When Trump won his presidential election I thought it sucked. Can’t stand him, never could. It had nothing to do with him being a politician. I thought he was a crook and a schemer and kind of nuts. Truthfully, him being President only confirmed my original feelings.
Did I love Hilary Clinton? Honestly, no. But him? Trump? He was the exact reason as a woman I knew as soon as he became the nominee, the Republican Party was no longer the party of Lincoln, but it was also no longer the party who cared about regular, everyday people period.
Are all Republicans bad? Nope. But good Republicans are hiding. They don’t want to be part of this nonsense. And it’s a shame they hide, because our country is a democracy based on a two party system. And our democracy is at risk.
Now back to election deniers.
When Trump won, I didn’t run around with my friends screaming the election was rigged. He won by being the snake oil salesman, fanatical cheating tent revival charlatan that he has always been. But the thing about Trump is there is always something lacking about the Wizard behind the curtain, so when he ran again, he lost.
When he lost, along came the election deniers to say it was wrong. Then came the January 6th assault on democracy and our nation’s capital. And there has been every day since then that has been an assault on democracy and what it is to actually BE an American, what it MEANS to be an American.
No one stole the 2020 election. Donald Trump lost the election all by himself. And obviously enough Republicans felt he was a corrupt Boss Tweed S.O.B. for that to happen.
I am tired of the barrage of misinformation from the sea of unqualified, nasty, potentially corrupt, apply your own pejorative term candidates the Republican Party is trying to shove down our throats. Allow me to point out a few: Oz, Mastriano, Napoleon “#whereisGuy” Ciarrocchi, Sarah Marvin, Gail Newman, Jessica Florio, Heidi VanderWaal, and the virtually mute Kyle Scribner. These people are not running for any of us. Truthfully I am not sure why any of them are running at all, and they are basically one step removed from digging up corpses out of the cemetery to run as Republican candidates. And all of these candidates cater to extremist groups and in some cases belong to them.
The Republican Party locally, regionally, statewide, and nationally have latched onto election deniers and election denying simply because that is all they have got. There is nothing based in reality, it’s all airbrushed for lock stepping sound bytes. And Trump still controls them, and he does nothing for the greater good, it’s all about doing things that benefit him, and that is the way it has always been. Trump is a corrupt malignant narcissist.
So if you out there want to believe the scams they are selling, that is on you. And I pity you all because if people like this prevail, we all lose. It’s that simple.
Truthfully I wish real Republicans would come out of the shadows. And send the deniers packing.
Also a friendly reminder that this is my opinion and until they repeal the first amendment I am allowed to have it. You don’t have to agree with me, and I have the right to choose not to engage including with threats and harassment.
I am more than tired of the personal and ad hominem attacks I am receiving because sometimes I share what Danielle Friel Otten shares. The latest is I lack INTEGRITY because I do.
Well here’s the 411: there are people in her district whom I feel lack INTEGRITY because they believe some hack spin doctor cooking up attack ads and nasty mailers in a soulless office located who knows where over a woman who has proven time and again she is there for her constituents and has been one of you fighting against things that are wrong.
I feel that attacking ME instead of having polite and reasoned conversations with her directly LACKS INTEGRITY. There. I said it.
Further and to the point, I can’t control the content of attack ads and attack mailers deliberately designed to divide communities, I can only be responsible for myself and how I feel. To that end, it’s not up to you all to decide who my friends are or why I know they are good people.
Every election season since Danielle Friel Otten has been a candidate and run for office there have been attack ads in some form or another. Her opponents assail her character. And WHY do they do that? Because of the fact that she is actually in Harrisburg for the RIGHT reasons to DO HER JOB FOR HER CONSTITUENTS, even the ones being pig ignorant.
If you want to speak with her, try being polite and not acting like you woke up and left your mind and manners behind. How about saying thank you to Danielle for all of the time she takes for all of you at her personal expense of missing everyday moments with her own family, her own children?
I am a grown up American woman entitled to make my OWN choices, including supporting my friends whom I think do a good job at their jobs. Supporting a friend doesn’t show a lack of integrity, it actually demonstrates integrity. Maybe you don’t like that I support my friends, but that is NOT your decision, it’s mine.
I am not of the religion of the sheeple and never have been. And also as American 🇺🇸 woman I still have freedom of choice and not just over the rights to do what I want with my body.
And speaking of a woman’s right to choose, I don’t want politicians in my medical business telling me or doctors or insurance companies or anyone what I can or cannot do. You see, this is akin to spot zoning, and politicians taking us back to back alley abortions will affect so much a woman has to deal with, not just one thing.
I already voted to protect my choices as a woman. I encourage everyone to vote to protect women’s choices and other choices like the rights to free and fair elections. Do I think democracy is at stake this election? Yes I do.
But above all else stop telling women how to think. Stop telling ME how I am supposed to feel about my friends.
Don’t let Pennsyltucky ignorance take over Pennsylvania.
With election season here, it means two more lawn signs in Westtown Township, Chester County. It means a vote “YES” to save Crebilly sign. Sadly it also means a vote “NO” to save Crebilly sign.
I have been keeping my mouth shut but I think now is the time to say something. There isn’t much time to make the right decision here.
The folks who want a “YES” vote have it right. This is a unique opportunity it’s not just a couple of acres, it’s a lot of acres. It’s a lot of open space. Its a lot of open space that nods to agricultural tradition and the equine culture that literally made Chester County. It’s also a lot of open space with serious historic importance.
Voting “YES” to save Crebilly won’t come around again. In the short term, does it mean you get to pay a little more as a resident in taxes? Yes it does. But tax increases for land purchases such as this have a sunset date, don’t they? They don’t last forever, do they?
Land is not free. Could the Robinson family just donate the whole kit and kaboodle like the Haas family did with Stoneleigh? Maybe they could, but I don’t think they ever would. I think this is the best deal that residents are going to get who want this land parcel saved in perpetuity.
People have worked for years to get everything to this point. A critical point in the history of Westtown Township. And that’s where the naysayers come in. The naysayers claim to be fiscal conservatives, but I think they just want a free lunch. I think they’re being selfish. Yes it’s a hard time to ask people to dig deeper and pay a little bit more each year and taxes. But it’s not forever.
If the naysayers get their way and push through the “NO” vote and Crebilly is NOT saved, in my humble opinion they should be shunned, yes a good old-fashioned Amish shunning.
It’s pretty simple and no one should have to spell it out for you. If Westtown does not get a “YES” vote, the development Russian Roulette will start again and this time? The neighbors of Crebilly, the concerned residents of Westtown, and essentially anyone in the area will be screwed in perpetuity. The open space will be gone, the roads will be more clogged, the infrastructure will be stressed unbelievably, and let’s talk about the West Chester Area School District because what do you think it means to get a huge development on Crebilly to that district?
So that’s the choice that is before you residence of Westtown Township. Do you vote “YES” and have something in perpetuity that you, your neighbors, your friends, your children and your children’s children can love and enjoy and be proud of OR do you end up looking like an over developed section of Delaware County or Bensalem or King of Prussia that everyone hates?
Vote “YES” residents of Westtown. Tune out the selfish naysayers who don’t, can’t, or won’t understand. If they don’t like it, they can move, right? It’s a desirable municipality to live in, after all.
Vote “YES” to #SAVECREBILLY . It’s the ultimate act of community.
Once a long, long time ago now, friends of mine banded together with others and became The Friend of the Willows Cottage. Things like charettes were held. Fundraising and friend raising was done. The media paid attention. For a while it was wonderful.
It was wonderful until it wasn’t. Kind of like Skunk Hollow Community garden. IT was great, until it wasn’t. Now both languish somewhat.
But I keep hearing present day rumblings about the Willows cottage. I forget how much was spent to fix it up? Like hundreds of thousands of dollars in total? And now it is supposedly in disarray and a mold pit again? Why wasn’t the Radnor Conservancy paying attention? But wait, have they ever paid attention to other than their very narrow social club? If they had just moved their offices to the Willows Cottage years ago like people wanted them to, perhaps we wouldn’t even be having this conversation today?
Anyway, what is the future of the cottage?
I received an email today:
The issue of the final disposition of the Cottage that so many of us spent good energy in preserving and improving is once again in jeopardy.
Second handedly, people are saying that the cottage is closed to all persons, because of the black mold having returned that many worked to clean off, with white vinegar.
Whether this Township asset stays or goes should not happen without first having an in-depth discussion and exploration of several ideas for returning this asset to full use.
Working together we saved this building once; maybe creative minds working together can bring it into the future?
Feedback requested. And, please forward this email to anyone else you think would want to know.
I find this terribly sad and such a waste to even contemplate. But Radnor is regressing at such a rate, it wouldn’t surprise me. But I will throw up this post in the hopes that people will care. One of my friends who cared deeply about this and helped passed away a few years ago, and he would be so sad to hear this news…I really hope there are enough people out there to still care.
Move over Marie Antoinette, Saint Theresa of West Whiteland is on the Zoom! Apparently people are being chastised for NOT going to the grocery store and using services like Instacart and Amazon? Nice. I found her interaction with this resident completely condescending, and did she go to the political graveyard of West Whiteland to dig up dead bodies to say they like the crappy and overpriced big W trash bags too?
Seriously, there were former officials speaking whose idea it probably was in the FIRST PLACE to do this whole trash bag thing! So of course they were good ol’ cheerleaders! (Full meeting video available HERE.)
Now I honestly couldn’t decide if Saint Theresa of West Whiteland should be Marie Antoinette for Halloween, or just a witch. So she has two costume options. Readers can decide on the best costume.
I will share video snippets of this public meeting and a word of warning to Supervisor Rajesh Kumbhardare. To Supervisor Raj, I caution you on your tone with residents at meetings. You are starting to sound dictatorial and combative. That is really unattractive and you can do and be better. Generally speaking, I think you are a good guy, hence the warning.
But Saint Theresa? Oy woman, just #resign already. You are an embarrassment to women, female politicians, and your own political party. Quit acting like Bossette Tweed of New Tammany Hall. How you grocery shop isn’t necessarily the golden rule of shopping is it? Who are you to judge every resident who essentially doesn’t agree with you? Ed the nice and friendly resident who spoke wasn’t the enemy. He expressed his opinion politely and in a non-threatening manner. You were rude. But then again you are always rude. You talk OVER everyone and CONSTANTLY interrupt. It’s like you are so damn afraid you won’t be paid attention to, and why is this always “The Theresa Show”? If the world revolves around YOU, lady then stop the spin so we can all jump off.
Why do you care where the guy gets his groceries? Why do youcare where the man gets his toilet paper or paper towels? What does THAT have to do with West Whiteland’s over priced but cheap trash bags? And no, we all actually don’t have to go to the grocery store any longer. And however you parented and whatever you thought when you had school age kids way back when is not necessarily everyone else’s opinion and experience. We don’t care. You aren’t a shining example of anything other than an extraordinarily unpleasant politician. That, madam, will be your enduring legacy.
You want to complain constantly on social media about how hard you work, like you are the only one who has ever worked hard, right? Ok, we get it. One of my grandmothers would have called that poor mouthing.
No one is ever as good as you are in your estimation. But then again you were the one who wanted a finance person to just cut a big check at the beginning of the year, bypassing proper procedure, so is your personal estimation even one we should take into account? I guess that might be a conversation for another day. But hey what do I know, I am just a troll, right? (Your words, I also saved the screen shots before you deleted them but you haven’t deleted that post dated September 15th where you trash talk a resident you are threatened by, right?)
Back to the trash: I do not believe all of the people who say they only put out one little trash bag a week. I DO believe that people dump their trash elsewhere, I have seen it with my own eyes in East Whiteland where the walking trail goes behind some office complexes. I literally watched someone drive into the place from the road, stop their car, pop the trunk, dump trash into office complex dumpster and drive off. I have seen it in other places too. When I lived in Lower Merion there was once an apartment landlord that would pick up his trash in Lower Merion and take it to apartments they owned in Narberth.
I understand why people in developments don’t want trash cans. They don’t want trash cans because their neighbors now just leave the recycling bins out everywhere for days without bringing them back to their garages. But that is an issue with the association that runs their development, isn’t it? If the HOAs were proactive and said they were going to fine residents for leaving trash bins out all of the time and blocking sidewalks, don’t you think development residents would be more proactive?
And the quality of the trash bags is poor. Even residents who like the trash bags say that. And they also comment on how the price can jump around if the retail outlets are paying molly markup. Why can’t trash bags be delivered to residents like quarterly? Or have them available at the township building?
And as for the trash haulers making coin on the side? Cash is king, and if people are tipping them to just just make the trash go away, as long as there are bags, I think this will continue to happen. It’s human nature, sadly.
It’s a shame, really. This is really about politicians who want to govern by surveys. Not everyone will take a survey, some actually want people to TALK to them. But some won’t do surveys in addition because they fear retaliation. Some just don’t have time. I think the survey was set up to fail because two supervisors wanted this to fail. But that is on them and their future elections, isn’t it?
The other thing that is a shame is while certain things in West Whiteland seems to be improving, certain elected officials are not. Saint Theresa of West Whiteland is unpleasant essentially EVERY meeting. Sometimes she has public meeting wig outs, other times it’s on social media. And when she puts on the extra special Bossette Tweed outfit on election day, well look out?
Why does she have to be that way? The simple answer is she doesn’t. The more complicated answer is appears she is not capable of any other way to be and is just so utterly unhappy and angry a person, that it spills out in all directions. And I can wonder aloud about politicians, Theresa.
Anyway, just another trick and no treats meeting this week in West Whiteland. And that is not because trash bags won. It’s because SOME had issues with the public speaking out and not agreeing.
LinkedIn. I don’t know. I’ve never quite gotten it. It’s never really done anything for me, except personally allowed me to connect to some friends and former co-workers I don’t see or speak with very often who aren’t on any other social media platform.
But has LinkedIn ever done anything for me professionally? I don’t know truthfully, but I kind of do use it as a place to share my blog posts. I have also discovered by accident it’s a place where corporate America goes to hide so if you have a problem it’s a great place to tag people to get something accomplished because it makes their marketing departments vibrate to get what they deem unwanted attention.
LinkedIn is also a place where people go to spy on other people. As a blogger, people do that to me all of the time. And I am always amused by who is looking.
I was also fascinated when I saw this article recently :
It continues like this for another eight, double-spaced lines before Dominic and Kai reconcile under Christian’s guidance.
If you’ve scrolled through LinkedIn lately, you know Christian’s post is not unique.
Stories from and about crying CEOs, overwhelmed parents, and burnt out millennials have ferried us into an entirely new type of LinkedIn — one that looks a lot like Facebook.
The flooding of the professional platform with selfies, family photos, and somewhat chaotic “life lessons” was propelled by the pandemic and bolstered by LinkedIn’s algorithm favoring more personal content.
LinkedIn is amusing and the beautiful online place for marketing departments then? Honestly this is a fascinating article and I really suggest people read it. It touches on our over-sharing on social media in general, and how it is used now like a marketing tool on LinkedIn.
“We came out of the pandemic struggling with finding a work-life balance and we saw other people being forthcoming with those challenges,” she says.
When she posted her own story, she felt re-affirmed that it got so much interaction.
“It reminded me that business is run by people and we all have lives,” she says. “At least for me, seeing people at their desk doing exercise, seeing it come to life, it all seems more achievable.”
I guess the thing is I don’t see my life as a marketing tool. If I feel like sharing I’m just sharing, I’m not sharing so I get a new customer.
But the other thing about LinkedIn that is starting to grind on my nerves is the amount of unsolicited messages we get. Take this morning for example:
So Mary Elizabeth, what made you choose me to ask? Was that just some list you purchased? Or did you just go through and do a search for women in the area? Why would you think anything I did would be interesting? How is your group “curated“ to help me do what I do? It sounds like a marketing pitch, dear. Marketing pitch as in sales pitch. So again what specifically drew me to you for dining en masse?
This is actually just a marketing solicitation/sales pitch to me, isn’t it? Kind of like have dinner at Red Lobster and meet your perfect financial advisor?
First of all if you actually knew me, you know the last thing I want to do is be in a room full of women who are strangers at lunch talking about themselves. And if you actually knew me, you would know I never, ever will fit this mold.
Also there is nothing on earth more suspicious than the supposed “free lunch“ from strangers is there? And why do I say that? Because it comes with a sales pitch. People, come on now, try to keep up. There is no such thing as a free lunch, remember that saying?
This isn’t because someone has an interest in me as an individual human being at 58, this is just me as a body to get into a room in the hopes you can sell me something.
And these purported all female empowering networking groups are they really that? Or is it just an excuse for some of them to promote themselves to you? because the real hard-working women I know out there never have time for things like this because why? Oh yes… they’re actually working.
And it goes back to why do they really want to have lunch with me? And why do they presume that I want to have lunch with them? Selfishly, I hope they sent an invitation to somebody I went to high school with who is now completely and truly off her rocker because that would be really funny. Just hope there is no open bar, right?
If I have lunch it’s with friends, or family. I’m kind of past the stage of the Melrose Place power suit and lunch. I don’t even like wearing make up unless I pretty much have to. Maybe that is a subconscious thing in me revolting from the years gone by where you had to wear make up, suits, and pantyhose to work. Or maybe it’s just because I find the whole idea of this so utterly boring. Or maybe it’s a combination of both.
When I lunch with the ladies, they’re my ladies. We’ve known each other for years and we’re getting together. Or it’s a quick hour with a colleague. But it’s not something super contrived in a restaurant where I can buy my own lunch.
Things I have observed about super marketing over the years includes often in the marketing departments it’s hype and fluff, but in reality can they deliver? Or is it just about the hype and a golden façade and you are never supposed to see behind the magic curtain?
Dining en masse with strangers so you can be sold something isn’t my idea of fun. Sorry.
And please, can someone tell me why any of us truly should stay on LinkedIn? And does anyone ever really get anything beneficial out of their paid platform?
Life is just a funny place to be some days. And then there is LinkedIn. Thanks for stopping by.
Oakwell. 1735 County Line Road, Villanova, PA. Originally part of Stoneleigh…..
I wrote briefly about Oakwell at the beginning of this year. I wasn’t going to care. I don’t live in Lower Merion any longer, so why should I care? Then a friend sent me photos. She had gone on an impromptu tour of the grounds, and met Dr. Bennett who is the man who first was selling to Villanova, then Lower Merion School District had it’s greedy paws out.
But then down the rabbit hole I went because a friend was there this weekend and sent me photos.
It started with the tea house. Such a folly. I had seen photos of them in Victorian estates. And then I saw the life size terra cotta warrior. A Chinese warrior. I find the Chinese terra cotta warriors fascinating. I have a small replica of one. (Check out the Smithsonian article HERE on them.) I have only seen life size ones in this area one other time: a few years ago for sale at Resellers Consignment Gallery in Frazer.
Then I read some fun history the Save Oakwell folks have dug up:
In 1919, William Bodine was making preparations to build his new house on a portion of his father’s Stoneleigh estate, a property that came to be known as Oakwell in 1922. The famed Olmsted Brothers firm had been Stoneleigh’s landscape architects since 1908, and there are hundreds of pages of their records for both properties accessible in the Library of Congress and the National Park System’s Olmsted Archives showing the level of expertise and thought that went into the stewardship of this place through the 1950s.
What was Olmsted Brothers’ main concern when it came to placement of the new house and driveway along County Line Road? Almost 103 years ago to this day, this telegram to their client William Bodine, along with other correspondence, shows that their main concern was situating these structures in order to “save trees.”
~ Erin Vintinner Betley “Save Oakwell” Facebook Group
Friday May 23, 1919 was a busy day for Stoneleigh’s Eleanor Gray Warden Bodine.
Bryn Mawr College was hosting the 5th Annual Conference of the Woman’s National Farm and Garden Association. As an association member, Mrs. Bodine listened to talks on topics ranging from War Gardens to Community Gardens to the Woman’s Land Army.
Two years later, an article in House & Garden titled “Consider the Gardener” again shone a public spotlight on this program for training of young women, “offered by Mrs. Samuel T. Bodine of Villa Nova, Pa whose extensive estate and eminent superintendent-gardener, Mr. Alexander MacLeod, have formed an exceptional combination.”
After the program, the conference attendees toured 4 nearby farms & gardens, with Stoneleigh the last stop of the day. Eleanor Bodine would have welcomed attendees to view Stoneleigh’s magnificent gardens at the front of the property but given the interests of the membership, the back of the property likely would have been center stage. For this is where Mrs. Bodine and her superintendent Alexander MacLeod hosted an innovative gardening and horticultural training program for women, centered on a greenhouse complex and Superintendent’s Cottage designed by noted architect Frank Miles Day sometime before 1903 (both structures became part of her son William Bodine’s Oakwell after 1922). The women in the program lived in a dormitory they named “Squirrel Inn,” built specifically for them by the Bodine family, near the sprawling fruit and vegetable gardens where they spent their days (these were Victory gardens during WWI).
The article focused on the need to foster the interest of more young people in gardening and horticulture, with these lines that resonate 101 years later: “nature study classes and school gardens are awakening special powers of observation and emphasizing the practical value of patience and diligent perseverance…. public and private enterprise must combine to throw searchlights on the path to be chosen, revealing the mysteries of science related to horticulture [because] even soil… teems with history, science, poetry and religion.”
~ Erin Vintinner Betley “Save Oakwell” Facebook Group
So Oakwell. Was (again) literally once part of Stoneleigh. Stoneleigh as in the house was built in 1877 by Edmund Smith, a Pennsylvania Railroad executive. Pennsylvania Railroad money built a lot of the Main Line of a certain period, didn’t it? When the Bodines acquired the estate, in the early part of the 20th century, what is now Oakwell and Oakwell land was gifted to William Bodine. William Bodine’s house “Oakwell” was built in 1922. In 1932, it was subdivided off of Stoneleigh.
So Stoneleigh survived, was donated by the Haas family to Natural Lands, yet Oakwell, which is a place that should be part of a similar preservation and conservation conversation is at risk. It is fascinating that there has not been more noise about this. Maybe people are just tired of Lower Merion School District taking properties or causing reassessments and increases in taxes. The Lower Merion School District is a greedy behemoth and I don’t think those in the administration have ever cared about other that what can be gotten in the name of the school district.
Next up: trying to make preservation conversations fun. Another rabbit hole I went down were old newspaper clippings. Enjoy:
Now here are a couple of society clippings discussing Oakwell and more recent era parties which I remember hearing of:
Ok yes, a lot of this is memories of days gone by, but properties like Oakwell? Legendary. Why shouldn’t a place like Oakwell live on with an adaptive reuse? The gardens although a wreck, are all still there! The tree are amazing. There is literally a small oak forest. And all of this is supposed to be flattened for TURF fields? For MIDDLE SCHOOLERS, no less? Is this an actual need, or a want?
Hidden City Philadelphia wrote an amazing article a couple of days ago. The talk about Oakwell being a historical resource. I will remind people this is Lower Merion Township and I watched Addison Mizner’s La Ronda get demolished. Being a historic asset may buy some time, but we live in a private property rights state, so it can sadly only delay the inevitable. And Lower Merion needs to pay more mind to demolition by neglect, in my humble opinion.
Here is an excerpt:
….The Oakwell estate’s current resident, Dr. John Bennett, founder and CEO of Devon Medical Products, has lived there for 25 years. He intended to sell the sprawling estate to Villanova University to be used as a retreat. However, in December 2018 the school district elbowed out Villanova and voted in favor of condemning Bennett’s property.
This is not how the school district sees it. “After a long search, the school district paid more than $12.9 million for the contiguous properties, which had both been offered for sale by their owners, for use as playing fields for Black Rock Middle School,” said Amy Buckman, director of school and community relations for Lower Merion School District.
Bennett disagrees. “I had the property under agreement with Villanova and, just prior to closing, the school district took it by eminent domain,” he said. “I didn’t want to see it go to baseball fields, destroying the ecological setting we have here. I went to court to fight them and lost. It’s a travesty.” The school district paid Bennett $9.95 million for the property.
“I offered to remain on the property to care for the house, but they want me gone so they can claim that it is abandoned, allow it to deteriorate, and tear it down.” Bennett has kept the entirety of the estate well maintained and still lives there with his daughter and grandchild.
The day that LMSD condemned 1835 County Line Road allowing it to be taken by Eminent Domain, the property was effectively titled to the LMSD. The only option available to the owners to get their property back is to fight a legal battle in court.
Lower Merion Township, PA — Fraud, collusion, and bad faith are alleged in court documents filed on February 7, 2018, by attorney Michael F. Faherty on behalf of his clients, township residents John A. Bennett, M.D. and Nance Di Rocco who are in a legal battle over the taking of their property by the Lower Merion School District.
In the documents, Bennett and Di Rocco are referred to as the “condemnees.”
Who allegedly did these wrongdoings? According to the documents it was the Lower Merion School District.
Using a tool afforded only to governments, the LMSD unleashed the force of “eminent domain” on Bennett and Di Rocco. That Force is the power to condemn and take a private citizen’s home, land or property by a government for the betterment of society.
Eminent domain are two words that can strike fear into anyone owning property that a school district or government wants to own or acquire.
Township residents John A. Bennett, M.D. and Nance Di Rocco of 1835 County Line Road, Villanova, PA have had their property condemned and taken by the Lower Merion School District. That is a fact, but the rest is very murky.
The court documents filed against LMSD allege a pattern of collusion and interference in a private business transaction where Bennett and Di Rocco say that LMSD officials and surrogates worked to scuttle an agreement with Villanova University to buy their property for almost $12 million.
The documents further charge the Lower Merion School District took the property illegally, and that school district officials or their delegates used fraud, collusion and bad faith tactics leading to an arbitrary action by the LMSD…..Villanova University’s President, Father Peter Donohue verbally offered to buy the property for $12 Million and agreed to have the paperwork drawn up.
The documents allege that Superintendent Robert L. Copeland, reached out to Father Donohue, after hearing about Villanova’s interest in the property. The document states that Copeland Donahue that $12 Million was too much for the property. Copeland allegedly told Donohue that the LMSD was interested in buying the property and that LMSD valued the property at $8 Million.
Donahue relayed to Bennett and Di Rocco that the University would delay their offer letter and that they didn’t want to appear hostile or look like they were attempting to block LMSD, “especially with all of the flair up over Stoneleigh.”
At the same meeting, a discussion occurred about both the condemned property on County Line Road and the Spring Mill Road property. The key question being: were both properties needed?
According to Faherty’s filing Dessner stated that “LMSD could sell it to Villanova University.”
Bennett also informed Dessner and Copeland that the University would pull out of their agreement of sale if the condemnees’ were able to reach an agreement with the LMSD.
Bennett provided a copy of the agreement of sale with the understanding that it would remain confidential.
Three days later on December 21, 2018. The school board convened a special meeting and passed a resolution to condemn the property at 1835 County Line Rd, and a press release was issued.
How was Stoneleigh able to block the school district, while the historic landscaping, Acorn Cottage, and horticultural structures of the Oakwell estate, originally part of Stoneleigh, at risk? “When the historic resource inventory survey was conducted in the late 1990s, the greenhouse buildings were overlooked. However, this parcel is historically associated with the Stoneleigh estate and warrants similar protections,” said Kathleen Abplanalp. director of historic preservation at the Lower Merion Conservancy.
“From the very beginning, the entire 13-acre property has fit into our mission goals for historic preservation, open space preservation, the health of the local watershed, and sustainability,” Abplanalp said. “We are vehemently opposed to the current plan and hope the school district will compromise some of their programmatic needs.”
Erin Betley, a conservation biologist who lives in Lower Merion, views the pending destruction of the estate’s landscaping and historically significant structures like the greenhouse complex as lost opportunity. “Oakwell’s intact landscape provides a hands-on educational opportunity for our children, and our community, to learn about ecology, conservation, environmental science, gardening, sustainability, history, natural history, historical preservation, and more,” she said. “Historical records reveal that Stoneleigh’s greenhouse complex and fruit and vegetable gardens were educational spaces for young women during and after WWI, where they gained practical training in gardening while also feeding the community. I hope this can be viewed as a chance for this valuable place to come full circle and used in a way that takes inspiration from our collective past to inform our collective future”…A single mature oak tree can consume more than 40,000 gallons of water a year. Where will all that water go when the Oakwell estate’s trees are gone?
Doug Tallamy, a conservationist, author, and professor of agriculture and entomology at the University of Delaware, agrees. “If you replace a forest with a lawn, you are generating run off,” he said. Tallamy was involved with preserving Stoneleigh. His message to the school district? “Find another place without cutting down hundreds of trees.”
I am a huge fan of Doug Tallamy, own his books, have heard him lecture a few times now. I also live with a woods full of oak trees. I love them. I am attached to my woods and the creatures and plants in them, much like the folks who live around Oakwell.
This property would be better suited as a retreat, which is I think what I heard Villanova wanted to do with the property.
And not to skip around but is all of this crap being done by Lower Merion School District going to cost Lower Merion Township big time when it comes to public works, police, fire, EMTs? So when will they have to put in another firehouse and where exactly?
Here are some links which I saw on Save Oakwell which some of you might find of interest:
What do I think? I am not sure as on one hand, this is such a complex tale that I do not know if we will ever know the whole story. BUT on the other hand I am so tired of major properties being demolished and I am definitely of the school of thought that Lower Merion School District need to be stopped. After all, #thisplacematters and has anyone gone to the National Trust for Historic Preservation yet?
And let’s talk about the trees. 500 as in FIVE HUNDRED. Yes, that is the destruction number. That makes me want to throw up.
Isn’t it time to curb the rabid dog of destruction that is Lower Merion School District? From the historic preservation aspects to land and environmental preservation aspects, sadly Oakwell has it all going on. Yet people are being too damn quiet about this. Natural Lands needs to speak up. Hell, they know what it is to have to fight Lower Merion School District over eminent domain and also, the eco system that is their Stoneleigh will be threatened and altered and affected irrevocably if the mass destruction of Oakwell succeeds. Natural Lands speaking up now is very important, and I don’t quite get their silence, do you?
Oakwell need a reprieve. But more people need to care. Not enough people seem to care or are willing to stick their necks out. I really wish that someone would sit down at Oakwell with people who had lived there, or whose family has lived there and film an oral history. Well that should have happened before I think. And where are elected officials on this? Not just statements of Lower Merion Commissioner, but State Reps, State Senators, Congressional representatives, etc? County Commissioners? State environmentalists?
Where. Is. The. Really. LOUD. Public. Outcry?? And more media or do they only cover bad politicians and crime in Philadelphia?
People. We need to save the region’s history. That includes gardens too. Trees. Houses. Tea Houses. I don’t have the answers. God I wish I did. But if we allow this to happen, in the end we will all be sorry. And I have to ask, is Radnor Township asleep here? Their township is quite literally across County Line Road. Radnor residents will be affected too. One would think the Radnor CONservancy might feign an interest, but that would mean getting out of their bubble, right?
Oakwell needs some big hitter angels, do any exist for this property? Why is it in other areas of the country, properties like this are revered and preserved?
Well damn. WHO woulda thunk it? The Phillies are going to the World Series.
I hear they have greased the poles in center city Philadelphia.
I remember in 1980 when the Phillies went to the World Series, I wasn’t allowed to miss school and go to the parade. I was a junior at Shipley, and I remember people going to the Bryn Mawr train station to take the train downtown.
I wonder if they will end up facing the Yankees or Astros? Apparently there is a rain delay.
I am not going to pretend I am a giant sports fan, because all my friends and family would laugh, but I thought I needed to note this momentous occasion. And Philadelphia needs some good news. Go Phillies!
West Whiteland has a lot of history to it. Also traveled into Uwchlan and Upper Uwchlan. Again, so much history that development has practically obliterated, but at least some beauty survives.
Stop and see the beauty of Chester County . But if it’s someone else’s farm you are admiring, please remember it’s not your farm and farms are not petting zoos open to the public and for mini photo sessions with a digital photographer just whenever.
I still don’t know what to think about the Radnor farmer. First there is the whole low rent thing in a time when Radnor Township’s finances are ummm shall we say not fabulous? And that is no dig at farmers, I support farmers. But this is a farmer farming on public land and well, that changes the landscape, right?
I did a Right to Know on the whole farmer in the dell recently, and I have to say, I still am left wondering about so much.
Now in 2013, Radnor inked a deal to buy 71 acres of Ardrossan for $11+ million. Wheeler Field, Quarry Field, Rye Field. “Everyone loves the cows” was a catchy phrase back then attributed to a commissioner then who is on Delaware County Council now, and some say has higher aspirations still. The farmer is also on two other fields nearby supposedly, correct? Not owned by Radnor Township but old Ardrossan Land?
“I believe a license agreement with the current farmer will be on the agenda for one of our next meetings, so we will have the opportunity to hear resident comment and discuss all the issues involved,” said Schaefer. “The current farmer has been farming the Ardrossan land for over 25 years, and his father farmed it for the generation before him. I believe that most residents would like to see this farmer continue to farm the land, as his very unique operation provides the beloved cows that beautify the landscape. As I understand it, the proposed license will require that the farmer utilize best management practices and adhere to the NCRS (Natural Resource Conservation Service) approved soil conservation plan.”~ ELAINE PAUL SCHAEFER TO MAIN LINE MEDIA NEWS 3/3/2015
So, I think it’s TRULY wonderful part of Ardrossan is still farmed, don’t misunderstand me, but well, what chemicals are being used on the fields should be an open and evolving discussion, right? Way back when Radnor inked this deal with the farmer, people urged the farmer to be as organic as possible, correct?
People started asking questions again this year. And Radnor Township is nothing sort of SUPER TOUCHY when it comes to ANYTHING Ardrossan.
So my Right to Know. I filed it, included a note saying hi to the solicitor. Solicitor got my email, Radnor open records officer apparently did NOT. I did not know any of this, and discovered it when I realized I hadn’t received an acknowledgment of any kind, rejection, response. So I filed an appeal to Open Records in Harrisburg and let Radnor know. The open records officer at Radnor was super apologetic and got what I requested together. She was very nice, no issues with her. I subsequently withdrew my appeal at the state level because that was the right thing to do.
I have been going through what I requested. Some of the records are rather hazy. I believe that is because that is how documents were given to Radnor and quite frankly, the farmer should provide clear copies for that sweetheart deal he gets to continue to farm. He might not like that opinion, but he farms on public land, and he is answerable to said public.
Now interestingly enough someone Radnor-centric said to me when I was starting this why didn’t I just go to the fields and take water/soil samples since it is public land. Ummm. Yeah. No can do. It is public land with a tenant who has a leasehold, so that would be wrong, be trespassing. I do however, think the state and county, if not the township should do routine testing.
So if you take the Quarry field, from what I was able to see on some documents which were fuzzy at best, the following products look like they were used used on Quarry Field in 2022 (Soybeans):
TORCH: manufactured by Farmalinx Pty LTD; a preemergent herbicide for annual weeds
FRONT RUNNER: manufactured by Atticus; preemergent for weeds, where crop is specifically for soybeans. Possibly acute hazard for aquatic environment?
CREDIT41 – manufactured by Keystone Pest Solutions. “Credit 41 Extra is a post-emergent, systemic herbicide with no soil residual activity. It is generally non-selective and gives broad-spectrum control of many annual weeds, perennial weeds, woody brush and trees.”
Other post-emergent chemicals used: Fome kill, Status, Turbo, Durango – all weed killers, but with minimal toxicity.
Now remember, I wrote about the chemical issues before and a resident went to the township and provided thoughtful commentary about chemicals used by the farmer in March of 2022:
Although not directly noted (as I do not know how to add the direction arrow to the Quarry Field), between the bottom of the Quarry Field and the boundaries of the Skunk Hollow Community Garden, lies the Little Darby Creek. This creek is a part of the Darby Creek system, is stocked, on an annual basis, with trout for fishing by both adults and especially children, is played in and most importantly, the endangered American Eel has been directly observed moving up through this creek and into the Willows Pond.
Thus, there are several herbicides delineated to be toxic to fish, to water invertebrates and generally to be avoided. DEVOUR, by Federal law, is NOT to be used in parks, golf courses and playgrounds – thus, as this field is Township owned, PLU, this herbicide should not be used!
Thank you…. for passing on to me the official records for herbicides applied to the Township-owned property called ‘the Quarry field’, in which the farmer….applies to the field in order to grow a good crop of Corn, that will be fed to his cattle. The records that I have received are from 2016, 2017, 2018, with the note that nothing was grown in the Quarry Field in 2020. What seems to be absent are any records for 2019 and 2021.
For purposes of review, the principal herbicides applied have been consistent across the time span, including Acuron, Princep, Warrior II, Max Supreme, Abundit Extra, Devour, LamCap II, Gramoxone.
ACURON is a Syngenta product, an herbicide for long-season re-emergent weed control and specifically for Corn. It is a restricted pesticide/herbicide, and hazardous to the applicator through skin irritation and allergic reaction. This product may damage fertility. It is a mix of chemicals, including Atrazine. “Research has liked Atrazine to birth defects and cancer in people, and even miniscule doses can chemically castrate frogs. It has been banned or is being phased out in more than 35 countries but is the second-most commonly used herbicide in the United States. “It is known as an Endocrine-disrupting pesticide. “
PRINCEP, aka Simazine, is manufactured by Syngenta, focusing on corn, to address 40 broad-leafed weeds and annual grasses. The chemical is not persistent in soil. It is a restricted -applied chemical, with applicator issues of eye irritation, and a suspected but not proven carcinogen. The MSDS sheets indicated that it is toxic to fish and other water invertebrates.
WARRIOR II – manufactured by Syngenta US. The primary use is to ‘defeat’ beetles, weevils and borers. This chemical is HIGHLY toxic to bees if directly exposed or if ‘’visiting’ flowers in bloom. P.S. Now being used to address Spotted Lanternfly.
MAXSUPREME – is a liquid activator adjuvant specifically formulated to maximize herbicide performance for the designated crop.
ABUNDIT EXTRA/EDGE – a Syngenta product, this is a pre-emergent herbicide, containing Glysophate which is formulated for ‘tolerant corn’. It has acute toxicity as an inhalant. It is noted on the USMS sheets to avoid spillage near water, as it is toxic to water organisms.
DEVOUR, manufactured by Innvictus Cone, LLC. A highly-toxic, PARAQUAT-based, not selective, broad spectrum herbicide. There are lawsuits moving through the courts to remove this chemical from use, as mis-use of this herbicide has been proven to cause at 250% increase in the disease Parkinson.
There is established FEDERAL law that the use of DEVOUR is prohibited in parks, on golf courses and playgrounds!
LAMCAP II – manufactured by Syngenta, a restricted insecticide. This chemical is extremely toxic to fish, aquatic organisms, and toxic to wildlife. Note the MSDS sheets advise to be careful to avoid wet ground, to avoid runoff into water.
GRAMOXONE SL2.0 – manufactured by Syngenta- A ‘knockdown herbicide. The active ingredient is PARAQUAT [see comments in Devour that relate to Paraquat (and Parkinsonism). Gramoxone is toxic to fish and other water invertebrates.
To accomplish this research I examined the website for each of these chemicals, focusing on the purpose, usage and any possible toxicity. Since the purchase of sections of Ardrossan by Radnor Township, resulting in an increase of acres of parkland [Public Land Use], means that the resident/owners of this land needs to be protected, as well as the wildlife that inhabits the land and waters. ~RADNOR RESIDENT 3/23/22
So this resident had come to a blogger because she felt she was not really being heard. She is a senior citizen. However when watching an EAC meeting recording in August, I noticed something somewhat terrifying to me: the citizen’s EAC was told not to discuss this topic and it made me stop and go HUH and isn’t it just bizarre? I mean it’s NO big secret that Radnor Township Commissioner Lisa Borowski (former BOC Prez and Vice Prez) has aspirations and is running for State Rep in the PA 168th, right?
So here we are. And I know some of the documents are BEYOND fuzzy, but as it was explained to me, Radnor complied with my request. A municipality produces what it has in its possession and does its best to be responsive to a request. It doesn’t enhance or detract from the quality of the record. And that is if a municipality is responsive to a request. Not all are, like West Whiteland Township, for example. But that is another conversation.
I still have concerns, but it is up to Radnor Township residents to wake up on this and many other issues. Radnor is sliding back to days people don’t want, and most sadly don’t remember, including their current commissioners who don’t know their rear ends from holes in the wall a lot of the time, let alone township history. That is my opinion, of course.
One thing that did bug me a smidge in what I got from the Right to Know was what I consider a major face palm moment via a PA DEP pesticide guy named Donald Gilbert:
Sooo I am wondering what this PA DEP chemical specialist doesn’t understand about some Radnor residents being concerned about what farmer leasing Quarry/Rye field/Wheeler Tract sprays do you? Public land that leads to Little Darby Creek,a water source, right?
And for argument’s sake, is the PA DEP on top of the golf courses he refers to as far as chemicals they use and proximity to natural water sources too? Aronomink and Overbrook? That would mean they would have to watch Thomas Run and Miles Run, right? They flow to Darby Creek according to maps? And then if you want to include another club, Radnor Valley Country Club they have the Ithan Creek running through somewhere, right? And doesn’t that new Ardrossan Wigwam community have creeks or similar too?
What is going onto the fields is important. If engineered seed is indeed used, also important. It’s important to the cows one would think, as well, right?
Now I asked other state people some questions to try to better understand things. Not a complaint, but essentially seeking clarity on how things work from a state perspective. I asked how they check up on chemicals farmers or using near streams:
All agricultural operations that land apply manure or agricultural process waste water are required to have a manure management plan or nutrient management plan. Any starter or supplemental fertilizer must be accounted for in the Manure Management Plan or Nutrient Management Plan.
If the operation is a CAO (over 2000 lb of livestock or poultry per acre available for manure application) or a large CAFO (determined by EPA’s headcount numbers in 40 CFR 122.23(b)(4)) the operation is inspected annually by the county conservation district or State Conservation Commission. If the operation is a CAFO it is inspected at least once every five years in addition to the annual inspection by the county conservation district or state conservation commission.
If the operation is in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and not a CAO or CAFO, routine inspections are conducted by the County Conservation District or DEP to determine compliance with manure management regulations.
Other inspections are carried out by DEP or county conservation districts in response to manure-related complaints.
However, I must restate that the above is the compliance strategy associated with the land application of manure, not pesticide use. Paraquat and RoundUp are pesticides. I will reiterate what is stated below:
Concerns of pesticide applications including those on public (township) lands would be addressed-by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) or by the Township. The certification of pesticide applicators and the pesticide application program is under PDA, not the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
I also support touching base with the township which may have additional considerations for township land.
~ PA DEP Bureau of Watershed Restoration and Nonpoint Source Management Agriculture Compliance Section 10/20/22
Now also interesting is I asked about Little Darby Creek. Little Darby Creek and its tributaries have a designated use of Cold-Water Fishery, Migratory Fishes. There are no Special stream protection designations such as High Quality or Exceptional Value in this area. I had previously though there was a high quality or exceptional value designation. I did read it somewhere, so I will have to consult my notes. I was grateful for the clarity.
In this recent journey for information, I coincidentally did discover there is a site the DEP used to monitor (some heating oil thing) with Facility ID 778907 Ardrossan Farm Parcel A7 – close to this same area where the fields are. It was some sort of remediation from years ago having to do with I think a heating oil spill. I found it once on this thing called emap (https://www.depgis.state.pa.us/emappa/). It’s a public tool which should be easy to use, but I find it somewhat temperamental to use.
So Radnor residents, what I learned from the state is concerns regarding pesticide applications including those on public (township) lands would be addressed-by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) or by said township. Now Radnor does have “policy” here as it is in the lease agreement the farmer operates under. The farmer is NOT required to be organic, and I will note getting an organic status is a lot of work and money. But Radnor has this verbiage in their agreement about the farmer utilizing best management practices, but it is not up to me to decide if best practices are up to snuff, etc.
I do not think Radnor Township is paying close enough attention. In my opinion in part this is because it’s Ardrossan.
But Ardrossan is like Radnor’s proverbial sacred cow. But it’s 2022 and the estate is dotted with McMansions and McMansion attitudes. Who knows what will happen to the great house some day. But those fields and that land which Radnor bought in 2013 was purchased with public funds, yes? Then Radnor Township still has a duty to the public here, yes? I think they do.
You can’t undo what has already been done with regard to herbicides and pesticides, but I think Radnor and Radnor’s farmer could go forward with perhaps a better plan? It’s publicly owned land, after all. I support farms and farmers, but I believe in farming responsibly. I see it out here in Chester County, so it’s possible. This isn’t the only farm in Delaware County, so even from that perspective Radnor Township officials could check out best practices for farmers and maybe the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau could help them? I am sure they could also consult with Natural Lands?
Whatever, am sharing what I learned for the greater good. What Radnor residents do (and Radnor Township itself) is up to them.