west chester growers market at risk! help save the market!

marketAs shocking as it may sound, the Borough of West Chester might do something exceedingly dumb and horrible where the West Chester Growers Market is concerned.  The buzz around Chester County is that they are purportedly considering selling the lot that the market calls home!!!

How dumb is that?

I have been busy and was playing catch up with e-mail when I all but fell out of my chair last night.  I had received an e-mail from Melissa at Applied Climatology LLC – I buy plants from her at the West Chester Growers Market.  Here is what the e-mail said:

Hello Garden Club members!

We received some very concerning news last Friday.  If you are already on the West Chester Growers Market mailing list, then you may have already received this news via the market newsletter.

The borough of West Chester is entertaining offers for the sale of the parking lot where we hold our market each Saturday morning.

I’ve attached a copy of the official letter that the market vendors have composed for you, our valued customers.

Letter_to_the_Public

We hope you will consider writing to your local representatives to let them know what the market means to you. Even if you live outside of the borough, please consider writing these officials, as they need to hear from all of our loyal customers.  The borough website in the attached letter will provide you with both email addresses as well as a general mailing address.

If you are as concerned about the market’s longevity as we are, please contact the borough as soon as possible.

We are grateful for all of your support – past, present and future!

Thank you very much for your time

wc1

Seriously??  Could the Borough Council and Mayor of West Chester be such whores that they would render homeless one of the BEST things about the town of West Chester in fair weather months?  Would they really jettison the Grande Dame of local farmers markets? The market that inspired so many OTHER markets?

fresh veggies

With all the emphasis on eat local, buy local (you know that little thing called the localvore movement) why would West Chester Borough be so dumb?  Is all the borough wants to be known for something like that college party turned riot from last weekend?

The West Chester Growers Market has been a goodwill ambassador and champion of downtown West Chester since before there was a Business Improvement District isn’t that correct?  Speaking of the West Chester BID, what do they have to say? Are they ALSO that dumb that they would be behind a decision that if made would take feet off the street in a town they are supposed to promote and support businesses in?

jam

For Sale, Free, or Trade Chester County has posted a petition on Change.org.  Please consider signing it and sending it along to everyone you know.

This is what the petition letter says:

To: Carolyn Comitta, Mayor Holly Brown, West Chester Borough Council Member Cassandra Jones, West Chester Borough Council Member Charles Christy, West Chester Borough Council Member Jordan Norley, West Chester Borough Council Member Thomas Paxson, West Chester Borough Council Member Stephen Shinn, West Chester Borough Council Member John Manion, West Chester Borough Council Member Staff, Borough of West Chester

Keep The West Chester Grower’s Market at Church & Chestnut Street!
We, the residents in Chester County, would like to ask for your consideration in keeping the West Chester Grower’s Market at it’s current location.  The possible development no matter how high of a dollar figure can’t replace the community out reach that this market has created and sustained for 19 years.
Keep The West Chester Grower’s Market at Church & Chestnut Street!
We, the residents in Chester County, would like to ask for your consideration in keeping the West Chester Grower’s Market at it’s current location.  The possible development no matter how high of a dollar figure can’t replace the community out reach that this market has created and sustained for 19 years.
As residents and fellow business owners, we ask you to sincerely think about our community. The Grower’s Market brings not only families and locals to West Chester, but it brings residents from all over Chester County.  These residents then stroll the streets and patronize the local businesses around the Market.  Local West Chester neighbors have found a sense of community on that lot like no other.
We ask you to reconsider this decision.  When making the decision, think of how many businesses have not be able to sustain and have had to cave to the economy and close in West Chester over the past 19 years, and then think about what it takes to keep something going for 19 years in a town, the West Chester Grower’s Market has pulled it off!  Please do not stop them from Growing!

Sincerely, [Your name]

West Chester Does is also talking about this.  “Market Faces Possibility of Losing it’s Place in the Community” and they provide a link to West Chester Borough’s public officials contact information.  I like to go to the top so let’s start with the mayor:

Carolyn T. Comitta, Mayor

115 S. Brandywine Street
Tel: (610) 692-6521
ccomitta@west-chester.com
Term to expire 2014

I don’t feel like putting up every e-mail as I am a little pressed for time, but go to the web page where you get contact informationContact the borough council members and the Mayor. Sign the petition.  You can politely remind them that a fair number of them are up in 2014. To me it is never too early to start election issues if they are thinking about things as dumb as getting rid of the farmers market.

people

I have to ask is West Chester Borough really poor or something?  They can’t afford to keep this parking lot?  Or are they just that greedy and short-sighted?

I also would like to know what developer wants this lot.  They should be contacted too.  Is this a developer who has also bought up a lot of land in the borough or a new Johnny Jump Up?

Do you all know that some of this market’s vendors do good things like participate in the Pennsyvania Farmers Market Nutrition Program? This program, the  Pennsylvania Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) distributes checks to eligible seniors and Women, Infants & Children (WIC). These checks can be used at participating farm markets and roadside stands to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables which are grown (or are growable) in Pennsylvania.

This market is also about community, and no developer sucking up to a bunch of politicians can really create that except in the false, made for marketing material sense.

Please help save the market!  If you tweet try a hash tag like #SaveTheWCGrowersMkt

Together we can save this market.  It is a shame someone couldn’t buy the lot from the borough and give the market a 99 year lease or something, right?

The other alternative is if you own land this market could move to close to this lot with parking, please step forward.  The easiest and most properly right thing is for West Chester Borough to sit down and leave the farmers market and that parking lot  alone, but in case that doesn’t happen, it would be good to have alternatives that  could save this awesome market.

Thanks for stopping by. it’s a sin truly the way politics can potentially ruin a good thing and tradition like this…..

more market


chester county barn under siege by bentley homes

bentlery pigIn Easttown Township on Waterloo Road there is a barn called the Kennedy Barn by some, Mrs. Rossi’s Barn by others. Mrs. Rossi’s husband was the one who restored the barn most recently, apparently.  He was a co-founder of ANRO printing. So in a nutshell, this barn isn’t past salvation like many large and now unused barns.

The barn is described by the Inquirer today as “hundreds of years old.” Yet Tom Bentley of Bentley Homes can’t seem to do a thing with it, can’t seem to market it well enough to sell it.  He wants to demolish it.  You see the barn is standing between him and eight or so new McMansions.

Yes, some consider Bentley a better kind of developer.  I just see his homes as more upscale stone facing, stylistically over complicated and contradictory on the exteriors, yet still at their heart big Tyvec boxes on relatively small lots for the most part for their size. For the most part all they do is scream “NEW”.

I first became aware of Bentley years ago when working on a wine tasting for a Philadelphia Orchestra Committee.  Like many developers are wont to do, he lent one of his sample homes for the tasting.  I think it was over near Aronomink Golf Club.  The house was a large, drafty cavernous box with all the bells and whistles the nouveau riche of the Main Line would shrivel up and die without including a kitchen that you knew would be for show in the end rather than actual use.  It kind of went with his girlfriend at the time, a woman who looked like a rather less expensive version of Stevie Nicks.

I was disappointed when I moved out to Chester County when I realized one of my favorite streets in Malvern, Forest Lane, had sprouted a veritable infantry of Bentley Homes.  All but one is predictable and went up in about ten minutes.  So over there, the horse is out of the proverbial barn, nothing can be done.  But over in Easttown?  What the heck is wrong with their supervisors and planning commission?  Where is their historic commission on this?

Let’s get real: if Bentley wanted to save the barn, he would.  If he wanted to use the barn he would, because earlier developments of his sometimes included older structures, original to the property.  But nooooo, Bentley wanted to knock down the barn and leave some man-made ruin with a freaking plaque!  “Barn Wuz Here”. How fabulous and generous. Not.

And those on this commission in Easttown including a woman I think highly of for prior preservation and community building efforts think this is o.k.? I think I am the most disappointed in her.  And yes, I get how this all works and they are trying to make the best of a bad situation, but you know what?  Not good enough.

Bentley is a well-heeled developer.  If he wanted to, he could turn that barn into a living space adapted for modern use.  It is done all over the country, and has been done successfully on the Main Line and out here in Chester County as well.  Facing Forest Lane in Malvern on a corner of another development street just up from Bentley’s homes on Forest sits an amazing example of a barn converted to living space.  Friends of my family live in another such space on Upper Gulph Road in Radnor Township and there is also another converted barn space on Darby-Paoli Road that once belonged to a family I knew in high school and then to another a woman my mother used to know.  And circling back to Bentley, those houses he is building on County Line Road in Villanova?  It is amazing how many trees did not survive, isn’t it?

The point is, it can be done (the barn saved and turned into some sort of adaptive reuse, preferably residential), only Bentley doesn’t care and Easttown is willing to settle at the expense of its irreplaceable history. Not that Easttown is the only municipality guilty of these travesties.  As a bit if a related segue, I believe it is on one part or near Sugartown Road if you go the back way to hit that Buho Mexican restaurant in Exton you see a neat row of some houses that were quite lovely at one time which are now rotting.  Obviously some developer bought them and got hit by the economy tanking.  It makes you shake your head in wonder.  Every one of those houses could have been upgraded to more modern means if need be, but no, someday they will all come tumbling down for some more plastic boxes.

Chester County municipalities need to collectively wake up before everything is ruined out here.  Once the land is gone, it’s gone. Once the old buildings and historic structures are gone, they are gone.  I know every old house and every old building can’t be saved, but lordy at least make an effort once in a while. And that is the problem: none of these municipalities make a consistent effort any longer.

If any of you out there know anyone that can wrest this barn from Bentley or get him to save it on his own, please do.  Personally when I hear things like this I think next time there is an election Easttown residents should change-up the faces don’t you? It is time that deep pocketed developers stop running and ruining communities, isn’t it?

But if you see Tom Bentley cruising your neighborhood you can’t miss him.  He has a preposterous vanity plate.

Shame on Easttown Township.

Philadelphia Inquirer: Plans to demolish centuries-old barn raises hackles in Chester County

Aubrey Whelan, Inquirer Staff Writer
 Posted: Sunday, January 27, 2013, 3:01 AM

For two centuries, give or take a few years, an enormous stone barn has occupied a patch of land  now at the end of a winding Main Line driveway on Waterloo Road in Easttown Township.

In the township’s historic archives, it is known as the Kennedy Barn. For residents in the area, it’s Mrs. Rossi’s barn; for years, it was part of the estate of Rose Rossi, one of the cofounders of ANRO Inc., a printing company.

But lately, it has been the central figure in the Battle of the Barn, pitting longtime Main Line residents against a builder of some of the region’s largest and most luxurious residences.

The 10-acre parcel  on which the barn sits  is owned by Tom Bentley,  chief executive officer of Bentley Homes.

Bentley wants to build an eight-house subdivision on the Rossi estate and has contended  the barn is unmarketable. Leaving it  intact and building a house on the same lot would violate zoning ordinances.

He has offered instead to demolish most of the barn, leave its ruins on the site, and erect a plaque on Waterloo Road explaining its  historical significance.

On Tuesday night, the Easttown Township Board of Supervisors granted Bentley a demolition permit and permission to begin building his subdivision, with several caveats: He  must take 120 days to market the barn, and if he sells it, he must redraw lot lines in the subdivision to comply with zoning ordinances….Locals have cried foul….  Kemp Littlepage, who lives across the street from the barn, offered to buy it  from Bentley on the spot Tuesday night.

“I wouldn’t sell it to you anyway,” Bentley said.

If you want to call Tom Bentley’s office and tell him how you feel: 610.436.5500

If you want to e-mail Tom Bentley’s office and tell him how you feel: salesinfo@bentleyhomes.com

If you want to tell him on Facebook how you feel: http://www.facebook.com/BentleyHomes

Easttown barn demolition nears reality

 By BRENT GLASGOW bglasgow@dailylocal.com
Posted: Thursday, 01/03/13 02:42 pm
The reducing-to-ruin of a refurbished early-1800s barn in Devon is one step closer following Wednesday’s Easttown Planning Commission meeting.

The commission agreed to recommend approval of Bentley Homes’ application for demolition to the Easttown Board of Supervisors, with consideration given to requests from the township’s Historical Commission.

For months, the Planning Commission has heard from those who hoped to save the barn on the former property of Angelo and Rose Rossi at 222 Waterloo Road, which Bentley CEO Tom Bentley wants to turn into a 10-acre subdivision.