Well, is it going to burble over again and Willistown like NOFIMBY (No Farm in My Back Yard) or bad septic and sewer? People say that there is an issue brewing over 8044 Goshen Rd. in Malvern. It’s a very windy and busy road. And now it seems a religious institution wants to turn this into some sort of religious institution property. I mean there?
No, I don’t quite get this whole thing. It’s not something I’ve paid attention to. I think it’s an extraordinarily unattractive house as it stands. It’s not exactly a house where I would say that it would be a crying shame to tear it down and start over, but is this an area where do you actually want other than residential and since it’s residential does that mean it needs a zoning exception? And was it really listed by a realtor in Jenkintown? Jenkintown is the other side of everywhere from here what do they know from Chester County?
This property at 8044 Goshen seems like it was a mention at a February Planning Meeting? And it is some sort of a zoning thing now or since, December, right? I’ve seen it mentioned on a few agendas, but what are they actually doing about it? Are they actually discussing it or are they afraid to discuss it?
Why does Willistown always seem to be growing zoning issues? Maybe they hire the wrong zoning officers for the township? And what about this new manager? Does she ever open her mouth about anything? Willistown is a wonderful area but it seems like it’s having growing pains or something?
Well, that’s also another plan in front of Willistown with this law firm, isn’t it? Aren’t they the Rock Hill Farm attorneys too? They’re good.
And this is yet another seeming zoning issue and land-use issue in front of Willistown? Willistown you’re beautiful, but maybe you need to up your legal game as a municipality, huh? And neighbors, it’s really great that you all been together, but banding together alone isn’t going to do it y’all better find yourselves good land-use lawyers, don’t you think? T-shirts and lawn signs and flyers are not going to solve these issues.
And now the neighbors are also passing out flyers or something? I am glad they are doing that but they will need to be a little more vocal about this I think. I think it’s just a really odd location for an institutional use and it’s not going to be a passive institutional use is it? It could be pretty busy and how will that affect the neighbors?
I think it’s a weird location for a new institutional use, and I’m curious as to why this religious organization thought they were just going to be able to buy this property in a residential area and do this? There are plenty of religious institutions and churches, and what not that co-exist in residential areas but this road is kind of busy and I just wonder how this would work?
Wednesday, March 22, 2023 at 7 PM is the next zoning hearing board meeting. And I have to be honest I think this is one of those issues where they might need more than the little Willistown board room don’t you? And that’s where it’s scheduled, that meeting.
It’s like a Catch 22 because it’s not another cram plan housing development, but it’s also contemplating a use of a property that would require a zoning change, right? So I guess my biggest question of all is because zoning doesn’t happen in a vacuum, what happens if you change the zoning here and this current project goes forward but doesn’t last and survive in this location? Then what would be next, what could be next?
I think this is something worth watching. And if other municipalities are smart, they will also pay attention to this. It’s interesting.
If the “concerned” neighbors are smart they would hire a lawyer who could handle this. I would actually suggest a lawyer other Willistown residents hired a while back, the same one I mentioned the other day. Philip Rosensweig. And no I am not getting anything for saying this, he’s a fabulous land use attorney. And he was a good commissioner for many years in Lower Merion Township even when we didn’t agree.
I think this is a really weird place for something like this because of the road, and how an institutional use will potentially affect this are is also a valid concern, isn’t it?
Kevin Riordan of The Philadelphia Inquirer has this brand new article out. About development in Swarthmore. Swarthmore one of the last places with beautiful trees and not overtaken by ugly development…until now. And the players include the guy who went from zoning and planning dude in West Goshen Township to Swarthmore Borough Manager (William Webb) and the former Borough Mayor of Swarthmore and developer/builder, Bill Cumby.
I will start with not a big fan of West Goshen and West Goshen employee refugees because West Goshen just always has issues. And then there is this once a politician always a politician former mayor of Swarthmore and how can he really want to build something so out of character and out of scale in a small main street oriented community that is also home to lovely homes with terrific gardens and street trees, Swarthmore College, and Scott Arboretum? Political/personal gain? I mean you don’t want to think that, but this plan? It’s like all the bad plans for Ardmore, PA mated with Eastside Flats in Malvern Borough and The Elm in Narberth, and had an alien love child.
This proposed plan? One word: HIDEOUS.
No Swarthmore is not in Chester County. It’s in Delaware County. And Swarthmore and Media are two of my favorite Main Street small town feel towns. So yes, I am expressing my dismay. Honest, heart-felt dismay.
A local developer’s proposed condominium complex in Swarthmore would offer ready access to a SEPTA Regional Rail station as well as to shops, restaurants, and cultural amenities in the heart of the Delaware County borough.
Called 110 Park, the $30 million, five-story building would increase the town center’s population and provide Swarthmore empty-nesters an opportunity to downsize in their community. The proposal also includes 1,250 square feet of retail space and preservation of the facade and front section of the Celia Building, a Park Avenue landmark….a significant number of Swarthmore residents, including architects, preservationists, and businesspeople, say 110 Park would dwarf its low-rise surroundings, cast a literal and figurative shadow over the town center, and erode the borough’s distinctive character.
They also oppose the pending demolition of two vintage buildings and see the proposed 40-space parking garage at the complex as a potential threat to pedestrian and vehicular traffic safety….Ever since the developer, 110 Park LLC, submitted the first iteration of the proposal for review in 2021, public concerns have focused on the impact of replacing a small-town expanse of Park Avenue streetscape that includes green space with a residential building more appropriate for a city block…..The council is expected to vote on the measure on March 13.
Melanie Rodbart, one of the founders of a nonprofit called Save Our Swarthmore….is not opposed to town center development, including on Park Avenue.
“There’s a way to develop that site without razing everything on it,” said Rodbart, a structural engineer and owner of a company that specializes in historic preservation….
Incorporated in 1893 and best known as the home of Swarthmore College, the borough is an inner-ring commuter suburb of Philadelphia. It has about 6,500 residents in its 1.4 square miles and features comfortable homes on tree-lined streets named after universities.
The Cumby family has been a part of Swarthmore for generations, and Bill Cumby, a former borough mayor who owns W.S. Cumby, a Delaware County construction firm, is a partner in developing 110 Park….Prices would range from $600,000 for some one-bedrooms to $1 million and above for three-bedroom units….The controversy has alerted Swarthmore residents to what some describe as shortcomings in the borough’s development regulations. Although none of the buildings to be demolished or altered as part of the 110 Park project are on registries of historic places, the 100 block of Park Avenue is eligible to be declared a historic district but has not been proposed as such.
So Bill, Will, Willy, whatever you go by Webb are you actually LISTENING to your Swarthmore residents, the people whose taxes pay your salary? Because if you were listening you would know what the temperature is on this project.
Now Swarthmore has a big old page on their website devoted to this hideous project: CLICK HERE.
Some company called Bernardon has design plan things on their website: CLICK HERE.
Developer and former mayor guy has a website for his proposed project: CLICK HERE. He is heavy on the hype to get monster Lego land approved in my humble opinion.
Residents have banded together. Their group is SOS or Save Our Swarthmore. They seemed to have one of my favorite land use lawyers and former Lower Merion Commissioners assisting them. Phillip Rosenzweig, Esq. (Now for those of you reading, yes indeed this is indeed one of the land use lawyers I talk about as being AMAZING. He is also the guy that wrote that piece of fabulousness that ended eminent domain for private gain in Ardmore, PA when he first became a commissioner. And no, he is not a commissioner now, which is a shame for Lower Merion.) Here’s something off the SOS site he penned regarding this hot mess of a proposal for Swarthmore:
Swarthmorians fight for your town. Human scale matters. Fitting the existing landscape matters. You have an old school main street oriented town. It should be a historic district. Learn from the mistakes of other towns. Preserve what you have. I find it completely appalling that someone who once was an elected official and lives in Swarthmore thinks this is right for the character of your town. I am allowed to have that opinion. I feel for you guys. I applaud your efforts.
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.
Why people connect with each other on social media is something I always find sociologically fascinating. So why do you connect?
Take Facebook and Instagram. I connect primarily to maintain relationships with friends and family I don’t necessarily see as often as we did when were younger. Even former teachers. And friends of my parents and other relatives I am connected to.
In addition to the school and familial ties, there are the other friendships and relationships I have made along the way. Friends I have made as an adult, former work colleagues, neighbors, and people in the communities in which I have lived past and present.
I am not connected to people because of what they can do for me. I connect with people I like or feel a personal connection to. Sometimes that means the extended friends of friends.
When I like a business and follow their “pages”, mostly it’s because I am a customer. I will like a friend’s business page because they are my friend. That’s not the same as saying I’m promoting their business because they are my friend, because I don’t really promote businesses. If I put my blogging hat on, I’m not a compensated blogger so I like to stay out of gray areas.
When I speak about a business, it’s because I am a customer. Mostly it’s when I am a happy customer. But not all of the time. Sometimes I speak about a business to ask people if they’ve used it or gone to a specific restaurant, for example.
Sometimes when I speak of a business on social media, it has been when I didn’t feel valued as a customer or had a truly negative experience. Sometimes the business is a big business or a utility company. But when customer service is truly lacking, sometimes that is your only option to get things made right, isn’t it?
But what I don’t do is the whole disingenuous of it all. I don’t connect with people on social media because of what they can do for me. So maybe that makes folks with an emphasis on marketing confused, or makes them wish to have their heads spin around, but I actually do try to keep it real.
Facebook and Instagram is also where I follow things that connect to my interests. Traveling, although I don’t do much of that. Gardening, cooking, movies, TV or streaming shows, vintage and antique items like Christmas ornaments. Also things like decorating. I love to see what some of them do with rooms. It’s interesting. Especially if they don’t decorate for a beige, beige world.
I also will use Facebook and Instagram to keep up with nonprofits I like, and organizations I belong to which are nonprofits. Or magazines, blogs, and newspapers I read. Social issues. Local issues. Sometimes beauty products, but that doesn’t mean I will post about everything I like or buy. And you have to be careful with things like beauty products because suddenly they will show up in your feeds everywhere as ads, even if you didn’t invite them.
When it comes to a platform liked LinkedIn, to an extent that is kind of a mystery. I have never been particularly sure of the value of the platform. It has some crossover with other platforms, but in the sense of a lot of the same people I am connected to elsewhere. It’s a platform where I always find it amusing on who is “looking at me.” And that usually is linked to something I have written – people connected to politicians, developers, utility companies, people from companies that shouldn’t be utility companies and so on.
It’s not like some one wants to reach out via LinkedIn and offer me a dream job or gig or give me a million dollars. LinkedIn is where a lot of people go to spy, looking for that “gotcha” moment or dirt. You know, much how people view Facebook?
Twitter is something I discovered in the platform’s early days vis-à-vis community activism. I have kept up with it as a way to keep track of issues and the news, but it’s also a platform where some of my long term friends are found who shun Facebook and Instagram. It’s also a place where I keep up with gardening and cooking.
Sometimes I don’t go on Twitter very often. Like during the years a certain person was president. I found the site much more palatable after they removed him. However it doesn’t mean that his children of the corn don’t lurk and spread their vitriol and misinformation, so sometimes I pass Twitter by because of that.
Twitter is one of those places where I don’t get overly personal kind of like LinkedIn , but I observe when people use it as their outlet. I don’t even know who a lot of them are in reality, it’s just their place to express themselves.
Like everyone else on the planet, there are days where I spend far too much time on social media. But it’s not my sole thing. And I don’t use it to portray a life that doesn’t exist, either. I don’t use it as a tool to be a social climber. It’s just sort of an appendage to the modern world.
I think sometimes we all need to lose the appendage of social media and live in real time. Disconnect. Connect with other human beings more meaningfully.
And yes there are lots of other platforms I didn’t mention. But if I don’t belong to them, how do I have a basis of knowledge to comment about them intelligently. Or there are others I belong to that I use so rarely, they don’t warrant discussion.
Why did I write this post? I’m not really sure. It just sort of popped into my head this morning.
To cover the $11.6 million cost, Radnor plans to use a $10 million bond issue (previously approved by Radnor voters) as well as supplementary grant funding requested from DCNR, Delaware County and private fundraising, according to the township document.
“The bond payments would be largely funded by revenue from our Open Space Fund, which comes from the real estate transfer tax, rather than from property taxes. However, for an 11 year period (2015 to 2026) the projected payments will exceed the amount available in that fund and we would need a millage increase to make up the difference,” reads a township document on the acquisition.
The document continues, “The millage increase would be structured to sunset in 2026. The millage increase required would be .15 mills. The median home assessment in Radnor is $264,710. That landowner would pay $39.71 a year with such an increase. Further, 67% of the properties in Radnor are assessed under $344,682 and those taxpayers would pay an average of $29.34, with the highest in that range paying $51.70.”
“Board President Elaine Schaefer said the community has had a ‘long-standing desire’ to preserve Ardrossan as open space. She pointed to a 2006 referendum that allowed the board to sell up to $20 million in bonds to pay for open space that was approved by 80 percent of the residents,” reports Main Line Media News.
“Also, in the four recent hearings held to discuss the purchase where “scores of people spoke,” residents supported the plan 3 to 1, she said. While Schaefer said that she understands the financial concerns of ‘the minority,’ Schaefer, who was just reelected, said that Radnor was a democracy,” the newspaper reports. According to the document, the intended use for the land would be for a trail system (both walking/running on the perimeter and macadam/biking on the road) “and continued agricultural use through a farming licensing agreement, and reforestation, habitat and wetland restoration.”
OK, let this sink in again for a minute “According to the document, the intended use for the land would be for a trail system (both walking/running on the perimeter and macadam/biking on the road) “and continued agricultural use through a farming licensing agreement, and reforestation, habitat and wetland restoration.”
I have to ask, are their proper trails back there yet and has all of that mentioned years ago happened? Or just cows grazing up against McMansions, so McMansions get tax breaks and the farmer grows his cow’s food and no one seems to wish to actually release a comprehensive report since he signed off on his original lease and Radnor developed the ordinance to produce the lease or whatever?
Not to be picky, but from said document of 2015:
And here, the entire document signed by Bill Spingler in 2015:
So in theory, the chemicals would have to be human, domestic animal and wildlife friendly, right? Also in theory, chemicals used could not pose an actual or potential threat to natural water sources, right?
So if the list of chemicals used by said farmer as part of the lease agreement is supposed to be provided, are they regularly and PUBLICLY available (as in always posted on township website as exhibits in the form in which they arrived with only personal email addresses and phone numbers redacted?) ??? At this point why can’t the issue be discussed at Radnor meetings whenever and why can’t the public seem to ever quite know the truth? I still don’t understand what the big deal in Radnor Township’s mind is since that agreement lays out disclosing of chemicals, etc?
So Radnor what about the chemicals? Has that creek been tested regularly and by whom and where are the test results? Why are no outside environmental groups involved or are they involved and if so who? Does Trout Unlimited know for example? What does Delaware County say or a state thing like the PA DEP?
OK now let’s think about the folks who think the lease agreement is ridiculous and come on where else can someone get a deal of renting gobs of land at a $1 and they keep all the lovely moola they make off of the land as well? That my friends, is a farmer’s dream. I can’t blame a farmer for wanting a great deal because farming is brutally hard work and ungodly expensive. However, there is an original ordinance and lease and lease agreement correct? So what happens if the farmer isn’t keeping with the agreement? Has the lease been changed in any way since it’s original issuance?
So yes, to those who wanted the lease overturned in 2021, did you ever think another way to invalidate a lease is if the terms of the lease weren’t being adhered to? And wouldn’t super nasty chemicals be a lease issue?
Bringing it full circle to today, is that why Radnor doesn’t seem to want to release all of the information the public is entitled to see because it is public land?
Seems pretty simple and straightforward, doesn’t it? But sadly, hasn’t Radnor Township had transparency issues in the past? Sunshine doesn’t just help the crops grow, yo’.
Here are links to articles relevant to the farmer and the original lease. I looked for stuff on the trails that were part of this idea and purchase and subsequent leases or changes in lease verbiage, but…. ???? Does this stuff exist?
An elected official in Radnor is pushing for the township to cancel its lease with a cattle rancher on publicly owned land that had once been part of the sprawling Ardrossan estate, saying the deal helps wealthy landowners on other sections of the former estate take unfair advantage of tax breaks for agriculture.
Richard Booker’s motion, which he plans to introduce at a Board of Commissioners meeting on Nov. 22, would end the agreement that lets rancher Richard Billheim’s Fern Valley Farm use 71 acres of township-owned property for its beef cow operation in exchange for $1 a year.
Booker said in a memo with his motion that he decided to take action on the lease after reading an article published earlier this year by The Inquirer about the tax breaks at the former estate enabled by statewide agricultural-conservation programs under Act 319 — better known as “Clean and Green” — and Act 515.
The programs tax land for what it is worth as a working farm and not what its value would be if sold on the open market for housing, strip malls, or offices. Under Act 319, by far the most commonly used of the programs at Ardrossan and elsewhere, the land must produce $2,000 a year in farm goods.
At least two dozen parcels on more than 260 acres are successfully enrolled in the programs, accounting for more than 40% of the former Ardrossan estate’s acreage sold over the last quarter-century, according to an Inquirer analysis of Delaware County records.
Properties covered by the tax breaks include homes of a leader at a major real estate firm, members of the family that cofounded the Apple Vacations tour business, and the top-ranking member of the County Council for surrounding Delaware County.
The only known agricultural products coming from the enrolled land are the corn, soybeans, wheat, and hay grown there to feed Fern Valley’s cows. While cows do graze on a portion of that land, most of their grass-munching is done on the township-owned property. To Booker, that means Radnor is helping private property owners get their tax breaks because those cows wouldn’t be there absent the generous lease.
Officials in Radnor have defeated a measure to cancel a lease on township land for a cattle operation that also helps residents on parts of the former Ardrossan estate save hundreds of thousands each year on their taxes.
In a 4-2 vote with one abstention, the township’s Board of Commissioners on Monday rejected member Richard Booker’s motion to terminate Fern Valley Farm’s $1-a-year lease to use 71 acres of publicly owned property for its 60-head Black Angus beef business.
Booker said at the sometimes combative hearing on Monday evening that this was not a good use of the land that Radnor paid $11.7 million to purchase in 2013 and now costs the township $600,000 a year in debt service payments.
“I don’t want anyone to lose their job or for the farm to go away,” said Booker, who is one of two Republicans on the seven-member panel. “What I do want is to get the township out of … the business of farmland-assessment reductions it has been in for the last seven years…….”However, commissioner Lisa Borowski, a Democrat whose ward includes part of the former Ardrossan estate, said residents are benefiting from the deal…..
Borowski also said that the farmland-preservation programs give Ardrossan landowners an incentive not to subdivide and develop their large properties, which they could opt to do. This does not appear to be accurate, since all of the privately held properties enrolled in such programs are also covered by deals known as conservation easements that prohibit them from being further developed in perpetuity, according to an analysis of property records by The Inquirer.
When the former estate was first broken up, buyers of those properties qualified for federal tax breaks for land conservation thanks to those easements, as The Inquirer has reported.
Asked in an interview Tuesday about which properties she was referring to in her public remarks, Borowski referred the question to Township Solicitor John Rice. Rice said he had not performed an analysis that would identify such properties.
Oh and don’t forget, Lisa Borowski is running for State Rep in the 168th against Chris Quinn, right? So maybe it would benefit State Rep Chris Quinn to inquire as to the chemicals used on the fields, etc,. right?
Look, I love open space and I will admit it, I love cows and those cows are awesome and special. BUT chemicals are a big deal and look at all of the things in the news about glyphosate and paraquat-based herbicides? And what about the pesticides they warn about that can harm bees and other beneficial insects? I totally get that not all farmers can go completely organic BUT where this land is being farmed should be part of a more organic plan if not a completely organic conversation, correct?
So time to show ALL of the cards on this, Radnor. At a minimum if you like and respect your farmer, don’t you want him to be able to farm in peace? And farm safely to protect humans, domestic animals, natural water sources, nature in general, etc, etc?
It is my opinion that certain individuals seem to be trying to incite a riot in Willistown? What do the want, a mini January 6, 2021 in Willistown? WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU WANT TO DO THIS TO WHERE YOU CALL HOME?
So I am going to once again ask is this is about the sewer issue or personal animus on the part of whomever seems to be driving the bus on this issue now and WHY????
I almost titled the something in the water post “Hey Willistown don’t let reality get in the way of your delusion”, but then I decided that was just a little too rude. But it’s about these signs. We all keep seeing them and not all of them are actually in Willistown.
It makes you wonder why these signs have to be so nasty and where they originated from.
Above is a screenshot from a second Willistown sewer website called WillistownSewer.org which apparently will be replacing SaveOurSewer.org. In addition to lawn signs there are also BUMPER STICKERS:
Ok, do Willistown residents realize their issue is being hijacked for personal animus?
And why are these signs targeting two individuals (Supervisors Bill Shoemaker and Bob Lange) in Willistown all over as in also outside of Willistown? If y’all don’t want us non-Willistownians commenting, maybe don’t post the signs outside of the township for starters?
Ok, I am waiting. I know it is time to cue the refrain of “She doesn’t live in Willistown, she shouldn’t say anything!”
No I don’t live in Willistown. I wouldn’t want to at this rate because people are mean as snakes. There is this nasty edge meets a misplaced sense of entitlement no matter what the issue. And to me, this whole sewer issue has turned personal, which defeats the purpose of trying to win an argument in the first place. Next example? Here, this screenshot:
So. The thing about political campaign donations is companies and individuals associated with big companies give out political donations like jelly beans. Both sides of the aisle, always similar amounts to candidates on both sides to hedge their bets a lot of the time. I mean is this guy implying in his opinion that an honorable man sold out his municipality, an entire municipality, for $250? For real? My opinion is political candidates should not take donations from big old corporations. All of these corporations want something, even if it is just a certain perception. And then these donations will always do more harm than good, also because of perception at times.
I have not shown all donations, you can look yourselves. Democrats and Republicans and organizations.
BUT…..what is the question no one asked when seeking a GOTCHA? Did Bill Shoemaker accept the check and did it get cashed? The answer is NO. The check was recorded because it was CUT and OFFERED, NOT ASKED FOR. That is a VERY big difference.
“The name of the PAC used for the intended Shoemaker contribution was “The H2O State Political Action Committee”. We wrote a check for $250 to Mr. Shoemaker in September of 2021 which he did not accept. Because the check was issued, we had to report it with the state by law, however, it was not accepted.
Please let me know if you need anything else.“
Yep, it pays to actually do your homework. Check was offer and recorded. not cashed and accepted. And yes, I redacted emails including the AQUA email person. No great love for AQUA but not being the one that gives out their e-mail address. If you all really bother, you too can find publicly available information and whom to contact.
Another thing? Part of the AHA GOTCHA was Bill Shoemaker supposedly went to the home of the AQUA person who lives in Willistown, right? So is the accuser stalking either the Willistown supervisors or the AQUA person? Hiding in the bushes when people entertain privately in their homes? Driving up and down in front of driveways like certain people have done (and I have seen with my own eyes) on Castlebar Lane in front of Wildflower Farm? REALLY????? That my friends, is creepy A.F., yes? And seriously, what business is it of anyone where the supervisors or I socialize for that matter? Lots of people entertain. Lots of people get invited places. SO WHAT? I also have to ask is this is what some rather random woman was over at Sugartown Strawberries recently taking photos of some poster having to do with the Hayride to Hell movie?
Is this now Willistown? Playing I Spy on whomever whenever? Are wiretaps next? Is this like Watergate?
And the person mailing out flyers, creating websites, lawn signs, and collecting email addresses doesn’t work for the township. He wants all of you residents of Willistown to dance to his tune, but instead of just telling all of you to essentially just show up, why didn’t he put on his big boy pants and suggest that he or a group of you contact the township BEFORE the meeting, BEFORE the meeting was to be advertised and ASK like adults if the meeting could be moved to a larger venue? And why does a person who is reported to be on septic CARE about the sewer?
AGAIN, I go back now to these new street signs and bumper stickers because they only target two supervisors. There have always been three supervisors, yet only two are ever targeted. I think that is done as a political motivation and personal animus, and just like the First Amendment may allow individuals to pay for street signs like this, I am also allowed to have that opinion. These are after all the same people who like to point out that Bill and Bob are related by marriage and the families are large landholders. Are they the largest landholders? I don’t know and I don’t care. What that says to anyone rational is they have a vested interest in the Willistown community. Family roots. Generational connections to the land. Why is that bad and they didn’t become supervisors to have a gateway to other things, did they? They have deep roots in the community, which doesn’t make them villains in some bad play or made for Lifetime TV movie. AND if they were NOT involved in the community the same folks would criticize them for that too.
Listen Willistown, civic engagement is good. Misinformation, inciting riots, and mob mentality is not. Careful whose star you’re hitching your wagons to. So far they are doing you and your issue a disservice. Watch which Pied Piper you follow across that field.
I have been re-reading the Delia Owens book Where The Crawdads Sing. The book was optioned for a movie and I wanted to reread it before I see the movie, which is now newly released. Not that I am going to rush to see the movie right away, but I will eventually because I love the book.
The cover of the book declares it “a murder mystery, a coming of age-narrative, and a celebration of nature.” That is practically a dumbing down of the novel. It is so much more than the obviousness pitched on the cover to sell copies to the masses. It’s also about isolation and acceptance.
This book took the author a decade to write and has been sitting for 168 weeks on the top of the New York Times Best Seller List. It’s a haunting book, and a twisty-turny one for sure. But there are so many nuances. The main character is Kya.
Kya is a product of a dysfunctional Southern family riddled with issues and abuse. Her father beats everyone and is a crazy alcoholic and World War II veteran whom today probably would have been diagnosed at a minimum with PTSD. Eventually, Kya’s multiple siblings and her mother leave. They leave a then rather little girl with a dangerously abusive man, her father. Kya is also treated horribly by her community at large, a victim of nasty small town gossip, prejudice, and bullying. She is a poor white kid in a small town who lives in a marsh.
This Kya is called all sorts of names. Marsh Girl, missing link, marsh trash, dirty. She goes to school for like a day and runs away from it because the kids are so horrible. She is an outcast, an outsider. A few befriend her including member of the small black community who know all well the reality of prejudice and racism, and that is how she learns to read, take care of herself. Through these people she is introduced to a book publisher as she gets older because of her nature watercolors and accounts of wildlife living in and around her on the marsh. Her life experience, what she knows.
A lot of the book shows you the aching loneliness of a human being who only wants to be seen and loved. Her friends whom she actually trusts are the wild things in the marsh. Kya grow up naïve, world weary, mistrusting. Always the outsider looking in and so alone. People like that live among us every day. The people most don’t take the time to get to know.
The undercurrent of any human being’s need for acceptance is something that flows throughout this book. That got me thinking.
I remember growing up, I often felt like I didn’t fit. And I was by no means an outsider or outcast. I began to contemplate it when I was at Shipley, which then was predominantly WASP (White Anglo Saxon Protestant) and some of the people I went to school just came from these families with insane money and pedigrees going back centuries. I was average middle class and had a vowel on the end of my name and was Catholic. Where many were blonde and blue eyed with adorable figures and killer equestrian and other sporting related genes, I had dark hair and was distinctly average. And it wasn’t that people weren’t nice, most were even if some weren’t. But it was sometimes it was like, where did I fit? Or was I just thinking too much and over-thinking? Probably. It may have been the experience before Shipley that caused that.
I had experienced that whole not fitting most acutely and didn’t know really what it was when we first moved to the Main Line from the Society Hill section of Philadelphia. My parents plunked me in Welsh Valley Junior High School, part of the esteemed Lower Merion School District.
Welsh Valley in my day was a hot bed of some of the meanest mean girls who walked the earth to this day. I wasn’t called “Marsh Girl” but I was called “City Girl” with derision and often. And I was bullied a bit. Even as I made friends, I was bullied and simultaneously watched the girls who were friends with me get a hard time sometimes because of association with me. And for what? I was new, didn’t fit into their then molds of having all mostly known each other since kindergarten. It didn’t just happen to me, and I knew many girls and boys they were just as miserable to. These were girls who literally just did this for the sheer sport of it.
I actually didn’t buckle to those girls, although the one who went to school with me but was a year behind me did make me come close in Sunday school. Yes, Sunday school. We lived in the same neighborhood at one time, and everything was fine until my mother bought me a pair of French jeans and a narrow wale corduroy jumper from a store in Ardmore where young to mid- teen and tween girls shopped. It’s been so long I forget the name. It was down the street on Lancaster Avenue from the Army-Navy.
I had not seen the clothing on anyone. These were styles everyone was wearing, and pretty much every girl I knew or knew of then shopped at this store in Ardmore. So I wore the jumper to church and Sunday school one Sunday. This girl literally came after me during a break in Sunday school. I remember I just kept moving to get away from her. She was yelling at me, trying to hit me. She was taller than me too. Yelling mainly that I was a copycat (‘take it off”) and worse. Yes…she happened to be wearing the same jumper…in a different color. I had never seen her wear it. Our mothers must have bought it at the same time. She had a sister in my class. She was a quieter more calculating version of her younger sister. They left me alone in school, and came after me in Sunday school. I remember my mother thought I was making it up at first until other parents kind of said “Oh THOSE girls.”
This was just one example.
No one ever stopped them. The other mean girls were the Monday through Friday variety. They were even worse. They were especially delightful during lunch period and gym. I was grateful that my parents let me go to Shipley. There I found my fit and my footing, but sometimes I just felt odd man out, like I didn’t belong. But Shipley at least gave me the courage to see the junior high bullies for what and who they were. And I remember being very amused by some of the attempts of a few of them to quasi friend me when I was a junior and senior in high school because one of the cute high school jocks they liked to chase was my neighbor and we were friends. Of course, that was a foreign concept to them to be friends with a guy. For the most part, they were what my friend’s grandmother would describe as being fast and having round heels. I didn’t quite get the round heels reference at first. Like I said, I was naiive. But I knew enough to be amused by the false offers of friendship, and to keep my distance. However, I did learn a valuable lesson then: throughout your life there will people who will always need you more than you need them.
This whole not quite fitting at times doesn’t end with middle school or high school. It exists with adults and has become more prevalent in the age of social media. Take for example, this woman who is all over social media and in her business model about how important it is to lift up and support other women. Anyway, she is on this thread mocking another woman, a stranger to her, over a local fundraising calendar that was like the UK movie Calendar Girls. The comments are nasty, sexist, ageist, sizeist. Their target was a woman who is not size four skinny with Botox, breast enhancements, tons of makeup always, hair extensions, or Come-F-Me pumps. She is an actual real woman who is truthfully pretty, smart, and nice…but outspoken.
Outspoken always gets punished. Outspoken never quite fits and I know that first hand. It’s like yawn, why be so predictable…yet they are predictable and practically run off of a script. Similar to sniping at me, another stranger from a strange land to them.
These are the people in today’s world in general who seem to find it their mission to make everyone not them not fit. They are the only ones whose acceptance in this world should matter. Basically pick a year, a decade, a century and you will find people, especially women like this. They exist to wound. Be mean. You don’t fit in whatever notion they have of the big, wide word and society.
A couple of years ago I heard a story of a woman who was then a new breast cancer survivor who had horrible complications. Another survivor, supposedly a “friend”, offers her clothes she was finished with because she lost weight. But she was neither nice nor kind about it. More like “Here I won’t need these fat clothes any more.” Took my breath away hearing that. Just gratuitously mean, and again from a woman who supposedly likes to tell people how wonderful she is and supportive of other women.
As an adult, I have experienced the don’t quite fit at different stages of adulthood. First when I was among those who didn’t get married and procreate right away. It just wasn’t in the cards at first, and guess what? Some of those who were the harshest of that brand of critics are now all divorced at least once. And about the having no kids naturally out of my womb of it all? Couldn’t have them. Knew that early enough on in my life. It bothered me at times, but then it just didn’t because it was simply beyond my control.
Then I experienced the don’t quite fit when I moved to Chester County. At first it was because I was new and some folks had been around forever between their lives, and the lives of family members. Then it was because I was living with someone and not married. Yes, really. How do people have so much time on their hands to do this crap to other people?
Slowly over time, I have been accepted by some, not all. Ironically those who accepted me first are a lot of the people a generation or two above me who are long term residents of Chester County. Just nice, decent people. Also slowly over time you learn to let go of the negative feelings caused by the non-accepting. But you also learn over time it is O.K. to stand up for yourself and tell them what they are doing is not acceptable if you want.
But still, not everyone is accepting. It’s life. I ran into it again recently. Very hurtful, and caught me by surprise because it was unexpected. But it’s mostly because they have never met anyone like me that can’t just be put into a comfort category and left there. I am also outspoken. I stand up for myself. Standing up for myself is something I learned to do. You can thank Welsh Valley Junior High School in Lower Merion Township for that. When you are going to a school that is sometimes like a literal Mean Girls meets Lord of the Flies or bad Darwinian theory, you learn.
What it comes down to is simple: if you aren’t from someone else’s precise world, people may or may not be comfortable with you. It just is what it is. Where The Crawdads Sing definitely delves into this and the question of acceptance within a community and how isolating people changes them and you. That is also what I think plays into the realities of racism at times.
Today, in the USA we live in a world of extremism. Politically, socially, financially, and oh yes climatically. It’s sad and tiring. I wonder what other countries think of us? Maybe I don’t want to know because maybe it is just too embarrassing.
If you haven’t read Where The Crawdads Sing, you should. And before you see the movie because I am told sadly the movie still doesn’t capture all the myriad nuances of the book BUT that doesn’t surprise me. It would have to be a Netflix or Prime series, not just a two hour movie to capture it all.
What happens when you don’t quite know how you fit? In the end it just depends how strong you are and if you are willing to be human as well. People always say “be kind” but they should add also don’t be fake. Being genuine goes a long way.
I am also including the rotting historic farmhouse with a fabulous probably rotting barn behind it at 310 Lancaster Avenue in Frazer (East Whiteland Township) which I have been writing about for years (like the Joseph Price house at 401 Clover Mill Road at the corner of South Whitford in Exton, West Whiteland Township.) 310 Lancaster Avenue is the Clews & Strawbridge property, which if I recall my research correctly is three parcels under the same entity name.
What is interesting about the Clews and Strawbridge property is I found a website today for self storage units there. I hope the storage is an inside the historic farmhouse given its dilapidated condition.
What I don’t understand with this location like the other two in this post is why people can’t take care of them? Why the demolition by neglect? And these are hardly the only examples in Chester County, either.
The Joseph Price House at 401 Clover Mill Road is so sad. That is a magnificent property, and it appears to be on still buy two old men in Ambler. I think at least one of them used to live around maybe? I also know they have had offers for that property for restoration/preservation but in this case it’s demolition by neglect meets greed isn’t it?
Today it looks like some kind of cheap roofing material was being thrown up to cover the holes in the roof and some of the porch roof. So is that because they’re trying to sell it or is there actually still a tenant/caretaker living there? There used to be but the more it deteriorated, people just wondered but Loch Aerie had a caretaker living there as that was rotting up until the end. And Loch Aerie is a prime example that restoration and a viable adaptive reuse is entirely possible. Loch Aerie went from a proverbial lump of coal for decades to a glittering diamond.
And the farmhouse at 105 S. Whitford is also legitimately historic. It’s even recognized by West Whiteland Township as such. It was part of the Oaklands estate. And was it also not once also a family home to a very popular former Chester County State Representative?
When I went by both houses along South Whitford Road today I was astounded by the condition of the property at 105. The farmhouse looks sad but not completely dilapidated yet. But give it time because if no one pays attention it will get that way.
Demolition by neglect is an old unpleasant thing in so many communities. A few years ago you even saw foreclosure versions of that when banks would come in and take over the properties and just leave ghost houses, or whatever the correct nickname was.
I don’t know what the future holds for that farmhouse but shouldn’t it matter somehow? Shouldn’t the condition of the property matter somehow? And that’s the whole thing: you get that not every historic house can be saved or every old house or every beautiful swath of land, but this whole demolition by neglect and chest high weeds thing is ridiculous. Don’t the people that live in the area already matter? Shouldn’t these property owners at least be respectful of the township in which they have these properties?
It’s just that in spite of how difficult Pennsylvania seems to make historic preservation because they just don’t offer nearly what a lot of other states offer, there are people who still want to restore these properties. It would just be nice if there was more restoration and less demolition by neglect.
The more I learn about the way people behave, the more I realize there are a lot of messy people in this world.
Lessons learned this weekend from “adults” and the log book of kiss kiss and bless your hearts, haters:
You can’t say Nancy Fuller from Food Network is “annoying AF”, because it’s “unkind.” Please note she’s not some neighbor’s mom or grandmother, she’s on TELEVISION, and she’s not Julia Child and is even more annoying than Martha Stewart or Paula Deen can be. I will occasionally share the woman’s recipes, I just can’t watch her live either on a Facebook video or some show she’s in because she grates on me. It’s kind of like people whose music you like but you don’t want see them perform in person. Above all else? It’s just one opinion.
Yes that really happened. Up pops this woman in a Facebook cooking group I run. This woman couldn’t just say that she disagreed with how I felt about a Food Network TV personality, no she had to be extra. This person had to say how terrible a person I was, my pizzas were repetitive, no one likes me or my cooking group. (I am still trying to understand how pizza entered the conversation because we were not talking about pizza.)
All of this because I said I thought a television personality was annoying A.F.?
But wait, there’s more. Next this woman private messages me. She has to make the extra point to tell me that I am a horrible person and everybody hates me and everybody makes fun of me.
Oh yes, the invisibles/nameless shamers and finger pointers in life. I thought I left them behind after high school. Apparently not. People you don’t know, don’t know actually exist, who want to define you. (A perennial favorite with me, can’t you tell?)
Seriously, like we’re young teenagers. Also, this is someone I literally don’t know, I have never met nor had a conversation with. Quite literally a stranger who happens to be in two of my Facebook groups. And she did a similar thing with me in my Facebook gardening group a while back which I let slide.
Allow me to circle back and make sure I have this correct: according to her, I am a terribly horrible person who apparently knows nothing about anything, yet she stays in my groups for years? How is this a normal person?
Alrighty then. I am a shameless hussy. Next?
Maybe it’s yet another Facebook phenomenon in the category of Stupid Human Tricks. Facebook is as we all know, fun to be on with friends, but often a really weird place ruled by inconsistent algorithms and full of super messy people. There are people you meet who are completely different in person, versus on a social media platform. Then there are people who pretend to be other people even though you know who they really are. And that’s their business and their story to tell, I just don’t understand it at times.
Sometimes the way purported adults behave on social media leaves you with a case of the why, why, whys. Another example? People you don’t hear from very often who won’t be Facebook friends with you in case “certain” people see who message you only when information seeking. That always cracks me up. But that’s their comfort level.
Facebook, however, is not the real world, and neither is Instagram. Some people use both platforms to post about their world. but for others it is just a playground for narcissistic behavior. I use both platforms to stay connected to friends. I post a lot about gardening and cooking, because those are two of my passions. I share what I write. Once in a while I post a selfie, as opposed to some people who all they do is post selfies or photos others have taken of them, professional or otherwise. Yes, I really find it amusing when people constantly have professional head shots and other photos taken for their Facebook profile photo and other posts. That is “Look at me, I am Sandra Dee” syndrome.
It’s all fairly ordinary. Until it isn’t when you encounter one of these virtual human land mines like I did…in a cooking group over a less than important TV personality. Encountering people like this is something that just makes you world weary at times. It makes you sit back and wonder why you bother to try to do anything. But then it comes back to what my Pennsylvania German grandmother always used to say: “consider the source.”
So I am considering the source, but I just find it puzzling and bizarre behavior. It makes you almost feel sorry for this woman, except it doesn’t.
I will never ever say “why can’t we all get along?” I am a realist, and I don’t think it’s possible. But what I don’t understand about these mostly women on social media platforms, is if they have such an intense dislike for someone on social media, why be in their groups?
What did I do in the end with this woman? I removed her from my groups. She doesn’t have to be my best friend, but life is too short for attack rats.
So yesterday I did a thing. I went and checked out the new Sycamore & Stone on 401!
Jeff Devlin‘s new property is one I am familiar with, because I used to patronize the antique store that was once in this barn. I love this property and was sad when it went up for sale because I was afraid some developers would snatch up the property and the beautiful barns and house would disappear. However when Jeff announced he had purchased this property I was totally psyched because I knew it was going to be saved, preserved, and wonderful!
Along with the barn which has the store there will be other things available to do on this property including the house becoming a fabulous Airbnb.
I will note that both the Mercantile/Jenny Lind and Jeff’s Sycamore & Stone are both located in West Pikeland Township. West Pikeland is a treasure trove of amazing historic properties. I hope that Township realizes how fortunate and blessed they are that they have people willing to come in and do these amazing adaptive resources that are viable on historic properties.
Jeff’s store is a feast for the eyes and there is all sorts of fun stuff! It has a great Americana country vibe. It’s a lovely space and shoppers feel relaxed in it. It is almost like welcoming someone into a great big farmhouse and not just a hands down super amazing barn. I gravitate to places that are warm and welcoming. And their staff is equally warm and welcoming!
One of the things I liked best are the reproduction hog scraper candlesticks he has available for sale. I collect the actual vintage/antique variety, so these are a real favorite with me! If Jeff Devlin had a wish list for customers mine would be to carry hand dipped taper candles that fit into hog scrapers because that is the right shape for them!
I look forward to this property further coming back to life and it is such a joy to see the work occurring on it every time I drive by. Jeff is a quality craftsman, and such a nice guy so I am glad he found his spot here on this property. My only lament is I don’t have a super old farmhouse for him to help me restore!
Sycamore & Stone is located at 1251 Conestoga Road, Chester Springs, PA. Right now the hours are WEDNESDAY-FRIDAY 12PM-7PM, SATURDAY 10AM-7PM, SUNDAY 10AM-4PM.
I will note that I have not been compensated in any way, shape, or form to write this post. I’m merely visited the store and I am now a happy customer: I like to shop local and support the businesses of people I know.