do you live in zip code 19355? read this.


Ahh yes, another post about Malvern Borough. I could post more photos of the tiny small town that it is, but I will stick with a photo of the town mural and a couple of photos containing well worded graffiti on overpasses from elsewhere in Chester County.

Malvern Borough is a small town.  It is surrounded, by rural, industrial, commercial and residential in the genre of exubrbia. Malvern is not and never will be the Main Line.  Malvern shouldn’t want to be the Main Line, either.  If Malvern wants to be like anyone, how about St. Peter’s Village or Narberth? Those are cute places who aren’t afraid to be the little home towns that they are.

danger photo

Malvern historically has always had an identity crisis. Settled originally by Welsh immigrants in the 17th century, it was the site of the Paoli Massacre in 1777, it was a tiny little area that never had a name until 1873 and wasn’t even incorporated as a borough until 1889. It has always been small with King as the main road off the beaten path.

Malvern should be fine with who it is, but it seems part of the history of Malvern is a history of government issues.  You might say it is one of Malvern’s long-standing traditions.

Malvern said yes to a relationship with Eli Kahn and gave birth to the yet unoccupied behemoth of a mixed use building.  You know, because Malvern needs to be so urban.  That building is perched unattractively right on the road with no care or thought to human scale let alone a design compatible to the SMALL TOWN surroundings.  You can’t unring the bell on that project.

But Malvern and people around Malvern need to wake up to what is coming down the pike if they are not careful. T.O.D. or transit oriented development.  Clever speak for cram those units in developers!

I have written about T.O.D. twice in 2013:

the emperor may have no clothes on when it comes to t.o.d. in Malvern

if septa is considering cutting service past paoli, why does malvern need T.O.D.?

T.O.D. is no joke and at the most simplest of explanations won’t fit in Malvern Borough.  We’re talking at least 600 residential units. I used to say that T.O.D. stood for Total Of Dumbasses. I still do.  If Malvern Borough, as in the Mayor and Borough council are not stopped, it is not just the residents of the borough who will be impacted.  Any other municipality that has borders will be impacted.  I think East Whiteland will be impacted the most.  And her residents will have no choice in the matter as this is Malvern Borough’s proposed stupidity.


What has provoked me to write again about this?  Henry Brigg’s brilliant and ever so sad column in Main Line Media news today.  It should be required reading it is that good.

He mentions a lady named Betty Burke who staged an uprising via a sit in on Christmas Eve in the 1970s to get rid of a corrupt local government.  Well that fascinated me so I did a little research.  Betty Burke died in 2011.  I just read two things about her and it brought tears to my eyes. Now there was a woman I would have liked to have known.

Here, refresh your memories:

betty burkeRemembering Betty Burke By Henry Briggs

Published: Wednesday, March 09, 2011

M. Elizabeth Burke, 91, a Malvern activist

By Sally A. Downey, Inquirer Staff Writer

Posted: March 17, 2011

Burke Park is named for Betty and her husband Sam. A lot of what has made Malvern a cool place in the past 3 or 4 decades is because of this woman’s persistence.

So are there enough people who knew Betty and her husband Sam still around that they might stop and think about what is lurking for Malvern “is this what Betty would have wanted?” Or would Betty have told people to toss the elected officials out again?

Again, I never knew Betty. But wow, what I have read about her is amazing so I think she would be very sad for Malvern right now if she was alive.

Of course it is not too late if people wake up now.  And don’t depend on local media to keep you abreast of things. Residents are going to have to do it the old-fashioned/old school way: pay attention and go to meetings. Use your power of the vote and change the faces of who govern you.

Stop the craziness in Malvern.  Read Henry Briggs column:

Main Line Suburban Life > Opinion

Henry Briggs: Say goodbye to Malvern, RFD

Published: Wednesday, October 02, 2013

This is a story about a storybook small town, one that could exist anywhere in the country, one that is being left open to attack by the very people who should be defending it.

It is 1.3 square miles with tree-lined streets…..lying between bucolic expanses of gentleman horse farms in Willistown and the corporate parks and exurban sprawl of East Whiteland.

Originally, when the whole area was working farm land, Malvern was a commercial hub, a place to buy supplies and sell the fruit of their labors…….Malvern has one traffic light, three little league fields, five churches, and, until a couple of years ago, one bar. The administrative office and police department are in the repurposed school house…..Traditionally, residents of small towns are quick to defend them.

When the town council turned corrupt in the early ’70s, Betty Burke, a nurse, mother, and political novice, led a bunch of other mothers in a Christmas Eve sit-in and coup that threw the bums out. Frank Capra would have loved it.

Traditionally, residents of small towns understand and cherish their unique qualities…..Malvern is at the bottom of a hefty political pyramid.

In recent years, special interests from that pyramid – with cooperation from leaders of the Malvern Council – decided that Malvern is just too small for the 21st century. They have been joined by developers who, like hawks in a summer sky, spot vulnerabilities that those on the ground never suspect.

Henry Briggs has written many a column that was like a love letter to Malvern.  This is one of those letters. Except it is so achingly sad because it is like he is saying good-bye to an old, dear friend.

Malvern Borough residents old and new, will you save your town? Please?

Post Script: Thanks to local columnist and former Malvern Borough Council President Henry Briggs, I have two more columns about Betty and Sam Burke to share…in the hopes that remembering these simple people who worked so hard will inspire Malvern residents to shake off the cobwebs and save their small town before it becomes another Eagle or some plastic coated Toll Brothers-esque mess wrapped in Tyvec.

The Scribbler Proud member of the Betty Burke Party

The Scribbler My Best To You

17 thoughts on “do you live in zip code 19355? read this.

  1. Why talk about Betty Burke why not do the same thing she did. What are people waiting for Christmas is coming. If it worked before why not try it again. People in this day and age make me sick that they will not stand up for anything and do it passionately. Or even help or defend another person SAD. But they will complain all day long. We saved Ludwigs corner Horse show grounds we stood up to all the bone headed big shots and we told them they were not taking our show grounds. One of the most supportive people we had was Andy Dinnaman he was FANTASTIC he believes in open space and preserving what we have and saving Chester County. He is an incredible person. So they got one ugly building past us and now everybody’s eyes should be wide open and a little sore from looking at that NASTY building. It is time to step forward and do something about preserving the historic over all picture and layout of Malvern. At least keep the new buildings looking like they belong not stick out like a very sore thumb. If you need someone to sit with let me know I have been a Malvern resident for 49 years.

    • I am not a borough of Malvern resident. The Borough residents are the ones with standing here. I can show them support and so can you but THEY have to wake up and get busy. If they don’t they will regret it and Malvern will be ruined forever.

      However that being said, residents of other 19355 municipalities need to pressure their public officials to lean on Malvern borough officials to do the right thing because ultimately the borough’s stupidity will potentially affect residents of neighboring municipalities.

      I know what Betty Burke did is possible because a few years ago now I was part of a group that helped defeat eminent domain in Ardmore and at the time we flipped five of fourteen commissioners out of office.

      And you know I will sit with you at a meeting any old day 🙂

      Henry Briggs has another column about Malvern due next week by the way

      • Hello,
        Please help us support Do the WRITE thing for Malvern! My husband, Matt Radano is one of three Malvern boro residents (Todd Lexer ~ Matt Radano ~ David Bramwell) who are running as write ins this Tuesday, 11/5/13 for malvern borough council. This is a grass roots campaign operation currently vibrant and gaining momentum around the town. We are against the TOD project and just regular families living in Malvern who felt the need to get involved. Please help us save small town Malvern.

        Jennifer Radano

      • Hi Jennifer, thank you for writing in. I do not live in the borough, but Chester County ramblings also has a Facebook page. Please feel free to write anything about these write in candidates up there!

  2. Yet another hysterical post filled with vague racist innuendo. Oh no! Apartments! That might upset our little town of white purity.

    • Whoever you are, you are a nasty jackass. It has nothing to do with racial purity, and I am not a racist. Nor is there anything racial about the post. As a matter of fact, part of the history of Malvern borough is it always has been multiracial to an extent. Today it is a mix of many cultures, and you can see them walking up and down the streets.

      The bottom line is: Malvern borough can’t handle this kind of density. And the problems this density will create, will have a trickle-down effect two other neighboring municipalities.

      If you don’t like my blog my friend, start your own

    • Readers, you can reach “campmisty” at

      Of course what escapes them and they’re great desire to just be nasty on someone’s blog, is that 600 apartments won’t fit in the borough of Malvern.

      And as per a comment on a Malvern board today this is disturbing to residents : “This is an IMPORTANT read, keep it active. Surveyors were working along Warren below RR parking lot yesterday.”

      • Dear Fred whose comment is NOT being posted:

        Hi already know about the past and well, what you wanted to post as a comment is just mud slinging and has nothing to do with what I wrote about, or what Mr. Briggs wrote about. So your comment went into the trash where it belongs – this is my blog and I don’t have to post any comments if I don’t want to.

        Grow up and offer something relevant to add to the conversation or move on


    • Wow “Fred”,

      No I am not mudslinging Bill Holmes, I offered my OPINION on some of his campaign bragging and my opinion on men who have asstastic campaign slogans.

      I am sure Bill Holmes can pull on the big boy pants and contact me if my post is keeping him awake at nights.

      Don’t play with me. I bite. Now either offer something productive to this conversation or move on. Further comments of this ill and direction will be deleted and ignored

  3. I agree with camp misty (although not with his tone). On one blog post you rant about farms being plowed under for residential use. Well, building in established areas like malvern borough prevents that from happening!! Would you rather see another forest or field destroyed to accommodate growth? Growth is happening one way or another. Orienting growth around septa regional rail and in established towns and villages is absolutely the right long term strategy and I 100% support it.

    • How many rental apartments does Malvern Borough need? Charleston Greene times how many?

      And how do you think they will get clear land to accommodate 600+ units? Unless they are seizing blocks of Malvern via eminent domain for private gain, what do you think will come down to clear land to build ? Trees. Land will be clear cut near the tracks.

      And FYI how like a man to say a woman is ranting because she expresses a strong opinion. you support this but I do not. And I intend to keep saying so. I know I am right .

      Growth of a community doesn’t have to be idiots’ delight.

      And a proposed ” TOD ” development in Malvern isn’t going to stop or slow down wanton field and forest eating development in Chester County. And development needs to slow down or what makes Malvern and elsewhere special in Chester County will be lost.

      And FYI even state officials whom I have spoken to about this project are leery of it and also can’t disagree that Septa might indeed cut service at Paoli.

      This TOD project will overwhelm and ruin Malvern if it comes to pass

      • How many apartments does Malvern need? As many as the market will bear, of course.

        It makes zero sense that septa would end service at Paoli when the trains have to pass through Malvern to get to the Frazer yard. Those changes are never going to happen anyway. Nice try at fear and mongering. The last person to call you hysterical was not far off

        It must be exhausting to claim the sky is falling so frequently.

      • I am not fear mongering and hysterical is not in my DNA. I get that you think women should be seen and not heard, but that is your issue not mine.

        Septa cut service past Paoli for years, so it is not irrational or dramatic to consider it will happen again. Malvern can’t handle density like the TOD plan will bring, and what Malvern Borough does will also affect neighboring municipalities.

        You must have something to gain if this goes through. I don’t really care, however. I am not wrong.

        I have allowed you your say, but you are not going to continue to have your say with your current tone of voice. Condescend to another woman. It is a privilege I allow you to comment, not a right.

      • An off blog comment came in and they ask if you actually live in Malvern Borough? They further comment:

        “I think the answer to this comment is there should be a PUBLIC vote on what to do about growth. like a referendum. There are more than simply two choices: get rid of farms or grow Malvern. They frame the argument in a way that assumes their premise premise.

        In California they have had what’s called “cluster housing” for 50 or more years – houses built close together so with open space preserved around them. Open space AND housing. This is what TAG builders in doing in Malvern – except they ignored open space part.

        In Maryland they took some farmland in the 60s and turned it into 7 little villages which became a model and thriving town called Columbia that feeds commuters into both Baltimore and Washington.

        Both alternatives relieve pressure on existing towns AND farmland – and accommodate growth.

        If the people who live in these towns had a voice in their future, it would be fair. What’s going on now – the behind-the-scenes bargaining, the control of the process is outrageous “

  4. I agree with the sentiment, but to do this requires a degree of economic and political cooperation at the regional level – something that just does not exist in southeastern Pennsylvania.

    With 2500 municipalities and 500 school districts, PA is a mess at the municipal level. What’s needed is county level, and in southeastern PA, regional level planning for smart growth initiatives to have any lasting value. If for every well-intentioned transit oriented development there’s another car dependent office park or shopping mall built, then there’s a net gain of zero.

    The best long-term way to solve growth and sprawl in Pennsylvania is to adopt local, regional and state policies that make our major downtown commercial centers – primarily central Philadelphia – attractive places for businesses and jobs.

  5. Pingback: more thoughts on malvern borough | chestercountyramblings

Comments are closed.