This morning when I arrived in Malvern Borough for a creative meeting with colleagues I could barely get into the municipal parking lot across King from the Buttery safely. There was a giant pick up truck with a flatbed trailer attached to it parking behind the spaces in the lot. It belonged to workmen working on the property on the other side of the fence.
I did not photograph the truck (because I bet they were just told to park there that it would be OK and they took someone’s word at face value) , but in photo above you can see where I am talking about and imagine for yourself how difficult it was to navigate that parking lot and parking spaces with something that took up easily three quarters of the length of the parking lot which is not particularly deep to begin with.
As I was getting parked someone came out to the truck which was an out of local vicinity truck. I saw the guy and I said “Hi, I hate to bother you but do you actually have permission from Malvern to park like this and leave your truck and trailer parked here?”
The guy responded “I think so?”
So I said “I’m not trying to give you a hard time but it was very difficult to park, so I hope you’re not offended if I call Malvern Borough and ask.”
As I was dialing Malvern Borough, they magically moved the truck out of the municipal parking lot. The person who answered the phone at the borough transferred me to the police so I asked the police if this truck had permission to park like this because it was really difficult to navigate the parking lot with it parked there. I also told whoever the man was (who did not identify himself nor did he ask me for any of my information) that as soon as I asked them if they had permission to park a construction vehicle there they got someone to move the truck and trailer.
The response from this gentleman was polite but you could tell the last thing he wanted to do was speak to some woman trying to park in the municipal parking lot and having issues.
He said to me that basically I needed to understand that they tried to cut local business people a break. And I said to him it wasn’t a local business person it was a very out of area truck and trailer parked in a municipal lot. And that they were not displaying anything that indicated they had permission to park there. (which prompted my phone call in the first place.)
He also told me well he didn’t have a problem with them offloading equipment and then moving the truck, which I actually agree with because it’s just being polite. BUT if I had not asked them if they had permission to park there all day I bet they would’ve left the truck there all day and that’s not fair to people who want to utilize a municipal parking lot in the first place is it?
The idea behind municipal parking lots anywhere especially in small towns is to get visitors’ vehicles off the streets and in a safe spot. That way residents have places to park their own cars and visitors can,well, enjoy their visits, right?
Since this part of Malvern Borough has been built up with Eastside Flats there are often issues with how people park. I always park where I am supposed to because I don’t want to inconvenience any business or resident. But I find, shall we say commercial vehicles, aren’t so considerate. I have also taken photos of what it was like trying to get out of the parking lot and back onto King.
There is always a perpetually parked UPS truck for Eastside Flats. For some reason they seem to always park right in front of the pedestrian crosswalks. The pedestrian crosswalks are lovely but people don’t get what they are and why they are there and they aren’t enforced, so crossing King there is still a bit of a game of chicken.
On the same side of the street as the municipal lot on the opposing corner was some kind of a clean out of another property. Two trucks. I have included another photo that shows where one of those trucks was parked which made it extraordinarily difficult to get out of there safely onto King because they were right on the corner.
Sightlines are supposed to be clear, right? it’s a safety issue right? It’s something that planners are always supposed to take into consideration and see that they are done properly right?
I adore Malvern Borough but I humbly suggest that they revisit some of these trouble spots with parking and traffic before somebody gets in an accident and hurt.
I’m chalking this up to growing pains. But it is something that this town needs to figure out as they grow and move forward into the future. It’s also what other towns should look at when they have giant developers who want to come build things on their Main Streets.
Bishop Tube is a toxic site. It has been through remediation to a point, but I can’t find anything for 2015 in as far as a public accounting of where the clean-up is. Now maybe an update exists, but is it posted publicly anywhere that is easily accessible? I am including a letter from Chester County Planning Commission from 2014 I do not think I shared before ( chester-county-planning-on-bishop-tube-march-2014 ).
Something that jumped out at me from said letter:
RECOMMENDATION: While the County Planning Commission supports single-family attached and multi-family residential development in the Suburban Landscape where infrastructure capacity can support such development, along with the implementation of adaptive reuse and infill strategies to redevelop abandoned industrial brownfield sites for moderate to high density multi- family housing designation, it does not appear that this location can support the density being proposed due to its existing physical and environmental characteristics. Additionally, the amendment petition does not appear to be consistent with the Township’s Comprehensive Plan and its vision for Community Mixed Use. The Commission recommends that East Whiteland Township deny the applicant’s zoning ordinance and zoning map amendment petition.
So that was 2014. We are now in 2017. East Whiteland has had Bishop Tube as a guest star topic at many meetings since then. So truthfully, I don’t know which iteration of Constitution Drive Partners LP anyone is looking at. Constitution Drive Partners = Brian O’Neill, remember?
Steep slope and very steep slope.Still the key here. They want to increase site density if they want relief from steep and very steep slopes, right? How many hundred units do they want? Last count was what, 264? And before that over 300?
Bishop Tube is what they call in crass terms a potential flipper baby site still, correct? Will super high amounts of residential density built on slabs with no basements solve all problems? Or is another use better for the site?
Forget about the problems with the site in the DEP and EPA categories and let us talk traffic, infrastructure, schools, basic township services. Why does East Whiteland want to be King of Prussia or Bensalem? Is that what the majority of the residents want? Or do residents actually want thought and carefully planned growth versus one construction explosion after another?
How many 1000s of living units are planned, approved, or are in various stages of approval in East Whiteland at this point? That also affects neighboring municipalities and anyone in the Great Valley School District.
And do not forget this interesting developer O’Neill article from December:
Bala Cynwyd>> A long awaited building project that was supposed to be part of the transformation of an old rock quarry along Rock Hill Road in Bala Cynwyd has officially gone back on the market. Except for a groundbreaking and some preliminary work a couple of years ago, the approved project never moved forward.
The site was to become a mixed-use development proposed by Brian O’Neill, owner of O’Neill Properties.
Monday, Kevin Flynn Sr. of The Flynn Company confirmed that his company has the property at 131 Rock Hill Road up for sale.
According to Flynn, the 8.2-acre site was approved for four buildings of four-stories each with parking decks underneath. There would also be a surface lot and numerous other amenities.
O’Neill owned the site since 2004, when it was purchased for $3.5 million, according to online Montgomery County records. In 2014, the site was sold to an LLC called Alexander Street, for $11.122 million as the preliminary work was being done. They were to be the financing arm of the project.
Another site across the street on Rock Hill Road had also been owned by O’Neill and had been sold in 2010.
It’s not clear why O’Neill is apparently divesting himself in his holdings in that area. Calls to the company this week were not returned.
In Lower Merion Township people went through YEARS of awful meetings over steep slopes and a developer driven zoning overlay known as ROHO. Has anyone asked Brian O’Leary of the Chester County Planning Commission about this as he would be very familiar with this plan given his time on Lower Merion Township’s Planning Commission?
I can’t see Bishop Tube from my window. But if I could I sure as heck would turn up at this meeting. Or if I lived at the edge of Malvern Borough where traffic here would become an issue. If I was a neighbor or affected by Bishop Tube, I would see that board room was packed.
Here are some of the old articles on Bishop Tube:
More photos which occurred during demolition and note they barely left a blade of grass or even a humble weed intact:
I have been writing about the ruins of Ebenezer A.M.E. Church and Graveyard for a few years now. I wrote two posts in May of this year alone:
Lately I have been really bummed out about the whole thing.
Because I do not get how the A.M.E. Church as a national organization about to celebrate themselves and their bicentennial in Philadelphia July 6 to July 13th as in right after 4th of July this year doesn’t seem to care about this historic and sacred place on land they still own!
I have a file of e-mails and attempted contact. National A.M.E. church leaders, regional leaders, local ministers. Some give an initial acknowledgement of my outreach, some have wasted my time with pleasant platitudes and a complete lack of action and I wonder if they really care, but most? Most just blow me off.
There are bits of newspaper articles here and there, including this one from the 19th century with horrible language that was sadly acceptable and not considered offensive back then:
It is maddening. These aren’t my ancestors, this isn’t my religious history per se, but this place speaks to me. It speaks to me of our country’s history and the important part these brave individuals buried there played. Freed slaves, free people of color, black Civil War soldiers. They matter. #ThisPlaceMatters — yet it rots.
Then, all of a sudden people have started to connect with me again about this place:
One of my friends…. lives in Malven Borough. She and her brother went o try and locate that headstone but weren’t successful. I’ve never been back to the site myself but would love to go once the poison ivy is gone. I don’t know the exact location..is it at the corner of Bacton Hill and 401 or Bacton Hill ? I don’t want to trespass. Their family has been around forever. Her father was a minister and there were a large number of siblings but all are gone. Thanks
And then this from another local historian I just met:
I recently had a lady reach out to me who’s looking for information on their relatives that were supposedly buried at that Ebenezer Church. I was hoping I would be able to find more information when I went there but everything was so grown over that we couldn’t even find the gravesite…The people that she is looking for is a James Williams, but he also went by the name Perry Ringgold. He bought his freedom in 1851 and lived in this area as a circuit preacher in the AME churches. He had a daughter who we do not have any records of and that is who I’m looking for. The daughter also had a daughter and then passed away shortly after the baby was born leaving the child to a Sophia Lane, who we do not know the relation of them to the baby. I think it may have been a sister-in-law
And then a lady named Tia contacted me. She is looking for family buried there. She is looking for the family the historian told me about above. She shared wondrous documents with me. The original deed, and a few other gems. I do not know where the originals of these documents are, but I was so happy to receive her e-mails.
It will take a village to save this. I would love to get the weeds hacked back so we can see the graves. It has been a couple of years. I heard the boy scouts will do this, but the gentleman I messaged who suggested it never responded.
If anyone from the A.M.E. church sees this, I really wish they would give a damn. We are talking about cleaning up and maintaining a historic sacred place. Is it as exciting as Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church in the Society Hill section of Philadelphia? No, but it is JUST as important. A lot of the history of these churches is being lost, not just here. Records were haphazard, a lot of the history oral.
Here is the text Tia sent me from the deed:
Deed of Trust
James Malin to Samuel Davis et al.
This indenture made the eleventh day of the sixth month in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty one between James Malin of the Township of East Whiteland in the county of Chester and state of Pennsylvania, yeoman of the one part and Samuel Davie, Ishmael Ells, Charles Kimbul all the said county of Chester, Trustees of the African Methodist Episcopal Church to erected in the Township of East Whiteland in the said County of Chester, of the other part. Witnesseth that the said James Malin as well for and in consideration of the trusts, hereinafter mentioned, created & declared for and in consideration of the sum of one dollar, lawful money of Pennsylvania, to him in hands paid by the said Samuel Davis, Ishmael Wells & Charles Kimbul, the receipt of which one dollar is hereby acknowledge, hath granted, bargained, sold, aliened, enfeoffed, released and confirmed and by these presents doth grant, bargain, sell, alien, enfeoff, release & confirm unto the said Samuel Davis, Ishmael Wells and Charles Kimbul, their heirs and assigns a certain lot or piece of land situate lying and being in the Township of East Whiteland aforesaid, beginning at a post or stone thence by land late of Doctor John Jacobs, deceased, north sixty degrees, east eight perches to a post or stone, thence by other land of the said James Malin, North thirty one degrees and an half, West nine perches to a post or stone, thence by same and land sold to Charles Kimbul, South sixty degrees west eight perches to a post or stone, thence by land late of John Jacobs now of Joseph B. Jacobs, south thirty one degrees and an half, East nine perches in the place of beginning, containing seventy two perches of land which Joseph M Paul by deed of Indenture dated the eighth day of the fourth month on thousand eight hundred and sixteen and recorded in the recorder’s office in and for the County of Chester in book M3, page 245, granted and conveyed unto the said James Malin, his heirs and assigns forever. Together with all & singular the ways, rights, liberties, privileges, improvements, hereditaments & appurtenance whatsoever thereunto belonging on or any wise appertaining and the reversions and remainders, rents issues and profits thereof, and also all the estate eight title interest use /codeftion property claiming demand whatsoever as well at law as in equity otherwise housover of him the said James Malin of in to and out of the same. To have and hold the said described lot or piece of land, hereditaments and premises hereby granted or mentioned or intended so to be with the appurtenances unto the said Samuel Davis, Ishmael Wells and Charles Kimbul and their heirs to the use and behoof of the said Samuel Davis, Ishmael Wells & Charles Kimbul their heirs & assign and the survivors and the survivor of them and the heirs and assigns of such survivors and survivor forever. In trust nevertheless and to the use, intents & purposes herinafter mentioned, expressed & declared that to say that the said lot or piece of land hereby granted and conveyed shall be appropriated as a place & spot of growing whereon to build and erect a church to be called and styled the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the Township of East Whiteland in the County of Chester for the members of said church to meet in and at, for the purpose of performing divine worship and for the erecting other necessary guildings for the conveniency and accommodation of the members of said church and for the purpose of a burial ground to bury and inter their dead and to and for no other use, intent or purpose whatsoever. And the said James Malin for himself his heirs, executors or administrators doth covenant, declare & agree to and with the said Samuel Davis, Ishmael Wells & Charles Kimbul & their several & respective heirs & assigns in manner following that is to say that upon the death of any one of them the said Samuel Davis, Ishmael Wells and Charles Kimbul or upon their or any of them being mindful or desirous to quit him or themselves of the said Trust, or upon their or any of them being expelled from religious membership by the discipline of said Church, it shall & may be lawful to & for the majority of the members of said Church in meeting assembled as often as occasion may require to make choice of another or others to manage and & requite the said Trust in the room and stead of such as shall depart this life, be desirous of parting him or their selves of the said Trust, or being expelled from religious membership as aforesaid. And the said Samuel Davis, Ishmael Wells and Charles Kimbul and the survivors and survivor of them and the heirs and assigns of such survivor shall at the request of the majority of the members of the said Church in meeting assembled as aforesaid convey the said lot or piece of land with the appurtenances agreeably to the Trusts, uses intents and purposes aforesaid to such person & persons and their heirs & assigns as shall be by the majority of the said meeting in that behalf chosen, nominated & appointed in order to keep on foot and in continuance the said Trust estate for the uses and purposes aforesaid. And also that the Samuel Davis, Ishmael Wells & Charles Kimbul or any or either of them shall not, nor will not at any time or times hereafter assign or convey over his or their said trust estate of or in the said dasonibet lot or piece of land and premises or any part therof unto any person or person or persons so as to make a tenancy in common or otherwise to sever the joint tenancy on the premises hereby created or intended so to be or in any other manner whatsoever buy shall stand and be (?) of the premises with the appurtenances to and for the uses, intents & purposes aforesaid, and to have no other use intent or purpose whatsoever. In witness whereof the said James Malin have hereunto set his hand and seal dated the day, month & year first above written. James Malin. Seal. Sealed & delivered in the presence of us John Rogers, James Dilworth, before me the Subscriber, one of the Justices of the peace in and for the County of Chester cam the above named James Malin and acknowledged the above written Indenture of Trust to be his ad & deed to the intent the same as such might be recorded according to law. In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hands and seal the eleventh day of the sixth month in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty one. James Dilworuth. Seal
Recorded Febry 18, 1832
Ok local history buffs, have I whetted your appetites yet? Come on, it took a village to get this far, what can the extended village do to save it?
And again, if anyone from the A.M.E. church is reading, please please step forward. Don’t just talk the talk, actually HELP.
I understand The probably there was no way to save the 19 century storefront given the decrepit buildings it was attached to. But this is the kind of waste that makes me crazy because someone has sat on this land for the better part of what? A decade or better?