Posted on July 17th, 2012 5:00 PM by Pattye Benson
For those of us who attended last night’s Board of Supervisors meeting, it went very late, until 11:30 PM. Now I have to wonder if the 4-hour marathon meeting had any bearing on this morning’s decision by our township manager.
Mimi Gleason has been Tredyffrin’s Township Manager for the last 7 years. Prior to becoming township manager in 2005, Mimi served under Joe Janasik as assistant Township Manager for 3 years. There was no indication at last night’s meeting of Mimi’s impending announcement this morning; and the news has taken many of us by surprise.
Rather than speculating on the reason behind Mimi’s decision to resign, I spoke at length with her this afternoon. She assured me that the decision to leave was completely her own rather than anyone pushing her in that direction. Mimi told the township supervisors and her staff this morning of her decision to resign; her last day will be September 17.
I asked Mimi why she was resigning – was it another job? No, she is not leaving Tredyffrin for another job. In fact, her explanation for the resignation was actually quite simple … “A job is not a life”. She went on to explain that she is uncertain about what she wants to do, but knows that she wants to do something different and to work less
Incidentally, I totally get the whole a-job-is-not-a-life. Post breast cancer I decided my then job was no longer for me. I had changed, had to acknowledge said change and move on. My doctors had wanted me to reduce my stress levels for my health and recovery, but seriously? Making the decision to do all this was very stressful in and of itself. I know nothing of Tredyffrin’s township manager other than she really is a woman in a man’s world (how many female municipal managers do you meet?), and you know she could not have made the decision lightly.
The next article is one quite timely, and it is something being felt in various forms in many other municipalities:
Posted on July 16th, 2012 7:56 AM by Pattye Benson
What price economic growth …
What is the price tag for economic development in Tredyffrin Township?
Is it OK to green light a land development project even when it doesn’t meet current zoning regulations?
Is it right for a developer and his attorney to create a zoning ordinance amendment to Tredyffrin Zoning Code to suit their needs for a particular project?
As a community, do we want zoning amendment changes in Tredyffrin Township without restrictions, requirements or conditional uses?
If you are a developer considering a project in Tredyffrin but cannot find suitable zoning, that may not be an obstacle to your plans. All you need to do is write a new ordinance, call it economic development and then watch as the plan moves forward.
Sure, every area has issues. No local government is perfect, and yes, there is always something to complain about, but seriously? I moved out of a township that prided itself on being “first class”, yet it in essence required an act of Congress to accomplish something as basic as filling a pothole.
Yes, Lower Merion Township. The Magic Kingdom as it is known (sarcastically) in some circles, isn’t what she used to be. You have a political majority that believes they know better than everyone, and as a resident you feel as if you work to support the township.
Where do a lot of these negative feelings stem from? A lot of them have to do with all the crazy infill development plans and the fact that it has been over 30 years since Lower Merion had a completed Comprehensive Plan update. Some land planner told me once that as per the Municipalities Planning Code in PA municipalities are supposed to do this every couple of years.
When I used to wake up in Lower Merion, although a high rent district, the cacophony of sound that assaulted my senses on a daily basis was quite urban. Construction and other noises often way too early. Here when I wake up, I hear birds. You have NO idea how marvelous a sound that is unless you have experienced the other.
Development plans in Lower Merion, suit the developers, not the residents. For example, the development begun in my old neighborhood by a wannabe developer, architect Tom Hall, and then turned over to Cornell builders was shoe-horning in thirteen townhouses in barely over an acre. But the houses are “green” and you can spit at The Haverford School, which was perhaps the most uncaring neighbor in my neighborhood. You have no idea what it is like to live with an institution as a neighbor in close quarters. We existed to be their overflow parking lot and speed thru cell phone mommy/nanny zone. The nicest thing about that school are some of my friends’ sons.
In Ardmore, the neighboring town, mostly in Lower Merion, for years not so long ago, small business owners had to fight eminent domain for private gain. Ardmore residents and business owners are still suffering because although no one can spend money like Lower Merion Township, they still can’t get the Ardmore Redevelopment Plan off the ground. Of course, many feel, that those on township staff who put forth the infamous plans A & B that contained eminent domain for private gain for years should have just been removed from their jobs. But they stayed and the six million dollars that a couple of commissioners went to Washington DC many years ago to get has basically been frittered away, and while places like Malvern and Wayne have a new train station, all Lower Merion has are plans.
Also in Lower Merion, there is crazy zoning being planned for around City Avenue. So if you think it’s fun now when you get caught in traffic around there, just wait.
Lower Merion loves infill development plans. The more congested the better. When I was a child growing up there, like I do now here in Chester County, then I also heard birds and nature as my waking sounds. It is so much less stressful to hear birds versus construction.
Radnor is not so problematic since they got a new Township Manager and some new commissioners. Of course, their current president, Bill Spingler is more like old school Delco politics and we’ll leave it at that….hopefully he won’t be president too long. But Radnor’s new manager, Bob Zienkowski, as opposed to the old one who made headlines and got relieved of his duties (Dave Bashore), is an accessible advocate for his residents. It makes a huge difference. Which is why I am hopeful that Radnor residents will be heard fairly as Villanova attempts to supersize the university (read about Villanova’s expansion plans here ). It won’t be easy since one commissioner has had to recuse herself, and given Bill Spingler’s cozy personal relationship with the attorney on this project, should this in fact be the commissioner who recuses? After all sometimes isn’t it hard to feel secure around a career politician like Spingler, who offered once upon a time to write a reccomendation letter for the manager the township fired (Dave Bashore)?
One thing that bears watching in Radnor are residents taking up their proverbial pitch forks against storm water issues in North Wayne. (Check out this YouTube from a recent meeting.) What cracks me up here is the woman with dark hair and pony tail. She wants to sue, sue, sue and all the storm water issues stem from AT&T in Wayne and so on. While the storm water issues are indeed large and increasingly problematic, truthfully they don’t even realize how people have been working for years on this. She isn’t breaking new ground so to speak.
And this woman who did the presentation at the Radnor commissioners’ meeting (Channel 30 on FiOs FYI) and a neighbor who says she lives next to a field and the Gulph Creek (wonder if she’s the one who built an addition to a carriage house where the outside door in the rear basically looks like if you open it the creek can just come on in?) who are in this meeting tape, well I get why they are upset, as I have seen first hand the flooding in North Wayne, but as they rant and rail against Radnor, they also need to consider a neighboring municipality.
Ahhh, there is some Chester County of it all in this post, isn’t there?
I guess from the Church of the Savior’s perspective and Tredyffrin’s it is holier to flood your neighbors? Now granted, I find Church of the Savior to be in the category of religiously creepy, so some could say I have a bias, but Tredyffrin to me always seems a little kooky on the development front and in some other areas. And if they can’t see it from the township building windows in Tredyffrin, more the better. Just look at how long it took Tredyffrin to deal with things like off campus student housing. After all, they couldn’t see historic Mt. Pleasant from the Township Building, could they?
I guess what I am saying is, I have seen and lived what poor development and land planning causes communities (along with the politcs of political favoritism and one party rule run amok), so maybe once in a while, I might point them out. After all, would you rather listen to birds or bulldozers? Wouldn’t you rather hear about politicians and officials that care about their communities and not just during election cycles?
I can’t help but wonder is that good government or speed dating for municipalities? I am hoping my pal and fellow blogger Pattye Benson over at Community Matters will have something on this as this really is her turf – you know the T.E. of it all (although truthfully I see more Tredyffrin on her blog). Pattye is also chief innkeeper and bottle washer at The Great Valley House in Valley Forge – a very cool historic bed & breakfast.