning Code requires open meetings but does not require public participation. The governing body [Council] is required to have public participation, not you.”
The issue, he said, was efficiency of public decision-making. “You all are here to do a job; I want to get you involved in what you need to, not what you don’t. With the exception of the magnitude of issues like the Master Plan, French Creek, you may want to limit public participation.
How very West Vincent of him, or maybe this was another place West Vincent looked for inspiration on the public comment debate? It doesn’t really matter – what matters is in my opinion government officials who seek to limit public comment are immediately suspect for that alone. Of course in this case, I am amused by his touting his tour of duty in Coatesville since in the end they fired him as per all media reports, right?
Now I know Jean Krack like most municipal talking heads would like to take credit for all of the renaissance which has occurred in Phoenixville, but I think a lot of credit needs to go to the small business owners and residents themselves.
But back to Krack and his quest for a Platinum-clad Phoenixville Pagoda – check out the latest coverage in Phoenixville Patch:
Tuesday’s Phoenixville Borough Council meeting was punctuated by some serious discussion on the design of the new borough hall at 351 Bridge Street.
The subject was opened for debate because council needed to act to approve or deny the building’s Historical and Architectural Review Board (HARB) application. The issues also came up during committee reports, where it was mentioned during the infrastructure committee report….The motion before council was to hold a public meeting and open house, with renderings of the new building, in order to further discuss the project.
Council president Richard Kirkner and Council member Dana Dugan both expressed dismay……
Mayo gave an example of the layout of West Chester’s borough building. “You have to go up or down stairs to get to the offices, and not only that you have to cross a very busy street just to get there,” she said.
“With all due respect, this isn’t West Chester,” Dugan countered…..Borough manager Jean Krack said that in the most recent plan, that side of the building now has two windows….
“The interior is built on workflow, and to have people on different floors is wrong. This was built around working as a team,” Krack said.
Krack expressed concern that the council had set a finite budget amount for the building and that six thousand square feet had already been cut from the plans in order to stay within that budget.
“If we change anything, it will be several hundred thousand dollars [in cost],” Krack said…..Krack also said that holding another public meeting would push back the schedule of the building ….
Seems to me that Krack seems a little desperate to get this building shoved through? That in and of itself is enough to make residents want to hit pause in my humble opinion. I also think that Phoenixville needs to remember that the residents are the taxpayers and they in essence pay the Borough Manager’s salary.
I will say again I do not understand how Phoenixville’s Borough Manager and council people can justify the expense of this new borough hall in this economy. It was reported mid March by the Phoenixville Patch that they were considering cutting the police force. I don’t know about you, but if I lived in Phoenixville I would rather have the right sized police force, the necessary services, repaired roads (Phoenixville has lots of missing street signs and a lot of pot holes) versus a ginormous municipal building in an area they say floods. Also at that meeting, Patch reported concerns from residents over a couple of development plans. (and don’t forget that auction of condos April 15th as per the Mercury.)
Well maybe it’s just me, but the design of this building isn’t much better than the giant Acme Market being built on Lancaster Avenue in Bryn Mawr. But what do I know? I am just a mere mortal and a female….now see if I was in Phoenixville I would talk to the folks in Radnor who inherited the mess of THAT too super-sized municipal building. I am pretty sure they seem to think NOW that they built too large a temple of excess there too a few years ago.
No one wants a butt ugly municipal building. But there should be a common sense approach as to what can really be afforded and a happy medium between a quonset hut and something along the lines of the Taj Mahal.
Now is not the time to build the Taj Mahal. It’s a shame they can’t do an adaptive reuse of an existing building – or even part of that old steel site now being developed. (in that case, wouldn’t it have made an interesting argument to see what the developer who is doing the steel site development would have been willing to do?) But again, I am but a mere mortal and a female on the outside looking in.