loch aerie photos courtesy of the library of congress

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Who knew? Loch Aerie has her own page on a Library of Congress website.  It’s really cool – please CLICK HERE AND GO VISIT.

The photos except the black and white at the bottom which I took are all old ones taken for that August 1958 study. Only I never saw the photos until someone suggested I check the Library of Congress listing for the mansion. These photos are available to the public courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Even the folks at The Library of Congress thinks this Chester County symbol and gem are special.  See??? #thisplacematters 

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And finishing with one of my favorite photos that I have personally taken of Loch Aerie:

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inside and outside: visitng loch aerie/lockwood mansion/glen loch

DSC_2996Today I went to the open house at Loch Aerie.

I went all the way up to the top of the house to the cupola and the widow’s walk, and down to the somewhat creepy root cellar. It is truly an amazing house and considering all the abuse it is taken over the past few decades, it is in remarkably decent shape.
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I took hundreds of photos and also talked to people going through. Some were local people who read this blog and had seen me discuss the mansion, also a lot of regular people who like myself just always wanted to see the inside, and quite a few people that actually seemed interested in preserving the mansion. There were also developers and developer representatives and lots and lots of contractors.

DSC_2783I met a woman from far away with a big family that includes a lot of adopted children and grandchildren who is looking for a place to call home.

I also met a guy who grew up near the mansion and told me stories of when he and his siblings were little. He told me how they saw the bikers drive up to the house when they were squatting in the mansion in the 1970s I think it was. He also said that the bikers would ride their motorcycles up the front steps and up the staircase. And that kind of makes sense because there are marks and some of the floors upstairs that look like tires. He also told me of when the bikers had left and the kids in East Whiteland used to use the pool tables and pinball machines that were on the first floor.

DSC_2859Another lady wrote to me and said:

As a young boy my father, now deceased, worked making sandwiches at the Lockwood Mansion. Two elderly sisters employed my father. One of their relatives, Leaugeay, helped my father make sandwiches which were taken to the train station nearby for the soldiers. As the years gone by, my father married and named my sister, Leaugeay as a namesake of a family who helped dad. Growing up on Morstein as a young girl our large clan passed by the mansion many a Sunday on our visits to other family members. Really hate seeing another landmark in Chester County being replaced by commercial buildings. WHAT is going to be left for OUR GRANDCHILDREN to visualize HISTORICAL LANDMARKS……..What a shame that opportunity and money pass over our History.

 

I was amazed at how few people actually knew any of the history of the house they were just drawn to it. It really is a landmark. And an emotional pull back to the area for others.
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Someone from East Whiteland Historical Commission  was there. A woman whose name escapes me. I don’t think she was particularly thrilled to meet her friendly neighborhood Chester County blogger, and I’m sorry for that but I am not sorry for my opinions necessarily. She said they were meeting next week, but to what end? Do they have a preservation buyer with deep pockets to bid on Loch Aerie come April 21st? When I asked her about Linden Hall, she assured me it would be preserved but that old porches not historically authentic would be torn off. I told her Linden Hall already looked like demolition by neglect, but she assured me I am wrong so we shall see. I hope I am wrong.
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If this beloved mansion Loch Aerie can find the right buyer future generations will be talking about her in years to come.

Here is an article from 2010 about Addison Hutton:

ML History: Addison Hutton, the Quaker architect

Known by many as the Quaker architect, Addison Hutton was a popular and prolific professional who designed palaces on the Main Line and in surrounding communities, and grand college buildings on campuses including Bryn Mawr, Haverford and Swarthmore colleges and Lehigh University, as well as adding his talents to the designs of courthouses, museums, libraries and religious institutions.

Many of his most famous Main Line mansions have served double purposes. The Waverly Heights home of a railroad executive is now an upscale retirement community in Gladwyne. Ballytore in Wynnewood first served as a home to the co-founder of the Strawbridge & Clothier department store, then lived its second life as the home of a private school and is now in its third life as an Armenian church.

Hutton also used his talents for designing religious sites. In 1872 he designed the rectory for the Church of the Redeemer on Pennswood Road in Bryn Mawr. The original portion of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood was built in 1871 with Hutton and fellow architect Samuel Sloan designing the building where the preparatory college and theology divisions were joined in September 1871….

Addison Hutton is a favorite architect of mine and his work can also be seen in Bryn Mawr on Shipley’s campus – the landmark mansion known as Beechwood. I know that Addison Hutton mansions can be saved and repurposed as adaptive reuses because I was on the Committee to Save Beechwood. And while Shipley basks in all the glory of this successful old house rescue, it was a committee independent from the school who save it, not the school. The headmaster (who is still there today) wanted to tear Beechwood down for a parking lot or a pool (I forget which.) Here is an article from when it began (the renovation was complete around 2002):

Shipley School Is Taking First Step For Beechwood House Renovations

By Stephanie A. Stanley, INQUIRER SUBURBAN STAFF
POSTED: March 25, 1999

BRYN MAWR — If you renovate it, we can use it.

That’s the word from the Shipley School, which recently relented on its controversial plan to demolish a 19th-century building on its campus after a prolonged battle with local historic preservationists.

Yesterday, the school welcomed several architectural firms into the aging Beechwood House and asked them to pitch their best ideas for how to renovate its rooms for school use.

However, the school did not ask the architects to pitch their bills for the work to Shipley’s accountants. Someone else will be paying for the renovations.

As agreed in negotiations with the school, a group of Shipley alumni, preservationists and others who want to save the building have the job of raising the necessary money – possibly as much as $1 million – by Jan. 1, 2001. If they fail, Shipley reserves the right to tear Beechwood down.

But if the group can leap that hurdle, school officials are ready to make good use of the old building.

(Here is a link to another article on what happened with Beechwood)

Frens and Frens were the Philadelphia architecture firm which did the restoration of Beechwood. They won numerous awards as a result. Another Addison Hutton home, also in Bryn Mawr on the corner of Montgomery Avenue and Bryn Mawr Avenue is another more recent and successful adaptive reuse. It was restored and converted to a handful of luxury condominiums.

Follow THIS LINK TO GET LOCH AERIE/ LOCKWOOD MANSION  AUCTION INFORMATION. There is one more property preview next Wednesday April 6th, 2016 from 12 pm to 2 pm.

Her is the link to all of the photos I took today: CLICK HERE

DSC_2555Here is something I found on the Internet I *think* from the 1950s that the Chester County Historical Society did:

Loch Aerie by Chester County Historical Society

It was done for The Historic American Buildings Survey Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service Department of the Interior Washington, D.C.

DSC_2780Something interesting in the paper was that it was part of the Welsh Tract:

The estate was formerly a Welsh tract of 500 acres, and the title deeds say it vas held on a lease from W. Penn to Peter Young and from Peter Young to Hugh Roberts , of
whom President George 3. Roberts of the Penna. PR, is a lineal descendant. The tract has been subdivided and has been in the possession of General Persifor Frazer
of the Revolution and also of the family of ?. Frazer Smith. The purchase of the estate was made by Elon Dunbar, Mr. W. 2. Lockwood’s step-father, from estate of
William Harmer, in I8U9, and Mr. Lockwood from Mr. Dunbar in April 1863. When Mr. Dunbar purchased there was 113 acres. Mr. Lockwood has been making purchases
adjoining the original tract at different times and from 136 acres it has increased to 680 acres.

 

DSC_2841And it had quite the famous landscape architect:

Loch Aerie was designed by architect Addison Hutton in
1865 for William E. Lockwood, who made his fortune manufacturing
paper collars and folding boxes, and lost much of it promoting local railroads. The house remains with few changes. The fine landscape was designed by landscape architect Charles P. Miller. 

The paper continues:

Mr. Lockwood began to pay some attention to live stock in i868,when he purchased tventy five head of Ayrshires, but about that time he was elected president of the Union Paper
Collar Co. and had to reside in Sew York for ten years. He was thus forced to relinguish the raising of stock, but he secured the services of competent farmers who
attended to what stock he required for domestic purposes. Mr. Lockwood intends to divide his tract into three small farms, consisting of the property south of the
Penna RR and will include twelve acres of woodland,, which will be kept to preserve thewater supply. Pour hundred acres north of the Penna RR will be retained as the
homestead farms of two hundred acres each. On the western most tract is St. Pauls Episcopal Church erected in 1828 by the Rev. Dr. Levi Bull and which was improved in
1874 at an expense of $8000. A fine parsonage will be erected during the coming summer.

 

DSC_2904And these last excerpts:

2. “Daily Local News,” West Chester, Pennsylvania,
October 19, 1877
Wm. E. Lockwood, of Glenlock, has a telephone in his house also one in the P.R.R. tower so that in case of invasion of his domicile by burglars or tramps he can call the P.R.R. hands to his assistance. The Railroad Company also keep a police car on the siding there to lock up all loafers and tramps found in the vicinity. Mr. Lockwood also has a very complete “burglar. alarm»”which connects with every door and window in his house, and borrows his neighbors “bull dogs” for outside alarm at night. Also he has a formidable array of repeating revolving and breech-loading pistols and rifles and we understand he thinks of adding a gattling gun and jackass howitzer, and yet he retires to his little bed very uneasy as to his safety during the night.
We should think the tramp would give his place a wide berth in their travels but through his influence they are gobbled up at the rate of a dozen per night in and
about Glenloch.
3. “Daily Local News,” West Chester, Pennsylvania,
May 1, 1936
One of the most interesting houses in the Chester Valley is that of the late William E. Lockwood, at Glen Loch. It was built in the year 1865, with its towers and bull’s-eye windows. William A. Stephenson, late of West Bernard street, West Chester, was the boss stone mason, and the walls were well built. The architect was Addison Hutton, who, five years later, designed the first building for what is now State Teachers College. Mr. Hutton, as the story goes, was on his way to Glen Loch in response to a summons from Mr. Lockwood to consult with him in regard to the plans, when he was told that Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, had been shot.
All the people were so shocked and horrified that there was no talk about house plans that day, and the dwelling was not erected until some months later. One of the art
treasures in the home today is a painting of George Washington on horseback – a handsome piece of work which once was loaned to the late John Wanamaker, long ago, to be exhibited in his Market street window.

 

People, we need to save the grande dame. #ThisPlaceMatters and she needs a preservation/adaptive reuse buyer. Not just some developer who wants the other 4 acre parcel that goes with the house and the 2 acres it sits on. Loch Aerie has so much potential still. I can totally see a boutique hotel with a marvelous little restaurant on the first floor.

Thanks for stopping by.

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51 n bacton hill road, frazer pa

51 N Bacton Hill Rd

I don’t know what else to call this post other than the address.  If you go on Bacton Hill Road, we all pass it. It is after the walking/running trail breaks over the road and it is farther up on the right.  It’s a parcel of land owned by Great Valley School District. It’s up the road from where the Great Valley Community Organization calls home.

Anyway, recently I saw the GVCO organization had an application in front of East Whiteland Planning Commission:

Applications: 1. Sketch Plan: Great Valley Community Organization: A.) Sketch plan for a proposed 41,128 SF athletic programs building, with a potential phase 2 for an additional 21,866 SF of building area. Playing fields are also proposed. The property is located on N. Bacton Hill Road, is 7 acres in size and zoned Industrial. B.) Conditional Use: To disturb an area of steep slope to permit the installation of an access driveway, parking and stormwater facilities as outlined as a conditional use in Section 200-57.F(4)

 

I have absolutely NO as in ZERO issue with the Great Valley Community Organization. They do great things in Chester County. BUT that land they are talking of acquiring part of was part of a huge extraordinarily controversial land purchase by Great Valley School District a few years ago.  So extremely controversial it even made a Wikipedia page on the district. Here is a screen shot in case it disappears:

bacton Hill controversy

Here is the verbatim text from the Wikepedia page:

On September 15, 2008, the school board voted and unanimously approved the purchase of 49.4 acres (200,000 m2) of land for approximately $6.6 million.[6] Located at 51 Bacton Hill Road, Malvern, this “Bacton Hill Land Purchase” generated some controversy amongst the public for two reasons: (1) the purchase was not discussed with the public prior to the meeting during which it was first announced, voted, and passed, and (2) the purchase price based on two land appraisals was brought under scrutiny when it was discovered that the brother of the real estate agent who set the price was involved with forming both appraisals.

Central to the controversy was the lack of public awareness, but also that the school board’s reason for the purchase was stated, “it is prudent to acquire real estate for the District’s potential future use.”[7] The number of students educated by the district has not significantly increased, so many objected that there is no foreseeable “future use” and that the purchase was made in haste.

The two independent appraisals of the land’s price were brought into question as well because of the high price. After the purchase was completed, the board released a statement about the land acquisition, saying, “the per acre cost may seem high (at $135,000). But the purchase price is lower than two appraisals conducted on the site.”[8]

Fueling the controversy, a member of the public requested the two appraisals be released under Pennsylvania’s Sunshine Laws. It was discovered that the two appraisals were both conducted by the same appraisal company, not two independent entities. Further, the appraisal company was owned by the brother of the real estate agent who first approached and ultimately sold the land to the district. Concerned over apparent misconduct, the appraisals and sale were eventually referred to the U.S. Attorney by this same member of the public. This information was presented to the Board during public comments at the School Board Meeting on March 16, 2009.[9] Several questions were asked concerning who was involved in the deal, and who knew what when. The Board did not respond during the meeting, but the District’s lawyer attached a recorded statement to the public video of the meeting, stating, “the board considered these statements after the meeting, and while certain of them were factually accurate, the presentation was incomplete.”[9]

The land is still held by the School District, and no confirmation or denial has officially been given. However, significant fallout appears to have occurred. Two weeks after the March 16 meeting, on April 1, Superintendent Rita Jones announced she intended to retire during the upcoming summer.[10] In addition, all 4 board members who are up for re-election in the November 2009 election announced they would not seek re-election.[11] Further, because Jack McDowell stepped down in April due to illness,[12] only 4 of the 9 board members who were involved in the land deal were still on the board as of December.

 

Apparently this land purchase was a huge issue. It appeared in a bunch of newspapers:

 

This issue apparently tore the area apart at the time. The former school superintendent in Great Valley had the reputation of ruling with an iron fist,  a veritable Queen Victoria. (Read an article placed in the Philadelphia Inquirer circa 1998.)   And she was no stranger to controversy (see her Main Line priced salary circa 2007):

A new contract at top dollar in Great Valley In a split vote, the school board OKd a $210,000 contract for its superintendent. 

POSTED: September 19, 2007

Despite pleas from dozens of Great Valley School District residents saying that Superintendent Rita Jones was paid too much and has not produced a top-quality academic program, a lame-duck school board voted by a narrow margin Monday to extend her contract for four more years.

About 150 people attended the meeting. The board vote was 5-4. Residents opposed to Jones’ new contract said that a 2006-07 salary listing they obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of Education shows she was the seventh highest paid in the state during the last school year.

Jones’ current contract ends next year; the new one runs to August 2012. She is making about $204,000 this school year and will get just over $210,000 next August, with 3 percent increases in each subsequent year.

Jones, 58, who just started her 14th year in the 4,000-student district, is the longest-serving superintendent in Chester County.

Voting for the contract were board president Susanne Carr, Kevin McTear, Elizabeth McGarrigle, Katherine Pettiss and Melanie Scott. Voting no were vice president Nicholas Vastardis, Salwa Raven, Ralph Tang and Eugene Kozik….

Steven Kantrowitz said that Great Valley was a small district “with a very, very, very high superintendent’s contract.” To loud applause, he said: “It’s time, I submit to you, for a change.”

Jones and the board sat at the front of the room, listening impassively.

 

Then this:

Superintendent, group leader share their views on issues at Great Valley The way the school board went about extending the contract of Rita Jones raised questions.

POSTED: November 18, 2007

The rift became very public on Sept. 17 when the Great Valley school board, by a 5-4 vote, extended Superintendent Rita Jones’ contract four years, despite a contingent of residents at the meeting who spoke out against Jones.

Many district residents were incensed that the only notice of the vote on Jones’ extension was a posting on the district Web site on Sept. 14. About 20 residents formed Great Valley Stakeholders, a group organized with the goal of changing the direction of the school board.

Members of the group helped spread the word of a write-in campaign for David Barratt, 45, to unseat the current board president, Susanne Carr (who voted in favor of Jones’ extension), who was running for reelection in Region I….

Using Tredyffrin-Easttown and Radnor School Districts for comparison, Chambers contends that spending per student is too high in Great Valley, and hasn’t resulted in a concurrent increase in test scores.

“We’re not saying the district is horrible; it’s a good district, but when you look at what we’re spending per student, we’re not getting what other districts are getting,” said Chambers, 56, father of two Great Valley High School grads….

The school board and Jones

All of Chambers’ claims stem from his central complaint that the board works too closely with Jones and the district, rather than in the oversight role school boards are intended for by law.

“The concern we have is not focused strictly on Rita Jones,” he said. “Our concern is more that the school board is not doing its job, that they’re not holding the superintendent accountable, not establishing meaningful goals. That they’re essentially allowing the superintendent to run the school board as well as the schools.”

So then you skip forward to 2009 when this land deal occurs. And after the land deal there seems to be a mass exodus from the school board and even Superintendent Rita Jones announces retirement? (Here is an article about her replacement Alan Lonoconus. Now since he has retired it is Regina C. Speaker Palubinsky, Ed.D.)

Again to quote Wikipedia:

Two weeks after the March 16 meeting, on April 1, Superintendent Rita Jones announced she intended to retire during the upcoming summer.[10] In addition, all 4 board members who are up for re-election in the November 2009 election announced they would not seek re-election.[11] Further, because Jack McDowell stepped down in April due to illness,[12] only 4 of the 9 board members who were involved in the land deal were still on the board as of December.

I will note at this point that a lot of the articles that WERE online about these school district issues back then (including school board minutes) have disappeared off the Internet from their original sources. The GVSD has a couple of recent years of  archived video  recorded minutes but I have not checked them out because they use a non-supported plug-in.

In May of 2009, The Daily Local ran an article about seven candidates running for Great Valley School Board seats. At the end of May 2009, Main Line Media News ran an article about a Great Valley School Board member stepping down. That even garnered a mention in a Charlestown Township newsletter back then.

So flash forward to now and the school district is now selling this land? And supposedly at the same price per acre as they bought it? Really? Is that true? And this site is close to the old lethal Foote Mineral Site? Mind you Bacton Hill Road is no stranger to industrial stuff. See what I found on a Google cache.

EPA Region 3 RCRA Corrective Action Statement of Basis for James Spring Wire Co PAD002331635

Bacton Hill is such a weird configuration of quasi industrial and industrial sites along with warehouses and such.

If  the school district land is what is being sold or is under consideration for selling to that Great Valley Community Organization, I think there should be like two phases of environmental impact audits, right? And if the Great Valley School District isn’t interested in further testing, in my humble opinion the Great Valley Community Organization should pay for testing.

People have said there is some kind of report detailing past issues with railroads and chemicals and a pipeline company and clean outs across the road? Is any of this true?  I am just concerned because well, you have to admit there are quite a few environmental hot spots around there.

Sorry I have a thing about places that might leave people potentially glowing in the dark (figuratively speaking) .

So anyway, I posed my questions to the Great Valley School District and others and these are the documents I got out of the conversations:

RBRsoilanaylysis

BreslinRidyardFaderoanalysis

Bacton_Hill_Phase_I_Study_2008

bacton hill 2

Look sorry to stir the pot, but if the Great Valley School District is going to sell this land to the Great Valley Community Organization, fine. BUT if there are going to be a lot of kids and so on around and active on this property would it hurt for the Great Valley School District to do some additional testing?

(A) A bunch of years have passed and what they have is old data and

(B) the whole land purchase was so steeped in issues and controversy why not make a clean break of it?

Instead of (C) telling me and others “The school board did not deem any additional testing necessary after the follow up investigation and testing on the site”?

We know so much more now how to be better stewards of the land and testing in a lot of cases is faster and improved so why not do it? Why not do things right this time?

I am sorry but this is why people no matter where they live have issues with school districts. Everything is done like they are secret societies with their own language and secret handshakes yet we the taxpayers pay for it all?

Look I appreciate the Great Valley School District sending me documents and answering questions but does anyone want to relive 2008 with the Great Valley School District?  If the answer is “no”, how about some updated testing? Just to make sure that the amazing Great Valley Community Organization isn’t inheriting issues with this land that no one knows about? So many people have skeedaddled from the Great Valley School District since this land purchase happened on Bacton Hill Road, so why not better safe than sorry? After all even the current superintendent would have heard about this controversy considering she came from neighboring Phoenixville School District?

And again, if the Great Valley School District doesn’t want to do the testing, the Great Valley Community Organization should strongly consider it.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

linden hall late 2015.

DSC_0967Linden Hall just a week ago in East Whiteland. All I see is work on the godforsaken townhouses no one needs. Where is the house preservation and restoration? What you can’t see because I was a passenger in a car headed east is the side of the house that now has  broken windows.

Note to self: it would be really nice when developers claimed they were going repair/restore/renovate an old structure they actually were made to do it. This development is progressing and I am sorry but what are they doing to save Linden Hall itself?

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Of course it would be also interesting to discover what it is that East Whiteland Historical Commission actually does.  We can see they schedule meetings but there are never posted meeting minutes current or archival. You never hear what they are proactively doing to live their mission statement (all they say on East Whiteland website is “The Historical Commission has been instrumental in identifying historic properties and in spearheading efforts to protect the Township’s historic resources. Although many of these resources are located in developed areas, future development and change could continue to threaten the historical sites.

Integration of these structures into the community’s changing landscape is the key to preserving the historic resources.”)

It’s depressing actually. They have the ability to try to save things…only what have they done recently? Within the past 5 years? It would be good to know wouldn’t it?

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what bishop tube looks like (and more legal stuff filed)

DSC_8760I went to Malin Road and stood outside the fences of Bishop Tube today.  Totally creepy and deserted.  I was glad to see an unmarked police car do a drive by a couple minutes after I got there, the place gave me the willies.

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I took photos from outside the fencing on the road. What a weird feeling to be out on such a gloriously beautiful day, yet there was the overwhelming creepiness of the Bishop Tube Site, all abandoned and the only way to describe it was the place seems to radiate negative energy.  Don’t see how that feeling will be eradicated by plastic townhouses marching row after row.  The site doesn’t appear to be particularly secure and given what appears to be vandalism, nor does itappear as if it has been for years has it?

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Staring at the site, I couldn’t help but wonder where the PA DEP was on this? I can find on the Internet where they were in the past, but not in the present. Or the EPA, which is so screwed up just read THIS and THIS and THIS.  Here let me share this:

The EPA Should Resign in Shame over Orange River

Let States Step Up to the Plate on the Environment

The cause? None other than a mistake by the US Environmental Protection Agency. The Wall Street Journal reported details on the incident Sunday, noting that the spill was initially downplayed by the EPA, and that it was much larger than first reported. Most importantly, as of Sunday, the mine is still releasing wastewater at a rate of about 500 gallons per minute. The pollution incident is ongoing.

This latest toxic release is yet another example of the EPA spectacularly failing at its primary mission. As I’ve expressed in this space before, the government is not particularly competent at environmental remediation and management.

When you read things written by critics of the PA DEP, it is often not much better. Look these government agencies have good intentions but they all seem to get in their own way and in the end are the accomplishing their goals of protecting all of us?

Just check out this article from 2014 about fracking contaminating drinking water :

The Pennsylvania DEP has been criticized for its poor record of providing information on fracking-related contamination to state residents. In April, a Pennsylvania Superior Court case claimed that due to the way DEP operates and its lack of public record, it’s impossible for citizens to know about cases where private wells, groundwater and springs are contaminated by drilling and fracking.

“The DEP must provide citizens with information about the potential harm coming their way,” John Smith, one of the attorneys representing municipalities in the lawsuit, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “If it doesn’t record and make available the violations records then it is denying the public accurate information, which is unconscionable.”

When is the last time the PA DEP or EPA took a good look at sites like Bishop Tube in Pennsylvania?  These aren’t new sexy disasters, they are plodding along existing trouble spots so now that there don’t appear to be lots of  government money floating around for clean up ( a la “Growing Greener“) who cares about these toxic sites like Bishop Tube?

Now the PA DEP mentions Bishop Tube in it’s 2014 report, yes but it isn’t in so much detail is it? I found the annual reports on the DEP website which crashes a lot. So where are State Representative Duane Milne and State Senator Andy Dinniman on Bishop Tube?  Aren’t they supposed to be looking after Chester County residents on this topic as well?

I happened to check the court dockets on the Bishop Tube litigation mention in prior posts when I came home and there are a few more filings on the case of ordinary hard-working people vs, everyone involved around Bishop Tube.  Here are the two most interesting:

Plaintiff Memorandum Response Bishop Tube 2015

Amended Complaint With Jury Demand Bishop Tube 2015 Aug 12

Apparently although The Daily Local did that curtain raiser of an article a couple of weeks ago, no other media seems interested in a toxic superfund site in bucolic Chester County? Or are there media inquiries and other inquiries starting to foment and ferment behind the scenes?

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Here are a couple of gems from all this legal stuff:

From the plaintiffs’ memorandum (2:15-cv-01919 (GJP) filed 8/10/15):

Table of Auth

Page 4: “The Plaintiffs have alleged that, during the Defendants’ respective ownership and operation thereof, they discharged hazardous substances into the environmental which have migrated onto and into the Plaintiffs’ property including the Plaintiffs’ drinking water. It is further alleged that the Defendants have failed to remediate the contamination, the regulatory authorities have failed to require the Defendants to remediate the contamination and additional response work will be necessary.”

Page 6 “It is alleged in the Complaint that, during their respective periods of ownership and operation of the Bishop Tube site, the Defendants used or permitted the use of hazardous substances, including trichloroethylene (“TCE”), during the manufacturing processes for their seamless stainless steel and other products and that, as a result of the Defendants’ ownership and operations at the Bishop Tube site, hazardous substances, including TCE, were disposed into the environment, including the Bishop Tube site’s soils and groundwater. See Complaint,¶¶34-35. It is further alleged that subsurface migration of contaminated groundwater from the Bishop Tube site has and continues to contaminate the aquifer beneath the Bishop Tube site and beneath off-site premises including the Plaintiffs’ home. See Complaint, ¶36.”

Page 7 “Accordingly, in or about 1999, the PADEP took over response actions at the Bishop Tube site, which included periodic sampling of soil, surface water, groundwater, vapor intrusion pathway analysis and maintenance of monitoring wells in the contaminated aquifer as well as the installation of a soil vapor extraction and air sparging system designed to capture and remove contamination from subsurface soils at the Bishop Tube site. See Complaint, ¶¶42-43.

However, none of the Defendants have taken any steps to actively remediate the contamination that originated on the Bishop Tube site, which has and continues to migrate onto the Warren property and neither the EPA nor the PADEP have taken any steps to compel such remedial activity. See Complaint, ¶44. Further response action is necessary to abate the release of the hazardous substances at the Bishop Tube site which have and continue to migrate onto the Warren property. See Complaint, ¶45.”

A Notice of Intent to Sue was served on all Defendants as well as the EPA and PADEPon December 8, 2014, to which no one responded”

Page 11: “III. Plaintiffs’ RCRA Claim Must Not Be Dismissed

Johnson Matthey next argues that the Plaintiffs’ RCRA claim must be dismissed because it does not adequately allege an “imminent and substantial endangerment to health or the environment” and because the State is diligently addressing the contamination.

However, as described in detail above, the Complaint alleges that TCE contamination from the Bishop Tube site has migrated into the Plaintiffs’ well water. TCE is a volatile organic compound “used mainly as a solvent to remove grease from metal parts, but it is also an ingredient in adhesives, paint removers, typewriter correction fluids, and spot removers.

Trichloroethylene is not thought to occur naturally in the environment. However, it has been found in underground water sources and many surface waters as a result of the manufacture,use, and disposal of the chemical.” There is evidence that TCE affects the developmental and nervous systems in humans and is also carcinogenic. Specifically, there is evidence that TCE can cause kidney cancer and limited evidence for non-Hodgkin lymphoma and liver cancer as well as various tumors in animals. See United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Toxic Substances Portal for TCE, http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/substances/toxsubstance.asp?toxid=30 (last visited August 7,2015).

Accordingly, it is respectfully submitted that it is disingenuous for Johnson Matthey to claim that Plaintiffs have not adequately alleged sufficient imminent and substantial endangerment to health or the environment to sustain a RCRA claim.”

Page 13: “Conclusion

Simply stated, in support of their federal CERCLA and RCRA claims, the Plaintiffs have alleged that: (1) the Defendants, including Johnson Matthey, discharged hazardous substances, including TCE, into the environment at the Bishop Tube site which have migrated onto the Plaintiffs’ property and, specifically, into their drinking water; (2) that the Defendants have failed to remediate the contamination; (3) that the regulatory authorities have failed to require the Case 2:15-cv-01919-GJP Document 6 Filed 08/10/15 Page 12 of 13 10 Defendants to remediate the contamination; and (4) that additional response work will be necessary. Indeed, TCE is a carcinogenic. Based on the foregoing, it is respectfully submitted that the Plaintiffs have alleged sufficient facts, which must be presumed true for purposes of this Motion, to withstand a Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the FRCP”

From First Amended Complaint With Jury Demand:

Page 5: 37: “During their respective periods of ownership and operation of the Bishop Tubesite, the Defendants used or permitted the use of hazardous substances, including trichloroethylene (”TCE”), during the manufacturing processes for their seamless stainless steel and other products.”

 TCE

const dr ptnerbish tuNegligence Bishop Tube80 81Ok above are just snippets of the legal documents, quotes, excerpts. You can read for yourself the entire thing as they are uploaded in this post:

Amended Complaint With Jury Demand Bishop Tube 2015 Aug 12

Plaintiff Memorandum Response Bishop Tube 2015

I did not create any of this it is all on the court record.

I am a cancer survivor. I would not wish that on anyone. I have also known people who have seen their children through cancer and trust me, it is too gut wrenching for words. In my opinion based on the research available to publicly peruse, this is site is toxic is it not? And then there is General Warren Village.  Those residents deserve peace of mind don’t they?  They have always been directly affected by Bishop Tube haven’t they?

I am a realist. This might be a creepy site but it is this chunk of land that developers are salivating over (don’t know if they are glowing in the dark from walking around it, however.) This site will be made into something although really it should be cleaned up and left alone since it is also my opinion that this site will take years to properly remediate, and can’t you agree that is reasonable?

But the thing is this: a plan like that not only affects people who want their piece of the American Dream and want to live in gorgeous Chester County who might purchase these cram plan slab on grade no basement wonders if they are built, but potentially every east Whiteland resident in the future, correct?

How can East Whiteland say for certain they would not ever become a party over litigation surrounding this site?  They can’t, can they?  And they have an obligation to current and future residents to see beyond the shiny promises of developers oh so familiar to them, see beyond and some new ratables  down the road, and must put their heads down and see that this site is properly remediated and even get alternate land uses investigated, right? The bottom line is the owner of the land knows how to remediate this properly, they have the experience, correct?

Approving a development plan here while this litigation is ongoing and remediation isn’t complete can be considered a case of putting the cart before the horse, yes? And why is it all we hear is about the developer planning on “capping vapors” with the concrete slabs for the townhouses, yet the current litigation mentions aquifer again and again which is ground water, drinking water, and so on, right? A little different from vapors, right?

East Whiteland has a lot of development balls in the air and should we worry about how the land planning with all the developer driven zoning overlays are getting done?

East Whiteland, you have to do this right. Lives depend upon it. Please.

DSC_0015

bishop tube in malvern up for huge residential development – discussion at east whiteland meeting july 22nd

Abandoned Bishop Tube in Frazer PA as found on Abandoned But Not Forgotten Website

Abandoned Bishop Tube in Frazer PA as found on Abandoned But Not Forgotten Website

My late father always told me that I should check the Saturday papers for news that is meant to escape most and that if someone wants to slip important things past a populous, do it in the dead of summer.

Maybe it is just a coincidence, but one of the most notorious toxic waste sites around is being discussed in East Whiteland Township tomorrow, July 22nd – Bishop Tube on Malin Road in Frazer:

 PLANNING COMMISSION
EAST WHITELAND TOWNSHIP
REVISED MEETING AGENDA
July 22, 2015
Workshop – 7:00 p.m.
Public Meeting – 7:30 p.m.

4.  Malin Road Development – former Bishop Tube Site – Sketch Plan
S. Malin Rd & Route 30 – RRD – Residential Revitalization
District – to permit 264 townhouses

The abandoned Bishop Tube Company of Malin Road in Frazer (East Whiteland) as featured on Abandoned but Not Forgotten website

The abandoned Bishop Tube Company of Malin Road in Frazer (East Whiteland) as featured on Abandoned but Not Forgotten website

Ok yes, it is abandoned. I assume these buildings are still there? I have never gone back there. But I remember reading about this site dating back to the 1980s and 1990s.

As a matter of fact and more than a little alarming is the fact that a law suit was filed this past April as in 2015 about Bishop Tube. And it has been closed, empty, abandoned for YEARS now, right?

Of course this never made the news around here did it? Or was it some little tiny mention that evaporated?

Homeowners allege leeching of hazardous chemicals into aquifer under home

Bradley and Paula Gay Warren filed a lawsuit filed April 19 in U.S. District Court Eastern District of Pennsylvania against: Johnson Matthey Inc.; Bishop Tire Co.; Whittaker Corp.; Christiana Metals Corp.; Central and Western Chester County Industrial Development Authority; Electralloy Corp.; Marcegaglia SPA; Marcegaglia USA Inc.; and Constitution Drive Partners.   According to the lawsuit ….the defendants used and disposed the environment of hazardous chemicals, including trichloroethylene, during the manufacturing of seamless stainless steel and other products.

“As a result of the defendants’ ownership and operations at the Bishop Tube site,” the lawsuit states, “hazardous substances, including TCE, were disposed into the environment, including the Bishop Tube site’s soils and groundwater. Subsurface migration of contaminated groundwater from the Bishop Tube site has and continues to contaminate the aquifer beneath the Bishop Tube site and beneath off-site premises including the plaintiffs’ home.”

In 1980, the lawsuit states, the Bishop Tube site was included in a liability information list by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Warrens seek the court’s assistance in making Bishop Tube’s subsequent owners “prevent any further endangerment and also all costs, including attorney and expert witness fees.”

The case is real and active – click on Bishop Tube et al 2015 litigation

Ok so can they go forward with land development discussions while litigation like this is pending? And read what the article is saying.

Bishop Tube was something I was aware of before I lived out here. They were marked by the EPA in 1980 , and was mentioned in an article in 1992 in the Philadelphia Inquirer when President George Bush (as in the father) was in the area touring tube plants.

Then in 2007 there was an article in The Daily Local

Bishop Tube facility started in 1951, now abandoned

Katz seeks to build sports center in Chester County

Posted: March 21, 2001

Using public and private financing, a development company owned by Sam Katz, the former Philadelphia mayoral candidate, wants to build a $17 million sports center on a contaminated industrial site along Route 30 in Chester County.

The center, with ice-skating rinks, indoor soccer fields and a wellness center, would be on the former Bishop Tube manufacturing site in Frazer, in East Whiteland Township.

Abandoned two years ago, the 17-acre property – a brownfield, or environmentally contaminated site – is near the Route 202 high-tech corridor….

Katz would set up a nonprofit, tax-exempt entity that would qualify for public money, including low-interest loans or bonds and grants, to clean up the site and build the facility……This is the first brownfield site Katz has proposed developing.

The land would remain in the hands of the Central and Western Chester County Industrial Development Authority (IDA), an affiliate of the Chester County Development Council, a private, nonprofit organization………

East Whiteland is the only township in Chester County with a building moratorium. The 18-month moratorium is set to expire in February 2002. Township officials declined to comment on the Katz project, saying that they had not heard about it nor seen the proposal.

East Whiteland experienced its peak growth in the 1950s. In the last 10 years, census figures show, the population has grown 11 percent, from 8,398 to 9,333.

If the sports facility were built, it probably would draw from an area much wider than the township…..

Robins said planners envisioned a state-of-the art building, designed with “green technology,” incorporating recycled materials, passive heating and other techniques that would “have a minimum impact on the environment.”

“What we like is, one, here’s a site that for the most part, is a scar on the environment. By making it a green building, not only do we correct that imbalance, but we also take it to the positive side. The building starts to give back,” Robins said.

saving heritage: the ruins of ebenezer ame on bacton hill road

ebenezer ame

Two years ago, I wrote three posts on an abandoned church I had stumbled upon:

ebenezer ame church – bacton hill road

it’s palm sunday, so why not post about an abandoned church?

on good friday, remember the churches abandoned by time and man e1

Well, interestingly enough there has been renewed interest in this church, formerly located on Bacton Hill Road in East Whiteland Township, Chester County. Yes, I am writing again about Ebenezer AME Church.

e3For me, this all began as a fascination of a ruined structure that I later received more information on.  Ebenezer AME in Frazer was built in 1835.

e9Apparently the oldest grave stones in the cemetery date back to the 1830s. An Eagle Scout named Matthew Nehring did a project a few years ago now  uncovering the gravestones. (Have no idea if his project is finished.) According to the photos it appears some of the dead buried here are soldiers and veterans.e8

One gravestone is for a Joshua Johnson  (Pvt., Co. K, 45th Reg., United States Colored Troops (USCT) (Civil War). I find this to be incredibly historically significant as the army began to organize African Americans into regimental units known as the United States Colored Troops (USCT) in 1863.

e4According to the East Whiteland Historical Society  this church used to serve as a “hub” of African American society in Frazer. Also according to East Whiteland Historical Society:

Members of this community have been documented as former slaves.  Their ability to construct this church demonstrates the e5prosperity and commitment of this community.

The trustees of the Ebenezer AME church purchased the land in 1831 from James Malin.  The oldest gravestones found in the cemetery date from the early 1830’s.  The congregation disbanded for a time between 1848 and 1871 during which time the building fell into disrepair.  By June 22, 1873 the church had been rebuilt and rededicated.  It continued to be used until 1970; then intermittently until the 1940’s.  Now it is abandoned.

I will note that when Patch covered this in 2012 they showed a lot more gravestones than I was able to locate in 2013.  It is now 2015. The Eagle Scout (Matthew Nehring) put what he found on Find A Grave. On that website it is listed as Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Cemetery (Also known as: Chester Valley African Methodist Episcopal Cemetery, Valley Hill Cemetery).e6

On Memorial Day I thought of Joshua Johnson, the  Civil War soldier buried there. He is a valid part of our soldiering and military history in this country, yet who remembers him? Does the East Whiteland Historical Society remember him? Does anyone? Does he have any ancestors still living in Chester County who may not know his grave exists?

On Pennsylvania Gen Web I do not even find this church or cemetery mentioned. Its not listed on other websites on which you would go to look up information. I do not know how to look the property up on Chester County property records to attempt to track a deed, I have tried.

I would venture a guess that this church once upon a time was part of The First Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. But once again, locally some of us know this church existed, but it is very hard to find information.

This church is a definite candidate for a Pennsylvania Historical Marker but in addition wouldn’t it be great to get this site preserved in some way? The graveyard cleaned up and preserved? I think the land is still owned by the AME church, but how to find the records and get them to acknowledge this sacred place escapes me.

This place should MATTER. I have no idea if the National Trust for Historic Places would be interested but they should be.  #thisplacematters

East Whiteland has some fascinating history.  And if we are not careful, it will all fade away.  East Whiteland isn’t just home to business parks along 29 and 202. Between this crumbling church and places like Loch Aerie and Linden Hall, shouldn’t the historical commission  be reaching out to national and state wide preservationists?

If you have any information on Ebenezer AME Church please feel free to post it on a Facebook Page called Living in East Whiteland. Living in East Whiteland is a closed page, but you may request to join. You may also post information on Chester County Ramblings’ Facebook Page.

Together we can try to not only preserve the beauty that is Chester County, PA but the history as well.

Thanks for stopping by.

e7

surprise! east whiteland is getting a new township manager april 8

nagel east whitelandThe thing about East Whiteland Township that is so marvelous   is that you rarely know what is going on until it is done. You can purportedly sign up to get meeting notices and what not, only you never get them.

Well lo and behold a NEW Township Manager is being sworn in TOMORROW April 8th. You would think they would notify residents of things like this, or in their case send up a smoke signal as no meetings are televised. (I have personally signed up three times for township newsletters and such including today but have yet to receive any notice of meeting agendas and so on.)

His name is John Nagel and here is his Linked In Profile – which was updated already to reflect his new gig for which he gets sworn in tomorrow. I will reserve judgment but I sure hope he makes East Whiteland more user friendly – better communication, maybe even televised meetings???

Here is what I just read (which was echoed on Patch late yesterday only who really read Patch anymore?):

East Whiteland Township Announces Appointment of New Township Manager

East Whiteland Township Supervisors announced today that have agreed to hire John B. Nagel as the Manager of the Township. Mr. Nagel is replacing Terry Woodman who is retiring from the position she has held since 2001.

Mr. Nagel joins EWT from Whitpain Township, Montgomery County where he was the Director of Finance. Prior to that position, Mr. Nagel served as Director of Administrative Services for the City of Reading and as Township Manager of Montgomery Township and in various other positions over a career of more than 26 years in local government.

Bill Holmes, Chairman of the East Whiteland Township Board of Supervisors, “We are very pleased and excited to have John Nagel join our organization. East Whiteland is a vibrant, dynamic community and we believe our efforts have resulted in our selection in the best possible candidate to lead the Township.” John Mott, Vice Chairman of the Board added, “John Nagel is an accomplished individual with a proven track record of successfully guiding business growth and process improvement, and we are confident that he is the right person to lead the Township in achieving our goals.”

In commenting on his appointment, Mr. Nagel indicated, “I am excited about this new challenge and look forward to joining East Whiteland as Township Manager. I am confident that working with our elected officials and dedicated employees, we can achieve our true potential as a premier local government serving the needs of our residents, employers and employees who call East Whiteland home.” Mr. Nagel commended Ms. Woodman for establishing a strong, results-oriented staff and a community and economic center in EWT. “It is an honor to succeed Terry Woodman as Township Manager.”

Mr. Nagel will be sworn in as Township Manager at the Board’s April 8th meeting.

 

And by the way….read the township website about interesting zoning related updates. And this gen in PhillyDeals caught my eye:

Meanwhile, out in the suburbs: Instead of reskinning aging 1970s buildings and tacking on skylit public areas and shops, Liberty Property Trust last week presented plans to knock down a largely vacant 300,000-square-foot group of buildings that formerly housed drugmaker Sanofi in the Great Valley Corporate Center.

The plan is to get East Whiteland Township approval for “600,000, 700,000, 800,000 square feet of offices, six or seven stories high, a 130-room hotel, 25,000 square feet of retail, 600 apartment units,” said Jim Mazzarelli, head of Liberty’s suburban East Coast operations.

“We don’t have any tenants” yet, he told me.

What’s the inspiration? Mazzarelli says his team studied mixed-use urban developments in Washington and Arlington, Va., where you don’t need a car to move from office to bar to grocery, kids’ playground, and home. “We believe these knowledge workers still want that lifestyle after they have kids and come to the suburbs.”

 

Aye yay yay. East Whiteland as Mall of America? Sweet.

community

lavenderLast evening I went to my first ever municipal meeting in Chester County.  It was the East Whiteland Zoning Hearing Board.  CubeSmart was supposed to be on it, but apparently the applicant continued it until September 23rd.

The meeting started a little late and the room was packed, even for August.  I estimate that maybe 100 people can be seated and truthfully it wasn’t far off capacity. The first order of business was they announced the retirement of one of the members – I think it was the guy who fell asleep during the last Zoning Hearing Board Meeting where CubeSmart was discussed.

The most contentious discussion of the evening was the application that requested a single variance.  1535 Morstein Road in Malvern. They needed the variance on the frontage so they can shoehorn in two McMansions on what looks to me to be a flag lot.  They got it.  In a perfect world the variance would have been denied. But just like Lower Merion, Radnor, Tredyffrin, and so on they throw it back to the public that commissioners and supervisors create the zoning. And we all know the zoning and everything else is based on what? The outdated Municipalities Planning Code of Pennsylvania.

Yes it is a cycle, and we elect the people who perpetuate the cycle. So in order to break the cycle we have to change the players enough until we get people willing to enact the changes on a top down basis that better reflects what we want in our communities as residents.

But politics of municipalities is not the conversation I am having today.  The conversation I am having is about community. And I saw it last night and it was terrific. First a little recap and a couple observations.

1535 Morstein

This Morstein application and discussion on the property was interesting.  The applicant’s attorney put up several witnesses, including the daughter of the deceased who I presume was the executor of the estate. The guy has been dead a few years so who knows if there were other executors or not, but for someone who wants to sell and move on in my opinion the property has sat a long time in an area where they don’t sit too long.  Now this lady grew up there and on some level it must be darn difficult to go through this.  Obviously she lives someplace else and needs to settle the estate but I still find it hard to believe some of what she said.

When quizzed about the property by the Zoning Hearing Board and even residents she said that she had tried to interest a realtor in selling the property but couldn’t find one and that no neighbors had ever expressed interest in the property.  I find that hard to believe.  It is quite a desirable area.

The house itself is a wreck. The property is so overgrown and neglected that you almost expect Charles Dickens’ character Miss Havisham from Great Expectations to come wandering out of the woods.   It did not get that way overnight. That takes years.  I am always fascinated when people let a family home sort of crumble year by year.  I have seen it out here, have seen it on the Main Line.  Saw it some more in and around Berwyn yesterday when I was cruising around photographing historic homes for a fall house tour.

The proposed plan seems as if it has a few more hoops to go through (and wow look at the drawing below – light green looks like proposed lawn area and dark green forest. That to me looks like a LOT of trees will go) before it can become reality including things like septic testing, storm water considerations  and so on. It is not a done deal yet.  They have to pay close attention to the septic as apparently back there a lot of septic systems have failed and if the area went to municipal/public sewer well as I understand it the sewage plant or whatever that is closest is at or near capacity and where would they pump to? And the cost of adding public sewer is also quite expensive.

What I saw last evening that I REALLY liked and totally respect was a community which came together to morstein1appeal to the Zoning Hearing Board.  All they want is their way of life and neighborhoods protected.  They were realists.  Many said if you have to build one house we get that, but why do you have to cram two into the space? The other thing I liked is they did this in a respectful manner.  There was some drama but not to the extent you see in similar Main Line meetings I used to attend.

Community that comes together is awesome.  I am glad to see a sense of community is alive and well.  It is so important. What I also liked is I discovered that a lot of these people had lived around there for decades in some cases.  That is a positive sign for any community and what has changed on the Main Line, for example.  A lot of areas (the Main Line included) can get quite transient and that is not good for a community necessarily.  Not everything can always stay the same but when you check out a community that has lots of comings and goings of residents to me that always makes you wonder what is wrong, doesn’t it?

We don’t need to all be in each other’s pockets and we don’t need local governments that micromanage every little thing. But a sense of community along with a sense of place is so important.  It was so very nice to see neighbors who care about each other.  That is something I saw less and less of on the Main Line before I moved.

People define community often as “community events”.  Events are nice, but they don’t make the community, people do.  And when people do embrace a true sense of community it is very cool and I think marvelous. And that is something no developer can replicate. It either just is or isn’t.