light a candle for the missing

As 2018 draws to a close, light a candle for the missing. I have lit two bay candles.

One candle is lit for Geoff Partridge of Villanova.

One candle is lit for Anna Maciejewska Gould of Malvern.

They have people who love them and the families deserve the answers they seek. My wish as I lit the candles are for the missing to find their way home.

I know neither of these missing people personally, but this could happen to any family.

Here’s hoping the new year brings answers and the missing do indeed find their way home.

Thanks for stopping by.

main line problems

DSC_3828Sometimes it is just so nice to be like a bird flying above the trees and fields.  You can watch and observe, and stay above the fray.

I called the Main Line home for most of my life.  It was a fun place to grow up, and well the Main Line of the past is certainly not the Main Line of today.  Ironically, a lot of people I grew up with and enjoyed as people now call Chester County home.

But yesterday was like fun x 2 = Main Line Problems.

And it makes me ever so grateful to not be there any longer.

First up let’s visit Radnor Township.  Radnor almost became a true victim of back room Delco politics until former Township Manager Dave Bashore got his and Radnor’s dirty laundry aired in public.  A lot of this public airing was because of a few brave individuals including a woman I respect a great deal named Christina Perrone.

When Bashore got fired as Radnor’s Township Manager a lot of things swirled into motion. Commissioners who were problematic ran away, Radnor’s solicitor at the time evaporated (and eventually resurfaced as innkeeper/owner of a bed and breakfast in the New York finger lakes district), a few supervisory and managerial types from the Bashore regime ended up as employees in some Chester County municipalities, and a few even ended up at other Chester County businesses.  It was like a political bubble burst and they scattered like raindrops. (Or ants leaving the picnic, whichever you prefer.)

However, not all of the politicians of this era disappeared.  There is one, who has been entrenched for easily 30 years.  He is like a cat with nine lives and then some.  His name is Bill Spingler, and he is the subject of the first ethics hearing in years on the Main Line this week in Radnor.

One would think Spingler would just retire. But people in Radnor say he is waiting for pet projects to go through.  You might think his ethics hearing had to do with is 2013 campaign shenanigans  ( see what got him into hot water here, here, here – all copied by Radnor employees on the taxpayer clock.)

Or maybe it would be the eternal question of where this guy really lives? After all the deeds don’t lie and this guy has purchased a new pad in Tredyffrin at Paoli Pointe, right? So that is a neat trick if he can be a Radnor commissioner by day and commute home whenever to Chester County, right?

But no, apparently it is his “work” at Villanova basketball games and something about pay to play at little league games.  And once again, it is brave Christina Perrone who has stepped forward to do the right thing. Truly, you can’t make this stuff up:

Ethics complaint against Radnor Commissioner Spingler amended again; Hearing set for Thursday

By Linda Stein Main Line Media News
lstein@mainlinemedianews.com Published: Monday, April 21, 2014

An ethics complaint filed against Radnor Township Commissioner John Spingler over his work at Villanova’s home basketball games has been amended again prior to a hearing set for April 24.

….“These admissions by Commissioner Spingler cannot be construed as anything other than business transactions,” Perrone wrote in her amended complaint. These “statements demonstrate that Commissioner Spingler is even more conflicted on Villanova University issues, including the CICD, than previously believed, due to the applicability of Radnor Code Section 39-5[A].”

That section states: “No elected or appointed official of the township…shall solicit or accept directly or indirectly any gift, favor, service, commission or other consideration that might reasonably tend to influence that official or employee in the discharge of the duties of office.”…

Of course where this gets even more interesting is now people have learned that the current township solicitor, John Rice, will be representing this politician? How is it the township solicitor is working for other than the good of the residents of Radnor? Does the solicitor in fact not work for the people, but just for the politicians? Doesn’t Commissioner Spingler know any more lawyers? (Asking a quasi- redundant question.)

And oh yes, this open meeting scheduled for April 24th at 6 pm (this Thursday) is now possibly going to be held as a secret, non-public meeting?  I know the lawyer representing Christina Perrone.  His name is Dan Sherry and he is very bright.

If this old politician had any style left he would simply resign and retire. but then again if the ethics charges stick, it could keep him from then retiring and moving onto Chester County politics, right? But the thing is this: is the whole system in Radnor rigged in a nice Main Line way?

And now for the news that really makes me glad I am off the Main Line: two graduates of The Haverford School for boys have been arrested for masterminding a drug ring that can only be described as “Breaking Bad” meets “Weeds”.  One guy was living on Barrett Avenue in Haverford. That is a lovely street with lots of children.  He is like 25 or 26.  The other ringleader is just 18 years old and lives with his parents in Villanova.  How do you put your family at risk like that?

These guys had a network and had minions working for them at Haverford School, Haverford College, Harriton High School, Lower Merion High School, Conestoga High School, Radnor High School, Lafayette College and I think even Gettysburg.

It even made the national network news and Wall Street Journal this morning:

Wall Street Journal: US News: Eleven Charged in Drug Ring on Philadelphia’s Main Line

By SCOTT CALVERT
April 21, 2014 7:29 p.m. ET

Prosecutors said Monday they had broken up a marijuana and cocaine trafficking ring allegedly run by two graduates of a suburban Philadelphia prep school and centered on the affluent area known as the Main Line.

Authorities announced charges against nine adults and two juveniles as part of an investigation that resulted in the seizure of drugs and three guns.

The two alleged leaders referred to the distribution ring as the “Main Line take over project,” according to court records, which quoted text messages in which they discussed plans to dominate marijuana sales at schools in the Philadelphia suburbs.

“They tried to infiltrate our schools, not for educational purposes, but to make money and to drag others into the downward spiral that their lives had become,” Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman said in a statement. The seizure of guns and a variety of drugs showed that the operation posed a “significant danger” to the community, she said.

The two alleged leaders—25-year-old Neil Scott of Haverford, Pa., and 18-year-old Timothy Brooks of Villanova—are graduates of the private Haverford School, where both played lacrosse, according to an affidavit of probable cause. This year’s upper school tuition is $34,800.

“We’re appalled and shocked and horrified,” said Haverford School Headmaster John Nagl, adding that the all-boys school was “determined to learn from this and build a better school and a better community that understands the risks to boys and helps them make better choices.”

I have to feel sorry for the headmaster quoted above.  John Nagl is the new headmaster and these guys arrested came up through this elite private school under the former headmaster Joseph Cox.

To be honest, I have not much positive to say about the Haverford School of today.  I lived for years in one of the neighborhoods that had the misfortune to call this school a neighbor.  They treated their neighbors poorly and it was a top down approach starting with the now former headmaster.  I found him to be a huge jerk.

Throughout the years I have had many friends who graduated from Haverford School.  As did their fathers and uncles and brothers.  They weren’t this kind of graduate.  I also know people who have kids in lower school, middle school, upper school, and those who have graduated. A lot of these people basically indenture themselves so their boys can have the advantages of going to a school like that.  It’s just crazy.

These dealers are young.  They have tanked their lives, and to what end? A misplaced sense of entitlement and easy cash?  And the effect their selfish actions will have on all of their families is another sad thing to comprehend.  After all, it’s the Main Line so people might stop talking to your face about what your kid did, but the whispers will never go away.

I keep thinking how bright these young men must be and how different their lives could have been if they just worked for things legitimately. It is a sad commentary on the culture of the Main Line today.  The whole culture of misplaced sense of entitlement.

I sound like an old fart, and I don’t mean to.  This just is blowing the mind of everyone I know who not only grew up on the Main Line but who went to one of these schools. Not that drugs and the Main Line have never been uttered in the same sentence.  As one friend of mine said : “Both public and private schools are involved in this. And it’s not like this situation is new, it’s been happening in these schools for decades. Choose your decade, choose your drug of choice.”

This however, is pretty big.  And it is scary. We can educate our children and try to steer them to make the right choices, yet things can go wrong, majorly wrong.

Makes me glad I am not on the Main Line any longer. These problems are everywhere, don’t misunderstand me, its just that this is the situation which will destroy lives and families.  And for what? Being able to keep up with the Main Line Jones more easily? Sad.

Main Line Media News/Pottstown Mercury: Prep school drug ring busted; 11 arrested (photos)

By Richard Ilgenfritz, rilgenfritz@21st-centurymedia.com
POSTED: 04/21/14, 12:45 PM EDT | UPDATED: 10 HRS AGO

Prosecutors say two former Main Line students at the Haverford School set up an elaborate drug ring in an attempt to take over the Main Line drug trade at several area schools and colleges. The schools included some of the most privileged public and private schools in the region.

Authorities announced Monday the arrests of Neil K. Scott, 25, of Barrett Avenue in Haverford and Timothy Brooks, 18, of Cedar Lane in Villanova as the main suppliers.

Daniel McGrath, 18, of Glenolden; John Rosemann, 20, of Weston, Conn.; Christian Euler, 23, of Villanova; Garrett Johnson, 18, of New York; Reid Cohen, 18, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey; Willow Lynn Ore, 22, of Philadelphia; Domenic Curcio, 29 of Philadelphia and the two juveniles have been identified as the sub-dealers.

…..So far eight adults have been taken into custody while another adult is being sought for arrest. Two juveniles, one a student at Lower Merion and the other a student at Radnor, have also been charged….Information from the Main Line Times, www.mainlinemedianews.com

Note to the Main Line of today: you reap what you so and how sad is that?  You see it’s not all grand houses, fancy cars, and designer clothes.  With affluence (or an affluent society) there should come a sense of greater good and doing the right thing.  But unfortunately, that was the Main Line of years ago, wasn’t it?

let’s talk election turkey, chester county

Politics and I have a love hate relationship. Lately it has been a supreme turn-off basically because I feel under assault from robo calls and a mind boggling display of obnoxious lawn signs (from both parties).

Seriously GOP, a robo call from Newt Gingrich at 7:15 in the morning is a bit much. This morning Arizona Jan Brewer called me.  Because you know she and I are tight BFFs, right?  I have also received robo calls from Barbara Hafer, Newt Gingrich, and no foolin’ home schoolin’ Rick Santorum. And Ann Romney – she and I have also made a date to go shopping, apparently.

If the political inundation isn’t enough from THAT side of the aisle, there are all the people who call for Obama that aren’t Obama. And then there are the Democrats’ ads.  You know like pick your congressman by their hair.  Really Manan Trivedi, that was the best you could come up with?

Here is how I feel about Jim Gerlach: I like the man and have known him for years.  I will admit I am a little disgusted the way he seems to have been sucking up to the fringe of the Republican Party and may have drunk too much tea, but I think that is more his campaign than him.  I know the good Jim Gerlach is capable of and does do every day.  He was my congressman in Lower Merion before my move to Chester County.  I am no one special and he has made much time for me and my questions over the years, so for the measure of the man, I still think he is aces.

I have met Manan Trivedi too.  He gets bonus points for being a candidate that doesn’t politick at non-profit sponsored events.  Which is more than I can say for Lower Merion ex-pat Bret Binder (but I will get to that in a moment.)

Manan Trivedi might be nice, he may have served his country admirably, but that doesn’t mean he is the right choice or equipped for public office.  He was plucked up last Obama election cycle by the Democrats to ride Obama’s coattails.  I think they figured their other election strategies hadn’t worked against Gerlach (they had pitted the whiny Lois Murphy against him, and others like Bob Roggio who used to politick at every non-profit event possible) so they picked Manan.

I think they picked Manan Trivedi basically because he represented another minority.  That type of political pandering is disgusting. He is a nice man, but he doesn’t have the chops, nor am I sure he actually lives in the district.  He is sort of like the Democrats’ answer to Rick Santorum on the whole residency thing and we all know how well that worked out at the time, don’t we?

I can’t vote for Manan Trivedi.  He is a nice guy who will just be a puppet.  There is enough of that in Washington.

But let us talk about the PA senate race for a minute, shall we?  As a woman, Tom Smith terrifies me.  Period.   Bob Casey will never light the world on fire, but I just can’t go the extreme to Tom Smith as a woman. (And I believe interestingly enough that before Tom Smith was a tea partier, he was a Democrat? Is that like confusion in politics?)  I also have a parent who collects social security and is on medicare, and I don’t believe his about-face on social security and medicare.  He can trot out aged mama in all the television ads he wants but the simple truth is his mother would never be affected by cuts to either as her son is a very wealthy man. And Tom, global warming is not a hoax.  Look at Hurricane Sandy.

Onto State Senate.  I am new to Chester County, but I like Andy Dinniman.  truthfully, I could not even tell you the name of his opponent.  Andy truly tries to work in a bi-partisan way for all the residents he serves.  I happen to respect and like that in my state senator.

However, I can’t say that I will show that love to Democrat Bret Binder.  Bret Binder is running for State Representative.  He is an ex patriot of Lower Merion Township, and to be honest, having recently moved out of Lower Merion and having lived how the Democratic majority there has made a mess out of Lower Merion even though they claimed they wouldn’t, I just can’t support someone like Binder.

And I am annoyed when he tells people he is “fully local” and is from Lower  Merion in the same breath.  Never the twain shall meet.

Hey look, as someone new to Chester County from Lower Merion I am not going to tell anyone I am “fully local”. I am not.  I am new to this area. Period.  And as someone who literally feels like they can breathe because I have escaped the horrid politics of Lower Merion I am not going to support someone born out of Lower Merion Democrats.  And that is not to say all Lower Merion Democrats are bad, but those who are in power do not even represent all the voices of Lower Merion Democrats.  Suffice it to say it is very Boss Tweedy in Lower Merion and I don’t want that again where I call home and I do not believe without the financial support of those outside the district he wants to run in, would he have made it this far.  Bret Binder’s campaign finance reports tell a tale of support from OUTSIDE Chester County. That is fine, everyone has a right to contribute how they see fit, but the thing is this: he is going to represent us, and who the heck is he?  Other than a Democrat from Lower Merion?

And what else? Oh yes, Bret Binder is currently running an ad against Dan Truitt where he laments the public school system.  People, he went to Harriton, which is a study of privilege and excess.  It’s certainly not your average public school, so I wouldn’t bet the farm on him from that angle, either.  Bret Binder also stretches and shapes the truth to fit his needs (as any good lawyer is wont to do) as far as Charter Schools getting money.   What is wrong with charter schools seeing some of the educational money available?   Does Mr. Binder have or has he had children in the public school system in West Chester?  The West Chester Area School District is haphazard and broken in my opinion (and I am allowed even if some will find that opinion irritating).

Mr. Binder should not be judged harshly if he is single and has no children in the district, don’t misunderstand me on that.  But I do know a lot of people in the West Chester Area School District who have pulled their kids out of this school district because of the problems in this district.  If you can’t afford private or parochial school, charter school is one of the few options out there.  And let me tell you this much: because of the West Chester Area School District feeling threatened by charter schools, charter schools in this area probably get about half of what they deserve.  And do not tell me that the WCASD can’t be petty about this, just ask anyone who wants their kid on a bus for any school other that West Chester Area School District Public Schools.

Mr. Binder made an appearance at the East Goshen Farmers Market which was recorded for posterity. Now the East Goshen Farmers Market is run kinda by a non-profit, right? The Friends of East Goshen? So why would Lisa O’Neill who is a member of this 501(c)(3) and one of the people who runs the farmers market be in a political ad so to speak?  Binder gets a grade of an F of politicking at a non-profit sponsored event that is SUPPOSED to be NON political and using it for campaign purposes like advertising and marketing, but wow really? One would think the farmers market folks would have known better?  That is the kind of stuff that can harm a non-profit status is it not?

Bret Binder candidate for State Rep. at East Goshen Farmers Market with Lisa O’Neill who runs the market for Friends of East Goshen Township

Now onto the presidential vote of it all.  I have to tell you that as of this minute writing this post, I am torn.  There is quite frankly so much I do not find appealing in both major candidates.

At the end of the day it may come down to the size of government, however.  While we have suffered through an economic period potentially as devastating as the Great Depression there is one sector that has had enormous job security: big government.  It keeps getting bigger and more Orwellian big brotherish.  I am not comfortable with that.

In this case, maybe change is good? Tomorrow will see.  But please, whatever you do, vote your own conscience tomorrow.  Do not vote a certain way because you were told to.  Hope, change, and forward are just words. Remember that.

I remain, as always, an opinionated inveterate ticket splitter.  I have not been compensated for any of my opinions by any candidate, nor do I donate finacially to campaigns.  I make my own decisions and am my own woman politically.  Sometimes it makes me feel like Alice in Wonderland Party of One, but seriously? I think that is the best way to be.  Politically Stepford I am not, and no matter how you vote tomorrow, that is what I encourage people to do: do not be politically Stepford.

Do not just pull one lever for one party if you have doubts about some candidates.  Mix it up.  It’s between you and your God, no one will know unless you tell them.

In my mind, the solution in American politics is simple: we need a return to balance.  Political extremism is ruining this country. So is not being able to hear the actual voice of the candidates over the din of the political party machines.

One size does not fit all in politics, either. And my last word on the subject? I wish municipalities would zone the SUPER sized political signs out of existence.  They are obnoxious.

sandy storm photos – send them in for posting!

Hi there gentle readers.  I hope everyone has battened down the hatches for however Hurricane Sandy turns out?

I have a proposition for all of my readers: send me storm photos for posting.  I learned a long time ago that if you want to enact change, photos help. The photos you are CURRENTLY looking at are photos I took where I used to live in Lower Merion Township and one from Conshohocken. The snapped tree was courtesy of Irene last year.

So if you have flooding photos and you want them out there, send them to me via sandysnaps <at> spamex <dot> com

That is sandysnaps @ spamex . com – Sorry due to spammers, I will not have this as just a hyperlink to click and go.

Alternately you can tweet me at @gossipgirl19380

I am happy to attribute photos, tell me who gets credit, and *MOST* importantly give me precise locations. Or I will post photos anonymously if you live in a municipality that has shall we say, issues?

I am particulalrly interested in photos where development may be occuring or is currently occuring or has just been completed. I am also interested in areas that chronically flood and often wait until the bitter end for help to arrive.

One spot  of particular curiousity which should not be overlooked by anyone is where the Borough of Phoenixville is building their over-priced new municipal hall.  I passed it last night while in Phoenixville and thought I should defininately put that location out there as a site for good storm photos because it always floods, doesn’t it? And correct me if I am wrong, but the plans for that needlessly overpriced new borough hall doesn’t really have proper flood remediation built in, does it?  Wasn’t that the plan where the plan is put the garage underneath so everyone’s cars drown and there is lots of potential litigation from that?  Anyway, I figure a way to preserve the taxpayer investment and future costs here is to have irrefutable proof that they need a real plan or they should stop and move sites.

Phoenixville has a fun downtown at night.  They need better parking and I notice they have the parking authority people out chalking tires on a Saturday night, and truthfully, most municipalities don’t do that.  They leave it as the police can tow people from certain zones and are done with it.  But then again, people tend to question how Phoenixville spends money – they spend way too much on a manager, they spend way too much on a school superintendant – seriously for a borough barely squeaking by in any economy they pay Main Line prices.

But enough picking on Phoenixville which always floods so badly, from Tredyffrin through to West Vincent and Oxford and wherever, if you have storm photos, or storm info, send it in.   Also feel free to leave comments about where the power is out and if roads are blocked.

Hopefully Sandy will be a non-event for Chester County.

My final note is DO NOT PUT YOURSELVES IN HARM’S WAY TO SEND ME PHOTOS. 

But do document flooding and damage.  It is helpful for getting things corrected so situations do not repeat themselves. I will also take Main Line storm photos if it will help any of you out there near where I used to live.

Thanks and stay dry!

 

 

tredyffrin has hired a new manager…

So, Tredyffrin has a new manager.  I still have a bad taste in my mouth from what the exiting manager Mimi Gleason and VP of the Board of Supervisors John P. DiBuonaventuro did to fellow blogger and friend and all around awesome lady, Pattye Benson who authors Community Matters.

Tredyffrin has hired one of their hometown boys, Bill Martin, formerly of Radnor Township fame and the Bashore years.  Not that Bill Martin was a particular fan of Bashore’s (I was told he wasn’t), he was just from that truly unfortunate era.  An era which took the fortitude of some persistent residents, commissioners, and others who were on the up and up to correct.  It was not, however, without blood shed.

Bill Martin went from assistant township manager (and vartious other positions) in Radnor to interim township manager in Radnor in early 2010 when Radnor was saved from the debacle of almost hiring problematic ex-Coatesville manager Paul G. Janssen Jr. as interim township manager.  Martin, however, was ultimately passed over for the permanent manager position when Bob Zienkowski was bought in from Ohio.

I will tell you honestly I am of the Radnor Bob Zienkowski fan club and with good reason – he is amazing. He doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk.   That man walked in to a hot mess, rolled up his sleeves, and got busy.

As an aside, some timely news about Radnor as it relates to Chester County is Bob Zienkowski suggested at the October 15th, 2012 public meeting that Radnor consider studying to leave Delaware County and to join either Chester or Montgomery County.  Yes, municipal secession (see Radnor meeting on You Tube for 10/15/12 and start listening just before 9 minutes 42 seconds to catch this.) The irony is I have always felt Radnor Township had more in common with Chester County versus Delaware County,  but I digress.

Ok back to Bill Martin.  After Radnor, he went to Bridgeport – a very tiny municipality in Montgomery County.  He has been there about a year as per newspaper article I found. Of course, Bill Martin joins another mid level Radnor refugee of the Bashore era, Matt Baumann, who is Tredyffrin’s current Director of Planning and Zoning.  Matt helped me when I got the historical marker for the Wayne Natatorium.  He’s a heck of a nice guy.

Bill Martin is also a nice guy from what I have always heard told.  But truthfully, Tredyfrrin as I see it is a municipality in need of serious remediation ASAP.  And choosing a manager who may or may not be a politically connected local resident may not be the way to go here.  I am actually going to disagree somewhat with my esteemed blogging colleague Pattye Benson ever so slightly.

Pattye comments that this is the first time a Tredyffrin Township Manager is a  Tredyffrin resident and lives in the township.  Now I agree with the residency part, and I think the departing and in the end disappointing Mimi Gleason is actually a West Chester area resident.  What I do not agree with is choosing someone who lives in Tredyffrin now as a manager.  I think the best thing that could have happened to Tredyffrin would have been a new Township Manager coming in from waaaay outside Tredyffrin and the area, truthfully.

I hope I am wrong, but I wonder if Bill Martin will have the chops in the end to take on what needs doing in Tredyffrin.  Tredyffrin has historically been subject to whispers – people are afraid of retribution. And before you poo poo me here, look what happened to Pattye Benson when she spoke up?  That still does not sit right with me, and I still believe that troll of a supervisor John P. DiBuonaventuro as well as Tredyffrin Township’s administration owes her an apology, don’t you?  In true lettergate fashion, I say a written apology.

Insular politics and politics of one party rule without much balance is bad for a community – just look at the snarl of tangled politics that is Lower Merion Township.

So I will be looking for Bill Martin to be an independent voice, beholden to no one.  I hope he can accomplish that.  I hope after what he saw and experienced at Radnor Township during the Bashore years that he can bring a different tone to Tredyffrin.

Congratulations Bill Martin, but my oh my you have a large job ahead of you.

Tredyffrin Appoints New Township Manager/Something about the new manager is very different than his predecessors.

ByBob Byrne  Email the author  5:56 am

Community Matters and TE Patch Blogger Pattye Benson reports that Tredyffrin Township’s Board of Supervisors has appointed a new Township Manager to replace Mimi Gleason, who left the position in September 17 after ten years with Tredyffrin Township…..What sets him apart from Gleason and others who have served as Tredyffrin Township Manager is that Martin is a resident of the township.

Full details on the new manager can be found here on Pattye Benson’s Community Matters/TE Patch Local Voices blog post.

malvern’s mistake

I have written before how I feel that Malvern’s super-sizing via the Eli Kahn development on King Street is a huge mistake.

In March, the Daily Local had one of its nameless editorial columns on it.  As was the case with a couple nameless, faceless editorials on West Vincent, they were off the mark on Malvern too.  And honestly, part of my problem with these editorial is that if you want to go incognito on a blog, that is one thing, but if you are writing for a large local and regional paper, sign your name.

So the Daily Local said at the time:

At a recent meeting of the Malvern Business and Professional Association, developer Eli Kahn told the group about his plans to transform East King Street in the borough, now home to small industrial complexes, into a vibrant residential and retail swath that he calls “a walkable environment … a better environment to work in.”

Kahn is the man who with his partner Jack Loew purchased two large buildings from Chester County in West Chester’s so-called “first block,” ….In Malvern, Kahn said he had gotten the idea 12 years ago to begin work on a new mixed-use environment there. He said the five-year venture in 18 months will produce 25,000 square feet of retail space with “quality residential” space above it and expanded parking below and outside…“Success is a mix of business, shopping and quality residential,” he said. “West Chester has been very successful over the past five years,” and a like result can occur here. “The charm of Malvern is what’s making this project successful.”

 

We hope that Kahn will continue his efforts to be forthcoming about plans for the West Chester property. It sounds as though he is on the right track in Malvern.

Ok, did the nameless, faceless anonymous editorial column writers walk the site?  Or did they merely expound upon a developer feel-good press release?

I went to the site today while running errands.  I was profoundly disturbed by what I saw, and can easily envision for the future.  Yes, it is a site that should be redeveloped. But why not a park and a couple of stores?  Or something Malvern lacks? Sufficient parking?

Malvern Patch also has covered this development.   Much like The Daily Local has. The Daily Local has also covered the Kahn-ism of West Chester too.  In both cases, I feel in my heart of hearts, this will when all said and done, like letting the proverbial fox in the hen-house.

West Chester has a good formula in their downtown now, which I saw more of this morning when I went to the West Chester Grower’s Market.   Carolyn Comitta and Holly Brown better keep their heads on right, lest they  ruin a good thing.

Developers always say the right thing when they come a courting, but what happens when they leave?

Which brings me back to Malvern.  You know what I think Eli Kahn and Jack Loew’s project is going to be like when it is done?  A super-sized Charleston Greene.  And over the years, how has Toll’s Charleston Greene worked for you ,Malvern?

As I went back and forth through Malvern today, checking the streetscape, I had to wonder if they needed super-sized development anymore than Ardmore, PA does? In Ardmore, the residents wanted a new train station which may never appear in anyone’s lifetimes now, but on Monday apparently there is a press conference about the work beginning on the Paoli Transportation Center.

As I said before, as long as I can remember has had an unfortunate identity crisis – mostly stemming from local officials as opposed to residents.  The borough of Malvern has a charm that doesn’t need super-sizing with giant Tyvec wrapped buildings that will end up looking like a New Urbanism Disneyland.

Malvern will sacrifice any  charm of the area  and the traffic will be a nightmare.

I think parts of Malvern may end up looking as unattractive as parts of Eagle, another tiny community developers had a “vision” for.  When municipalities suffer an identity crisis, the residents and business owners are the ones who suffer in the end.

I sure hope I am wrong about Malvern and these plans, but I don’t think so. What I see are future buildings just sitting right on the street without sufficient setbacks like Jabba the Hutt, architecture (if you can call it that) that picks up zero cues from its surroundings, over-abundance of density abutting train tracks and an urban feel all wrong for a somewhat sleepy  and small Chester County borough town.

And mark my words, just because they build it it does not mean they will come.  And if they come, they might not be what you wanted.

But the horse is out of the barn on this one. So we’ll just wait and see.  Hopefully I won’t be able to say I told you so.  But again, honestly, I think Malvern had better enjoy Malvern before it’s gone.

 

up in smoke: historic bloomfield in villanova burns

I believe I was in 9th or 10th grade the last time there was a fire at the historic Radnor Township mansion known as Bloomfield.    Bloomfield was built at the turn of the 20th century in the Radnor Township portion of Villanova on the bones of a Victorian Estate built for  Albert Eugene Gallatin in the 1880’s.  Bloomfield was built by Horace Trumbauer and her gardens were designed by the Olmstead brothers.

This place in my opinion was like Radnor’s La Ronda and it was a marvel it had survived this long without being torn down or bastardized.  It looked like a French Chateau with fabulous gardens and a graceful, grand presence.  It was being rented by a Canadian family at the time of the fire – which began mid-afternoon yesterday.

I went today to the site and when I got out of my car there were some news vans at the estate entrance on S. Ithan and the air smelled heavily of smoke.  As I went to take my photos I also glanced up the street shows the gaping, ravaged land where private school Agnes Irwin had been reportedly blasting this week.

There were many gapers and gawkers on the driveway and the road when I arrived and I wandered around with a local reporter from Radnor Patch  (Sam Strike) taking photos.  We got up the driveway to in front of the fencing now surrounding the site where we were met by a Radnor police officer who was none too happy to see us and asked us to leave.  He also threatened to take my camera.  He was just doing his job.

So we left, and we got some good photos, and as we wandered back down the driveway, there were yet more gawkers, so I would not be surprised if they did not soon post a police car at the foot of the driveway.

People are driving up and down S. Ithan hoping for a glance of the scene, and I found others back around Trianon Lane, where you can see glimpses of the gardens, house, and pool from behind wrought iron fencing.

NBC10 is reporting that investigators are trying to find a cause.  The state police fire investigator is now reported to be in charge of the investigation.  I was told that around 175 volunteer fire fighters responded from several companies from all over the area to fight this fire.  (This as a related aside is why everyone should support their local first responders and on the Main Line and in Chester County they are a predominantly volunteer force.)  First responders came from  Radnor, Bryn Mawr, Ardmore, Gladwyne, Penn Wynne, King Of Prussia, Manoa and Newtown Square.

They say the slate roof made it hard for firefighters to break into the roof and battle the fire.  I am also told some firefighters may have suffered some issues due to the heat, etc of the fire.  God bless them for what they did, because truthfully, I know many people near the mansion who had fears of the fire jumping via the trees surrounding the property.   With wind and fire, you just never know how it will travel.

The mansion was most recently owned by Jerald Batoff, son of a former Democratic fundraiser heavyweight, William “Bill” Batoff.   I looked at Delaware County property records yesterday and Batoff had only owned it a few years.  I am told by neighbors that although it had renters, the mansion had been for sale.  Apparently a movie soon to be released called “Safe” was partially filmed there in 2010 – the mansion was a film double for New York City’s Gracie Mansion.

I think this is an incredibly sad loss if this mansion ends up not being rebuilt (I am sure residents will now be nervous that the mansion will be razed and the land sold for some sort of development because that would be a natural thought process after a fire of such devastation), and it is but for the grace of God that people weren’t killed because of this fire.

Here’s the coverage:

Radnor Patch: History Goes Up in Flames at Radnor Mansion:Bloomfield was home to historic architecture.  By Bob Byrne and Sam Strike  Email the authors  5:51 am

When fire tore through the mansion named Bloomfield on South Ithan Avenue on Wednesday, it not only repeated history, but also destroyed it.

Watching with a crowd of neighbors as Bloomfield burned, real estate agent and home builder Jeff Bader lamented what he was seeing.

“It’s a shame. They don’t build them like that anymore,” Bader said about the home with 19 bedrooms, a 25 by 35-foot ballroom and six-car garage.

“You can’t replicate the workmanship and design,” Bader told Patch as firefighters moved into the third hour of fighting the flames.

Historic Main Line mansion falls to fire

By Bonnie L. Cook and Robert Moran  Inquirer Staff Writers

A historic Main Line mansion in Radnor Township was gutted by a fire  Wednesday afternoon.

An automatic alarm was triggered shortly before 2:30 p.m., and by the time  firefighters arrived, flames could be seen shooting through the roof of the  three-story structure on the estate known as Bloomfield, said Township Fire  Marshal Don Wood.

A man and woman who were renting the property got out safely with their two  dogs and a rabbit in a cage, Wood said. Three firefighters suffered minor  injuries.

The fire, which started in an area between the main house and an adjoining  garage, was declared under control before 6 p.m., but fire crews were still  putting out hot spots well into the night, Wood said.

About 10 companies and 175 firefighters responded to the blaze, which was the  equivalent of four alarms, Wood said.

As they battled the towering flames, the mansion was veiled in white smoke  that would occasionally clear enough to reveal the charred remains….The estate was originally the site of the Victorian home of Albert Eugene  Gallatin, which was built around 1885.

George McFadden Jr., a cotton tycoon, acquired the estate, and in the early  1920s he hired famed Philadelphia architect Horace Trumbauer to remake the main  residence ….It became known as Bloomfield, the name of a branch of the family, the  historical society reported in a 1988 newsletter article.

McFadden died when he was electrocuted by a steam cabinet in a bathroom, the  article said, but the estate remained in the family until 1984.

In late 2010, the 5.87-acre estate served as a double for Gracie Mansion, the  official residence of New York City’s mayor, for the Jason Statham action movie Safe…Bloomfield, listed for sale last year at $6.9 million, had 19 bedrooms and  nine full baths in its 22,000-plus square feet of living space, officials  said.

County records show the property is owned by Jerald Batoff, the son of the  late William Batoff, a prominent Democratic fund-raiser.

NBC10: No Cause Yet for Main Line Mansion Fire/State authorities take over investigation into massive Villanova mansion fire

By   Dan Stamm and  Rosemary Connors
|  Thursday, Apr 5, 2012  |  Updated 2:56 PM EDT

On Thursday all that was left of a once a sprawling Main Line Mansion was the charred remains and stone walls.

Just a day earlier flames broke out at the historic Horace Trumbauer-designed mansion at 200 S Ithan Avenue in Villanova, Pa….On Thursday the State Police and state fire officials took over the investigation into the cause of the multi-alarm blaze at the 22,000-plus-square-foot home as authorities remained quiet as to what could have caused the massive blaze.

Neighbors told NBC10 that renters were apparently inside when the fire started…A few firefighters suffered minor injuries battling the blaze.

Delaware County assessed the property for nearly $2.25 million in August 2006 but the historic home, built more than 100 years ago, could be worth more.

The property is valued at nearly $5 million on Zillow.com….According to the home’s property record, the three-story, single-family home was built in 1905 and includes 19 bedrooms, 12.5 bathrooms, nine fireplaces, a full basement and a pool.

Fire struck the house once before. In 1978, flames consumed a large portion of the upper level.

Jerald Batoff bought the home in 2001, according to Delaware County records. The home was up for sale in the Fall for $6.9 million, a real estate source tells NBC10. It doesn’t appear it ever sold.