just tacky

I used to live in Lower Merion Township.

Growing up, it was a marvelous place.  Nice people, clean streets, pretty houses. It was safe.  Kids could even ride their bikes on their neighborhood streets and play kick the can and other games with neighborhood kids on warm summer nights.

“Back in the day” as they say, there was still big money living there, only it wasn’t so tackily or arrogantly displayed.  I mean, you knew there were people with lots and lots of money, only it was considered somewhat déclassé to discuss it and to be so showy.

Well, anyway,  that all  has long since flown out  the window as a policy of polite behavior in polite society, and it is part of the reason why a lot of people are leaving the Main Line.  Yes there are rubes to still buy into the myth, but there are a lot of people leaving and considering getting out of dodge.

Yesterday I saw something that literally left me slack-jawed.   A press release out of my former township basically bally hooing that they have more money within their boundaries than anyone else.

In an economy where people are struggling to make ends meet, losing their homes, losing their jobs, I find such an announcement somewhat staggering.  Also interesting to note is as much as Lower Merion would like to ignore it, they have a fair amount of Sheriff Sale action in the Magic Kingdom too, and not just in the low rent district.

But in Lower Merion they have long denied this economy was a problem.  Just look at the crazy salary and benefit package they ended up giving the township manager, Douglas Cleland.  Look at the taxes all the way around. Everything is relative, and while they are patting themselves on the back, the simple fact remains that a heck of a lot of residents feel like they work to support the township.

And for this great amount of wealth they support and applaud in Lower Merion, one would think they could do the basics like keep the roads in good repair.  But they don’t.  And when you go into the business districts, well there seems to be a lot more trash around than there used to be and sometimes you can smell  certain smells on the street like you do in more urban areas. And there is crime they don’t want to talk about and a school district always teetering on disaster.  (LMSD seems to be having contract issues too, and they just made another large land purchase too.)

There are a lot of lovely places where people can choose to make their homes along the Main Line and into Chester County.  And they don’t have municipalities that feel the constant need to point out the top 2%.  And of course there is the thought process that  maybe Lower Merion should think about these residents with vast resources who don’t feel like being pointed out.

Lower Merion, you aren’t the Hamptons.  Here’s the press release:

Lower Merion Near the Top of CNN Money’s Top-Earning Communities in America

Township ranked fifth for median family income and home price  Posted Date: 8/21/2012 5:05 PM

CNN Money, an online combination of CNN, Fortune Magazine and Money Magazine, has ranked Lower Merion Township near the top of its recently published “Top-earning Towns” list – part of its ongoing “Best Places to Live” series.

Next to a photo of a student entering Pembroke Hall on the campus of Bryn Mawr College, CNN Money puts Lower Merion’s median family income at $153,309, and the Township’s median home price at $553,498.

“Part of Pennsylvania’s wealthy Main Line corridor that popped up along the rail line of the same name, Lower Merion got its start when railroad executives built massive summer homes here,” the online newsmagazine wrote. “Today, it’s an elite suburb of Philadelphia and dotted with colleges, including women’s liberal arts school Bryn Mawr, which is also one of the township’s largest employers.”

Overall, Lower Merion is ranked 5th among the 25 national locations listed.

“We have a terrific community here in Lower Merion, and a wonderful quality of life,” said Lower Merion Township Manager Doug Cleland. “Our residents already know that, of course, but it is nice to see the national recognition.”….

“Residents bring lawn chairs and blankets to twilight concerts at the Bryn Mawr Gazebo all summer long and enjoy their pick of sledding hills in the winter months,” CNN Money wrote about the Township. “The area’s 682 acres of parkland and top-rated schools in the state form a well-rounded nest for well-heeled Pennsylvanians.”

Lower Merion is the only Pennsylvania community ranked among the top 25. Ranking 2nd, 3rd and 4th, respectively, are the towns of Greenwich, Conn., Palo Alto, Calif. and Newport Beach, Calif.

There are lots of places with outdoor concerts in the summer around the area, not just next to a very contentious library re-build at Ludington Library in Bryn Mawr inhaling car and truck fumes from Lancaster Avenue.  And you could of course consider they might be speaking of sledding on the roads since Lower Merion is not always so speedy with the snow plow.

Anyway, did not mean to go off on a tangent outside of Chester County, but I just found this whole thing distasteful.  And predictable.  Personally, I prefer communities that don’t have to brag about things like how much money residents have.  I prefer communities that have local governments that just do a decent job.

Can’t say that about Lower Merion.  After all, how many years later, and there is still no new train station in Ardmore or a real “redevelopment” there is there?  Wouldn’t it be best for all concerned if Congressman Jim Gerlach who gave Lower Merion $6 million for a transit center just took the money back?  Over half has been spent, there is no station and yet little boroughs like Malvern can complete a train station makeover complete with pedestrian tunnel and Paoli can get a shovel in the ground?

Face it when it comes to dollars and cents, some local governments may see dollar signs but have no sense.

1 thought on “just tacky

  1. Long ago, maybe I was about five or six years old, my grandmother overhead me telling a friend of hers that I had been saving for a Holly Hobby doll and that I was “almost there” squirreling pennies from my allowance and birthday money. My punishment was swift: grounding away from the pool and television for a week. “We never tell people how much money we have or don’t have or talk about the items we own,” she said, “Never.” I learned my lesson well and to be this day can hear her voice whenever I hear someone be a little too free with the details of their monetary blessings.

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