should there be sheffield shaming in malvern?

this photo is from Malvern Community Forum

  
Sheffield Furniture & Interiors has been a Malvern Borough mainstay for a long time. But this is not the view most of us see traveling up and down King. 

This is what residential neighborhoods behind them and across the train tracks see. Not a particularly lovely design is it ? Sort of an abomination isn’t it?  

Why can’t they paint it every few years with anti- graffiti paint? Sherwin-Williams actually makes an anti-graffiti coating that does this that can go over painted walls.

Graffiti is everywhere and I think it would be nice if Malvern Borough encouraged businesses with graffiti to clean up. And what if a mural went on that wall and was covered with that anti graffiti coating? Wouldn’t that look cool?

And the rear of Eastside Flats shows the cheapness in that project. Eastside Flats is just that: flat. Only the facade has any sort of detail. The side and rear of Eastside Flats looks like a large looming cheap shore motel.

Malvern Borough should also see if Amtrak and / or SEPTA have any beautification monies ever that could help defray the cost of graffiti removal, anti- graffiti , and even help fund murals and re-painting of these track and neighborhood facing walls. 

major amtrak crash outside philadelphia last night

 
 If you were still awake last night around 10 pm you saw the news start to come in about a horrific and now deadly Amtrak crash right past 30th street station around Wheatsheaf Lane Port Richmond (Philadelphia).

Many years ago for quite a few years I used to commute on Amtrak to NYC and when I lived on Main Line, train tracks ran through a lot of our neighborhoods. 

This crash was always a fear. Especially when we would as residents of small Main Line neighborhoods used to see freight trains on the R5 rails. Yes freight trains. Recently it has been on the news about folks in Philadelphia expressing concern and protesting about freight trains and the fear of crashing. Even in 2013 SEPTA tried for “TIGER” funds for this. 

What does this have to do with this crash which news reports now say 6 people confirmed dead and at least 140 injured?

  
Infrastructure. AMTRAK has a lot of track to maintain and  this morning 7 cars are strewn like toy trains on a child’s train table. When I lived on the Main Line in Lower Merion Township like many others including friends from Bala Cynwyd through even to Malvern Borough today, we had tracks literally in our neighborhoods. The tracks aren’t just running through city neighborhoods. For me it was across the street, for some the tracks were right beyond their back yards, sometimes only a matter of feet away. And you would see SEPTA local commuter trains, AMTRAK trains, and even freight trains. 

Seeing the freight trains was the worst in my old neighborhood because the tracks would literally groan and shake with their weight. Of course what was even more fun is when you would call to find out why freight trains were running through residential neighborhoods and they would tell you “there are no freight trains running through residential neighborhoods on the Main Line.” You would have to take a photo of the freight train in order to prove it.

  

  
There is always news around here about people wanting AMTRAK to clean up, do repairs, be better neighbors. Where I used to live still suffers during storm events – portions of the neighborhood flood horribly because of stormwater runoff.  Former Congressman Jim Gerlach used to try to help us with our AMTRAK issues, even came out personally quite a few times to see the tracks himself, but there need to be a lot more elected officials to do this all over the country.

I remember once a few years ago, government officials holdings community forum with AMTRAK and this Senior Government Affairs guy from AMTRAK NYC was part of the panel.  He wasn’t particularly used friendly to the regular folk and I wonder if his phone is ringing off the phone this morning ?

I hope the media stays on this story. There needs to be a spotlight on our aging infrastructure as far as our rail systems go. And there was a former Congressman (Pagrick Murphy) on this train along with a producer or some other kind of NBC news employee. And given the age of social media in which we live there are a lot of photos surfacing from the scene of this crash. Right now they are saying Amtrak service is suspended on the northeast corner, and I bet a lot of the SEPTA trains are canceled as well.

When I commuted to New York we experienced quite a bit on AMTRAK. One time in the summer we got caught in a marsh fire in between coming out of the tunnel in New York City before we got to Newark. 

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas there was always “jumper season”. Yes as awful as it sounds – that was the peak time of year when people would attempt suicide by train. One time they didn’t cover up the body parts fast enough. I don’t mean to sound callous but that’s what it was. It was horrible. 

And what also came to mind last night is if last night’s tragedy had occurred during the holiday season when the trains are so packed what would have happened? Quite literally then people are standing in the aisles between New York and Washington. If that had been the case last night, you would’ve been looking at a much larger body count. And I’ve never understood how AMTRAK allows that to occur anyway because it’s just not safe even without worrying about crashes.

 

Of course this derailment and accident makes me think of all the developers who want to build right on the train tracks. We have an example of that locally which is Eastside Flats in Malvern borough. In media coverage of this crash in Philadelphia, it looks like the catenary wires came down too – those are those big wires on giant poles  you see around a lot of the train stations.
  
Say prayers for the victims of this crash. And send up a huge word of thanks for the first responders who were so amazing last night. Things like this don’t happen very often, but wherever there’s a track that could happen. I hope that this means we will have a more meaningful conversation in this country about our aging infrastructure and government officials will do more than pay it lip service. And AMTRAK does have a pretty healthy budget every year, so how do they spend their money? Is it on infrastructure repairs and upgrades or salaries of middle level and upper management?

According to NBC10 71 years ago there was a horrible crash in the same location.

Here is media coverage:

NBC10:

Dead, Over 140 Hurt After Amtrak Train Derails, Rolls on Side in Philadelphia

NOTE: Those trying to contact passengers on the train should call the Amtrak Hotline at 1-800-523-9101


At least six people were killed and over 140 people hurt after an Amtrak train, carrying 238 passengers and five crew members, derailed and rolled onto its side in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia Tuesday night, according to officials.
The death toll from the crash rose to six Wednesday morning when Temple University Hospital officials confirmed one patient had died of their injuries overnight. 54 patients were treated at Temple, 25 remained hospitalized Wednesday morning including eight patients in critical condition, chief medical officer Dr. Herbert Cushing said at a briefing.
All seven cars of Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188 derailed and came off the tracks near Frankford Junction on the 2000 block of Wheatsheaf Lane shortly after 9 p.m., officials said. The train was heading to New York from Washington, D.C., and had six passenger cars as well as an engine.

Follow : @nbcphiladelphia on Twitter | nbcphiladelphia on Facebook

CNN:

Amtrak train derails in Philadelphia

New York Times:

Amtrak Train Derails in Philadelphia, Killing at Least 6 and Injuring Dozens

krapf school bus issues

 Meet school bus number 94 from the Krapf Bus Company. I was about a car length and a half behind this bus coming up to the stop sign of Collegeview and Morstein. Good thing I’m not a distracted driver, because this bus driver without warning and without really looking behind them threw it into reverse off Morstein to turn around and head in the opposite direction. Seriously, the bus was hauled around like it was a little sports car.

It must be a full moon for school buses from this company because when I was coming down Hershey’s Mill Road five minutes prior to this I was tailgated the entire way by bus 122 from the same company. 

Hershey’s Mill Road  is narrow and quite windy. I was going the speed limit. I am guessing that the bus was in a hurry to get to Villa Maria or something. But it doesn’t really matter, it’s kind of disconcerting to have a giant yellow school bus riding on your tail.

Fortunately I got to turn off so hurry hurry bus driver could be on their merry way. But to run into another Krapf’s driver with issues at Collegeview and Morstein was sort of like a full moon experience.

These bus drivers have a schedule to keep, I get that. But they  carrying precious cargo, so in addition to not hitting people on the road in their vehicles or coming close to doing that, they should have a care for the people’s children they are carrying.

Oh, and I’ve been noticing another bus related phenomenon  on King Road lately. People in an all fired hurry who seem to feel the need to pass the Septa buses when they stop around Immaculata and the William Henry apartments at high rates of speed. These people don’t even look to see where the people getting on and off the bus are crossing. And not even the enormous axle eating potholes on King Road seem to slow them down.

Thanks for stopping by.

if septa is considering cutting service past paoli, why does malvern need T.O.D.?

malvern train stationI remember years ago as a college student without access to a car when I wanted to go visit friends at West Chester University, if I couldn’t get a ride I had to take a train to Paoli and then get one of those scuzzy cabs to West Chester. And Paoli train station on the side going towards Malvern felt just as creepy and isolated then as it does today.

I was happy when Malvern and beyond opened again on Septa.  And people ride the train.  When I was transitioning out to Chester County for a while I took the train out from the Main Line.  I was going through radiation treatment for breast cancer and a lot of the time towards the end of my treatment I was too tired to drive. This was when Malvern train station was under construction.  It was then I realized there was no handicap access at either Paoli or Malvern – quite frankly during that time I would have welcomed a ramp versus steep stairs – I was just that tired. At Malvern during the heat of that summer I was going through radiation was when you not only had to climb  steep stairs, the train station also had no place for you to sit to wait to be picked up and a car couldn’t get near enough to pick you up.  Instead you had to wind your way through a construction site and around through to the other side via the roads on a sidewalk that was not the best.

So now there is the tunnel and the station is rehabbed (but still isn’t truly handicap accessible) and during the summer Malvern Borough officials were putting on charettes or whatever for T.O.D.  Transit Oriented Development, otherwise known as borough officials see dollar signs and have no brain cells. I wrote about T.O.D. before.

I said then I used to say that TOD stood for Total Of Dumbasses. It is like Groundhog Day for me because I lived through a lot of these Emperor’s New Clothes scenarios when I lived on the Main Line.  It tore apart Lower Merion Township where I used to live and to this day divisiveness truly still exists. And Transit Oriented Development is still a myth of more fiction than fact.

To say that people in suburbs and exurbs and quasi rural areas will give up driving is just ludicrous.  These municipalities and developers should just be honest: they don’t have the ability to put sufficient parking in all this new age urban-like development.  They don’t care so much about the environment and being green, in my humble opinion it is all about the green they can bank in profits. And who suffers? People already living around these infill development targeted sites.

Malvern’s charm is in it’s history and size, much like the village portion of Berwyn and similarly scaled small towns and villages.  I could see making Malvern say sprucing up a little bit more like Narberth which has undeniable charm and popularity, but Narberth does things based on sound planning and well Malvern Borough seems to chase dollars like a hooker looking for money on top of the dresser.

TOD stands to add hundreds of living units. Hundreds as in someone told me in excess of 600.  Malvern is no way capable of handling that many additional living units and cars and people.  That has a trickle down effect to the schools too. And we aren’t talking real estate taxes, we’re talking overcrowding.

TOD in Malvern will also adversely affect their neighbors in East Whiteland.  Much the way Tredyffrin affected Radnor residents downstream along the Gulph Creek when they allowed Church of the Savior and some other things to super-size.  East Whiteland should stay on top of this from a municipal perspective.  No one needs trickle down issues.

So why am I writing this? Because of something that appeared in Malvern Patch that was copied from Plan Philly.

The long and short of it there is a very real chance SEPTA will cut stops off the R5 Paoli/Thorndale Line.  As in NO MORE train service. Stopping at Paoli again.

(See  septa-s-complete-service-realignment-plan-and-letter-to-state-secretary-of-transportation-barry-schoch.original )

eli kahn

So I have to wonder if Septa will even do the makeover planned for Paoli train station?  And if the service is truncated and stops at Paoli, how will Paoli even if their grand plans make it to completion handle the influx?

I put forward that Malvern Borough Council and Borough staff /administration need to be watched.  They want to shove, shove, shove through new development yet they have no substantive planning that I can see. I know what they see- they see ratables.  What is happening (for example) with the Gables Greenhouse property on Warren and Second Ave?  There were a couple of things in Malvern Patch which seem to have disappeared?  The comments indicate on the remaining article that like five houses are being considered for that property?

Malvern Borough has lost it’s way.  They don’t seem to listen to their residents.  They also can’t seem to get much money in the end for development projects.  Remember when people checked out what they were getting in ratables for East King Street/Eastside Flats? See:

During a discussion of the police services and budgeting at the  of Malvern Borough Council, resident Joan Yeager asked a related question:

“Once the King Street project is completed, how much additional money is going to come into the borough? In taxes and all,” she said.

“Something in the neighborhood of $60,000 a year,” council president Woody Van Sciver said, citing a financial feasibility study done before the project was approved.

And oh yeah what exactly in the realm of new businesses is Eli Kahn actually bringing to Malvern? Besides Kimberton Whole Foods?

I feel I must say again that in addition to better planning by municipalities and boroughs throughout Pennsylvania, there also need to be updates made to the Municipalities Planning Code.  After all Zoning blames Planning and Supervisors/Commissioners.  Supervisors/Commissioners blame flaws in Municipalities Planning Code.

Want to see bad planning?  Look no further than Lower Merion Township and take Ardmore as an example.  There is a short film surfacing about development there and the fact that when it occurs a lot of businesses and residents will have ZERO parking for two years and reduced parking after that. Why?  Because Lower Merion is essentially giving away land to a developer. I think you can view the documentary short by following this link: https://vimeo.com/72950877

Getting off the soapbox now.  Just been chewing on this a few days.

the emperor may have no clothes on when it comes to t.o.d. in malvern

8725667223_b569e6c098_b

UPDATE: I was just cruising through Malvern Patch to see if there was any resident feedback from Malvern’s TOD meeting (since the media can’t seem to cover life altering development) and my eyes about popped when I read this:

Sidne Baglini      July 24, 2013 at 09:34 pm   

The meeting was last night at Borough Hall.  The subject was the Transportation Oriented Development…Read More Plan presentation which is encouraging the Borough to change the zoning on the north side of the railroad tracks on Warren Ave.  so that 600 residential units can be constructed so that SEPTA can increase it’s ridership and surrounding communities can avoid suburban sprawl.  The plans presented showed several 12 story buildings; a plan with multiple 7 story buildings and a plan with even more multiple 4 or 5 story buildings.  Another meeting will be announced for late summer or early autumn as they are required to hold 3 public meetings and last night’s was the 2nd.  I don’t know if the 3 plans were left at the Borough Hall or if they are being held by the Delaware Valley Planning Commission.  In a nutshell, if you think East King Street Flats is your vision of what Malvern should be like, then this proposal is EKSF on steroids.

EARLIER:

I used to say that TOD stood for Total Of Dumbasses.  It really means Transit Oriented Development, and whoa Nellie I had no idea it was being planned for Malvern Borough.

It is like Groundhog Day for me because I lived through a lot of these Emperor’s New Clothes scenarios when I lived on the Main Line.  It tore apart Lower Merion Township where I used to live and to this day divisiveness truly still exists. And Transit Oriented Development is still a myth of more fiction than fact.

And oh my gosh golly here comes a meeting that may have been held TODAY in Malvern Borough that I only saw on Malvern Patch just now and it wasn’t posted until July 22 at almost 11 pm.  This is a meeting important enough that it should have had widely publicized notices for weeks and not been held in the dead of a hot, hot summer when a lot of people are away.  But the jaded person in me says that naturally that is when local governments sneak things through: around major holidays or in the dead of summer.

Future of Train Station up for Discussion

This is your second chance to see what could be coming for the Malvern train station.

 A meeting this Tuesday could shape how a major section of Malvern could look in the future.

The Malvern Transit-Oriented Development Plan (TOD) is holding a public meeting to discuss the future of the half-mile section of borough near the SEPTA train station on Tuesday, from 4 to 7 p.m….For more information on the meeting, contact borough manager Sandra Kelley at 610-644-2602 or check out the group’s flyer onthe borough website.

Malvern-workshop-2-flyer

malvern flyer july 2013

A meeting this important and they seem incapable of properly publicizing? it is a shame that Malvern Borough wants to turn themselves into Upper Darby or something isn’t it?  I have to ask is this “plan” actually a done deal and are these motions are just for show?

Malvern’s charm is in it’s history and size, much like the village portion of Berwyn and similarly scaled small towns and villages.  I could see making Malvern say sprucing up a little bit more like Narberth which has undeniable charm and popularity, but Narberth does things based on sound planning and well Malvern Borough seems to chase dollars like a hooker looking for money on top of the dresser.

Some will find my words hard and hyper critical and for that I am sorry, but lordy have they learned nothing? Look at Eli Kahn’s hulking monstrosity would you? The photo below was taken in March and while the Tyvec and black paper may be covered up now by plaster and whatnot but it still does not disguise the fact that this project looms over the street, looms over houses across the train tracks and lacks human scale and the ridiculously low amount once quoted in the paper as what would be gained in ratables leaves me scratching my head.

And again, I am sorry to sound this way it is just so simply Groundhog Day and if I could spare anyone what others have gone through with these Emperor’s New Clothes fools’ errands of unattainable zoning overlays and infill development hair-brained plans that don’t EVER seem to take into account the scale of current buildings, architecture, history, human scale, design elements, the actual will of the people or parking and traffic I would.

I don’t live in Malvern Borough so I have no standing, just opinion.  But I have to say I am not anti-progress but I am against poor planning.  An article from September 2012 in Main Line Media News by Henry Briggs on this topic says that as per tax records Malvern Borough residents pay nearly FOUR TIMES the taxes paid by businesses and industrial property owners.

Here is that column of Henry Briggs’ from September 2012:

Main Line Suburban Life > Opinion

HENRY BRIGGS: How much should Malvern grow?

Published: Monday, September 24, 2012

On Tuesday, Sept 25, from 4pm to 7pm, Malvern Borough will offer its citizens a voice in a decision that will permanently effect the future of the town.

Woody Van Sciver, Borough Council President and Jeff Riegner a planning consultant, will ask for comments on “transit oriented development” in Malvern; specifically, putting additional people and buildings into a half-mile perimeter of the Malvern SEPTA station.

As Malvern is only 1.3 square miles, this will have enormous and permanent impact on the people who live and work there.

With the development of East King Street, the town is currently in the first stage of a 10% expansion….What triggered the study? A breakfast in 2008 hosted by the Philadelphia Area Chamber of Commerce and attended by assorted civic leaders, including Woody Van Sciver, Malvern Borough Council President.

The main speaker, Barry Seymour, from the DVRPC, spoke about the need to beef up density around transit centers – the SEPTA and AMTRAK stations – along the Main Line. His pitch echoed that of the “Landscapes Plan” which Chester County put together years ago.

I am with Henry Briggs and ex-Borough President Pat McGuigan: keep Malvern a traditional village.  Maybe spruce it up a little and get some of those derelict property owners near the Flying Pig to clean up and get tenants, but don’t supersize Malvern around a train station that isn’t even handicap accessible.  Fix up the existing downtown, get grants to repair sidewalks.  Look to ways of improving parking for visitors and residents. Come up with a viable village plan that looks at Malvern Borough as a whole so progress flows and doesn’t cause pain. Go to Media and Narberth and check them out – although downtown Media is much larger than either Narberth or Malvern like Malvern and Narberth it is off the beaten path (i.e. not right on a major road like Route 30)

Like many municipalities, Malvern Borough might benefit in term limits for elected officials because wow hearing this stuff makes one question why people serve doesn’t it? Maybe this Woody Van Sciver needs to retire, right?

Also see Should Malvern Grow by Joseph DiStefano at The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Malvern Borough is 1.2 or 1.3 square miles and that will never change.  It is time for Malvrn Borough Towns Fathers to put away their huge insecurity issues and obvious inferiority complexes and accept Malvern for what it is: a VILLAGE.  Capitalize on THAT, don’t try to make Malvern what it is not.  And anyone who tells you that your community in exurbia (because out here we are past the traditional suburbs of the Main Line) will only thrive and prosper with tons of density and infill development should be run out of town on a rail and sent to live in the urban jungle they so greatly crave.  As a matter of fact, I hear there is a lot of room in Detroit these days.

Lecture over You all do what you want this is merely my opinion.

the ramp to nowhere. thoughts?

NBC10: Woman With Disabilities Describes ‘Ramp to Nowhere’

SEPTA spent millions to build wheelchair ramps at one train station, but people with disabilities still aren’t able to board the trains there

SEE VIDEO OF NEWS STORY: CLICK HERE

Despite millions of dollars in renovations, some SEPTA stations remain inaccessible to some travelers with disabilities.

NBC10’s Chris Cato talked with Anne Cope, who says she was on the White House lawn when the Americans with Disabilities Act passed in 1990. But 23 years later, she says public transit accessibility in Philadelphia still remains a major problem.

“The ADA was passed in 1990, and here we are with stations, some pretty important stations, that aren’t accessible yet,” said Cope.

SEPTA  has spent 9.2 million dollars in federal stimulus money to build two elaborate wheelchair ramps and a pedestrian tunnel at the Malvern station. However, once reaching the top of the ramp, people with disabilities cannot board any trains because there is no raised platform there.