this is community.

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John Appleby courtesy photo

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.

img_1440Lower 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.

Again, Geoff is still missing.

Thanks for stopping by.

Philly.com Neighbors in Main Line town band together to search for missing man

by Vinny Vella, Updated: December 14, 2018 – 3:40 PM

missing at christmastime: geoff partridge from Lower Merion Township

Main Line Media News: Police, family continue asking for help in finding missing man: car pulled from river in Gladwyne

By Pete Bannan and Rich Ilgenfritz pbannan@21st-centurymedia.com Richard Ilgenfritz@21st-centurymedia.com Dec 11, 2018

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John Appleby courtesy photo

perversion

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!”

Where to begin? Let’s start at the bitter end of September when news broke that there had been a not-local (as in NOT Radnor PD) law enforcement raid had occurred in Radnor Township.  The target? Phil Ahr, newly minted as of this summer President of the Radnor Board of Commissioners. 

News has swirled when he missed the regular meeting shortly after the raid and  then and this past Monday, some commissioners had wanted Ahr to resign. But the Democrat commissioners (Nagle, Higgins, Schaeffer) blocked the efforts.  I will admit that while they were speaking the truth about guilty until proven innocent, BUT this is the second scandal to rock Radnor Democrats with a Board of Commissioners president given the fact that in June former Commissioner and Board of Commissioners President Bill Spingler was found guilty by a Delaware County jury  of “indecent assault on a person with a mental disability.” (His 100+ year old former mother-in-law.) Ironically, Mr. Spingler is to be sentenced or something tomorrow a lot of newscasters in Philadelphia were stating today after Phil Ahr turned himself in to police.

See NBC10 Philadelphia’s reporter Deanna Durante’s 6PM report on Mr. Ahr goes to court. Also see a pretty comprehensive article by the Philadelphia Inquirer and Main Line Media News.

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?

Thanks for stopping by.

another unexpected loss. good-bye tom murray.

Tom at the Harriton House annual Plantation Fair in 2008 with reporter and photographer Ryan Richards.

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 this morning. She loved him so much.

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.

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.

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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.

Updated: JANUARY 25, 2017 — 3:21 PM EST by Bonnie L. Cook, Staff Writer @cookb

The Heron’s Nest: RIP, Tom Murray – an ‘old school’ newspaperman

  • By Phil Heron editor@21st-centurymedia.com @philheron on Twitter
  • Jan 23, 2017

Tom Murray, old-school editor with love of the future, dies
By Michael Rellahan, Daily Local News
POSTED: 01/23/17, 5:00 PM EST

Tom Murray had sent me this photo a little over a year ago. Tom at work. He loved the newspaper business even when it frustrated him.

Tom Murray had sent me this photo a little over a year ago. Tom at work. He loved the newspaper business even when it frustrated him.

have you seen austin wylie?

missing 2This 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:

5th and spring garden

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:

Standout Teen Soccer Player from Montco Goes Missing

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.

Follow us: @nbcphiladelphia on Twitter | NBCPhiladelphia on Facebook

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 asking for help in locating missing Haverford teenager

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.

missing

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.

missing 3

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???)

Austin

Police seek info. on missing Montgomery County teen Austin Wylie

His car was reportedly found in Northern Liberties

BY ELISA LALA
PhillyVoice Staff

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.

high society?

1974 taken by ACME Newspapers (a/k/a The Main Line Times) - Head House Crafts Fair Society Hill

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.

ruth seltzer column

When Ruth died at the same time the obituraries ran there was this editorial in the Inquirer titled simply “In Memory of Ruth Seltzer”. Here is an excerpt:

ruth inky 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 )

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?

 

the highs and lows of community involvement

butterfly

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.)

So the new litigation was filed after the developer settled with business owners over other issues with “One Ardmore Place”. This litigation centers around the use of state funds known as RACP funds ( Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program ).

The new litigation has been filed by the successor citizens involved with the Save Ardmore Coalition.

August 17, 2015 Civic group files suit over Ardmore redevelopment: Save Ardmore Coalition claims project is missappropriation of public funds

By Sharon Lurye
PhillyVoice Staff

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?”

ME????

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 comments@saveardmorecoalition.org if you have questions.)

Of course, human nature being what it is, within days of the litigation being filed, a few anonymous cowards also and predictably rolled up on the Main Line Media News website to  drag me into this. The paper has since removed the comments and will continue to do so because I have nothing to do with this. I am sitting on the sidelines watching like everyone else and darn grateful not to be ensnared by this nonsense as I realized it is the same old rhetoric and whatnot rearing up again.

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 welldepressed. And that is the effect of all the grand plans of developers, politics, and local government: inertia.

one ardmore placeSomething 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.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

pa state rep sue helm wants to take away your rights.

 
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?

Local officials are asking their constituents to contact Representative Helm regarding HB 809. So I did. I did a post to page on her Facebook page. Maybe I should have e-mailed her at shelm@pahousegop.com or tweeted at her @RepHelm because mysteriously like everyone else I know who contacted her through Facebook, the post disappeared. There are no “posts to page” permitted I guess?

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.

Community Matters: PA House Bill 809 Would End Tredyffrin’s Right to Regulate Student Housing

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.

Towns fight for limits on rowdy student neighbors
Philadelphia Inquirer
Laura McCrystal, Inquirer Staff Writer
Last updated: Monday, July 27, 2015, 1:08 AM

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