Ahh yes, another post about Malvern Borough. I could post more photos of the tiny small town that it is, but I will stick with a photo of the town mural and a couple of photos containing well worded graffiti on overpasses from elsewhere in Chester County.
Malvern Borough is a small town. It is surrounded, by rural, industrial, commercial and residential in the genre of exubrbia. Malvern is not and never will be the Main Line. Malvern shouldn’t want to be the Main Line, either. If Malvern wants to be like anyone, how about St. Peter’s Village or Narberth? Those are cute places who aren’t afraid to be the little home towns that they are.
Malvern historically has always had an identity crisis. Settled originally by Welsh immigrants in the 17th century, it was the site of the Paoli Massacre in 1777, it was a tiny little area that never had a name until 1873 and wasn’t even incorporated as a borough until 1889. It has always been small with King as the main road off the beaten path.
Malvern should be fine with who it is, but it seems part of the history of Malvern is a history of government issues. You might say it is one of Malvern’s long-standing traditions.
Malvern said yes to a relationship with Eli Kahn and gave birth to the yet unoccupied behemoth of a mixed use building. You know, because Malvern needs to be so urban. That building is perched unattractively right on the road with no care or thought to human scale let alone a design compatible to the SMALL TOWN surroundings. You can’t unring the bell on that project.
But Malvern and people around Malvern need to wake up to what is coming down the pike if they are not careful. T.O.D. or transit oriented development. Clever speak for cram those units in developers!
I have written about T.O.D. twice in 2013:
T.O.D. is no joke and at the most simplest of explanations won’t fit in Malvern Borough. We’re talking at least 600 residential units. I used to say that T.O.D. stood for Total Of Dumbasses. I still do. If Malvern Borough, as in the Mayor and Borough council are not stopped, it is not just the residents of the borough who will be impacted. Any other municipality that has borders will be impacted. I think East Whiteland will be impacted the most. And her residents will have no choice in the matter as this is Malvern Borough’s proposed stupidity.
What has provoked me to write again about this? Henry Brigg’s brilliant and ever so sad column in Main Line Media news today. It should be required reading it is that good.
He mentions a lady named Betty Burke who staged an uprising via a sit in on Christmas Eve in the 1970s to get rid of a corrupt local government. Well that fascinated me so I did a little research. Betty Burke died in 2011. I just read two things about her and it brought tears to my eyes. Now there was a woman I would have liked to have known.
Here, refresh your memories:
Burke Park is named for Betty and her husband Sam. A lot of what has made Malvern a cool place in the past 3 or 4 decades is because of this woman’s persistence.
So are there enough people who knew Betty and her husband Sam still around that they might stop and think about what is lurking for Malvern “is this what Betty would have wanted?” Or would Betty have told people to toss the elected officials out again?
Again, I never knew Betty. But wow, what I have read about her is amazing so I think she would be very sad for Malvern right now if she was alive.
Of course it is not too late if people wake up now. And don’t depend on local media to keep you abreast of things. Residents are going to have to do it the old-fashioned/old school way: pay attention and go to meetings. Use your power of the vote and change the faces of who govern you.
Stop the craziness in Malvern. Read Henry Briggs column:
This is a story about a storybook small town, one that could exist anywhere in the country, one that is being left open to attack by the very people who should be defending it.
It is 1.3 square miles with tree-lined streets…..lying between bucolic expanses of gentleman horse farms in Willistown and the corporate parks and exurban sprawl of East Whiteland.
Originally, when the whole area was working farm land, Malvern was a commercial hub, a place to buy supplies and sell the fruit of their labors…….Malvern has one traffic light, three little league fields, five churches, and, until a couple of years ago, one bar. The administrative office and police department are in the repurposed school house…..Traditionally, residents of small towns are quick to defend them.
When the town council turned corrupt in the early ’70s, Betty Burke, a nurse, mother, and political novice, led a bunch of other mothers in a Christmas Eve sit-in and coup that threw the bums out. Frank Capra would have loved it.
Traditionally, residents of small towns understand and cherish their unique qualities…..Malvern is at the bottom of a hefty political pyramid.
In recent years, special interests from that pyramid – with cooperation from leaders of the Malvern Council – decided that Malvern is just too small for the 21st century. They have been joined by developers who, like hawks in a summer sky, spot vulnerabilities that those on the ground never suspect.
Henry Briggs has written many a column that was like a love letter to Malvern. This is one of those letters. Except it is so achingly sad because it is like he is saying good-bye to an old, dear friend.
Malvern Borough residents old and new, will you save your town? Please?
Post Script: Thanks to local columnist and former Malvern Borough Council President Henry Briggs, I have two more columns about Betty and Sam Burke to share…in the hopes that remembering these simple people who worked so hard will inspire Malvern residents to shake off the cobwebs and save their small town before it becomes another Eagle or some plastic coated Toll Brothers-esque mess wrapped in Tyvec.