Next to Clews & Strawbridge in Frazer is a crumbling house. What’s the deal with that? (Chester County along route 30 seems to have a lot of tumble-down and crumbling structures.)
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.
Well according to media reports like the Pottstown Mercury, the fire is STILL burning. 619 acres now:
(Updated at 11:50 a.m. April 12) UNION TWP. — Firefighters are still working to extinguish the wildfire burning in parts of French Creek State Park and Hopewell Furnace national park.
According to information from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, breakout fires caused by embers from the fire containment zone flying into dead treetops located “just outside the control line” have caused the area affected by the fire to reach 619 acres.
“Crews working on making a secure control line yesterday were faced with embers igniting fuels outside the containment lines. These embers originated from dead trees just outside the control line. Flying embers, in many cases, have lodged in the dead tree tops hours before becoming visible to fire crew personnel,” read a press release from the DCNR
Now I had read somewhere yesterday about a couple of hikers needing to be rescued. Lordy, if the place is on fire, and you aren’t a first responder helping with that, why wander into a danger zone? Makes no sense to me.
WFMZ Channel 69 also has good coverage of this. The photos in this post are courtesy of my friend Richard Simons who was up at a campground a few miles away. He did not wander aimlessly into the fire zone – his photos were taken from a fair distance away.
As an outsider I marvel that one tiny municipality has so many odd issues. I don’t understand how residents continue to allow these people to be in office? I applaud those who speak up at public meetings and encourage those who whisper from the side lines to also get up and speak.
These local yokel government officials like “Queen of Eminent Domain” Clare Quinn, “Shucks the Farmer” Ken Miller (and if Restaurant Alba in Malvern is serving his farm’s meat I won’t be patronizing them any time soon – and I am allowed to make that personal choice), and “Squire” David Brown only have as much power as the residents allow them to have. If Chickenman can put it out there and others can get up at meetings and speak, then it isn’t just a couple of malcontents as this local government would have you think. And that is what they want you to think.
It seems apparent to all who peek inside West Vincent that this municipality is run by very ambitious people who seem to do whatever it takes to preserve their fiefdom, but should it remain their fiefdom?
West Vincent used to be this cool little crossroads place full of woods and rolling fields. People wandered comfortably about in their Wellies and old trucks and it was fine. Then West Vincent was discovered. All of a sudden you have McMansion dwellers complaining about skeet shooting. Lordy I bet they complain about the sirens at the fire house too, don’t they? I guess it can be said shiny nouveau has discovered a pretty part of Chester County, and that is fine, but it doesn’t mean that the place has to be developed into oblivion complete with nine thousand soccer fields and whatever that will not only never get used, but will never be maintained properly.
Look around Chester County, Chester County residents and you will notice if you open your eyes that Chester County is being developed at a pace that needs to pause and think. Once the land and open space is gone, it’s gone. And given the economy, I still do not understand how all this development can be justified. And how many box stores are needed? Who is paying for all this zoning that often runs contradictory unto itself as well as being rather confusing? Who REALLY benefits from all these grand plans and zoning changes? How high will taxes go to compensate for all this? Who will be a steward for the land and practice true conservation, not just preach about it because it gives good sound bytes? Once Chester County is all developed where will all the farm critters and horses go? How can people not try to preserve more of the farmland which is historically quite fine? Who will preserve the historic homes and other structures? Does the world also really want to live in plastic townhouses perched on the edge of highways? Do you want that world that loves plastic houses shaping your community that you were born and raised in or do you want to be a real and viable partner in your futures? Are you content to let petty municipal leaders to pat you on the head and say “good resident, you work for us”?
Sorry, don’t mean to be on a soap box, but what I see happening in Chester County is the same nonsense that has ruined parts of the Main Line.
Whether you are politically liberal or conservative it doesn’t really matter, this is about where you live so everything is local. Don’t be an ostrich, that is all I am saying.
And why is it that West Vincent public meetings do not seem to be televised anywhere? All municipalities in PA have access to public access channels and the minutes are slow to load on the West Vincent website and quite sanitized when posted and why is that? Is West Vincent also anti-sunshine? Why can’t they say for example split a channel with their local school district? Shouldn’t people be able to see meetings live on TV like most other municipalities?
5 April Length of meetings:
Hi, Just a couple things for today. I was interested in the length of the meetings since David Brown thinks the meetings take too long and is working on Township legislation to limited public comment. I thought that perhaps if the meetings lasted 2-3 hours, he could have a point. So, in fairness to Mr. Brown, I decided to review all of the minutes for the last year (2011). I listed the dates and the lengths of each meeting, per the record…..42 minutes on average. That includes all public comments. 42 minutes. Where’s the problem? Since David Brown became Supervisor, the average has jumped to 1 hour, 7 minutes, an increase of 30%. I am sure it is an anomaly. Either way, I cannot find a reason to stop people from voicing their concern. I would have calculated the other posted years, 2010 and 2009 but the minutes are not there. They are listed, but not there. They were promised to be posted “soon”, back in the Fall of 2011, over 4 months ago.
8 April Millers debts. Again.
Hi On Monday, April 9, 2012, West Vincent Township will open bids for the mowing of sprayfields for Weatherstone and Matthews Meadows, approximately 21 acres. To review for the new(er) readers and for the long term subscribers, the award of the mowing bid last year was given to Ken Miller, Roadmaster and Chairman of the Board of Supervisors of West Vincent Township. The value of that contract was around $21,500. Last year several sprayheads were damaged. Only AFTER I did research and exposed the fact the the only person that could have done the damage was Ken Miller, he was forced into paying. Even then he only took claim for two. The third was left to the taxpayers, between a $400-$500 bill. Thanks Ken……TOTAL: $114,357.59. Say it out loud. ONE HUNDRED FOURTEEN THOUSAND, THREE HUNDRED FIFTY SEVEN DOLLARS AND FIFTY-NINE CENTS. Bigger than ever. All the Judgments/Liens follow this submission for review. There are 12 pages. I urge the readers to look them up in the Chester County Courthouse. It is public information. Don’t worry. Ken should be able to pay these off once the bond re-fi comes through because there will be lots of roadwork money to skim. Your kids can cover it through the year 2031. Or, as Clare Quinn says, “You can move”.
11 April Ken Miller’s Lawyers
After posting the most recent Judgments for Ken Miller, Roadmaster and Chairman of the Board of Supervisors of West Vincent Township, I thought I would look into his legal representation. In the Land O’ Lakes lawsuit, Ken is protesting and has a lawyer to defend him. The Attorney’s name is Michael Thomas Taylor and here is what I discovered. Mr. Thomas works for the firm of Siana, Bellwoar and McAndrew, LLP. This means that the West Vincent Township attorney Steven Siana is representing Ken Miller. Has this happened before? In short, yes.
Ken was sued by Eleanor Morris (the co-founder of the French and Pickering Conservation Trust) in 2005 for $118,000 and who represented Mr. Miller at that time? Stephen V Siana and Michael Thomas Taylor.
When Ken was being sued by East Coventry Township in 2011 for not paying rent on ground for 3 years, guess who tried several times to orally negotiate a lower settlement? Steven V Siana. In the end, Ken was forced to pay the entire bill.
We all know now that Ken Miller has less than no money. How does he pay his legal bills? If the Township attorney is representing him,is there a better than good possibility that the West Vincent taxpayer and voter is paying his bills? ……The legal documents are attached.
To see my previous mailings please click on http://tinyurl.com/westvincentinfos
If everything Chickenman has up is true I guess the old adage is true if you are part of the “in crowd” , huh? That there is no place like home? Only if I was Dorothy, I might grab Toto and click my heels three times to escape….wow The Land of Oz indeed.
An end note is that I have been warned not to talk so much about West Vincent because they come after people? Really? Freedom of speech and public information and opinion are for other people? West Vincent is hardly the sole focus of this blog, but it keeps opening itself up to public scrutiny. When a municipality runs the way it is supposed to and the politics are clean, no one finds it interesting. It’s when things seem ok in part, but odd in part, or curious in part or residents’ questions and concerns go unlistened to and un answered that people start looking inside the proverbial barn, so how is this my fault???? I mean really.
I have now bought two packs from two different Bed Bath & Beyond stores and did not get complete hanger packs both times! And hangers were broken! I do not have time to go back to the store and chase this so I get to eat a loss because their products are deficient. In my opinion, this product has problems because again, I purchased the slim line hangers from two different stores.
This second package I opened had not only broken hangers, but hangers that didn’t even have the metal hook part! Save your money until either Bed Bath and Beyond takes hanger packs that are incomplete or partially broken off the shelves or until Real Simple puts their name on a better manufactured product.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t afford to just throw money away because it has a “Real Simple” on the label.
UPDATE: Tuesday Morning – waiting to hear from my friends. Fire is still burning. NBC10 Philadelphia and other media outlets needs to correct their current coverage as they report this as only Berks County with no mention of Chester County:
“A forest fire is burning at French Creek State Park in Berks County. Nearby homes were evacuated Tuesday morning. 100 acres have burned so far.”
A brush fire that started in the area of Route 345 and Shed Road steadily moved east with Monday’s strong winds and continued into the night as hundreds of personnel worked to knock the blaze down. Black smoke was visible as far away as the Hanover Street Bridge in Pottstown early in the afternoon, shortly after the first reports of the fire came in around 2 p.m…… At the conference, Joe Frassetta, district manager of the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, said crews were first dispatched around 12:20 p.m. and encountered an out of control blaze initially affecting 10 acres. He said the fire was along some power lines running through French Creek State Park. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is in charge of the scene. Approximately 30 companies and more than 300 people were actively involved with the fire, Frasseta said. A handful of areas in Union, North Coventry, Warwick and South Coventry were evacuated ahead of the flames….Bulldozers and other heavy equipment were used to protect homes on St. Peters Road, which were “threatened,” Frassetta said at Monday night’s press conference. “(The fire) has not been contained and residents have been asked to evacuate,” he said….Salaneck said it was his “understanding (that) the fire was started by downed power lines.” Frassetta said the origin of the blaze was undetermined at that time.
My friend Si who is out at a camp gound near French Creek told me there is a brush fire spreading across French Creek State Park.He left me a message earlier that said that he and his friend Tim are a couple miles from French Creek and he describes it as a “massive brush fire, with the winds fanning it like crazy…it looks like at least 10 fire companies are responding.”
My friend has photos and will send them as he is able. I have a few to post now. I am told CBS-3 is in the area now. Again, they are at the camp ground a couple miles from French Creek – near St. Peter’s Village in Warwick Township. He just called again and says the top of the ridge that was smoke before is all aglow in orange. He can see two ridges of fire with a break in between. They see the flash lights of fire fighters in the woods.
Here is what the Pottstown Mercury is saying:
(Updated at 6:30 p.m.) Officials have issued a mandatory evacuation for residences along St. Peters Road between North Camp Hill Road and Unionvill Road in North Coventry as a brush fire that began on state parkland spread across parts of Berks and Chester county Monday…..A fire that started as a brush fire in the area of Route 345 and Shed Road has been spreading through the afternoon and now engulfs a large section of state gameland and park land according to witnesses.
The fire is reported to be spewing heavy smoke from Hopewell Road to Shed Road and may be burning as much as 100 acres near French Creek State Park….Amity and Monarch fire company crews were at the International Fireworks plant on Sycamore Road as a precaution, according to a witness.
Dozens of fire trucks from all over the region are being called in to the fight the fire.
Three staging areas that we know of have been set up. They are at Route 345 and Shed Road, Route 345 and Hopewell Road, both in Union Township, and on St. Peter’s Road in North Coventry Township.
Mercury reporter Frank Otto is at one of those staging areas and said the fire is generating “a lot of smoke” and seems to be burning “south of Hopewell Furnace” National Historic Site.
WFMZ is reporting:
A forest fire in the French Creek State Park has prompted the mandatory evacuations of nearby residents.
The fire was first reported Monday afternoon in the 500 block of Fire Tower Road in Union Twp., Berks Co. Firefighters from several surrounding municipalities have since been called in to help fight the flames.
A 69 News crew on the scene reports that much of the fire is in the wooded area of French Creek, but crews are taking steps to keep it from spreading to the nearby International Fireworks factory at 240 Sycamore Rd.
Phoenixville is a lovely place. Phoenixville is also cash strapped. I have heard that Phoenixville has plans for an $8 million dollar township building/borough hall? Is it true this building will be purportedly be built in a location that floods regularly when the water comes up? Is it also true they are supposed to have flood mitigation plans — the first level will be a garage which will NOT take care of the flood issues, and the lack of proper flood planning when building in a flood plain will equal potential law suits won’t it?
Of course why a community with little to no money needs a Main Line expensive muni building escapes me, doesn’t it escape you? I am told that at a recent public meeting residents asked about this and were basically shooed off and brushed off with their questions?
Wow, really, Phoenixville? Everyone gets you don’t want to end up like a hybrid cross between Pottstown and Norristown, but building a borough hall that is Main Line expensive with many questions with regard to flooding issues isn’t a smart way to spend taxpayer money, is it?
Phoenixville would be better serving residents if they behaved more sensibly. Phoenixville needs to take care of her residents and the businesses that have taken a chance on this town. Building a giant flood prone municipal building in a box won’t accomplish that.
Below is some background from Phoenixville Patch and I hope lots of local media takes a goooood long long at how the officials in Phoenixville want to spend $8 million dollars in a piss poor economy.
Seems to me that Phoenixville has $8 million reasons to proceeed with caution, doesn’t it?
Plans for Phoenixville’s new borough hall were shown at Tuesday’s borough council meeting.
Representatives from Spiezle Architecture Group, along with the civil engineer working on the project, were on hand to discuss the new building, which will be located adjacent to the current district justice building at 347 Bridge St. The three-story building will be 45-feet high and plans include 123 parking spaces.
The police department will be housed on the first floor, with a gated, covered police parking area around the back. The second floor will feature administrative offices and windows where residents speak to borough staff. The third floor has the public meeting space, which can be divided into a smaller conference room area. A caucus room, archive storage, the public works office, a break room for employees and the server room will also be on the third floor.
Existing elevators and stairwells will be used, and one new stairwell will be added from the second floor to the third floor in the new building. Council President Richard Kirkner said the district justice building was built in anticipation of the addition.
“The lobby was built with another building to the west of the existing building in mind,” Kirkner said.
As a conditional use hearing, the focus was on the footprint, general layout, parking and circulation on the site, rather than the overall design. More input on that can be given during the subdivision and land development phase, according to Solicitor Andrew Rau.
Kirkner said he had some concerns with the design but understood that it was not really the forum for that at the conditional use hearing.
“It just looks awfully boxy for a municipal building,” he said.
The council president also expressed some concerns about stormwater on the site, which is near the French Creek. He asked what would happen if a storm like Hurricane Agnes came through.
“The parking lot will be under water,” said Mike Thomas, civil engineer at Hunt Engineering Company.
Police officers would still have access to their garage from the east but not the west in a bad storm situation, Thomas said. The stormwater management system will be buried under the parking lot, which would be covered in water in the event of a flood.