easttown’s epic fail with new development

This is not a long post. Mostly visual. It shows a plan that is all wrong for this area.

When the plan first began in Easttown along Lancaster Avenue, the structure was purely penile.

Now it is hulking thing with a complete lack of human scale. The design aesthetic is also lacking. Given where it’s going it will remain lacking and look like an ugly institution when complete. And would anyone feel safe walking on the sidewalk in front of this building? How could you?

And these aren’t places people will stay in and raise families. This is housing that is transient, people stay a while and then move on. And none of these places are inexpensive, either. Once again it is yet another Chester County development project without any affordable housing units. And once again, I will remind people that affordable housing isn’t just subsidized or “section 8“ housing, affordable housing is also where people begin their lives with their first homes often in communities where they grew up, and move into when they want to stay in their communities as they age and have decided to downsize.

This project along with whatever gets built where Handel’s currently is will create a truly cavernous effect. Neither of these projects will reflect the community they are in, none of these monstrosities do anywhere. Urban canyons don’t belong in suburbia.

Did I mention how ugly I find them? Of course I have. And I know this post will provoke some comments of why do I think I can say anything about this etc. etc. To them I reply, I can say something because we all can express ourselves on these projects good, bad, or indifferent.

I have to say it’s no wonder Easttown Township doesn’t want their meetings televised or recorded. Then everyone would hear how the residents object to these plans and this township just does not even listen even when it comes to design standards.

Thanks for stopping by.

farms were once revered in chester county, and were her lifeblood, but now they are under attack?

Look. A young family, their farm, excited to be farmers in Chester County. Apparently East Coventry sees this as a problem and isn’t that horrible?

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Farms being targeted as bad things in Chester County? But is it crazy? No —- this is not about Wildflower Farm which is under siege in Willistown Township by NOFIMBY “neighbors” on Castlebar Lane. This post is about Kolb’s in East Coventry. This farm seems to be under siege by their municipality, so it makes you wonder what the municipality really wants, doesn’t it?

NOFIMBY = No Farms In My Back Yard.

So I saw this GoFundMe posted about helping Kolb’s and it stopped me dead in my tracks:

📌📌‼️Allow Kolb’s Farm Store to Continue Hosting Ag-Supported Events at the Farm!

Since November of 1975, Kolb’s Farm Store has been a fixture in the East Coventry and greater Chester County area providing farm fresh milk and other essentials to the community. In July 2021, the Farm & Store was sold to Bob & Casi Long (along with their 18 month old son). When Bob & Casi, a young couple in their mid 20s, took over the farm it was clear that they needed to increase revenue to support the rapidly rising cost of feed for their cattle as well as the overhead costs to run the farm & store. Casi came up with creative, Ag-Supported, events to be held at the farm. The gatherings would bring together local vendors, other small businesses from our area, community members and the farm. People would learn more about the farm, pet the cows in the barn and enjoy good food. While these things are all absolutely wonderful and supportive for the surrounding community, these Ag-Supported events expanded the Long’s market reach and drove traffic (thus sales) into the Farm Store. Last week, Casi was served papers from East Coventry Township, including screenshots from Facebook posts, detailing her Ag-Supported events on the farm. After a meeting with the township, it was determined that the Long Family would need extensive legal counsel as well as several thousand dollars to apply for the zoning variances and fees associated with this.

This is where you come in. Supporting the Long Family through a donation to their GoFundMe not only supports keeping a local dairy farm in East Coventry Township, it means open space remains open. It means your food sources remain local. It means supporting the backbone of America: Small Business & Farmers. We will continue to update on this page as things progress with East Coventry Township. Please also follow the Facebook page (Kolb’s Farm Store) for meeting dates with East Coventry Township officials. The time to show support is now.

Thank you, Long Family, for continuing to fight the good fight to grow your farm and continue to feed the greater Chester County area.📌📌‼️

So this again is a farm which transitioned to younger owners who kept the name and now a Chester County municipality seems like they want to shut it down? So Kolb’s has been part of the fabric around there for decades, right? I know nothing much about this municipality but don’t they have a supervisor named Ray Kolb? Relative of original owners or just same name?

But anyway. Check out this article from Lancaster Farming:

Kolb’s Farm Store Transitions to Young Farm Couple
Eric Hurlock, ehurlock@lancasterfarming.com Jan 6, 2022 Updated Jan 6, 2022

📌📌SPRING CITY, Pa. — The Kolb family had been farming in East Coventry Township, Chester County, for generations. Roy and Alice Kolb moved into the farmhouse on Kolb Road around 1960. They began milking cows and raising a family. In 1975, they opened up a small milk store at their farm to help bring in more revenue to support their seven kids.

Paul Kolb, who does the milk processing now, remembers his dad Roy asking him and his twin brother what they wanted to do after high school. Did they want to stay on the farm?

“Because if we wanted to stay on the farm, he had to try and come up with some other income to support us. So that’s what happened. And that’s how the store got opened,” Paul Kolb said…..The farm and store were run by various members of the family over the years, most recently by Leroy and Sally Kolb. Sally ran the store and Leroy ran the farm, but in March of 2020, Leroy died unexpectedly.

The family had been trying to figure out how to transition the operation to the next generation. But the next generation of Kolbs weren’t that interested in taking it over.

The family knew it was time to sell the farm….A farm this size in northern Chester County would fetch a hefty chunk of change, if split up and developed, but the Kolbs had different priorities.

“Obviously, developing (the land) was an option, but we decided that we would rather sell it as a working farm,” said Paul. “That was our first priority. We knew the neighbors would appreciate it tremendously. And so that was the reason that we sold it as a farm.”

But finding the right people was sort of a long shot.

“And fortunately, we were able to find somebody who was interested in keeping farming,” Kolb said….Bobby and Casi Long were married in 2019. They met as teenagers at the 2014 Kimberton Fair in Phoenixville where they were both showing cows.

As the couple planned their future together, they knew they wanted to farm….The couple financed the sale through Mid Penn Bank.

“The Kolbs and the bank and us — we all got to have a conversation and all of our goals aligned. And so that’s kind of how that whole partnership kind of blossomed,” Casi said.

By June of 2021, the Longs were working with the Kolbs to transition ownership. There was a lot to learn and having members of the Kolb family on hand to show them the ropes was an absolute blessing.

On July 1, 2021, Kolb’s Farm Store officially opened under the ownership of Casi and Bobby Long.📌📌

So why does this township want to shut these people down? Does this seem as crazy to you as it does to me? Here is how you contact East Coventry: info@eastcoventry-pa.gov – : 610-495-5443 – 855 Ellis Woods Rd., Pottstown, PA 19465.

We need to SAVE our farms. I hope people make it rain e-mails, post cards, letters, phone calls. #HANDSOFFKOLBS #NoFarmsNoFood

On my blog’s Facebook page are posts I have shared with links to small businesses supporting Kolb’s and the Long family. There is also the Go Fund Me: https://gofund.me/833d8a8a

And if I actually knew the Long family and hadn’t just had the awesome milk from Kolb’s I would tell them or any concerned resident to submit a Right To Know Request to East Coventry Township to ask them if there are complaints in any form (oral, written, email, text message, electronic, etc) going back to 2020 against the farm, against them personally, the Kolb family from whom they purchased the property. And that would only be the first one.

And today I realized the irony in Chester County putting out the call for people to help with the semiquincentennial of the United States of America (America250PA) as it will be celebrated in Chester County. Oh the goddamn irony because how many farms will be under siege by July 4, 2026? And Chester County was founded in a big part on the backs of farmers, so WTF Chester County? How about helping actually protect, promote, and preserve farms in Chester County? Like Kolb’s. Like WildFlower Farm. And others like Happy Days Farm that was bought by Vanguard and sold, but at some point will it still be developed?

Ten million plastic townhouse developments, trails to nowhere, nasty NOFIMBY neighbors, a development happy county planner, and duplicitous municipalities aren’t the tradition of Chester County, nor should they be her future. Farms are the lifeblood and heart of this county and we need to preserve them in perpetuity.

Farming is a brutally hard business. Municipalities and neighbors of farms should be lifting up their farms, not slamming them down. Please Chester County residents, and Chester County Commissioners stand up and SUPPORT our farms and farmers. And that also means helping our farmers promote and grow their business to ensure farm sustainability. That means allowing events and farm tours and ways to educate people about farms, farming, It means encouraging people to be Localvores. It means municipalities in PA respecting the ACRE Law too.

Shame on you East Coventry. You suck, actually. Farms matter. Farmers are real people, our friends and neighbors. Shame on you East Coventry.

until next year…

Bye bye until next Christmas. Yes, I almost met my late father’s ultimate procrastination date with taking down the Christmas tree this time! One year he waited until Valentine’s Day. I am not far off.

I love my ornaments and it all seems to go so fast once the tree is up…and then you have to take it down and put it all away.

I am home sick, a COLD not COVID but I couldn’t put it off any longer. Sigh.

The ornaments tell a story of many Christmas trees in some cases. For the vintage ones I have from childhood Christmases in my mind’s eye I can even still see some of the trees. For the vintage ornaments I have collected, I can only imagine what those Christmases might have been like.

Now it’s time to get moving and put them away.

Thanks for stopping by.

once again, lower merion school district and her cheerleaders can’t see the forest for the trees….so why not just clear cut the forest?

May be an image of tree, outdoors and text that says 'SAVE THIS FOREST!'

RANT ALERT. If you don’t want to hear it, turn away now.

Traveling back from whence I came, or visiting issues in Lower Merion Township is always amusing albeit somewhat disturbing to always be amazed at the blind devotion to Lower Merion School District especially when once again they are doing something destructive.

The comments from the blind faithful THIS time are over Lower Merion School Board plans to bulldoze a beautiful swath of woodland unnecessarily is truly something which will take your breath away. I am not giving those comments air time because they are always the same thing: when it is distilled and boiled down, Lower Merion School District is perfect.

If you disagree with Lower Merion School District cheerleaders no matter what they are trying to do you are at a minimum a bad person. Or you are NIMBY, which doesn’t apply unless it’s in your neighborhood and even then it is just a knee jerk pejorative term most of the time. These folks want to drive their status symbol green friendly Teslas, but when it comes to actually doing better the environment in other ways, or even just preserving an area to keep a bit of charm, that is far too inconvenient.

And OMG you would think Lower Merion School District was in dire peril if they don’t get their way every single time.

MISPLACED SENSE OF ENTITLEMENT. Lots of school districts excel and thrive on far, far less.

No Lower Merion School District is not perfect and it has decades of issues to prove that. And no I don’t think highly of them.

And Lower Merion Township has contributed to issues surrounding Lower Merion School District vis a vis development. Sure they are separate entities autonomous from one and other, yet they have a weird codependency since what they do as individual entities affects the other. And when you overdevelop and they come, it overcrowds the school district, correct?

A few years ago now, Lower Merion School District had a failed attempt to seize land from Stoneleigh, the 100% preserved property donated by the Haas family to Natural Lands to remain preserved in perpetuity for people (and nature) to enjoy.

Then when Lower Merion Township School District couldn’t get their greedy paws on Stoneleigh, they acquired the old Clothier Estate and it was happy bulldozing. Oh and I forgot, before they attempted to get Stoneleigh, there was that whole situation where they made a play to take Ashbridge Park. Yes a park.

So then there was the whole thing of they still need more land and that old disco song “More, More, More” comes to mind because with Lower Merion School District more, more, more is always their mantra. Nothing is ever enough.

As a school district they could have sent representatives to Lower Merion Township for years to express concern over infill development, but they didn’t. And once upon a time, they had other schools, that they closed. They closed Ardmore Junior High School around 1978, they let the Ardmore Avenue School (elementary) rot and eventually closed it (that caused redistricting back then didn’t it although it was also integration?) they closed Bryn Mawr Elementary School, and the Wynnewood Road Elementary School.

So in my humble opinion, Lower Merion School District has always had issues and always been a crappy neighbor. In the vein of that opinion, their still current and fractured relationship with neighbors over field lights at Arnold Field. And remember redistricting again in the not too recent past and the case Students Doe v. Lower Merion School District which made it to the U.S. Supreme Court although it was not heard?

So back to Villanova where the new middle school with the stupid name that means nothing but could have meant something if they had bent their absurd rigidity and allow it to be named after beloved educator, Sean Hughes. Anyway, Lower Merion swoops in and elbows out Villanova University using eminent domain once again to get 13.4 acres on adjacent sites to Stoneleigh at 1800 West Montgomery Ave. and 1835 County Line Rd.

Oakwell. 13 acres of old growth woods and heritage trees, mostly majestic oak trees. HUNDREDS of them. This property was in play for a while and I believe the former owners just dangled a juicy carrot until they had enough people salivating. First it was Villanova University (which would have been just as bad owning this property in my opinion.) But you know Lower Merion School District and their favorite billy club of eminent domain, right?

So now it is to be turf field city, the hell with trees and species like the great horned owl which remarkably DOES live there? This is also still a threat to Stoneleigh in my humble opinion. This is also an enormous environmental threat to the entire area and will affect not only Lower Merion Township residents, but Radnor Township residents who literally are on the other side of terribly narrow County Line Road. And of course one can’t help but wonder, does a new school mean the need for another outpost for first responders? Where would THAT go if so?

This is post is truthfully an addendum to a last-minute call to arms the other day for anyone who grew up in Lower Merion Township or lives there still today.

Please continue to send emails telling the Lower Merion School District to NOT bulldoze down many acres of a pristine old growth oak forest. They want to destroy a valuable natural resource that will affect Stoneleigh immediately adjacent, and neighbors in Lower Merion Township and Radnor Township just so middle schoolers can have a few turf fields.

FLOOD THEIR EMAIL!


I hate to sound as old as dirt but we had plain old grass fields and survived quite nicely. It’s middle school. Of course ironically it’s also the place in school where they teach or used to teach earth science and this property is like a giant living earth science lab complete with great horned owls.


The school board keep trying to do an end run around neighbors who want to have a zoning hearing board meeting on this issue. I think it behooves all of us to support the neighbors and environmentalists on the front lines of this issue.

This property they acquired adjacent to Stoneleigh is irreplaceably special. It has mature woodlands with all sorts of flora and fauna species as well as the oaks. Those old growth oaks in particular are extraordinarily valuable, and not just monetarily. They are also heritage trees.


This property has been evaluated by experts and it is a treasure trove of species. It is home to many, many migratory birds, etc.


Here is whom you address your email to (and YES include LOWER MERION TOWNSHIP):

communitycomments@lmsd.org
publiccomment@lowermerion.org
shouchins@lowermerion.org

drmumin@lmsd.org

mcgloia@lmsd.org

shaferm@lmsd.org

Now including those email addresses because if you have been sending emails their comment email address keeps getting overwhelmed.

Lower Merion Township Zoning Hearing Board Meeting Cancelled 1/25/22

The zoning meeting got cancelled on this topic this week. It is rescheduled. Do not know exact date. Including Lower Merion Township in your email will probably be the only response you get. And it will be from the current Township Secretary and it will be terse and may even feel somewhat rude, but you have put your sentiments on the record which is important in any issue. Don’t expect great things from the Township Manager, Ernie McNeely, and if you don’t believe me just ask folks in West Chester Borough where he came from before he became socially upwardly mobile and moved to Lower Merion, right?

By all accounts, Lower Merion School District finally has a decent superintendent. But he inherited a legacy of bad decisions and bad apples in my humble opinion. This was set into motion by the previous superintendent who was even worse than the one he succeeded.

Middle school kids can play just fine on grass fields and the new middle school has field space too. They could have fields on this latest seized property and save the woodlands. Saving those woodlands gives them opportunities from other than turf fields. Kids could learn from actual nature, not what is projected on a screen as they sit growing like mushrooms while they are looking at their phones anyway. Nature gives kids room to be kids.

Middle school kids aren’t competing for the Heisman Trophy or Soccer World Cup, maybe less playing fields and letting kids still be kids at that age would be more productive? But then the soccer moms and dads in their expensive athleisure wouldn’t be able to drive their giant gas guzzling or environmentally appropriate SUVs through the Starbucks drive thru with casual disregard for other drivers and pedestrians only to scream and yell at the side of a field and because it’s Lower Merion expect others to clean up their Starbucks cups, right?

Hell yea I am on a rant. This is ridiculous. I don’t always agree with Lower Merion resident Phil Browndeis, but his thoughts posted with his video shared above, struck a chord:

This is the last winter for a stand of old growth trees in Lower Merion. The Lower Merion School District plans to clear cut the trees to build new athletic fields for the new middle school. So much for carbon sequestration, wildlife habitat and all the other good that trees provide us.

Allow me also to share verbiage from a petition about this (and sign that too while you are at it!):

THIS PETITION IS SPONSORED BY CLIMATE ACTION LOWER MERION (CALM) https://www.climateactionlm.org/ contact us at climateactionlm@gmail.com

Lower Merion Township is facing a great challenge which must be addressed with urgency: the Township is under tremendous development pressure which is being allowed to continue under old building and development and land use codes that do not protect and preserve the Township’s shrinking remaining environmental assets. This is a matter of grave concern: our tree canopy is under attack. Our waterways, already polluted, are being further compromised. Our cost to correct the adverse impacts of this type of development may greatly exceed whatever short term benefits may be derived.

An environmental tragedy is unfolding. Over 482 trees over 6” in diameter (which probably understates the number of mature trees) including 26 giant oaks, a magnificent oak savannah, and a densely treed mature woodland are slated for removal according to a proposal before the Township for their approval. It would be hard for this proposal to be enacted under the current zoning code, but this proposal is sadly grandfathered under old rules.

Due to an unfortunate set of events that occurred a few years ago, a wooded parcel was acquired by the School District for playing field development. This parcel is located at 1800 Montgomery Avenue and 1835 County Line Rd in Villanova. The plan involves an almost complete deforestation of the parcel including a clearcutting of vast swaths of trees. Neighbors say it is a stopover for migrating birds including snowy owls.

At the same time that this project is moving forward, the Township is in a planning process to write and implement a Sustainability/Greenhouse Gas Reduction plan and is considering adopting a Net Zero Carbon Emission resolution. The destruction of the woodland would be a self-inflicted wound making it far more difficult and costly to achieve the sustainability and carbon reduction we so desperately need. In addition, the children cannot walk to the proposed playing fields. They will have to be bussed. So we hope another site could be equally viable.

We are simply asking the Township authorities and the School district to work together to exhaustively and completely explore all other options. We must be stewards for our children and our children’s children. We can do the right thing, its not too late.

I don’t hold out great hope here, I am a realist and this school district is always selfish and so are the majority of their narcissistic blind faith devotees. However, you just don’t know and if we can save these woods, it is so crucially important to the are and to nature herself.

Thanks for allowing the rant, you know I love my oak trees and owls and woodpeckers and other critters. Visit Save Oakwell Sister to Stoneleigh on Facebook to keep up with what is happening. I guess I am a tree hugger after a fashion. And I definitely don’t agree with yet another bad plan by Lower Merion School District.

Maybe this in the end is just another Don Quixote tilting at windmills issue, but I still think it is something to talk about, and why not object to the plan? After all WHY couldn’t they preserve these woods and use other open space on property for fields? Why CAN’T they be part progress part preservationist? These trees are actually important and I am completely unapologetic to those who cannot see that.

Photo Courtesy of Save Oakwell Sister to Stoneleigh.

Interesting reading on Lower Merion School District:

Inquirer: “Stoneleigh garden may be saved from Lower Merion school district by new law”
June 25, 2018

By Natural Lands

WHYY ‘Disconcerting to be a taxpayer and not be heard’: Lower Merion residents rebuke school district in open space battle
By Kenny Cooper October 14, 2021

6 ABC Save Stoneleigh supporters storm Lower Merion School Board meeting
By Annie McCormick

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Philadelphia Magazine: Lower Merion Schools: OK, We’ll Leave Most of Stoneleigh Alone By Claire Sasko 2018

Inquirer: “Is Stoneleigh safe? Lower Merion district buys nearby property for middle school”
July 20, 2018
By Natural Lands

LMHS Newsroom
UPDATE ON PROPERTY ACQUISITION (2019)

UPDATE ON PROPERTY ACQUISITION (2018)

MOI: A Closer Look
The Moment of Integration – Project Description

http://www.lowermerionhistory.org/photos/wynnewoodnew.html

Lower Merion The First 300: Public Schools

Postmortem: Redistricting battle in Lower Merion
A week ago, the Supreme Court declined to hear Students Doe v. Lower Merion School District, ending the legal debate over the Lower Merion School Board’s redistricting plan
.

by Adam Bredenberg
Published Jun 28, 2012

NOVEMBER 16, 2021 Lower Merion community wants new middle school named after late principal Sean Hughes
Students and parents have started an online petition to honor the longtime educator, but district policy explicitly prohibits naming buildings after people
BY HANNAH KANIK

PhillyVoice Staff

IT run amok: Pa. school allegedly spied on students via webcams by Bill Detwiler in TR Dojo, in Hardware on February 19, 2010, 6:03 AM PST

Great Horned Owl Nest. Photo Courtesy of Save Oakwell Sister to Stoneleigh.

the devil is in the details

You never know when you’re going to see that unexpected thing that you want to photograph. I found one of those things today when I photographed that segment of wall you see above.

I was in downtown West Chester for the moving sale for the store Dishfunctional on S. Franklin Street. They have been in this old warehouse for a number of years and they are moving soon to Lincoln Court in Frazer because West Chester borough approved Eli Kahn to build like two more apartment buildings.

Now I feel building apartments right there is just stupid because everyone knows it floods. And the other thing is every time you hear of some new ugly apartment building going up you wonder why nobody does adaptive reuse? Do you still see it in the city of Philadelphia in spots (my recent favorite example is The Gotham – look it up.)

So you have here this perfect section of old brick wall. What was it from? Where does it go because doesn’t it look like something is bricked up?

I have no idea what the latest behemoth apartment building will sprawl across but I don’t think that wall will survive somehow. So I decided to take its picture because I think it’s just so cool.

The new construction we see today is without depth, human scale, design, imagination, and sometimes you wonder about the quality of the whole project. They certainly don’t do brickwork like this anymore.

Thanks for stopping by. Off to watch A Discovery of Witches.

norfolk southern please do something

That is a very grainy photo that was sent to me today it shows a person up on that trestle bridge in Downingtown. Consider this a follow up to yesterday’s post about Norfolk Southern’s essentially abandoned property.

This is dangerous, crumbling, and could become an adaptive reuse and at a minimum have public access removed until such time they decide.

It kind of makes you wonder why the media isn’t covering this doesn’t it?

Having lived in communities that have “orphaned“ railroad bridges, railroad tunnels, railroad trestles I know there is a process. Which is probably why although everyone has heard talk of making this part of a bike trail and made safe nothing has happened. Norfolk Southern has to sign off on it, possibly deed it to the county, state, or whomever.

However getting anything to happen can take years. And a life was almost lost the other day which is why the petition started. We don’t have more years to waste on this.

https://www.change.org/p/do-something-abouttrestle-bridge

Everyone is afraid to talk about this location because they’re afraid more people will be drawn to it who have thoughts of suicide. But I think we have to draw attention to it because if we don’t nothing will happen and no change will occur.

As I said to someone today the issue of this bridge draws attention to the fact that Chester County is about to be in a true mental health crisis if it isn’t already with Brandywine Hospital being closed by Tower Health January 31. It was the only mental health facility outside of Philadelphia. I really don’t understand what Tower Health has done with all their money number one, and number two they got a lot of cares act money how did they spend it? Why couldn’t the state help Chester County keep at least Brandywine Hospital open?

The other thing about drawing attention to this dangerous and crumbling trestle bridge is it IS dangerous and Norfolk Southern is culpable. It IS a suicide bridge and not talking about it won’t make it better or go away. It simply means that more families will suffer the tragedy of suicide from this location and do we wish that on any human being? I certainly do not.

So let’s make this bridge a big public issue. The more we can talk about it the more it helps our elected officials draw attention to it and the need to solve a problem here immediately not a few years from now if at all.

I am asking my readers if you have photos of this bridge especially with people up on it please send them to me. We need to make this public. I am also asking for all of you to take the time to not only contact your elected officials but contact Norfolk Southern and CC your elected officials and even media contacts if you have them.

social.media@nscorp.com

alan.shaw@nscorp.com

media.relations@nscorp.com

ATLNOCSID@nscorp.com

alan.shaw@exchange.nscorp.com

You can also contact Norfolk Southern through their social media page on Facebook and they also have Twitter of not more.

They could pay to make the safe, they could pay to secure it until the plan is agreed-upon for a trail or whatever, basically they have the money to make this right. So it all should not come out of the taxpayer monies of Chester County residents.

We can’t afford to monkey around with this, even if we don’t live in Downingtown. and no matter what our political persuasion addressing this issue is something that is just a good thing to do, it’s for the community, it will help families, we can come together shortly and put our differences aside over this I would hope. It’s very core at a minimum it’s a public health, safety and welfare issue.

So Norfolk Southern, come on now, we know you know, it’s time to act. Stop the jumping off #suicidebridge starting with securing the location to keep people off, followed by making this something #SAFE and more #POSITIVE .

Stay warm today readers and thanks for stopping by.

#suicideprevention #talkaboutit #fixthebridge

norfolk southern needs to realize there are things we can change to make things better. (petition link attached)

We’ve all been under this railroad trestle if we live in Chester County. It’s is the one over 322. It’s a smidge west of Bradford Avenue in Downingtown. It’s a suicide bridge. It’s tall, dangerous, rotting, and owned by Norfolk Southern. (see neat photo array here: https://thesilentcamera.com/blog/2013/03/10/downingtowns-trestle-bridge// )

I thought it was supposed to become part of a trail. But I am guessing time, politics, COVID and money have put a lot of things like this on hold. The irony is Norfolk Southern makes LOTS of money. Surely they could donate this money to turn it into a trail? No I am not nuts, in the 3rd quarter of 2021 alone they reported a significant increase in revenue.

Now this is a historic trestle. It was built in the early 20th century – around 1903 I think. The Downingtown Historical Society has a page on their website devoted to the history complete with photos – really interesting. The Library of Congress designates it as a historic resource. But it’s just trouble waiting to happen to me. It hasn’t been used since the late 1980s.

It’s dangerous. Crap falls off it like a Philadelphia highway bridge, and it is a suicide place. Life is precious. We need more mental health resources, which is why Brandywine Hospital closing in 10 days is so devastating for our county. But this bridge? Norfolk Southern needs to step up and help be part of a solution.

Why this post? Something that stopped me in my proverbial tracks today on NextDoor:

Here is the petition: https://www.change.org/p/do-something-abouttrestle-bridge

Here is the narrative from the petition:

On May 24, 2021, we lost another young member of our community to suicide. This abandoned bridge presents a dangerous opportunity for our children in crisis. Ever since I moved to West Bradford township, I’ve driven under the Trestle Bridge and think about my own kids going up there to explore when they get older. There have now been two suicides and several attempts that I know of. Locals tell me there are many more that weren’t reported in the media.

This bridge is DANGEROUS. My husband grew up in West Bradford and tells me stories of kids (including himself) going up there all the time. I’ve spoken with local teens who have confirmed that it is still a place they visit, and they regularly document it on social media. 

We cannot sit by and allow this bridge to decay any further. The netting underneath has collected a large amount of debris and heavy rocks. I’m afraid someone driving underneath the bridge after a heavy rainstorm will be its next victim. 

Trestle Bridge either needs to be removed entirely or updated and used as a routinely monitored space in our community. One option that has been discussed in the past is a bike trail. Adding a bike path with high rails and security cameras will make Trestle Bridge a safer place.

While we can’t always prevent how a person ends their life, the community of Downingtown does not want history to continually repeat itself. It’s been trending on Google how to access the bridge due the the most recent tragedy. Trestle Bridge can no longer be a tempting and dangerous place for our children…….

JAN 21, 2022 — 

Dear Community Members,

I’ve spoken with two local officials now and they have assured me that acquiring the bridge and creating a bike trail is the plan. I am not going to give up on this until we get something in writing. Norfolk Southern owns the bridge and ultimately needs to sign off. If you have a personal experience that documents the danger of Trestle Bridge, please email me your story at

msmonahan1@gmail.oom

Keep sharing the petition please. Our community has spoken and we are being heard! 

Caitlin Reinert 

May 24, 2021. I wrote about that tragic teen suicide. And it is not the only one from that location. There have been too many. There should not be access to this thing except for when railroad personnel need to get up there. And again, not active, but Norfolk Southern has responsibility for it. Is it technically orphaned when you know who owns it? When it comes to railroad bridges and trestle that seems to be a constant query.

Here is a video from 2012:

OI think signing the petition is a great idea. I also think contacting Norfolk Southern is another great idea. They have a media relations email: media.relations@nscorp.com and I found this one too:  ATLNOCSID@nscorp.com and webmaster@nscorp.com .

They have a new CEO come May. He is currently President. I do not know if this email works but I found:

If they made this part of a trail with proper safety precautions, that would be terrific. But at a minimum, Norfolk Southern needs to cut public access off. They can at least do that. Their executives make buckets of money. The company is profitable even when they whine.

Railroads in general climb on my nerves. They make money, we need them. But needing them doesn’t mean we should put up with all of their orphaned and obsolete trestles, bridges, buildings and whatever other UNSAFE structures exist as ghostly reminders of their past and history from coast to coast.

I commend Caitlin whom I do not know, for trying to do something positive and proactive. So now let’s try to see what can happen. Sign the petition, contact Norfolk Southern and also contact elected officials additionally for better mental health resources and even school boards for better services for kids.

But for the Grace of God go we.

Photo courtesy of rlsycle on Fickr

discover more in ardmore

I do have to give a shout out once in a while to one of my favorite stores, Past*Present*Future in Ardmore, PA. They are in the heart of the historic business district at 15 W. Lancaster Avenue. They are next-door to Merion Art and Repro.

You can shop in person at the store, you can shop online, and you can shop and do curbside pickup. Masks are a requirement in the store, but I don’t mind businesses that take every precaution for their staff and customers.

The owner Sherry is a long time and very dear and close friend. My favorite present from her ever was shortly after I received my breast cancer diagnosis and she gave me this funky cool sculpture that was an F bomb literally.

I have a pillow in my living room that everyone loves of foxes. All hand embroidered it. It came from Sherry and her store. The store when you go in is a feast for your senses because there are so many cool things to look at. If you go to visit her I suggest you take a couple laps around and then focus on areas that you like. She has amazing fair trade crafts from around the world, and she also reps independent jewelry designers who have some of the most fabulous stuff out there. And things you can wear every day not things you have to lock away for safety.

Mostly I shop from online and off her Instagram page these days because I just don’t get to Ardmore very often. But her shipping is always reasonable, and like I said you can do curbside pick up. I encourage in person visits because she has a tremendous and unique card section that you won’t find any place else – there are lots of cards out there for every occasion but it’s hard to find ones that are quality or when you want one that’s funny, to find one that’s actually funny.

And yes this is a place that when I mount and frame some of my photographs I sell them here. Take for example this one you see in this photo below👇

But I am not posting this because I have a photo for sale there. I am posting this because she has so much fun stuff and I love her store. This is a great store to find something really unique and special for Valentine’s Day and any other special occasion you might have. It is also a store used for corporate gifts and in the back there is a section of old fashion children’s toys that are among my personal favorites.

And I will state for the record that I am not being compensated for this post, I was not asked to write this post, I am writing this post because I want to and it’s my friend’s business and I have been a happy customer for a couple of decades. And the fact that this store started originally in Center City Philadelphia many years ago and has been open for so many years tells you about the quality of the items being sold.

Thanks for stopping by!

a new cookbook

I don’t just make up recipes I actually follow recipes and read cookbooks. I will admit I have a lot of cookbooks, as I love cookbooks and gardening books. One of my favorites over the years has been The New York Times cookbook.

I bought my copy of The New York Times cookbook in either 1990 or 1991. It was done by Craig Claiborne. I also have a copy of the 1961 original cookbook. You can find them all over. My copy of the 1961 edition came from a fair book tent years ago – an impulse buy. My 1990s version I splurged for, and some of the pages are stained and the cover has been taped back together.

For 2022 I just bought the updated and revised edition by Amanda Hesser. I think there was another one from 2010 but I don’t have that edition. That one is also by Amanda Hesser.

Apparently the edition we can now find in 2022 I think it was supposed to come out in late 2019 or early 2020. Thank La vida COVID for that I think.

The author/editor Amanda Hesser, is a former New York Times food critic and successful author who is also the co-founder of the Food 52 website, which is a favorite of mine.

One of her best known books is Cooking for Mr. Latte written a bunch of years ago. It also lives in my library and is actually kind of special to those of us who went to Shipley. You see it was kind of written about her husband and their courtship. He was a year ahead of me at Shipley and is in his own right an incredibly accomplished author and writer for The New Yorker, Tad Friend. I also have one of his books in my library and understand he has a new book due out this spring.

But back to the cookbooks of it all. The New York Times Cookbook is one of the essentials that every home chef should have in his or her personal library. And maybe I am just old school, and although you can find almost any recipe you want on the Internet, there’s nothing like cracking open a book.

Treat yourself to the new and updated and expanded New York Times cookbook. It’s still maintains a lot of your favorite old recipes that you know from the New York Times cookbook, but as I’ve been swimming through it I see lots of new recipes. And the thing about this book is it’s not complicated or intimidating the recipes are things that you can do.

Please note I am not being compensated in anyway shape or form for writing about this. I love books, I love cookbooks and I love to cook. Maybe someday I will have my own little self-published cookbook, but I can’t hold a candle to an updated classic like this! In the meantime I will continue to wish for occasional help cleaning up the kitchen in my house! It’s fun most of the time being chief cook and bottle washer, but sometimes I just wish I didn’t have dishpan hands.

Thanks for stopping by- I am actually going to make chicken chili this afternoon. Yes my own recipe, no one famous.

comments, or the theory of whisper down the lane.

Well as my readers know, the other day I wrote a post called hooey. I wasn’t exactly breaking new ground. I was talking in part about groups I find kind of nutty because they speak to me of cult mentality.

These groups popping up everywhere and sometimes you just simply get tired of hearing their rhetoric like it’s the only thing that matters, and theirs is the sole voice you should follow. That’s why I wrote the post. I was expressing how I felt as a writer and a human being with a brain.

You have all these people running around claiming to be “true” conservatives and “true” Christians. The problem is when you know actual true conservatives and true Christians you realize the differences immediately.

True conservatives have a belief system. And they are happy to discuss it with you. They don’t beat you over the head with it, they don’t tell you that your thought process is wrong, they tell you how their thought process is different. The true conservatives that I know may some days be a little right of Attila the Hun for me, but they don’t try to beat people with opposing points of view into a verbal pulp or physical pulp.

True conservatives don’t need bumper stickers on their cars and flags on their lawns. They discuss things like intelligent human beings. A couple of friends in particular come to mind, and I have always found them delightful because they also have terrific senses of humor. Some of my true conservatives do still believe in Trump. A couple will send me things to read once in a while but it’s not unpleasant, it’s not combative, it just is. I do have a couple who no longer speak to me. We didn’t argue or fight, we just believe different things and it doesn’t mean I dislike them, or them me. Again, it just is.

Even when I was a registered Republican I have had friends who were true conservatives. they didn’t label themselves as tea partiers or anything which has evolved since, they merely had and have their point of view. And while I never completely agree, although sometimes on some points sometimes I agree to an extent, I have never left any conversation feeling like I wanted to barf. Or like they tried to make me feel less than. They knew what being a patriot actually is. And even more importantly, we leave the conversations as friends who had a discussion. Not a blood battle. That is an important nuance that these newfangled ones don’t seem to grasp, sadly.

What I find interesting is you never hear from these true conservatives anymore. A lot of them quite honestly quietly joined the ranks of the Never Trumpers. Oh and they didn’t think January 6, 2021 was OK either. And they understand that someone asking them to get a COVID shot is not depriving them of their personal freedom. They are just being asked to do their part as an American to end the global pandemic on our shores.

Now let’s also go to Christians. True Christians also have a solid belief system. They are happy to talk to you about it. They are calm and firm and happy in their belief in God. But they aren’t mean or horrible to anyone. They don’t say they are God-fearing and then bully someone online.

True Christians are exemplary and the ones I know, are extraordinarily good people. They go out of their way to help others. And they have a quiet dignity about their faith. They walk in God’s shoes so to speak.

So when I wrote this post it took a little bit but the comments are starting to roll in. Truthfully I don’t know why what I say as one person matters so much to all of these people. Like them I have my opinions on things, but unlike them I am not allowed to have opinions according to them.

I had comments come in on this blog. I had comments come in via private message on my blog’s Facebook page after I wrote hooey. Among other things they have labeled me a communist or call me a commie. That’s so Joseph McCarthy/J. Edgar Hoover of them. Do they even understand the definition of the words they are using? Do they even know who McCarthy and Hoover were? And they wonder why I think they are bobble headed Stepford Wives or escaped from the 1950s?

I ask that question simply because I have friends who are now American citizens and have been for decades, who escaped communist countries or countries under communist rule when they were children. They can tell you what communism is actually about because they lived it.

Someone having a different thought process on things from them or their comfort level is not a communist. They are just different from them and their comfort level, which to me seems rather limited. And narrow-minded…something else I was called just yesterday in a comment on hooey.

And I haven’t been called a Nazi yet, but I have seen others who don’t share their particular thought processes called Nazis. and that usually has to do with having to get a Covid19 shot or carry a Covid19 shot card and show it in certain circumstances.

Here you have to ask them if they know their history? And if you’ve ever known anyone who either escaped Nazi oppression during World War II Germany, or had family members who did or were murdered by Nazis they wouldn’t throw that word around so lightly and incorrectly either.

I have known people who were both Jewish and non-Jewish who escaped Nazi oppression. Or watched their family members rounded up and made to disappear. I will start with Norwegians. You don’t hear a lot about what happened in Norway during World War II. We all learned about it again in 2021 if you watched a PBS series called Atlantic Crossing.

And then there were the Germans who were not Jewish but who didn’t agree with the Nazis. These families much like their Jewish neighbors in a lot of cases, had their businesses removed from them, property stolen by the Nazis, and they had to flee and hide during World War II. And some of these cases I actually knew people growing up whose fathers were sent to the Russian front to their eventual death basically because of the weather and starvation and poor conditions all because they didn’t buy in to what the Nazi party in Germany during World War II was selling.

This why it is actually offensive as well as ludicrous when some of these keyboard warriors call people “Communists” and “Nazis”.

And these are the people who also don’t want to wear masks, they don’t want their kids to wear masks even if their kids don’t care, and they don’t want COVID shots.

Yet as they are getting infected with the virus even within their own families it astounds me of the things that you see them talking about. Including crazy therapies that could actually kill people.

Now can we talk about the harm the unvaccinated are doing vis a vis the current spikes of COVID? And by the unvaccinated I am not referring to people who literally can’t get the shot because of medical conditions, or those who are so tiny and young they can’t get the shot for that reason. I am talking about those who chose deliberately not to get the shot. Maybe it is their right to not get a shot, but what about the rest of us having the right not to get sick because others are spreading COVID?

And then they give you their pretzel logic argument of if the shots worked then people wouldn’t get COVID. No that’s actually not true. Because of the shots in a lot of cases, people aren’t getting as sick, but because there are so many people who haven’t gotten shots the virus continues to spread and mutate. But hey, they will continue to do them. Meanwhile I know people with immunocompromised little children too young to get shots who are terrified. What about their rights?

But it’s OK for these others to espouse this nonsense and speak their piece. But no one else can. The moment you are the teensiest bit different from what they are spouting and/or their comfort levels you are bad. You are branded “evil” or a “mean girl” even as these types bully others every single day on social media.

And isn’t it ironic as well as crazy that these are the people that are bullying others every day because you don’t share their belief system, yet if you don’t share their belief system you are the one that’s the actual bully?

My post hooey is a threat to these people why and how ? Just because I right? Or is it because my opinion is different than theirs? Or is it just simply because I am not the same as they are? And they wonder why I call them Stepford wives? And wonder about cult mentality? Don’t they get I don’t care if their marvelous selves are not in my world?

I have to ask: are we all supposed to be zombies on this bus of life?

Then these god fearing nouveau conservative women tell me how conservative women are all so much happier than the rest of us. OK that’s what they believe, but if they are so happy why are they complaining about me? If they were so happy they wouldn’t feverishly read my posts, they were just go on about their lives. If they were so happy they wouldn’t scream and jump up and down at school board meetings or carry dumb signs outside shopping malls, would they?

And I hate to break it to them but having an actual pulse and discussing things and expressing your own opinion doesn’t make you unhappy. It makes you a human being with a brain that isn’t brainwashed. But I guess we’re not supposed to be independent in their eyes are we? We are supposed to accept what they say?

WHY?????

And I’m going to go back to their accusing me of being mean and bullying. These people literally attack anyone with a different point of view. And there are a lot of comments I choose not to share or publish I just file away as threats. Just like the past couple of days. And it’s all coming from these people who are supposedly so much better than I am and so much better off than I am because they drank the proverbial Kool Aid? Do they not even remember Jonestown in the Jonestown massacre in 1978 and the Reverend Jim Jones? Or do they not remember Moonies? That and they hate being called Stepford Wives, but how is it they don’t actually see themselves for who they are (and aren’t)?

And when these people are removed from my blog’s Facebook page because that is my right, they then start emailing comments to the blog itself. Then I block them there. Sometimes I get hate mail. Essentially I am a bad, mean, horrible person because I don’t agree with their point of view. They don’t understand that one of these American freedoms they espouse so frequently means I am also entitled to my opinion and I don’t have to buy into theirs.

But I have to ask do they do this special treatment with everyone who disagrees with them? I kind of think they do. But with me they seem to take it to a new level. Harassment, cyber bullying, cyber stalking. And then they all wonder where the kids learn these behaviors and whose behavior they are emulating in the schools and then they complain about that.

So here we are in 2022. I am not going to say “why can’t we all get along“ because I am a realist and that’s not possible. But their rights do not supersede my rights, or the rights of others. And if they are banding together in these groups, wherever they are they are literally no better than the bullies they complain about in their children’s schools.

Again, among the rights our founding fathers thought and bled and died for was the ability for all of us as Americans to be independent minded. We are allowed to think differently than the guy down the street or across town. It’s not a crime.

And along with that free will comes the ability to choose your own path. My path doesn’t have to be your path, and you don’t have to agree or even disagree with me. Being an American means we are both allowed to coexist.

Some of these people leaving comments call me a terrible liberal. Or maybe it’s a horrible liberal or a super liberal or a miserable liberal. And it doesn’t really matter because it makes me laugh since everyone who actually knows me, knows I am actually a moderate. Maybe I’m a little too liberal for some people these days, but that doesn’t make me a super liberal and that doesn’t make a super liberal wrong if they are super liberal. It just doesn’t make sense we are all NOT allowed to have our own beliefs in their eyes.

Get over yourselves. You aren’t all that and a bag of chips anymore than the next person.

Thanks for stopping by.

1950s Smiling Brunette Woman Housewife Photograph by Vintage Images