I hate to sound nostalgic (AKA old!), but I fondly remember when the USPS managed to deliver mail REGULARLY. We — and our neighbors — have had no mail delivered since Tuesday, and that batch included only some of the mail that had been scheduled to land on Monday, when our carrier was also a no-show.
Because you can receive a daily email from USPS that shows images of what is scheduled to arrive in your box each day, it has been rather unsettling to see how many items qualify as missing. Well, the mystery has been solved.
This morning, my husband decided to pay a visit to the actual post office, after efforts to contact a human by phone went nowhere. A worker explained that the postal manager for the West Chester region issued an edict recently to deal with the agency’s short staffing: surreptitiously skipping delivery days. She said the office needs 80 carriers to handle the load: It has 40. As a result, she said we should expect to see a delivery every 2 or 3 days.
I guess the idea of notifying customers about the worker shortage wasn’t part of the plan. Would it really have been too difficult to put a notice in people’s boxes on their lucky delivery day? Perhaps some publicity about this problem would help solve it. Sigh. End of rant, but curious about whether this is happening in other areas.
~ Chester County Resident # 1
Now this is the second such tale in less than a week.
I have you on my mailing list but my mailman hasn’t been seen for five days. I was told that he had health problems but there were no replacements. Also, PO closed in town. So I will try for Christmas card instead.
~ Chester County Resident # 2
My second friend lives in the Borough of West Chester. She works from home and is self employed and well…mail is kind of essential.
So Louis De Joy you plastic arsehole, where’s the mail? Santa might want to deliver the Christmas cards himself I guess?
It’s time for Washington to deal with this. We need our mail. This is happening all over. It’s bullshit.
This is what community looks like. This is what it truly looks like when people come together for a greater good, and to support friends and neighbors.
Geoff Partridge is still missing.
Last evening it was bitter cold down on the Schuylkill, and still they came one by one to Flat Rock Park in Gladwyne for the Candlelight Vigil for Geoff Partridge. People who could not be there lit candles in their own home and posted photos on the event page.
A candle in Phoenix, AZ burned brightly last night during the Gladwyne, PA vigil. Courtesy photo from candlelight vigil for Geoff Partridge event page.
Last night you saw an example of the best kind of humanity. It’s the week before Christmas, and I don’t know about you but I’m praying for a Christmas miracle.
If you know anything concerning the whereabouts of Geoff Partridge please contact police.
And Philadelphia area media? Especially the television stations? Would it kill you to keep showing Geoff’s face on TV? I have seen what you have done with other missing persons, so please help his family out.
Lower Merion Township? I realize you all are not happy with this publicly but this is someone’s friend, son, husband, family member, neighbor and so on. And you know what? If this was someone beloved in your families these people would do the same for you. That is the thing about this community. I have seen it over the years.
True community like this is magical. Seeing these photos made tears well up in my eyes.
From Radnor Democrats Public Facebook Page. It had as a caption “Radnor Democrats June 11, 2016 at 4:41pm · We always say that the Radnor Democrats have a big, diverse tent and to “join the Party.” Well, today, at the Wayne Music Festival, the Radnor Democrats LITERALLY have a big tent!”
It’s child porn and lots of it. It’s horrible. Truly horrible. Almost inconceivable.
Earlier this evening, Radnor Township itself held a press conference. I contacted the township and they provided me with what they had handed out except for the PDF of the court docket – I found that myself. Today was the preliminary arraignment.
Anyway, here it is and I will warn you it is truly disturbing:
So back to the three commissioners in Radnor who blocked a motion to have Ahr resign. Earlier this evening, they fell back behind the cloak of the Home Rule Charter of Radnor Township. So while they perhaps could not have made Ahr resign as of Monday, given the scandal their township and political party has endured in recent months, shouldn’t they have convinced him to resign? Or how about perhaps they should have NOT played politics at all and lived up to their oaths of office and convinced him to resign because they are supposed to look out for the best interests of the residents?
Once again, deeply troubling times for a township where I have many close friends….including those with children.
I am going to say, however, that no matter what your opinion is here, please allow law enforcement and those in the legal system do their jobs here. Please respect the terribly difficult jobs they have, especially with this case. Also respect the residents of Radnor Township who have to deal with this, especially the residents of Ward 7, Garrett Hill. Garrett Hill is a tight knit community that is suffering greatly. And pray for Phil Ahr’s family. He has now given them a terrible burden they will carry always.
Here’s a question for all of you: should local elected officials have to submit to comprehensive background checks including criminal in order to hold elected office?
Tom at the Harriton House annual Plantation Fair (Bryn Mawr, PA) in 2008 with then reporter and photographer Ryan Richards . Tom supported local events and he would pop up at many personally, not just send a reporter.
Yesterday I went to say good-bye to my friend Al Terrell. This morning I am writing about saying good-bye to someone else I called friend. Tom Murray, Managing Editor/Lead Content Manager of The Daily Local, our Chester County daily newspaper.
Yes Tom, yes Sam, I know…I just buried the lede. But it is like I have to get my head all wrapped around this. And this one is tough.
It was not quite a year ago that I wrote my blog post about Tom Murray coming on as managing editor of The Daily Local .
We had a joke he and I from way back when he took over for Warren Patton at then Main Line Life (eventually Tom’s job grew and he helped create the whole thing known as Main Line Media News and bring multiple papers together.) When he had come on board to Main Line Life, I had as a local blogger and community activist with the then fledgling Save Ardmore Coalition (back in the days of eminent domain for private gain in Ardmore) sent him an email welcoming the “new sheriff in town.” He laughed and we became friends.
Just like that.
These photos I am sharing are my favorites that I took of him. September 2008 at the Harriton House Fair in Bryn Mawr. And one he sent me when I said I wanted to write about him assuming the editorial helm at The Daily Local. The other is a newspaper box from Saturday. And a photo shared by whom he first referred to as “his lady” when he first told me about her, Terry Hardin.
Terry sent me this photo. She loved him so much.
Tom gave a lot of us voices back in the day and today, and all my reader’s editorials were published under him. His “As I see it” columns for readers to have a voice.
But he also then became a friend.
I loved talking to Tom. He was a real daily newspaper guy. He was also a modern media guy and not afraid to try new things, new media platforms. He also was with Patch early on – when they were actually micro news sites and not just regurgitations and shameless re-publishers of the work of others that they are today.
When I was stiffed on fees for some freelance writing last year, he was someone whose wise counsel I sought. What he told me left me better prepared to take on writing assignments after that. And I loved the few choice words he had for the person who reneged on payment and said I was a lousy writer. “You know you can write, ” he told me “How many years did I edit what you wrote?”
Tom and Diane – photo taken at Harriton Fair 2008.
I watched him support his late wife Diane through cancer and we all learned the hashtag #distrong . Like everyone else who knew him our hearts all broke a little when he lost Diane. And then when he met his Terry, we smiled and our hearts were happy. He and Terry were to be married.
One of Tom’s photos from his Main Line Life Days when he also has a local access TV show.
I was at a dinner party Saturday night with my sweet man n Philadelphia when I checked my phone around 10:00 pm. At 9:47 pm my childhood friend Bob Robinson had messaged me to tell me he had heard from Tom’s son Ian that he had suffered a fatal heart attack around 7 pm. Bob and I shared Tom as a friend.
Behind me I heard the chatter of a happy dinner party as I stared at my phone re-reading Bob’s message. A surreal moment. There I am having a conversation with myself in my head “No, no, no. This can’t be true, it must be a mistake” and around me the cheerful banter of friends.
Because of Tom I got to know so many great people who I am lucky to call friends today. One of them, Cheryl Allison (who was a reporter at Main Line Media News for years) said to me
“I’ve never known anyone who was more passionate about the process of gathering and reporting the news. What many may not have known, but what I had the opportunity to witness, was how Tom delighted in finding, encouraging and mentoring talented young journalists starting their careers.”
Another friend, Caroline Mangan O’Halloran, who wrote for him when he was with Main Line Life and Main Line Media News and now pens the fabulous Savvy said to me
“I am terribly saddened by his loss. Tom was my boss at Main Line Life after Warren Patton. Tom and I bantered about (and disagreed) over many things, but he always played fair and shot straight. He respected everyone and was a kind and generous man. An old-fashioned newsman, he was a a truth teller. I too plan to pay him tribute in SAVVY.”
Truer words were never spoken. He encouraged the inner writer in both professional writers and citizen journalists. (And yes, perfectionists of the craft of writing I have done these two quotes like this on purpose. They are beautiful and I want them to stand out.)
I started blogging before it was quite fashionable, and when I started it was often perceived as a bit scandalous and definitely controversial. He was an early champion, yet would call me out if he felt I could do better.
As I had mentioned earlier, during his many year tenure at Main Line Life/Main Line Media News I wrote a lot of reader’s editorials. I wasn’t the only one – Tom was a big believer in the vox populi or the voice of the people. Tom is one the many traditional journalists I know that has helped me become a better writer. More importantly, this guy does good newspaper. He did the First Amendment and “sunshine” right.
And so I am writing about Tom for my blog. As I write I remember a really great guy and friend. And a man who was a true newspaperman, a dying breed indeed. True newspapermen are to journalism as cowboys were to founding the west. Mavericks, yet good and true. And so darn American if you want to distill it down.
I thought of Tom Saturday morning when we went over to the D.K. Diner in West Chester for a bite to eat in the afternoon. The first thing that greeted us before we went inside was a Daily News newspaper box. Way back when in the days of Main Line Life I would always tell him if a box emptied out fast. He liked to know which issues were selling big time.
Life is fleeting.
RIP Tom Murray. So many of us will miss you. I had no idea when we spoke last week it would be for the last time. The future of true journalism just dimmed a little.
This morning when I logged onto my computer, social media was filled with news that strikes fear through your heart: a teenager is missing. From Shipley. His name is Austin Wylie. He is from Lower Merion Township. Lower Merion Police are asking for ANYONE with any information to call them at 610-649-1000. His car was apparently found yesterday at 5th and Spring Garden Streets in Philadelphia. His friends say his keys were found in the car, the police aren’t confirming or denying that.
As per Google, this is where his car was found:
This is not where you would find a kid from the Main Line typically unless they are going clubbing or something and he is just too young for that I think.
I thought maybe first he was a city kid who went out to Shipley, but he’s not as per NBC10:
A standout teenage soccer player from Montgomery County vanished this week, and police from multiple jurisdictions are working together to try to find him.
Austin Wylie, who recently finished his junior year at the Shipley School in Bryn Mawr, was featured in September as the Main Line Boys Athlete of the Week for his achievements as Shipley’s forward.
Friends are taking to Facebook, Twitter and other social media to share photos of Wylie after they said he went missing Wednesday morning.
A spokesman for Lower Merion Police Department told NBC10 that a number of law enforcement agencies from different jurisdictions are investigating Wylie’s disappearance.
He confirmed that a car Wylie had been driving at some point was located at 5th and Spring Garden streets in Philadelphia since the teen went missing, but wasn’t able to confirm whether the keys had been left in the car, as reports on social media have said.
Anyone with information on Wylie should contact Lower Merion Police at 610-649-1000.
Austin Wylie is a rising senior at The Shipley School in Bryn Mawr, my alma mater. That means he just finished his junior year. By all accounts a standout student athlete who is well liked. Kids like him do NOT just vanish into this air. What is around 5th and Spring Garden in Northern Liberties that would attract a kid from the suburbs? Or did nothing attract him and something or someone made him go there? And all his friends are saying on social media his keys were in the car????
Main Line Media News is reporting Austin is from Haverford in Lower Merion Township:
Police in multiple jurisdictions are trying to locate a missing teenager whose car was found in Philadelphia Wednesday.
Thursday Lower Merion spokesman Tom Walsh confirmed social media reports that Austin Wylie, a 17-year-old from the Haverford section of Lower Merion, is missing and police have been searching for him.
His friends are a credit to him, they took to social media immediately, posting away. I think it because of these friends that media and police and the rest of us are sharing. When you have a kid close to Austin’s age it is especially terrifying.
I do not know this boy and I am uspet. Another teen missing? From Shipley, no less? This just doesn’t seem like the kind of kid who would take off and disappear. So where is he? His poor parents and family, and his poor friends.
Please if you have seen this boy, please come forward. Even if you saw him buying a soda in a WaWa or something, please come forward to police. Who the heck knows where Philadelphia Police are on this since all we have heard from only Austin’s hometown PD, Lower Merion.
This just doesn’t seem like a kid who would just disappear or take off. Maybe I am wrong, kids get upset, teenage years can be super emotional. Please if you have seen this kid call the police.
Praying for a safe and happy resolution. (And I would love to know why no one has heard from Philadelphia Police on this yet???)
Authorities are asking anyone with information related to the disappearance of Montgomery County teen Austin Wylie, who has been reported missing since Wednesday morning, to come forward.
A spokesperson from the Lower Merion Police Department confirmed to NBC10that a car driven by Wylie at the time of his disappearance has since been found at N. 5th and Spring Garden streets in Northern Liberties.
1974 taken by ACME Newspapers (a/k/a The Main Line Times) – Head House Crafts Fair Society Hill- and yes even then I loved the art of quilting. We actually still lived in Society Hill at that point so I am not quite sure how I ended up in a photo for a suburban paper.
Growing up on the Main Line there are just things you grow up with. Namely the local society pages. Historically, sometimes what has kept a local paper afloat wasn’t necessarily local news, but the society pages.
It was like a rite of passage: you go to nice private schools, you have nice Main Line parents who do their share of volunteer work and from the time you are little you get your photo taken occasionally.
My friends and I had it drummed into our heads that society editors were to be respected and revered. You always were polite and you never asked to be in a photo, you were invited to be in a photo.
When I was little, the queen of the society editors was Ruth Seltzer from the Philadelphia Inquirer. She was formidable to say the least. She was a society editor first in the original Bulletin and then Walter Annenberg lured her to the Philadelphia Inquirer, where she remained until her death in 1986.
Ruth was the high bar that the other society editors had to reach to meet. My mother knew Ruth and I remember in her later years my parents giving her rides home from social events on their way home. Her society columns were just that columns with maybe a photo or two. Not like today which are mostly photos with captions. You would read the columns and she would have descriptions of parties and who was wearing what and maybe a photo or two. She was an encyclopedia of who was who in the Philadelphia area.
It was always a huge deal to make it into a Ruth Seltzer column. But you didn’t ask to be, she decided. She was a force of nature. A lot of people didn’t care for her. I was still kind of young when she died, early 20s. I loved reading her columns.
Ruth Seltzer was such an institution that you would find her mentioned in books about Philadelphia and her columns re-quoted in various newsletters. I remember when someone I knew’s father wrote his autobiography he wrote about Ruth Seltzer when recounting a tale of when he first came to Philadelphia.
When she died the whole structure of society columns changed. The Inquirer had a few different people take on her society column, but it was never quite the same. It was an end of an era, (If you want to read something amusing, read this little piece written in 2010 which was written by a writer who was basically Ruth Seltzer’s gofer for years as a first job it sounds like. My first writing job JUNE 28, 2010 BY SUSAN PERLOFF)
At other papers, namely the suburban weeklies for the most part there was a certain jockeying for position after Ruth Seltzer died. One now deceased society editor in particular thought her ascension to the top would occur after Ruth died. It didn’t happen. She never got over it and grew increasingly more miserable and mean spirited.
So enter this new era: all these society editors from other papers jockeying for position and readership. If one took your photo, another one wouldn’t. Or you could play a game and see if you can outwit them. I will admit that some of my friends and I had an enormous amount of fun seeing if we could get more than one society editor to take our photo at the same event.
But we never asked to be in photos. We were invited to be in photos. You see a couple of these society page folks in particular so did not get along that they would often appear at events to cover them at different times so their paths did not cross.And that would make chairs of non-profit events more comfortable anyway since a couple of these other society editors expected exclusives.
When it came to the point that I was volunteering and even co-chairing non-profit events I never played the exclusive thing. I invited whomever was doing society for whichever newspaper and told them flat out everyone was invited from the society press. After all, it wasn’t about them, it was about the institution we were volunteering for, right? And there was one editor in particular who would not take a photo of a person who did not live on the Main Line, including one time the then Maestro of The Philadelphia Orchestra, Ricardo Muti. (So for decades you would have seen photos of people you knew lived elsewhere who were suddenly from Bryn Mawr.)
I did my volunteerism thing fairly devotedly as I was expected to up until 9/11. After 9/11 I decided the world had changed enough that I wanted to still be active in my community, but the bloom was off the rose for the countless black tie events. And people and the events were changing too. It just wasn’t as much fun.
It used to be that black tie events were exclusive. You got dressed up and you felt special. All of a sudden there were what felt like thousands of them. And the people were changing. It became less of a who’s who and more of a who was buying a corporate table. I noticed that first at Opening Night of the Philadelphia Orchestra. All of a sudden there was this super emphasis on corporate tables and they were filled by people who really didn’t know or appreciate the Philadelphia Orchestra but their company bought tables, so they got dressed up and went.
Society and what defines society has completely changed. Slowly from the late 1980s on you saw a shift. No longer was it the norm to be asked to be in a society photo, you told the society editor whom to photograph. And if that didn’t work, you just hip checked someone out of the photo quite literally so you could be in it. That actually happened to me at a black tie that the old Chester County SPCA used to hold called the “Growl Scratch and Sniff” (yes that was the name of the party and it was a lot of fun!). Anyway, this woman wanted to be in a photo and some of my friends and I had been asked to be in a photo and we literally got hip checked out of the photo. I remember just moving off to the side and kind of just standing there a minute because I could not believe someone had done that. Today at the rare occasions I am at one of these things any longer the water buffalo-like jockeying for position and “take my photo” is somewhat astounding to observe.
As what defined society changed, so did the newspapers. Newspapers had also started consolidating and even closing as the Internet and how it was used grew.
On the Main Line for a while there were three papers with society editors: Main Line Life, Main Line Times, Wayne and Suburban. There was also a City Line paper that no one ever wanted to be in. Then on the other side of the river was the Chestnut Hill Local. And other even smaller papers sprinkled everywhere.
When the Main Line papers consolidated it became like the Hatfields and the McCoys with the two remaining society editors. Then they got rid of one and eventually the other one died.
Which brings us to today. You have a really nice man who does most of the Philadelphia area events and a smattering of surviving society editor folks. Main Line Media News still has a very nice lady who does what is left of the “society” pages, and there are others, including a former Main Line area society editor who does photos for her own website. Only when you run into that one these days she is not as pleasant. Fairly unpleasant as a matter of fact. And that is even when you are just saying hello for old times sake, and have absolutely no desire to be in a photo. Truly, it is very sad.
Some ladies I know whom are slightly older than myself say that something must happen to these women who survive at this now somewhat archaic tradition of the society page. I have had more than one say to me how miserable a lot of them get, even while they are still on the job.
I look at the society pages now and I marvel at how I no longer recognize any names. In the good old days you recognized the mothers, the daughters, the grandmothers and so on. It was a tradition after a fashion.I also remember I loved to look at the photos because I loved to look at the gowns.
Today? Not so much. And it is not just that there are different people in the photos that you wonder who the heck they are, but more often than not the event is not dressy and you look at the photos and wonder why they wore that not wow what a gorgeous dress. That and people no longer seem to really know how to stand for those photos, or arrange themselves so the photos flow.
Anyway, this is just something that has been rattling around in my head: what passes for high society today? Should we care?
I used to be a community activist. Really. It’s not so grand sounding, I think people just get to a point in their lives when they see change needs to occur and they seem to either choose activism or politics. While I am fascinated by politics, I would never want to be an elected official, so I chose activism.
It all started innocently enough.
Prior to 9/11 I did mostly traditional volunteer work. But there comes a time in your life when you can’t sit at the dinner table and murmur “that’s too bad.”
I come by my love of old houses and community by way of genetics. My late father was involved in every community we lived in starting with the early days of the Society Hill section of Philadelphia.
My personal entré into all of this started with my old neighborhood when the first of many developers sought to create infill development where I then lived. This developer was renovating an old factory/warehouse building which no one objected to. But the ingress/egress onto our street where it was literally 12 feet wide we did object to.
Then, on the heels of that at the time my alma mater The Shipley School in Bryn Mawr wanted to tear down historic Beechwood House in Bryn Mawr for a parking lot. I became part of a group headed by a fellow alumnae named Heather Hillman which raised the funds necessary to completely restore the house and give it a practical adaptive reuse in today’s world. The 9100 square foot home was an architectural gem designed by prominent late 19th century architect Addison Hutton. We did so well, the architects even won awards on the renovation. (A synopsis of what occurred can be found here.)
Then came the fateful night when I went to my friends’ restaurant in Ardmore and found the wife in tears. “They want to take our building” she said.
That was my introduction to eminent domain and how I came to be part of a 501(c)(4) civic action organization called the Save Ardmore Coalition. The group was comprised of many people from different walks of life as well as different political parties. We came together because we felt positive change was needed. Instead local politicians (of course) labeled us as being obstructionist.
Eminent Domain in Ardmore, Lower Merion Township was a long and horrible process. We went to Washington DC and stood beside people from all over the country including Long Branch, NJ, Camden NJ (Cramer Hill), Philadelphia and got to know a lady from New London CT named Susette Kelo who became the symbol of the anti-eminent domain movement all across this country. (See Kelo vs. City of New London).
In Ardmore we were lucky and we were able to defeat eminent domain for private gain and at the time unseat half of the board of commissioners in Lower Merion (there are the ridiculous number of 14) . I was part of a group of wonderful people who learned that once in a while ordinary people could be right and it was worth fighting for what you believed in.
But all of this came at a personal cost. We were labeled and tarred and feathered by developers and politicians and their cheerleaders and even paid publicists in Lower Merion Township. I was personally subject to craziness like a letter to the editor by two then business owners like it was all my fault and I was wrong to have an opinion. It was a crazy and angry time which lasted years and is still in fact going on. And people were and are nasty.
And nasty for what? Caring about where we lived? It was crazy, and I watch it still happen today and still think it is crazy. As residents I still believe that we need to be a much larger part of how our local governments decide things.
Essentially, I think a lot of communities need to taken back by residents before we are over-taxed, over-governed, and developed away. We need better historic preservation on local and state levels. It has to mean something or people won’t do it. We need the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code updated as well.
We need many things. But people need to be involved more where they live. It doesn’t matter if you are the loudest voice or the most quiet voice, just be a voice.
What started me on this post today? One word: Ardmore.
Once again Ardmore is embroiled in controversy over development. Carl Dranoff’s hideous behemoth of a project to be precise. Ardmore needed a train station and what it has suffered through now for way too many years is the emperor’s new clothes of ill advised development projects and plans. And developer driven zoning overlays. And lots and lots of question over the use of public funds. In a nutshell, Lower Merion Township continues to be a shining example of what not to do (and the need for term limits in local government.)
A civic group has filed a lawsuit against the governor of Pennsylvania, the Montgomery County Redevelopment Authority and Lower Merion Township over a redevelopment project in Ardmore, saying that it is a “misappropriation of millions of dollars of public funds” for private use.
The Save Ardmore Coalition announced last week that it was filing suit in the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court. The issue at hand: $10.5 million in state grant funds set aside for One Ardmore Place, a proposed mixed-use development with apartments, retail and public parking.
Currently, the site is a parking lot. The civic group argues that the grant funds were supposed to be used for the Ardmore Train Station.
“We testified many times before the Lower Merion Township Board of Commissioners and we were mocked. We brought petitions signed by residents only to see them disregarded,” said SAC President Philip Browndeis
I am no longer part of Save Ardmore Coaltion or in the executive branch of the group. I resigned in the spring of 2011 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. And then when that was all over with I moved. To Chester County.
So to say I had no idea this was going to happen next is an understatement. When this news broke my phone and email started going crazy. “Why is this happening?” “What is going on?” “Why are you doing this?”
News flash: Alice doesn’t live in Ardmore any more. There is a new crew of people with some original folks doing this. Contact Save Ardmore Coalition President Philip Browndeis at 267.250.2121 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions.)
My personal opinion is I understand why new Save Ardmore Coalition has done this, but what I don’t understand is the timing of it. Why wasn’t this done a few years ago? And of course there is the other thing: residents can do whatever they think necessary to preserve their community but will they ever truly achieve their goals if they do not change the faces of who govern them? As in when are they going to vote the bums out?
I was in Ardmore a few weeks ago for a funeral viewing. I had not been in easily over a year. The town looks run down and shabby and the public trash cans in front of the township were overflowing with trash. It all looked well…depressed. And that is the effect of all the grand plans of developers, politics, and local government: inertia.
Something needs to happen in Ardmore. I still don’t think it is “One Ardmore Place” because it is way out of touch with the reality of a small main street oriented town. It lacks human scale and design and if it gets built it’s 8 stories in small building main street downtown Ardmore will make Eastside Flats in Malvern Borough look good.
People like to say I am anti-development. I am actually anti bad plans. And every plan no matter where it is located looks the same these days. Homogenous and out of place and scale. The plans are presented where they look like they are situated in the Elysian Fields.
What is going on in Ardmore is going on all over Pennsylvania. Who knows when the madness will stop. Which is why I would rather cook, garden, treasure hunt and photograph butterflies. But I still believe people should be more active where they live.
Meet State Rep. Sue Helm. The architect of the disaster bill known as PA HB 809. Quite simply stated, this bill would render any local municipal government useless in the ability to control off-campus student housing.
Basically, if you live near animal house, your local municipality would not be able to do one thing about it and well you could get tons of these group rentals where you live and have no say. It is kind of ironic that a Pennsylvania a Republican State Representative seems to think private property rights are so subjective, but hey this is the very nature of politics, right?
Now I was polite, after all she has broadcast all over she is fighting breast cancer. I really wish to be respectful of that as I am a breast cancer survivor. But when I and others take the time to comment on HER legislation PA HB 809 and every comment seems to disappear, what’s to respect ?
I was polite. I asked her if she had ever lived with problem student rentals where she lived? Asked her if she had ever woken up to 20 cars on a neighboring lawn and beer cans and bottles everywhere? (I did)
Had she ever been unable to park on her street because the off campus student rentals always took all the parking?
Or ever had watched as a friend of mine once did as a college student late at night urinated on her porch and her young child’s toys just because they felt like it.
I asked her if she had ever been unable to sell great houses for a long time like friends of mine experienced in a Chester County community because their township turned a blind eye and they lived next to animal house. I know people who had similar issues in Radnor and Lower Merion and Haverford Townships and those are townships which regulate student housing.
I neglected to mention had she ever lived next to a slumlord owners student rental that burned to the ground. I did once upon a time. We watched college students who were seniors lose everything a couple of days before Thanksgiving. And because of wind conditions we were scared for hours the fire would jump to our roofs.
If you live in PA please take the time and post a polite message on this lady’s page or email, phone or tweet at her regarding PA HB 809 which will render local municipalities helpless when dealing with off campus student housing. This bill would hog tie local municipalities and they would be unable to act and help residents and basically it would so bypass any and all local zoning we could get these houses anywhere and everywhere. It would take away our rights.
Imagine West Chester, Tredyffrin, Lower Merion, Haverford Township, Radnor or wherever you lived with off campus student houses that didn’t have to follow any basic community rules and regulations because the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania took our rights away? We already experience this right now if we have any special needs (broad term means more than one thing) group houses in neighborhoods. And much like group student rentals sometimes these houses are ok, but just as often they are not.
Our homes are our castles. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania doesn’t protect us from wanton development even on old superfund sites, and now they want us to just say yes please may we have some more on group student rentals ?
Please Contact Rep Sue Helm and tell her to stop the nonsense known as HB 809. But make sure you contact your own State Rep to and tell them whatever you tell her.
PA House Bill 809 sponsored by State Rep Susan Helm of Dauphin and Lebanon Counties will change college rental restrictions if passed.
Helm’s proposed legislation claims that it is discriminatory for municipalities to single out students with rental regulations and would short-circuit any municipal ordinance that prohibits the occupation of a dwelling unity by students or unrelated individuals living together.
The proposed legislation would allow a municipality to enact and enforce ordinances that regulate things like noise levels, parking, and health and safety concerns. House Bill 809 addresses municipal rental restrictions that single out students, suggesting that this is discriminatory, based on an assumption that they will be problem neighbors.
PA House Bill 809 would override any current municipal housing ordinances that restrict the use of single-family homes, as college student rentals. The proposed legislation states that a municipality would not be able to prohibit the occupation of a dwelling based on an individual’s matriculation status (that is, if they are enrolled in college) or on the number of unrelated individuals sharing the property.
In the Mt. Pleasant community of Tredyffrin Township, the conversion of traditionally family-occupied homes to student rental properties has led to ongoing problems among the neighbors. Beyond the late-night noise, increased traffic, liter, illegal parking, the permanent residents of Mt. Pleasant are frustrated with the increasing number of student rentals and what they view as the adverse effects caused by the influx of students.
Because of the ongoing citizen complaints in Mt. Pleasant, Tredyffrin Township passed two ordinances in 2010, which placed zoning restrictions on the student rentals as a way to protect the rights of the permanent residents in the township.
Disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, underage drinking, public urination, Animal House behavior.
Those are perennial complaints in neighborhoods where college students live, local officials say. And with the start of the fall semester just a few weeks away, that’s why they aggressively oppose a bill that would remove their restraints on student housing.
Sponsored by Rep. Sue Helm (R., Dauphin) and backed by landlords, it would prohibit rental discrimination against students and end limits on the numbers of unrelated people allowed to live in a house or apartment.
….In all, more than 50,000 students attend colleges and universities in Philadelphia’s neighboring Pennsylvania counties, and campus housing hardly can accommodate all of them.
Disruptive behavior is inevitable when “you combine youthful exuberance with alcohol,” said Carolyn Comitta, the mayor of West Chester, which hosts West Chester University’s 15,000 students
According to court records from 2005, the Bishop Tube site groundwater contamination was first formally recognized in 1980:
In 1980, Congress enacted CERCLA. Groundwater contamination associated with the Malvern Site was first identified in the spring of 1980 in residential wells. (Pl.’s Resp. Ex. 2 at 56412.) In September 1983, the Malvern Superfund Site was listed on the National Priorities List. (Id.)
Community folks reported 1-2 cancer cases in every household at that time, correct? A plume of contaminants from on-site has spread and is in the groundwater and local wells, correct? A creek flows through there. Traces of the crud have been discovered a mile away, correct? There has been activity to clean up the contaminants at the site, but is it REALLY complete? Until it is complete, crud will continue to move in the plume, correct?
Additionally, since I posted my post I have seen the post shared on social media. Residents of the area who grew up in and around General Warren have shared memories like this one:
” I remember being evacuated in June 1982 due to chemical spills and clouds of toxic stuff being in the air. Still clear in my mind since was studying for finals and we had to spend the night up in the old school in town. Also remember how my parents felt since there were fire police knocking on peoples’ doors to get out of their homes while the cops stayed in their cars and were using speakers to get people out.”
They were both born in the 1950s, two years apart. They both grew up in General Warren Village, the modest, working class subdivision located south of Lancaster Avenue near the intersection of Route 29, and named for the historic General Warren Inne.
Like many of their neighbors in General Warren, Hartman and Worst worked at the nearby Bishop Tube Co.
Most significantly, the two men know of former Bishop employees who suffer from potentially fatal illnesses that they believe may have been caused by their exposure to trichlorethylene (TCE), a suspected carcinogen, during their tenure at the plant.
Hartman’s father, Lester Hartman, who worked alongside him at the plant, suffers from Parkinson’s disease, a neurodegenerative disease. Worst has stage two melanoma and lesions on his liver and kidneys that his doctors are monitoring.
According to a report from the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, breathing high levels of TCE may cause nervous system effects, liver and lung damage, abnormal heartbeat, coma and possibly death.
Hartman and Worst can also run off a list of fellow Bishop Tube workers who either died from cancer or nerve diseases, or currently suffer from them.”
Ok so then you peruse all the East Whiteland Planning Commission meeting minutes you can find online that discuss Bishop Tube and here is a sampling:
ZONING ORDINANCE AMENDMENT; CONSTITUTION DRIVE PARTNERS (BISHOP TUBE) – RRD RESIDENTIAL REVITALIZATION DISTRICT.
Represented by Lou Colagreco, Esquire and Bo Erixxon and Chuck Dobson
The proposed ordinance is amending the “Table of Development Standard for Residential Districts” for the RRD Residential Revitalization District for the maximum tract density by reducing the number from 20 units to 12 units per developable acre. Other changes provide for reduction in setbacks from street and building spacing. The applicant had held a meeting with the adjacent tank farm owners and residents from General Warren Village. They have been able to satisfy the access of school buses, tanker trucks and emergency access under the railroad overpass. The total number of units being proposed has decrease from 303 to 264 units.
ZONING ORDINANCE TEXT AND MAP AMENDMENT – RRD –RESIDENTIAL REVITALIZATION DISTRICT – SOUTH MALIN ROAD – BISHOP TUBE
Represented by Lou Colagreco, Esquire, Brian O’Neill, Frank Tavani, John Benson
The applicant is requesting to add a new permitted residential district by amending Section 200-19 “Permitted Uses for Residential Districts.” The property is located on the south side of Malin Road formerly known as Bishop Tube property. The intent of the RRD Residential Revitalization District is to provide for and encourage reuse, redevelopment and revitalization of tracts that have undergone remediation. Mr. O’Neill advised that he has partnered with Benson Companies to construct townhouses on South Malin Road.
Mr. O’Neill stated that he met with the Township’s Fire Marshal who expressed his concern with the ability to handle a fire for multi-story structures at this location. Therefore, Mr. O’Neill has reduced the number of units to 305 down from 537 units. Density has been reduced by two-thirds from the original proposal. There will be no building on “hot spot” within the property, thereby, providing more green space. These “hot spots” will be capped. The new design is a rear entry building with 16 or 20 foot widths, three stories and approximately 1,900 sq. ft. The issue of a school buses being able to maneuver was investigated and determined not to be a problem. Changes to the intersection timing at Route 30 and South Malin Road will require modifications. Emergency vehicles only will have access to a keyed gate through Village Way. Members were advised that stormwater runoff will be controlled and the water will be cleaning before discharged to protect the Valley Creek. Discussion ensued.
Mr. David Babbitt presented his finding of the Fiscal Impact Study. He advised that the financial impact is positive for all entities: township, school district and county. He reviewed the report and stated that this development will not have a negative impact on the school district. Discussion ensued.
Members were advised that stacked townhouses are three and one-half stories tall and approximately 1,600-2,300 sq. ft. Mr. O’Neill addressed the screening for the units on the west side facing the tank farm and the exterior building materials being proposed. He offered to provide a four foot berm in front of the homes facing the tank farm for additional protection. Members suggested: 1) further review by the Fire Marshal for the new plan configuration; 2) traffic study review; and 3) approval of the building heights.
ZONING ORDINANCE TEXT AND MAP AMENDMENT – RRD –RESIDENTIAL REVITALIZATION DISTRICT – SOUTH MALIN ROAD – BISHOP TUBE
Represented by Lou Colagreco, Esquire, Brian O’Neill, Guy Wolfington
They are requesting to add a new permitted residential district by amending Section 200-19 “Permitted Uses for Residential Districts. The property is located on the southeast side of Malin Road formerly known as Bishop Tube property. The permitted uses are by right, special exceptions and conditional uses. The intent of the RRD Residential Revitalization District is to provide for and encourage reuse, redevelopment and revitalization of tracts that have undergone remediation.
Mr. O’Neill advised that the Bishop Tube property access is restricted due to the railroad tunnel. Various other development proposals have failed due to these restrictions. He is suggesting developing the property by demolishing the buildings. He will build 34 townhouses and 360 loft apartment with underground parking. There has been a cooperative effort from all parties to clean up the site. Discussion ensued concerning the safety limitations out of this area. Mr. O’Neill offered other developments where similar access limitation exists. He offered to provide the members a tour of these other locations he’s developed.
ZONING ORDINANCE TEXT AND MAP AMENDMENT – RRD –RESIDENTIAL REVITALIZATION DISTRICT – SOUTH MALIN ROAD – BISHOP TUBE
Represented by Lou Colagreco, Esquire, Brian O’Neill, Frank Tavani, John Benson
The applicant is requesting to add a new permitted residential district by amending Section 200-19 “Permitted Uses for Residential Districts.” The property is located on the south side of Malin Road formerly known as Bishop Tube property. The intent of the RRD Residential Revitalization District is to
provide for and encourage reuse, redevelopment and revitalization of tracts that have undergone remediation.
They are proposing to construct 305 townhouses. The density has been reduced by two-thirds from the original proposal. Mr. Colagreco stated that this most recent plan has been presented to Ken Battin, Building Official/Fire Marshal, and he gave a favorable review of this plan. Members were advised that they can satisfactorily comply with the items listed in McMahon Associates letter, dated May 23, 2014. Changes to the intersection timing at Route 30 and South Malin Road can be accomplished. A discussion ensued relative to the County Planning Commission review letter. The solicitor felt that they had not been given them credit for the revitalization. Ms. Woodman asked, if the two properties under agreement with the Benson Company, contained any contamination? She suggested that the applicant investigate Section 200-25.1 (A) which requires that the properties either will or have undergone remediation standards. To date, the Township has no “brownfield” notification on these two parcels. The applicant was advised the the surrounding community is interested in the status of the cleanup. Mr. Colagreco suggested that information be forward to the Township for incorporation on the website.
Mr. Laumer made a motion to recommend to the Board of Supervisors approval of the Zoning Ordinance Text and Map Amendments to creating a new RRD- Residential Revitalization District and applying this District in lieu of the current I-Industrial Zoning District designation on three parcels including the former
Bishop Tube property located on South Malin Road east of the Buckeye Tank Farm. The motion was seconded by Todd Asousa and the vote was unanimous.
Ok, so all this craziness mostly talks ONLY about HOW many units. From a couple hundred to over five hundred, to three hundred to two hundred and sixty four and apparently after last evening’s meeting oh goodie two hundred and thirty some odd units.
If this site is NOT completely remediated , why the cart before the horse scenario? Isn’t it a little bass ackwards to be discussing a development plan if a site is not completely cleaned up? And is it true it can take decades to properly clean up a site like this because you never know when little pools of toxic goodness will bubble up? And can’t these chemicals get trapped between rocks and stuff and get released anew if moved?
Philadelphia (July 18, 2014, 5:09 PM ET) — A Pennsylvania court ruled Thursday that the owner of a contaminated tract of Chester County land could not appeal a Department of Environmental Protection letter ending an agreement in which the landowner agreed to take measures to rehabilitate the site in exchange for protection from liability.
The Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board said that the letter the DEP sent to Constitution Drive Partners LP — which purchased the site of a former precious metals and steel processing facility in 2005 — was not appealable because the letter itself had no effect on the company…..When CDP bought the former Bishop Tube site in East Whiteland Township, it reached an agreement with DEP to take certain steps to remediate the existing soil and groundwater contamination, according to the opinion.
Then, in 2011, an independent contractor hired by CDP damaged piping and protective covering on a soil vapor extraction and air sparging system while conducting salvage operations on the site…..But in January, DEP sent the company the letter citing the 2011 damage and accusing the company of breaking the 2005 agreement…..CDP is represented by Jonathan Sperger and Lynn Rauch of Manko Gold Katcher & Fox LLP.
The DEP is represented by in-house counsel Anderson Lee Hartzell.
The case is Constitution Drive Partners LLC v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, case number 2014-019-M, in the Environmental Hearing Board.
So how does the above affect this potential development? And should there even been anything in the approval process of a municipality when remediation doesn’t appear to be complete and there is a Federal level law suit pending?
DEP TO HOLD HEARING OUTLINING TREATMENTS FOR CHESTER COUNTY SITE CONTAMINATION
Public Invited to Comment on Plans for Bishop Tube Property
NORRISTOWN — The Department of Environmental Protection will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 30, to give residents the chance to comment on a proposal to address soil and groundwater contamination at the Bishop Tube site in East Whiteland Township, Chester County. The former industrial facility is being cleaned up under the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act (HSCA), a 1988 law that authorizes DEP to investigate and clean up hazardous waste sites. “We have a unique opportunity at this site to partner with the current property owner to make sure that groundwater and contaminated soil can be treated simultaneously and efficiently,” DEP Southeast Regional Director Joseph A. Feola said. “We will present these plans at the Jan. 30 hearing for public comment.”
The site consists of a large area of contaminated groundwater associated with the former Bishop Tube Company. The company used, and most likely released, hazardous substances into the environment, including trichloroethylene (TCE), nitric acid, hydrofluoric acid and various heavy metals including nickel and chromium. TCE is of particular concern since it has been detected in groundwater on the former Bishop Tube property and in wells and springs off-site.
Although DEP activity on this site began in 1999, most recently, the agency has been concentrating its efforts on three distinct source areas of contaminated soil.
Last September, a DEP contractor installed monitoring wells to help determine the extent that contaminated groundwater from the Bishop Tube site is affecting the Little Valley Creek, part of the Exceptional Value Valley Creek Watershed.
From 1999 through 2006, DEP completed three phases of remedial investigation work at the site, mapping onsite soil contamination and conducting stream and sediment sampling while conducting groundwater investigation work. Within the last year, the agency has initiated a feasibility study to evaluate options for addressing the discharge of contaminated shallow groundwater to Little Valley Creek.
The 13.7-acre Bishop Tube property is currently owned by Constitution Drive Partners (CDP), who purchased the site in 2005 to redevelop it for commercial or light industrial use. As part of the site purchase agreement, CDP will finance the purchase and installation of equipment needed to remediate contaminated soils in the three source areas and work with DEP to address groundwater contamination issues. This will enable DEP to better coordinate cleanup actions with the developer’s plans to renovate the site for productive use.
So these are hot spots and contaminated areas that they know of? (And isn’t it amazing this project is being all put out for bid consideration like it is a done deal? Is it a “done deal”?)
Last night I heard a handful of residents attended the East Whiteland Planning Commission Meeting. Early reports of citizenry perspective can be summed up in one word: disappointment. East Whiteland has a grave responsibility here don’t you think? Shouldn’t a plan with so many external balls in the air be tabled until things are settled? Like any litigation involving the site and site remediation being completed? What happens if they just close there eyes, hope for the best and approve without all of that stuff being taken care of? Litigation where the township could be added to, correct?
And a word to the wise to residents who think this plan doesn’t affect them: even if you don’t live in or around General Warren Village this affects you. Traffic, infrastructure, and costs associated with any future litigation over a site contaminated with toxic waste for starters, right? Couldn’t any potential township involved litigation related to this site be economically crippling to a municipality?
Residents in East Whiteland should stand with the residents of General Warren on this. Those people in General Warren have taken it on the chin with things like Cube Smart (and the stories of how some residents were treated are a little alarming, right?). The negatives thus far outweigh the positives of any development at Bishop Tube, don’t they?
And there is another thing to consider – so once upon a time there was this moratorium on development in East Whiteland. See:
Ok so this went all the way to the State Supreme Court. And it was struck down. Which isn’t any great surprise given things like, oh I don’t know…. the Municipalities Planning Code and whatnot? At the time former supervisor Virginia McMichael was quoted as saying:
“We knew we were sticking our necks out a little bit, and people said we should wait to enact a moratorium,” Virginia McMichael, vice chairwoman of the East Whiteland supervisors, said recently.
“But by not waiting, we did have a year to work on our comprehensive plan without having to accept new plans, and that was helpful to us. Now, we’ve lost one of our arrows.”
The township’s 18-month moratorium was adopted in February 2000. It was suspended last July after the Zoning Hearing Board found it invalid because proper review procedures were not followed. Supervisors reinstated the moratorium in September.
On June 20, the state Supreme Court ruled that while a municipality can regulate land development, it cannot suspend it through moratoriums.
Eyes rolling. How much did Virginia’s Follycost East Whiteland tax payers? We may never know, right? And the irony of this woman championing a moratorium on development back then and by the time she skeedaddled to wherever she went after she stepped down she was a champion of development and do I have that straight?
Who says you can’t have it both ways?
So if you do the math starting with plans that started getting presented when McMichael was still supervisor to the present day how many living units are in the works for East Whiteland? 1200+? 1500+? Or more?
East Whiteland is awash in a Where’s Waldo of development. But hey, since East Whiteland is working on another comprehensive plan maybe they should have a Groundhog Day and try another moratorium on development? (Kidding but if only it could happen, right?)
Look Bishop Tube is scary stuff. Why can’t they clean it up completely and get some sort of cleaned up certification from PA DEP or the EPA before proceeding on anything else? And why can’t East Whiteland ask for that?
And as far as development goes East Whiteland would be best served by taking a breath just because a developer decrees build it and they will come, it doesn’t make it so. Especially when you are talking about sites like Bishop Tube which have the distinct potential of becoming Silkwood meets Erin Brocavitch, right?
The bottom line here is we all have to care, all of us. We just have to. Can we say that lives and future lives depend upon it? Here is hoping in a strange collision of the universe that politicians and developers and municipal folk care about doing this one right.
So this beautiful bridge known as the KnoxCovered Bridge is in Valley Forge Park. I have taken it’s photo easily dozens of times and walked the bridge. It’s beautiful. It is 252 on one side along the creek and Yellow Springs Road on the other.
Here is one photo I have of it that I took (I think this one is circa 2008):
So someone according to my friend and others (including two television stations) did a hit and run on this beautiful bridge!
What kind of jerk does this???
As per PennDOT this bridge (The Knox Covered Bridge) is now structurally unsound and closed as of today. No estimates on repairs. This is in Tredyffrin Township Police Department’s jurisdiction, here is hoping they and Tredyffrin Township in general are as diligent and thorough as East Pikeland was with Rapp’s Dam and bringing that truck driver to justice.
This bridge, the Knox Covered Bridge was just recently part of an award of monies for repairs:
By Candice Monhollan, cmonhollan@ 21st-centurymedia.com, @CMonhollanDLN on Twitter (Pete Bannan photos)
People will be able to take a drive through history once again after PennDOT rehabilitates three covered bridges in Chester County.
PennDOT awarded a $3.2 million contract to Eastern Highway Specialists, Inc., who will set to work on the Rapps Dam covered bridge in East Pikeland, the Speakman covered bridge and West Marlborough and the Knox covered bridge in Valley Forge National Historic Park in Tredyffrin Township.
“The ideas to rehabilitate the bridges came from a variety of sources — from the county, from PennDOT, from the historic preservation community and from legislators, such as myself,” said Sen. Andy Dinniman. “PennDOT is trying to rehabilitate as many bridges on the funds that we have approved. The historic covered bridges are still being used..
Good thing that money is there, right?
Unbelievable. If anyone out there knows anything or saw anything, please please please call Tredyffrin Police or Valley Forge Park or PennDOT. It is hard to see who is taking tips as early media reports indicate that Tredyffrin Police are sort of referring this along right now. This apparently happened this afternoon around 2 pm but there is nothing on the Tredyffrin Police Department Website yet.
Please…if you know anything, or you say saw a damaged vehicle driving away from this direction this afternoon, PLEASE call police. This bridge is part of our heritage and our history and a lot of people still use this bridge daily. Accidents happen, but a hit and run like this is not right. The bridge is painted white so a vehicle could have all sorts of white paint on it and hopefully Tredyffrin will do their bit and see if any automobile paint is on the damage. yes, yes I know a little Nancy Drew meets CSI but this is such an awesome bridge!
Here is the media I have discovered thus far on this:
Authorities are seeking a driver who reportedly struck a covered bridge in Tredyffin Township Monday afternoon.
Knox Bridge, located where Yellow Springs Road crosses Valley Creek in Valley Forge National Historical Park, was hit by an unknown vehicle at approximately 2:30 p.m. According to Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) spokesman Gene Blaum, the only information currently known about the vehicle is that it was ”large.”
The bridge remains closed indefinitely pending a PennDOT investigation….
Later, in a PennDOT statement, Blaum reported that ”nearly an entire stone-masonry wing wall adjacent to the bridge” had been damaged along with a 20-foot-long section of its timber siding….
Originally built in 1865, the Knox Bridge has rehabilitated twice, in 1996 and again in 2006.
Asked for comment, a representative for the Tredyffin Police Department referred all questions to Valley Forge National Historical Park, where an official in turn said any new information would come from PennDOT