pondering main line revisionist history…in ardmore

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“Lake Ardmore” sent to me today by Ardmore Shutterbug

The other day I wrote about Viking Pastries, one of the last remaining old school old Ardmore businesses closing.  Yesterday, Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Vinny Vella reported on it.

As new apartments rise in Ardmore, two nearby businesses fall
Updated: AUGUST 13, 2018 — 4:44 PM EDT

by Vinny Vella, Staff Writer vvella@phillynews.com

Two well-known businesses in Ardmore have shuttered in recent weeks, and their owners cast at least some of the blame on a loss of parking to make way for new housing.

Viking Pastries, a 62-year-old sweet shop, and the Party Place — located around the corner from each other in the borough’s downtown — stood in the shadow of One Ardmore Place, a long-embattled residential project expected to open early next year. Work on another mixed-use complex, the Cricket Flats, is set to begin across the street.

While the owners acknowledged that the construction isn’t the sole reason for the downturn, they say it played a major role. Local commerce groups, however, contend that the majority of businesses in Ardmore have been thriving while the cranes tower overhead….In a twist of irony, Viking Pastries took part in a groundbreaking celebration for One Ardmore Place last June called “the Big Dig,” in which customers decorated cookies shaped like dump trucks…..Compounding the lack of parking was the sale of the building where she leased her storefront. Petrone said that she couldn’t afford the increased rent from her new landlord….

“A lot of times, people think the solution to parking is putting in more lots,” said Philip Green, the Main Street manager for Ardmore Initiative.

“People….expect to walk a few blocks past stores and other businesses that will interest them. Here, we have beautiful architecture and sidewalks. That’s the appeal of a historic downtown….Ardmore Initiative, a pro-development organization, has been working with Lower Merion Township and the borough’s business association to produce parking guides to assist visitors during construction. ….”

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Taken by me back when Clover Market was starting.  They left Ardmore too, didn’t they?

In Lower Merion this article has caused quite a kerfuffle and chatter on social media forums.  The article is not fair. Why didn’t the article mention other stores, it’s biased. Blah Blah Blah. Oh Yawn. After all these years, they can’t come up with anything more original?

In Ardmore, in Lower Merion Township, the faces of the cheerleaders may sometimes change but the cheerleaders in a sense remain exactly the same. Also amusing and sort of related was a Facebook group thread where comments were shut down that were felt to be negative about this project and parking (or lack thereof) and did that have anything to do with the fact that one of the group administrators sits on the board of the Ardmore Initiative? And another possible topic for another day while we are talking Ardmore is all of the nonsense keeping people up at night in North Ardmore, but I digress…and that is North Ardmore Civic‘s tale to tell.

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This is one of my most favorite photos I took myself.  Ardmore Initiative has gotten years and years of use out of it. They are welcome. Ironically once Godzilla is finished, you will never have this scene again.  Godzilla will be behind it.

The Inquirer article is neither biased or not comprehensive, as some in these Facebook forum comments are not so subtly suggesting . The reporter had ONE story to write about businesses which were closing. I wonder if any of these article critics actually know how reporting works? It wasn’t supposed to be yet another fluffy piece on Ardmore placed by publicists. There have been so many of those, after all….

Further and to the point, I was around and active long before most of them were on the scene, sadly.

Suffice it to say, the faces change,  yet the blind faith township cheerleaders down there  remain the same. Some throw that “we” word around rather liberally but sadly I do not remember them when Ardmore was fighting eminent domain? Or truly community volunteering? And then there are the ones who will tell you how much they did to champion Ardmore and how wrong you are, how bad you are not to share their opinion. (Mind you these are the types who never do or say anything unless they benefit somehow, but I digress.)   Maybe they fancy themselves local authorities and love to play the deflect blame game but let’s all not fall victim to revisionist history since there were way too many of us around who remember how it actually rolled. And went down.

Did Viking have money problems? Start with how many small businesses DO NOT have money problems from time to time? Especially when they have jacked up rents they have to meet monthly along with everything else?

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Ardmore Shutterbug photo. Is this really what “progress”  looks like? Are they sure it’s not really the Temple of Kermit the Frog? Sorry not sorry, but how is that in keeping with the size and scale of Ardmore? Why does suburbia have to look so urban?

Mark my words, more businesses will fail before this apartment Godzilla on the old movie theater lot is finished. So many of the cheerleaders think all this hideous infill development will pave the roads with gold bricks, but sadly, will it? I do not think so. And I never have.

Ardmore’s largest impediment will always be the fact that Lower Merion Township’s township seat and building are there. And some who are new will say things “How can you say things like that?” or “Never heard that before, why are you saying this?”

I say it because if you lived in Lower Merion Township long enough, you know it is the sad truth. Politics, deals, more politics, backroom boardroom dancing, and so much more go into being a First Class Township doesn’t it? Why do people think back in the day we flipped half of the board out of office? Because they were so resident-minded?

People also don’t like it when I take the Ardmore Initiative to task. If they were actually truly independent from the township, I probably wouldn’t. But at the end of the day, in my opinion, they are just another appendage of Lower Merion Township. I find what that Philip Green said  basically idiotic. He has obviously been in Ardmore about five minutes and is young, because he doesn’t get that small town centers without sufficient parking long term are small town centers which will continue to fail. Maybe not all in one week, one month, one year but the more urban it becomes in suburbia, will ultimately not be positive. And THAT is what we are seeing with Party Land and Viking Pastries closing now, and those who went before them.

Suburbia is not Manayunk and Passyunk Avenue. Whether they drive a Prius or a Range Rover, they want to drive their cars. They want convenient parking.  They don’t want hellacious  city- traffic. And what happens when they get any of the above? They shop and go elsewhere. Just ask the residents in Lower Merion who now avoid Ardmore like the plague. It’s not rocket science.

Building lots and lots of overpriced teeny boxy apartments is not going to bring people in droves. Look at all the housing stock up and down the Main Line, King of Prussia, Conshohocken, and out to Chester County where the same old mixed use fairy tale is unfolding as well.  Is everything filled to capacity? Are there NO empty store fronts?

Were the ratables worth it?

Take East Side Flats in Malvern Borough for example:

$60,000: East King Revitalization’s Impact on the Borough
The new apartments and businesses won’t be a windfall for the borough.
By Pete Kennedy, Patch Staff | Jun 27, 2012 8:34 pm ET | Updated Jun 29, 2012 3:38 am ET

During a discussion of the police services and budgeting at the of Malvern Borough Council, resident Joan Yeager asked a related question:

“Once the King Street project is completed, how much additional money is going to come into the borough? In taxes and all,” she said.

“Something in the neighborhood of $60,000 a year,” council president Woody Van Sciver said…”That’s it?” Yeager replied, expecting a bigger payoff from the several new businesses and hundreds of new residents that will be moving to the east end of the borough.

Some folks like to say the beginning of this part of Ardmore where Viking Pastries building sits was caused when Gillaine’s closed. Actually, it’s when that behemoth of a Godzilla apartment building was approved and is now rising behind where the former movie theater/public parking lot is now rising that has done this. That is my personal opinion, and many share that even if they won’t verbalize it. After all, during the days of eminent domain we learned the price of activism and doing the right thing, didn’t we?

Those of us who were the ORIGINAL Save Ardmore Coalition (we did all the heavy lifting for years before the last folks who assumed the mantle made the group look silly with litigation a decade too late IMHO) predicted things like this years ago. No parking, lots of construction issues, no real support of businesses from the township and this downtown is simply not sustainable.

After all for how many years did a very small band of volunteers led by Sherry Tillman put on First Friday Main Line? And that was done without any real help of the township every single month. All they tried to do was put up impediments and it was amazing free publicity of a positive kind that they literally couldn’t pay for that we provided.

And while they would provide some kind of insurance (I don’t remember which kind) under some umbrella with the township and all sorts of help for those Bryn Mawr twilight concerts, First Friday Main Line had to pay for everything on their own. I was just looking through photos of First Friday Main Line the other day looking for more photos of Viking Pastries.  First Friday Main Line inspired lots of other events on and off the Main Line.  It was amazing. And the events were not dependent on alcohol, either. People came for the art, music, and sense of community.

Why Ardmore has the issues it does can be laid right at the steps of the township building.

And people like to forget the days of eminent domain. And abuse we received at the hands of the township and their cheerleaders an even paid publicists.

When Lower Merion Township first started that eminent domain debacle it was the whole block from Pennywise down to the corner of Station Rd where Radio Shack was. They wanted EVERYTHING.

Then with the help of folks like the Institute for Justice we defeated that. But it was exhausting, debilitating, time consuming, and took years. However, that was worth it. Eminent domain for private gain is disgusting.

And does anyone remember from where Ardmore went off the rails to eminent domain in the first place? Some commissioners wanted a new train station.  Then other suggested improvement upon the idea of a train station and it morphed into a bloated ridiculous eminent domain-laden plan.

After eminent domain there was no rest for the weary, Lower Merion Township put Ardmore and township residents through the whole insanity of RFPs for development around the train station post-eminent domain (which included a new train station to this day no one has ever seen.) We sat through meeting after meeting for a couple of years and some of us (myself included) got roped into this phony blaoney “Ad Hoc Ardmore Committee”. I resigned from all of it in 2011 when I got my breast cancer diagnosis and I am so glad. Dealing with Lower Merion Township and trying to actually SAVE Ardmore from greed and stupidity was exhausting. And in retrospect, ultimately futile.

In the end there is NO new train station just that hideous Godzilla apartment tower and other bad infill development on the old movie theater side of Lancaster Ave. You see they also allowed poorly executed zoning overlays which in my opinion were essentially developed to give the developers more leeway at the expense of residents and businesses. In Ardmore it was called MUST or Mixed Use Special Transit. At the time we changed the acronym to mean More Unfair Special Treatment.

So again, if you want to talk about the beginning of the end, the beginning starts with Lower Merion Township and their elected and appointed officials.

I am glad I don’t live in Lower Merion any longer. It’s futile – IMHO they are screwing up the entire township not just poor Ardmore. This is also why I hate going to any township or borough meetings anywhere.

Enjoy the photos that are part of my memories of the Ardmore I loved so much once upon a time.  Thanks for the memories, Ardmore.

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flooding. everywhere.

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A friend of mine took this photo less than five minutes ago in Tredyffrin. Lancaster Avenue and that is Old Covered Wagon Inn to your right I believe.

Friends and other readers are alerting me to flooding photos, so here is a slideshow. From Lower Merion where stormwater management in the township needs a makeover to flooded out Little Chicago in North Wayne, to out around West Vincent and beyond the flooding is crazy. Highways are closed like parts  the Schuylkill Expressway, turnpike, etc.

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But of course, global warming is an urban legend…and all of the development never, ever causes any storm water runoff problems, right?

radnor street at willow

Willow Avenue at Radnor Street Road in “Little Chicago” in North Wayne, PA. (Radnor Township) Neighborhood was built at turn of 20th century over the Wayne Natatorium…which at the time was largest outside pool thanks to Gulph Creek and all those springs and water sources underground.  These people are flooded horribly today.  Feel sorry for them. Photo from Twitter this morning.

showing up for stoneleigh

HUNDREDS have turned out to make a point with the eminent domain loving Lower Merion School District. The meeting is in progress

Photos are courtesy of the Stoneleigh: A Natural Garden Facebook page.

Dr. Robert Copeland, Dr. Melissa Gilbert and the rest of Lower Merion School District can you hear us all now?

#SaveStoneleigh

#savestoneleigh (and photos from the opening)

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On May 8th and May 10th I wrote posts on Stoneleigh in Villanova.  A little far afield from Chester County but so important. I am a supporter and believer in Natural Lands, and then there is a more personal bent.  You see, one of my high school classmates grew up on Stoneleigh. His parents, John and Chara Haas, put the property into a conservation easement in 1996.

The 1996 conservation easement was with Natural Lands. The express wish of Mr. and Mrs. Haas was that the property be preserved for future generations to enjoy. Open space, gardens, and so on.  Now today is Mother’s Day and yesterday at the members preview on Stoneleigh, people were speaking of when Mr. and Mrs. Haas would open up the property on Mother’s Day for people to enjoy.

Here is a photo array to see before continuing with the post here – it takes a while to load – a lot of photos:

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After Mr. and Mrs. Haas passed away, their children decided to donate the property to Natural Lands, and that happened in 2016.  The conservation easement remains very much in place today, but is now under the stewardship of the Lower Merion Conservancy. Lower Merion Conservancy now is responsible for the annual monitoring.

I think Lower Merion School District is already starting damage control with their eminent domain B.S. given this overly verbose don’t hate us because we are big jerks press release currently on their website. I am more than a little disappointed by former 6ABC  reporter Amy Buckman already. Her predecessor’s press releases were much easier to follow and didn’t word wander, but I digress.

With regard to what is on their website, it is the full on poor pitiful Pearl routine where among other things they say that “LMSD is now the fastest-growing District in Pennsylvania by total number of students over the past eight years and enrollment could surpass 9,500 students in the next ten years.

But do they tell you WHY the district is growing so fast? Do they mention all of the development they have never, ever questioned? And yet, they are making a play for Stoneleigh based on future assumptions, or a possibility?  Call me crazy but they seem to want land for a future not a present need? And why are their needs the problem of Natural Lands and Stoneleigh? Just because it is there?

I have permission from Natural Lands to share some of the history of Stoneleigh so here’s an excerpt:

Stoneleigh’s history dates back to 1877 when Edmund Smith, a rising executive with the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, purchased 65 acres of land in Villanova and constructed a residence there. To shape the grounds, Smith hired landscape gardener Charles H. Miller, who trained at Kew Gardens in England and later served as chief gardener for Fairmount Park.

At the turn of the 20th century, Samuel Bodine, head of United Gas Improvement Company, acquired the property. In addition to building the Tudor Revival style building that exists today, Bodine hired New York landscape architecture firm Pentecost and Vitale to radically redesign the gardens in a more formal, or “Beaux Arts,” style.

Evidently, Bodine was not pleased with the results. In 1908, he retained the Olmsted Brothers of Massachusetts—sons of Frederick Law Olmsted, and the most prestigious landscape architecture firm in the country—to “guide him in the gradual transformation of the place.” Over the next 50 years, the Olmsted Brothers firm returned periodically to Stoneleigh to plan vistas and pathways, establish gardens and terraces, reroute points of entry, select plant species, and transplant trees.

Following Samuel Bodine’s death in 1932, Stoneleigh was subdivided and sold. Otto Haas, entrepreneur and co-founder of Rohm and Haas Company, purchased the southwestern portion of the estate, launching a more than 80-year tenure of careful stewardship by the Haas family. Otto and Phoebe’s son, John, and his wife, Chara, acquired the property in 1964 and lived there for the next five decades.

Yesterday, Stoneleigh was packed. Natural Lands members turned out from everywhere to tour the house and the grounds.  It was lovely and bucolic, and I would like to think what the Haas family had hoped for.  Family members were on site yesterday.  I am sure it was also a little bit hard for all of them. This was their home, after all.   Now it’s an achingly beautiful public garden space and although this is the path set forth by their lovely parents, it just has to be bittersweet. And then to learn that Lower Merion School District is seemingly proceeding on a path of land stealing? Well, I can only imagine.

Apparently Lower Merion School District is having a tour on May 18th? Allow me to quote them again:

Due to a need for additional field space, Superintendent Copeland has stated that the District would like to pursue the 6.9 developable acres of Stoneleigh no matter whether or where a new middle school site is acquired. The District is hopeful an amicable accommodation can be reached.
As part of their continuing due diligence, and especially now in light of the possibility of the Class 1 designations on two of the potential sites, District representatives in April requested a walk-through of the entire Stoneleigh property for May 18, 2018.

Amicable is school district speak for give us what we want NOW.

Here is an excerpt of what WHYY wrote in an article May 12th:

WHYY: Conservancy mobilizes as Lower Merion looks to Stoneleigh garden for school use
By Laura Benshoff   May 12, 2018

To combat overcrowding, Lower Merion School District has proposed buying — or seizing through eminent domain — 6.9 acres of the Stoneleigh estate and historic garden in Villanova.

In response, Natural Lands, the conservation trust overseeing the property, has launched a public advocacy campaign called “Save Stoneleigh,” urging the district to drop its bid…

At Stoneleigh, gardeners and conservators have been doing their own planning, preparing the picturesque 42-acre estate that once belonged to the Haas family to open to the public, starting Sunday….

Lower Merion School Board will ultimately weigh every option before deciding whether to invoke eminent domain.

“It’s not the district’s first choice to do that,” said Roos. “But it just can’t be taken off the table as an option.”

Thugs. That is a good descriptive adjective don’t you think?  I am all for what lawyer Arthur Wolk wants at this point: removal of the entire school board. To that I add the removal of autocratic school Superintendent Robert Copeland.  To THAT I add Lower Merion Commissioners and township staff who have been ever so gung ho over development for YEARS and years.  Just clean house.  

Legal battles aside, that is exactly what needs to happen to prevent this B.S. in the future.

Savvy Main Line has a lovely write up about Stoneleigh on their website. Check it out.

And now that Stoneleigh has opened, visit. It will take your breath away. And once you are there and experience the magic of the place, you will understand why oh so many of us are so passionate about it. It is magical. Simply magical.

I hope you have enjoyed the photos I shared.

Please see Save Stoneleigh for more information.  Please consider signing the petition . Please write a letter, speak at upcoming meetings, and keep spreading the word.  Open Space should not be threatened like this. And at the end of the day, if the Lower Merion School District is unwilling and unable to respect the legacy of the Haas family, it is our duty to see that they are taught respect, don’t you think?

#SaveSoneleigh (pass it on.)

Happy Mother’s Day to all.

#savestoneleigh (I really hate being right about eminent domain happy lower merion school district)

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The other day I wrote a post about Stoneleigh.  I said then I thought that Lower Merion School District would not settle for 6 acres, that they would want all 42.  My reasoning is simple: it’s expensive to wage an eminent domain battle so it would not make financial sense to go through everything for just 6 acres.  (Not that doing things that make financial sense have ever been a hallmark of this school district, right?)

 

saveI grew up in the area, and the Haas family are amazing and wonderfully inclusive generous people who thought enough to want their land preserved for all to enjoy.

Lower Merion School District is NOT entitled to this land, just like they were NOT entitled to Ashbridge Park. I lived through one eminent domain battle in Ardmore years ago, so I know how ugly this is.

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Also culpable here? Lower Merion Township Commissioners for all of the years of infill development. We went to so many meetings on unwanted development and asked for YEARS about future impact on the school district. Anyone who asked this was poo-pooed as being obstructionist of the future.  (Yes Commissioner Liz Rogan I am thinking of you and others.  2esrogan@gmail.com ) And the school district never,ever did a thing, never opened their mouths. The school board never did a thing. Who do all these folks serve at the pleasure of? Each other? Developers? 

Arthue Wolk, Esq may be right and the entire school board should be removed. Robbery err Robert Copeland should also be removed (without his pension).  Hmmm I think Robbery Copeland has a nice ring to it, don’t you?

 

This is egregious and unacceptable. It makes me worry for places like Saunders Woods too. Any park or piece of land, truthfully as this school district and Superintendent Copeland seem to be suffering from a GIANT misplaced sense of entitlement.

 

Check out  www.savestoneleigh.org

Sign the petition:

Save Stoneleigh from Condemnation

Want to tell Lower Merion School District how you feel? This is what I was able to rustle up:

Comments for the Board?  Your email will be distributed to the School Directors: communitycomments@lmsd.org

Here is who is on the school board:

Dr. Melissa Gilbert – President -(She is Professor
gilbertChair, Director of the Center for Sustainable Communities.  Sadly, years ago I helped her get elected to school board in the first place)

 

 

 

Mr. Ben Driscoll – Vice President

Ms. Laurie Actman

Ms. Diane DiBonaventuro – she is among other things a coach at Shipley  (Shipley has a long established Haas connection)

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Mr. David Federman

Ms. Debra Finger -also works for Shipley (and again school has a long-established Haas connection -see Main Line Media News from March 2017: )

proof

Ms. Virginia Pollard

Ms. Subha Robinson

Dr. Robin Vann Lynch
Comments for the former 6 ABC reporter turned LMSD talking head? Amy Buckman
Director of Community Relations Lower Merion School District
301 E. Montgomery Ave. Ardmore, PA 19003 Main Office: (610) 645-1800
Direct Line: (610) 645-1978   Email: buckmaa@lmsd.org

Mr. Robert Copeland Superintendent of Schoolscopeland@lmsd.org  (also this e-mail shows up on the Internet copelar@lmsd.org )

Denise LaPera Executive Assistant to the Superintendent
Phone: 610-645-1930  Fax: 610-645-0703
Email: laperad@lmsd.org 
301 E. Montgomery Ave., Ardmore, PA 19003

 

Going to Stoneleigh’s opening weekend this weekend? Either as a member for the special preview Saturday or opening day Sunday?  I am sure that some of the Lower Merion Township Commissioners past and present will be there.  No group of commissioners loves photo ops more than they do, so use the opportunity to give them an earful….but try to be polite as some of them are delicate flowers.

 

lower merion school district superintendent copeland says YES to eminent domain of natural lands’ stoneleigh in villanova ON CAMERA?

Is it polite to call Lower Merion’s School Superintendent Robert Copeland a scum sucking pig?  Probably not. But I am.

This is PROOF that the Lower Merion School District does indeed intend to try to seize Stoneleigh via eminent domain, isn’t it?   Do we think they will try to only take only 6 or 7 acres? In my opinion, which I am entitled to, that would not be cost effective for the school district, so instead I ask will Lower Merion School District instead try to seize the  entire 42 acres?

Copeland responded to an audience question on eminent domain ON CAMERA with an “absolutely”, so will they claim this is “fake news”? It’s been in the media.  Click HERE for one article. Click HERE for another article.

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Photo Courtesy Natural Lands.   “In 1996, John and Chara Haas placed their beloved #Stoneleigh under conservation easement with Natural Lands, ensuring this special place—the home where they’d raised their five children—would be preserved forever. We hope you’ll join us for opening weekend May 12 & 13 to see this special place the Haas family so generously donated to Natural Lands in 2016.”

 

Stoneleigh was donated by the Haas family to Natural Lands to be preserved in perpetuity.  Not to be selected and stolen like a juicy plum so Lower Merion School District could take it. And I think Lower Merion School District wants more than a few turf fields, don’t you?

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I have it on good authority that Natural Lands will OPPOSE any attempt by Lower Merion School District of an eminent domain taking.  I and many of my friends from Lower Merion and elsewhere will stand with Natural Lands to #SaveStoneleigh .

This is a cautionary tale for every township approving development after development with little thought (or caring) about how this all affects school districts and school enrollments.

This serenely amazing and naturally beautiful 42 acres  was donated by the Haas family so it would be protected. This is the terrifying reality of over development and communities. This is the terrifying reality that no municipality, no elected officials, no developers want you to know about.

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Natural Lands Facebook photo.  Carving by Marty Long of Phoenixville, PA

These developers do not give a crap about where we call home. We are just an area to make a quick development buck off of. They aren’t invested in our communities it’s all about what they can make and what the municipalities can get for the short term high of what they call “ratables.”

I lived in Lower Merion Township for over 30 years.  I never once as an adult attending Lower Merion Township meetings (and given the eminent domain for private gain attempt in Ardmore circa 2005 I can tell you I attended a LOT of meetings), do I ever remember ANYONE from the school board or the school district coming to a township commissioners meeting and expressing concerns about the effect of all the development and proposed development on the school district.

And it does happen. School districts will go to land development and related meetings and express concern.  As a matter of fact, West Chester Area School District a year ago, appeared at a Westtown meeting on Crebilly, expressing more that a little bit of concern of what that proposed development would do to the school district.

The only thing I have seen Lower Merion School District do over the years is raise taxes and have their hands out. And well, Lower Merion School District seems to always have something not necessarily good going on.  Here is some of the not so distant past:

Doe v. Lower Merion School District

Amicus Brief Pacific Legal Foundation STUDENT DOE 1, et al.,
Petitioners, v. LOWER MERION SCHOOL DISTRICT, Respondent.

Parents file civil rights suit against Lower Merion School District (MLMN Richard Ilgenfritz May 2009)

Doe v. Lower Merion School Dist., 689 F. Supp. 2d 742 (E.D. Pa. 2010)

New lawsuit by tax activist seeks to have entire Lower Merion School Board removed
By Richard Ilgenfritz, rilgenfritz@21st-centurymedia.com, @rpilgenfritz on Twitter (Delco Times/MLMN October, 2017)

High School Redistricting Will Sting For a Long Time
The school district gets rewarded for racist policies but the little guys learn some lessons.
By Kate Galer, Patch Poster | Jun 19, 2012 2:14 am ET

Huffington Post: TECH 12/11/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011
Lower Merion School District Settles Webcam Spying Lawsuits For $610,000

NBC10 Philadelphia: 56,000 Photos Taken in Student-Laptop Scandal
Parents of other students will get to view the webcam images of their children.
By Vince Lattanzio

Appeal in Lower Merion tax lawsuit tossed out, original Montco judge’s order stands
Cites district’s failure to file post-trial motions; original Montco judge’s order stands
By Richard Ilgenfritz rilgenfritz@21st-centurymedia.com @rpilgenfritz on Twitter Apr 24, 2017

Sued once over school tax increases, Lower Merion calls for another hike above state cap
Updated: APRIL 25, 2017 — 1:06 PM EDT 
by Kathy Boccella, Staff Writer @Kathy_Boccella | kboccella@phillynews.com

Lower Merion School District: Battle over taxes, spending on lawyers and sushi continues By Richard Ilgenfritz rilgenfritz@21st-centurymedia.com
@rpilgenfritz on Twitter Nov 4, 2016

Philadelphia Magazine: Lower Merion Parents Outraged Over “Mega School” Plans
Some schools in the elite school district are bursting at the seams, and there are big concerns over proposed solutions.
by CLAIRE SASKO· 9/28/2017, 12:12 p.m

Philadelphia Magazine: Lower Merion Teachers Are Highest Paid In State, But They Want More
The average salary for Lower Merion School District educators is just shy of $100,000 – but that’s not enough, the teachers’ union says.
by JOE TRINACRIA· 9/5/2017, 4:23 p.m.

 Philadelphia Magazine: Adderall Abuse at Lower Merion High School Is the Focus of a New York Times Piece
by MIKE BERTHA· 6/12/2012, 12:02 p.m.

 Philadelphia Magazine: Accused of Sex With Student, Fired Lower Merion Teacher Sues District
Yes, another lawsuit for the Main Line school
by VICTOR FIORILLO· 12/20/2011, 10:50 a.m.

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Natural Lands Facebook Photo. “Stoneleigh: a natural garden, is home to several PA state champion trees, including this Ironwood tree, which is number one in the state!
Located near the Montgomery Ave side of Stoneleigh, it’s a tree with grown-over scars and hollow places and yet the branches are still growing strong. It’s an old tree, likely over a century, and it’s rare to get old without taking on a few scars.
This tree is a survivor, one that’s been cared for by the families who took care of this beautiful place for generations. Maybe not every piece of it is pretty, but it’s still our champion. “

There are so many articles about Lower Merion School District issues that it’s hard to choose a select list.

Ironically, the people mentioned in the article Philadelphia Magazine from the Penn Wynne area about stopping mega schools seem sadly o.k. with eminent domain at Stoneleigh.  I find that disturbing. They weren’t overly fond of me when I suggested they offer their houses to the school district if they were o.k. with eminent domain. Sorry not sorry, but I do not get people like that.

Lower Merion School District also is eye-balling another site in Villanova….also owned by someone else other than them – 1860 Montgomery Avenue. The former Clothier Estate and now the Foundation of Islamic Education.  That estate used to have some sort of service driveway if I remember right that was somewhere through those interior neighborhoods off County Line Road in Villanova, wasn’t it? So this whole debacle will undoubtedly concern Radnor Township in Delaware County because THEIR residents are right across County Line Road, aren’t they?

It is the sheer audacity of this school district which boggles my mind.  This is not the first bad faith attempt at a land grab. There was the whole uproar in the fall with Ashbridge Park.

Here is a snippet from the Philadelphia Inquirer article from October 2017 by writer Kathy Boccella: 

That Lower Merion is considering the popular park – even raising the possibility of using eminent domain – shows the seriousness of the classroom crunch in a district that, by raw numbers, is the fastest growing in Pennsylvania. While enrollment in the Main Line district had plunged to about 5,000 amid the “baby bust” years of the 1980s, parents lured by Lower Merion’s top academic rankings and a recent development boom have brought the student population back to nearly 8,600, and it’s expected to hit 9,300 in the next decade.

With the affluent Montgomery County district racing to make a decision on building a new school or adding to several existing ones by the end of the year, officials are sending mixed signals about the seriousness of the proposal to buy the 21-acre Foundation for Islamic Education for a new school and use Ashbridge Park for a track and athletic fields.

So like fleas on a hot brick they move right from Ashbridge Park to Stoneleigh?  I am not sure what the end game is with Lower Merion School District, but I encourage people to take a stand for Stoneleigh and open space.  It’s not the school district’s to take.

I am SO glad I no longer live in the hot mess known as Lower Merion Township. But as a member and supporter of Natural Lands, I am appalled that the school district would think they are so omnipotent that they can just steal dedicated and conserved open space.

Want to tell Lower Merion School District how you feel? This is what I was able to rustle up:

Comments for the Board?
Your email will be distributed to the School Directors: communitycomments@lmsd.org

Comments for the former 6 ABC reporter turned LMSD talking head? Amy Buckman
Director of Community Relations Lower Merion School District
301 E. Montgomery Ave. Ardmore, PA 19003 Main Office: (610) 645-1800
Direct Line: (610) 645-1978   Email: buckmaa@lmsd.org

Mr. Robert Copeland Superintendent of Schools     copeland@lmsd.org  (also this e-mail shows up on the Internet copelar@lmsd.org )

Denise LaPera Executive Assistant to the Superintendent
Phone: 610-645-1930  Fax: 610-645-0703
Email: laperad@lmsd.org
301 E. Montgomery Ave., Ardmore, PA 19003

#SaveStoneleigh

abandoned gladwyne farmhouse

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Even down in the land of ostentatious McMansions and Nouveau Main Line behaviors, there are abandoned farmhouses. After all, the history of Gladwyne can’t completely be obliterated, can it? Mills and farms were a big part of the early industry that made the area prosper.

As seen from Schuylkill Expressway. It is in Gladwyne.  I have wondered about this house for decades.  It has, to the best of my knowledge, been boarded up my entire life.

It is nearly impossible to get photos, it just depends how fast traffic is moving and what time of year it is.  I was able to fire off a few photos as a passenger in a car recently. Not my best efforts, sorry.  Soon the green will engulf all around this little red farmhouse and it will disappear from highway view until fall and winter.

If you look at photo in top of post, the front door is clearly open.  Lower Merion Township has since secured the open door. Lower Merion has also gained permission to demolish the house from a judge in Montgomery County over the past couple of weeks.

Chester County, specifically West Chester Borough residents will remember Lower Merion’s Township Manager. He did a movin’ on up like The Jeffersons…Ernie McNeely.

I do not know how exactly you get to this farmhouse. But hopefully someone figures it out and gets the property properly secured.  I do not know if the house is 18th century or early 19th century.

If anyone knows the exact location and  any history of this house, please leave a comment.

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A reader sent in:

From Lower Merion’s “Listing Of Properties In The Historic Resources Inventory”

1805 Youngs Ford Rd
Date of Construction: ca. 1851-1871
Original Architect:
Original Owner: Howard Wood
Description of the Resource: This vernacular frame farmhouse was built sometime between 1851 and 1871 at the end of Youngs Ford Road next to the Schuylkill River Expressway. In the 1870s, the house and the 90-acre property belonged to Thomas Rose. By 1896 the property was divided among other adjacent parcels and the building belonged to Howard Wood, owner of the nearby “Camp Discharge.” Wood and his descendents owned the house and much of the surrounding property until the 1930s. From 1937 onwards, the property gradually developed into subdivisions or was preserved by the Township. The house is two stories with a side gabled roof and a full-length, shed-roof porch. The front façade, which faces southwest, is asymmetrical and comprised of five bays. The one-story porch shades the entrance, located in the center of the front façade. A chimney rises along the exterior of the façade, near the southeastern end of the building. A detached, one-story, two-bay garage is also located on the property. (8/2012) Early Frame house (1896 atlas: Howard Wood). (88) Red frame early farmhouse adjacent to Schuylkill Expressway.