guess what has a target on it’s back again? yup, garrett hill in radnor township.

Garrett Hill 1958 Sullivan photo/Radnorhistory.org

I will start this post with an editorial I wrote in 2007 (and Main Line Media News’ hedge fund owners shaved off my actual byline. If former Editor Tom Murray were still alive, he would tell them. Main Line Media News didn’t write it, I did):

It was the year of the neighborhood group December 18, 2007 at 10:00 p.m.

As 2007 winds down, I find myself contemplating what a long strange trip it has been from Bala to Malvern, and everywhere in between and beyond. In my mind, 2007 will be remembered as the “Year of the Neighborhood Group.” You see, to me, it isn’t just about the individual stories reported (and not reported), it is about the people behind the stories. The ordinary people who had the courage to step forward and be counted; not just one individual or group, either. I credit everyone who has had the courage to speak out and participate in the betterment of their communities.

I will start with a group I am proud to be part of that is dear to my heart: The Save Ardmore Coalition.

The Save Ardmore Coalition continued on its journey in 2007 by being recognized with two prestigious awards: The 2007 Stewardship Award for Historic Preservation from the Historic Architectural Review Board and Historical Commission of Lower Merion Township, as well as the nationally recognized David Award from The Institute for Justice in Washington, DC.

The Save Ardmore Coalition has also earned a place on the Ad Hoc Committee for Ardmore’s revitalization process, our members have participated in the comprehensive plan workshop process, we are a part of First Friday Main Line, we were proud to play a part in the fundraiser to aid Moira Shaughnessy, and have just launched a new initiative called “Be Vocal/Shop Local: Discover MORE in Ardmore.” Our hope with this year-end initiative is to further promote and support Ardmore’s local and independently-owned businesses. We also continue to lend our voices to other issues in Lower Merion Township and beyond.

I also want to recognize other citizen groups like Protect Berwyn, Save Ithan Coalition, WHOA from Gladwyne, the residents of Rugby Road in Bryn Mawr, the residents of Righters Mill and River Roads in Gladwyne, the residents of Cricket Avenue in Ardmore, Friends of The Barnes, the Garrett Hill Coalition, and the Daylesford Neighborhood Association. I salute these groups along with the many other citizens and groups along the Main Line and beyond who had the gumption to stand up and be counted.

And in addition to the organized groups, I would like to draw your attention to some new citizens seeking positive change as 2007 draws to a close: two brave ladies from Ardmore named Deanna Miller and Donna Dundon. Main Line Life Staff Reporter Cheryl Allison introduced us all to them in her recent article concerning a missing community room at the apartment building for limited-income seniors at Ardmore Crossing, now known as “Greenfield Commons.”

These ladies are senior citizens on fixed budgets who are members of our community. As the story is told, these nice people moved into this building so they could afford to grow old in Lower Merion Township, which increasingly, is no easy feat. When they looked at the building, they were told they would have a community room with a kitchen where they could play games, gather, have parties, special events, and community events. This is something fairly common for developments of any level, churches, as well as senior and assisted living facilities.

Well, the holidays are here, and apparently these seniors still don’t have their community room. According to Cheryl Allison’s article, there is much contention over this topic and I wonder how this can be?

I think it is most unpleasant to read stories like this especially during the holidays and mere days before Christmas, a holiday which is supposed to embody goodwill towards all mankind. But instead we are wondering if this new Ardmore story will become a tale of Dickensian proportions? Where are the spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Future when you need them?

A community room with a basic kitchen can’t be such a big deal or other places wouldn’t have them. And with all the great thrift stores, generous people along the Main Line, and furniture outlets in this area, how hard would it be to furnish such a room nicely? There are also sales all over right now on stereos and televisions. Surely this all can’t be that difficult and wouldn’t it just be the right thing to do? Wouldn’t it be nice for these seniors to get this room as promised from the new owners and for it to be decorated for the holidays? If I could have another holiday wish, it would be for these senior citizens in Ardmore, and I would hope others would share my sentiments.

In conclusion, many thanks again to everyone in 2007 who had the courage to stand up and be counted. I know it can be difficult to have a voice that may differ from the general consensus, or might be contrary to what government is comfortable hearing. I want all of you to also remember that positive change can happen, and ordinary individuals can make a difference in their communities.

So Tom Murray, when you are counting your readers’ votes for the “story of the year” this year, if I could ask you to think differently, it’s not really about just one story in particular, it’s about all of the terrific citizens who made a difference. So maybe voting 2007 “The Year of The Neighborhood Group” is the way to go. To me, this year, it is just too hard to pick ONE story.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everybody!

I stumbled across that while looking into Garrett Hill in Radnor and remembering the good things accomplished years ago by a group called the Garrett Hill Coalition. The Garrett Hill Coalition fought so hard to save where they called home, much like the Save Ardmore Coalition back then fought to save Ardmore, PA in Lower Merion Township. Today in 2022, I wonder what we worked so hard for because like Ardmore is constantly at risk, so is Garrett Hill.

As of today, I think Garrett Hill is at risk again. There is this whole thing going on about well, paving paradise and putting up a parking lot. Utterly cliché, but so apropos. This all came up at a Radnor meeting August 15th, and then there was an outside, not recorded meeting in Garrett Hill.

Garrett Hill is like a ping pong ball on Radnor Township’s ping pong table. Some years this community is left alone. Some years snide commissioners refer to it as essentially a poor section not worthy of much attention. Some years Radnor Township wants to do something stupid there, and 2022 is like revisiting the early 2000s.

Wentworth is a road I thought was not all township dedicated in Radnor or possibly private? And did ALL neighbors potentially affected by a shoe-horned in parking lot get notice of this? I heard quite to the contrary? So this land is not a taking in the eminent domain sense, but it is being taken/purchased at market rate for a….parking lot. Here look at these screen shots to get an idea of the “where”:

Yup that is a tiny street. It leads to more tiny streets. Sounds like a cluster fart of epic proportions waiting to happen. Here are some resident comments after the outdoor meeting where Radnor BOC President Moira Mulroney was overheard saying certain things, right? Like she thinks this is O.K.? Well of course she would, not her ward so does she really care?

Comments:

This lot will not benefit anyone in the neighborhood. It will only increase traffic going up and down Wentworth and Williams!! We need to stick together neighbors!

~ garrett Hill resident

I always avoided, at all cost, trying to turn onto Conestoga Road from Summitt Terrace/Wentworth Land due to poor sight lines. If they put a lot where Mike and Lorrie’s house use to be, I can see any unfamiliar drivers parking there having a challenge getting out to the main drag.

~ garrett hill resident

Adding both a parking lot entrance and exit to a very narrow residential street does not increase safety for those who live on the street.

~ garett hill resident

Since the property is owned by the same developer who already owns 910 and 912 Conestoga, I feel like we’re just footing the bill as taxpayers for his parking lot. Let the developer spend his own money.

~ garrett hill resident

While I agree GH needs parking, is almost $50k a spot the usual cost in Radnor for a parking spot? How long will it take Radnor to recoup that amount for each spot thru the parking meters?

~ garrett hill resident

What the hell … we were told 2 homes were going up we didn’t want the parking lot was there any discussions with the neighbors on Summit Terrs.?

~ garrett hill resident

 It looks like it was only introduced, so you & other Summit neighbors have a chance to speak up at the Sept 12th meeting.

~ garrett hill resident

That is a horrible idea to put a parking lot there!! There is no easy way to enter/exit the property!! And the late night noise that will follow Think about the residents still there that are retired and the new ones with little ones raising kids in school. You want a parking lot put it on your street next to your house!

~ garrett hill resident

Over $800,000 for 17 parking spots 

~ garrett hill resident

I don’t know how many times I have called the Radnor Police for people breaking into cars or stealing catalytic converters from Cars over on Meredith Ave. ….But anyway, I have lived here for many years and Lights are out all the time we need them updated to LED light won’t use a lot of power and, how about our roads so many things beak on peoples cars all the time anything they can do there, or is that a state road. But I also think that draining systems are very bad. The tunnel floods every bad rain, the road from my Apartment…. floods all the past the park and peoples cars around the area get messed up in our neighborhoods. And the ….delivery guy in is blue Subaru flying down Conestoga in the middle of the night all night and they haven’t done anything to him. And Villanova kids from the campus yelling when they leave Flips. But things like this need to get taken care as well.  I agree with you people I’m sure people around here won’t like me saying that ether, cause statements that I spoke about that my kids told me about the parade. But little do they know I had some great ideas that I shared for next year. But why can’t they park at the Business campus? That parking lot is gonna be backed up….

~ garrett hill resident

Now, how about some photos of Garrett Hill sourced from everywhere on the Internet like Facebook and Google so people can see Garrett Hill for what it really is: a small, still tight knit multi-generational area that doesn’t need supersizing or “:”improvements” that don’t actually help the residents:

A problem in today’s Radnor Township is the current manager sees his narrow abacus-rued world view and nothing else. I don’t think he actually cares so much about the residents, and I am allowed that opinion much like I am of the opinion he is always seemingly unwilling to listen to residents. He was fine as the finance guy, not manager. But this is not the only problem. One of the LARGEST problems is the current commissioners know very little of the past and past history and past problems with the way Radnor Township has attempted to treat Garrett Hill.

(Oh and as a related side bar to the two Radnor Commissioners who said non-residents shouldn’t speak at commissioner meetings? What planet or alternate reality do you all hail from? I for one have addressed this governmental body as a non-resident including in 2009 when I went before the board to get a historical market that benefitted Radnor and her history approved. Oh and I raised the money for that project although I was never sure everything we raised money for actually happened, but I can’t control that. )

Radnor Township is regressing and that is not a good thing. I wish the Garrett Hill Coalition still existed. ( See October 26, 2009 meeting video and start at 17:26 time mark for public comment about Garrett Hill – oh and Radnor Township will not allow their videos to be embedded, you have to watch on YouTube or their website and didn’t always used to be that way. It’s about control. Control to the point of questioning actual freedoms, I wonder?)

Radnor only wants their videos so public. So I found some others, like:

I will admit I am not quite sure what the League of Women Voters is doing down there for elections, but here is another Garrett Hill video:

Now. Time for more history. Maybe, just maybe the current Radnor Township Board of Commissioners might learn something. Some of the articles are written by friends, so I will excerpt one in particular liberally:

Neighbors rally to guide Garrett Hill’s development
Imagine a place in suburbia where neighbors check on each other, shovel snowy driveways together, and deliver soup to the sick.

by By Mari A. Schaefer, Inquirer Staff Writer
Published Oct 13, 2009

Joe Marchesani, owner of Garrett Hill pizza, sweeps clean the entrance to his restaurant before opening. ( Sharon Gekoski-Kimmel / StaffPhotographer )
Joe Marchesani, owner of Garrett Hill pizza, sweeps clean the entrance to his restaurant before opening. ( Sharon Gekoski-Kimmel / StaffPhotographer )

Imagine a place in suburbia where neighbors check on each other, shovel snowy driveways together, and deliver soup to the sick.

It’s a spot where children walk to the two local parks, a group of retired guys meets for cheap coffee and conversation before starting the day, and the neighborhood mechanic will drop what he’s doing to listen to a funny-sounding engine.

People with Ph.D.s and others with blue-collar jobs live side by side, families reside on the same streets that their grandparents did – in some cases, in the same houses – and everything shuts down for the Fourth of July parade and picnic.

Sound a bit too Leave It to Beaver to be true?

The residents of Garrett Hill in Radnor Township will tell you it’s not.

They have it that way, and they want to keep it that way.

Residents have worked tirelessly over two years to ensure they have had a say in zoning changes proposed in the township’s master plan for the neighborhood. Countless hours of televised meetings and volumes of paperwork attest to their commitment.

On Monday, Radnor commissioners will hold a hearing and vote on the master plan. Residents feared that, without their input, the plan would change the culture of their neighborhood.

“There are not too many places like Garrett Hill left in this country,” said Bill Kingsland, 57, owner of the local Bywood Seafood for 25 years.

While McMansions have sprung up across suburbia, Garrett Hill has apartments, twins, and single homes set close to the street on small lots with deep backyards built for vegetable gardens.

The small business district has changed over the years. What once was a general store is now a college bar. The post office is gone. A cleaners, a few small restaurants, auto repair shops, and a trophy store are at the epicenter of the neighborhood.

What defines Garrett Hill’s boundaries is probably more a matter of opinion than a firm border.

Garrett Hill owes its beginning to an Indian trail running between the Schuylkill and the Susquehanna River. The path later became Conestoga Road, the heart of Garrett Hill, which about 14,000 cars now use daily.

Carved from a land grant by William Penn, the area was once known as Methodist Hill. In the 1800s, the land was subdivided and became known as Garrettville after Dr. Lewis T. Garrett, a property owner. In 1907, a rail line – now the R-100 – cut directly through Garrett Hill.

The small properties of Garrett Hill were purchased by laborers or railway workers, many of Irish or Scots-Irish descent. A number of Italian families eventually settled in Garrett Hill, and there was an African American enclave.

The first African American elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Emlen Tunnell, grew up in Garrett Hill.

The neighborhood is the epitome of diversity on the Main Line, said John Fischer, vice president of the Radnor Board of Commissioners.

“There are people from all walks of life living together – all nationalities, religions,” he said.

“Everybody played together and ate together,” recalled Joe Marchesani, 58, a life-long resident and owner of Garrett Hill Pizza, where the sauce has changed, but the crust has been the same for 19 years. “There were no problems. We all kind of stood up for each other.”….Bob Adams, 48, a third-generation Garrett Hillian, describes it as Mayberry – a safe place surrounded by plenty of family. When he was young, Adams explained, if you did something bad, a neighbor threw a shoe at you.

Adams and his wife, a fourth-generation Garrett Hillian, bought his grandmother’s house; a cousin, who now lives behind him, bought his grandfather’s house.

“This community is so close-knit,” Adams said, “you know everybody.”..

In 2003, Radnor Township’s Comprehensive Plan suggested making zoning improvements to the neighborhood’s small business district. A $48,000 grant from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission and $12,000 in township funds were earmarked in 2007 to create a Garrett Hill Master Plan and Overlay District.

The neighbors felt threatened. They signed petitions, and more than 100 residents went to the township meeting to ask for better representation and to have a voice on any zoning changes. “Save Garrett Hill” posters sprouted up on lawns.

The Garrett Hill Coalition was formed, and it appointed nine residents to a steering committee to represent the neighborhood’s interests.

“We were worried that this [zoning] would be used as a tool for developers,” said Rick Barker, the chairman.

~ mari schaefer, philadelphia inquirer 2009
2007
2007
2008
2008
2008
2009
2012

PATCH: Garrett Hill Group Gets Grant For Stormwater Project

Workshops will help tackle stormwater pollution and beautify properties.

By Sam Strike Posted Tue, Jun 19, 2012 at 7:42 pm

ROSEMONT — Garrett Hill Coalition (GHC), a local civic organization, has been awarded a $4,100 grant by the Water Resources Education Network, a project of the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania Citizen Education Fund for its project titled: “Managing Stormwater in Our Back Yards: Valley Run, Radnor Township.” 

Funding will support educational workshops and demonstration projects for residents of Radnor and Lower Merion Townships to learn about ways to reduce polluted runoff and remedy flooding problems using landscaping amenities like rain gardens and rain barrels. 

~Sam strike patch 2012

Now stormwater is a big fear in Garrett Hill much like other parts of Radnor Township. Radnor seems to have a selective memory when it comes to stormwater management. Not lip service, actual stormwater management. As in where you actually have to do it, not add to the problems.

Radnor Township has stuff on Garrett Hill zoning on it’s website, CLICK HERE. Sometimes the links don’t work though. I swear their website was redesigned to NOT work.

One more old article:

And before I close two more bits of history. First is a piece from 2009 about Garrett Hill by the Radnor Historical Society:

The next excerpt is screen shots from a book on the history of Garrett Hill that appeared to be maybe circa 1977 that I found on Ancestry.com – I couldn’t download in PDF so I took some screenshots. The book is significantly more pages I believe. Some old timers may remember it – A history of Garrett Hill on its 100th anniversary by Phyllis C. Maier.

Well that’s all I have got. I think Garrett Hill is about to be told to bend over, and pardon me for being crude, but it kind of is. Radnor Township is a funny place, and it is full of pretensions. They don’t like that Garrett Hill exists anymore than other parts of Radnor like “Little Chicago” in North Wayne. It doesn’t fit the Main Line image they have which includes kind of sort of forgetting they are part of Delaware County.

Garrett Hill is like it’s own small town. It doesn’t need to be super-sized, overly urbanized, paved into oblivion. “Leave them be” a friend of mine said earlier today who doesn’t live in Garrett Hill but appreciates it’s character. What the current commissioner can’t see is it doesn’t need to have some puffed up unsustainable artificially enhanced business district. They should figure out a way to make nice with Steve Bajus for parking on the Rosemont Business Campus, otherwise known as “where a cute school once stood.”

Or maybe Radnor buys the private lots owned by the petty towing czars? Or maybe they just table the whole thing for now instead of spending money that some say this township really doesn’t have to spend?

I don’t know. All I know is Garrett Hill, you have like 14 days to rally. It may be time to storm the Bastille err Radnor Township Building. But don’t be freakish about it like Willistown residents. You have a big board room, pack it. The media is out there, start lobbying for coverage.

And other Radnor Residents, do you was what will amount to easily $800,000 taxpayer dollars to be spent on a parking lot in Garrett Hill in this uncertain economy? A parking lot which will be monopolized undoubtedly by the over abundance of Villanova off-campus students that Radnor Township also conveniently forgets about a lot of the time?

Garrett Hill, it’s time. I know you all are tired of this. But once again you have elected officials and township officials who don’t want to listen to you and really don’t care what you think.

Save Garrett Hill one more time. For your own sakes. Keep your character. You don’t have to be Wayneunk East.

9 thoughts on “guess what has a target on it’s back again? yup, garrett hill in radnor township.

  1. I am opposed to this purchase. Parking has always been an issue but somehow the community survives. Seems to me the benefits are to very few folks who own the commercial properties and almost no benefit to the community. Not to mention the exorbitant cost per parking spot.
    Btw, currently folks can park in the business park after hours thanks th Bajus community spirit. Anecdotally, that parking isn’t used to capacity so why will the new proposed lot be any different?

    • Yes of course you would oppose this purchase it doesn’t make any sense. When you came on the board of commissioners you were one of the ones that fought against all the weird little land purchases that Radnor used to do. And this isn’t going to benefit many people and the other thing is if you look at the packet even though it’s public record what everything is bought and sold for it you will see where Radnor is suddenly redacting what the person selling them the lot for paid originally, and I don’t think that’s very transparent do you? My other thing with this project is yes cars have been towed in Garrett Hill but that’s because a property owner who doesn’t have a business in his property right now is being petty and just tows people when they’re like picking up takeout or something. I actually also don’t know what Bajus’s relationship is with the township at this point?

    • One other point about this excellent article …

      The Google Maps photos shown in the blog article have the indications for “Wentworth Ln” overlaid on what is actually Summit Terrace. If you look at the pictures, Wentworth Lane is the partially paved area on the other side of the berm, and is not a driveable street anymore. Any access to / from a proposed parking lot would solely come from Summit … essentially crossing “Wentworth” to get into the lot.

      Some history …

      The paved “road” that is designated as “Wentworth Lane” was, back in the day, a driveway for an estate called “Wentworth” which was located where St. Edmunds is today. The driveway was lined with Sycamore trees along its length. Summit and it’s houses were built in the early 1900’s and the two “streets” co-existed. After WWII, the Wentworth Estate was demolished, houses were built on the land on the west side of the “driveway”, and those were given the address of Wentworth Lane. About halfway down the upper end of Summit / Wentworth the dividing berm disappears and the remaining street down to the intersection with Dreer Lane is designated as Wentworth Lane on both sides. The entire span of Wentworth Lane from Dreer Lane to Conestoga Road is not dedicated to the township and is private.

      Homes on Wentworth where the dividing berm exists in fact own the street. I use it for off-street parking, others have converted the lane into extended driveways. Time and Mother Nature have not been kind to the original lane, but its existence is clearly evident.

      To make a point, any parking lot designated as being on Wentworth Lane is, in fact, only accessible via Summit Terrace – and with it significant traffic and transit issues on such a prohibitively narrow street. Wentworth Lane, the road, is part of the tract that is encompassed by the footprint of #26.

      A side note … removal of the berm separating Summit from Wentworth to make the road wider is not an option. I and other homeowners along that section would fight any attempts to do this via unsolicited offer or eminent domain with our dying breaths. The history of Garrett Hill can’t be told and preserved without acknowledgement of the estates that surrounded the area and the homes occupied by the families of workers in accompanying businesses. Wentworth Lane is an artifact from that time – one of the few that remain.

      Is a parking lot worth the destruction of history? I think not.

      For information and comment,

      Steve Lynch
      Stephen.H.Lynch@gmail.com

  2. My family has owned property on Wentworth Lane for over 65 years. A couple of points if I may:

    1) Wentworth Lane is PRIVATE. It is considered part of my property. I pay taxes on the paved portion that remains as part of my front yard.

    2) Summit Terrace is one of the narrowest streets in Radnor Twp. Adding additional traffic to a street where 2-way transit is challenging at best will only exacerbate the traffic situation and degrade the value of the properties on both Summit and Wentworth.

    3) The township screwed up stormwater runoff in this area years ago when they installed storm drains on Summit but failed to place them in a sequence that would absorb all of the runoff. As a result, the stormwater breaks over the curb between my home and a neighbor (due to a lack of an additional drain opening) turning my yard into a swimming pool and regularly flooding my garage. Adding additional hard surfaces uphill from my property will only make this worse.

    I agree with the other comments posted concerning cost per space, who the real beneficiaries are, and the need to have a discussion with Mr. Bajus.

    I am posting my e-mail in the body of this note because I encourage the township or anyone else to reach out to me in regards to this issue.

    Respectfully submitted,

    Steve Lynch
    Stephen.H.Lynch@gmail.com

    • Follow up:

      This afternoon (Friday September 9th), Commissioner Farhy posted the following statement to his Facebook page regarding the proposed parking lot for Garrett Hill / Wentworth Lane …

      Thanks to all for your thoughtful participation in discussing this issue. I echo the Commissioners hopes that a long term solution to well-defined problems can be found in conjunction with the upcoming Comprehensive Plan.

      * * *
      From Commissioner Farhy’s Facebook page

      Update: 26 Wentworth Lane

      I’ve spoken to a bunch of residents both for and against the proposed parking lot at 26 Wentworth. A lot of great information regarding traffic and stormwater has been flushed out, and we’ll take that into consideration as we try to find a solution that works for all the Garrett Hill stakeholders At this time I will suggest not pursuing the purchase and development of the property and having that item removed from Monday’s agenda. Based on all the conversations that I’ve had I feel that the best use of Township resources would be to instead address the neighbors’ concerns as they pertain to stormwater and traffic. Having that data is an important first step. I am extremely hopeful that we will as a collective group of neighbors can find a long term solution in conjunction with the upcoming Comprehensive Plan.

Leave a Reply to John C Nagle Cancel reply