really east goshen? you are going to play the eminent domain game?

I read local municipality agendas. It’s a very easy way to learn what’s going on around you. and when I read the most recent one for East Goshen Township warning bells went off in my head.

https://eastgoshen.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/2021-06-15_Board-of-Supervisors-Agenda.pdf

So….let’s get to it. Has anyone looked at East Goshen Township’s upcoming BOS Agenda? There is some special and interestingly worded language about a potential “right of way land acquisition” for the Paoli Pike Trail and the Hicks Farm. (Item 11 “New Business”)

When you read that after reading item 5B which refers to “Executive session” and “legal matter pertaining to the Paoli Pike trail”, if you have ever followed eminent domain cases it makes you wonder what East Goshen Township is up to precisely doesn’t it?

East Goshen are you playing at eminent domain???

https://eastgoshen.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/2021-06-15_Board-of-Supervisors-Agenda.pdf

Read the agenda and ask those supervisors some questions….at the meeting.

At what cost do trails get built? And is this where they were talking development a while back?

Eminent Domain is something I despise. I helped find it successfully many years ago in Ardmore thanks to our groups help from the Institute for Justice in Washington DC. I learned about both kinds of eminent domain, private gain and public purpose. And municipalities love to say public purpose is for the public good but is it always for the public good?

Since I saw these items on the agenda I have been asking around. And I was told that indeed residents did receive an eminent domain letter from East Goshen Township. And then I saw this:

I went through the public meeting packet for East Goshen Township for their upcoming meeting. And there is nothing like taking letter included in the packet and that should be publicly posted. Because if they’re doing it for the public good, don’t hide it in executive session agenda items which I have to ask is that what they’re trying to do?

Here is this Op-Ed I saw in Patch and Delaware Valley Journal:

📌‼️Chester County’s Eminent Problem
Posted to Politics June 11, 2021 by Stephen Wahrhaftig

Imagine a knock on your door, and somebody announces that they intend to purchase your home, and that you will need to vacate it shortly. Imagine, also, that you are told that the value of your home will be established by the purchaser, and that you must accept the offer without objection. Sounds like a nightmare scenario.

This nightmare has played out time and again here in Chester County. It occurs when a local government decides that they want to take someone’s property for public use that is deemed more important than the rights of the property owner. It does not matter how long the property may have been owned, or how the owner feels about being forced to give up their land. If the locality wants it, they can take it at a price they feel they should pay. The process is called Eminent Domain, a somewhat gray area of law that has been in constant dispute for decades.

In the recent past, there have been examples of localities using Eminent Domain to seize private property for values that owners have felt unjust, and for reasons the community has sometimes found inappropriate….The latest threat of Eminent Domain use is happening in East Goshen Township. The victim in this case is Goshen View Farm, owned by the Hicks family. The ancestors of this family settled in Chester County back in 1769. According to a family member, this farm was purchased by William Huey Hicks in 1909. William was interested in the land because of the new system of electrification along Paoli Pike. Hicks bought the farm from the Sharpless family the old-fashioned way, by offering the owner a fair price and having the seller agree to the transaction in a free and agreeable sale….You may ask what the critical need is for taking a strip of land from a farm along Paoli Pike? Is there a hospital being built? Perhaps some emergency access is needed for a fire department? In fact, this property is being seized for a possible walking trail no more than two miles long, according to some local residents.

Sometimes referred to as “The Trail to Nowhere,” this strip of property is supposed to meet up with other township trails that may or may not ever exist, or even meet with this section of the trail. Perhaps the prospect of millions in government grant money is affecting the decision to invoke Eminent Domain. By some estimates, the township is spending about $5 million per mile to build the trail, $10 million in total.

The family that owns the property is not only unhappy with the threat of Eminent Domain but is also concerned about how visitors may impact their valuable horse stabling business, and about liabilities that may ensue when bikers and hikers cross the vehicle traffic on the farm lane exiting to Paoli Pike.‼️📌

Ok East Goshen there is building a walkable community and then there is bullsheit. This,East Goshen, is bullsheit .

I am all for walking trails. And I love the trails that East Goshen has in their park down the road. But this this is crap. I mean what are they going to do connect their trail with West Chester Borough? I mean do they want to connect their trail to 202 or something?

I have not seen the eminent domain taking letter, only told by a few sources that it exists. If the owners want to make it public I am happy to publish it because Imms always going to have a problem with eminent domain. And I don’t think this has anything to do with public purpose I think this has to do with legacy building on the part of some of these supervisors and that is WRONG.

And when I saw this editorial, it did make me realize that Chester county does have an eminent domain problem from time to time and this is one of those times.

East Goshen should learn from the mistakes of others. We will start with Coatesville when they tried to take the Sahas’ Farm for a golf course. Then will move right along to West Vincent Township when they tried to take the Ludwigs Corner Horse Show via eminent domain. In both cases this ended quite badly for these municipalities and at quite an expense.

And East Goshen? Time to be public about this. And stop the madness. Why is it farms especially farms with horses have to be subjected to eminent domain takings? Aren’t enough things like overdevelopment threatening the equine and agricultural history and traditions of this county as it is???

Other things East Goshen is NOT considering is the impact this would have on a working farm or how this not might but would affect their liability and liability coverage.

Trails are like a shiny new bauble for municipalities but they have to be done and created for the right reasons. If East Goshen wants to use eminent domain it’s the wrong reason.

Farmers and equestrians I am asking you to stand with concerned East Goshen residents and the Hicks family Tuesday , June 15th at this IN PERSON meeting at EAST GOSHEN TOWNSHIP located at 1580 Paoli Pike West Chester, PA 19380. The meeting starts at 7 PM. If my friend the late Dick Saha was still on this earthly plane I know for sure he would be there with his farmer friends.

Also, I encourage people and media to FLOOD East Goshen with emails and calls:

Eeast Goshen Township Building
East Goshen Township
1580 Paoli Pike
West Chester, PA 19380-6199
Phone: (610) 692-7171
Fax: (610) 692-8950
Office hours 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Please note that you must wear a mask when entering the building.

dshuey@eastgoshen.org

mlynch@eastgoshen.org

jhertzog@eastgoshen.org

mshane@eastgoshen.org

mtruitt@eastgoshen.org

Interim Township Manager: ddavis@eastgoshen.org

Outgoing Township Manager: rsmith@eastgoshen.org

Giddy up folks. This farm needs our support. And East Goshen? While I respect a lot of what you do, I don’t respect this and I am entitled to my opinion.

Thanks for stopping by.

#PACKTHEMEETING

east whiteland have you been over to flat road lately?

Reader submitted photo

3:30 PM UPDATE: From the chair of the East Whiteland Supervisors Scott Lambert (who like many others is having a hard time posting to Facebook today):

📌The original requirement of the builder was to renovate portions of the wall that had fallen in disrepair and remove a few trees that could endanger the wall in the future. However,with the wall now
leaning badly and in danger of collapse, the builder agreed to rework the wall and replace broken sections to return it to original condition. As with the initial work review the descendants of people buried in the cemetery were consulted as was our engineer and historical commission representation. An agreement with the contractor concerning the scope of the work was also executed.📌

EARLIER:

There is a historic cemetery on Flat Road. It seems to be in peril. East Whiteland Township approved a development plan there and wasn’t one of the things supposed to be that this cemetery (which I believe is Amish) would be protected?

Social Media post that appeared with photos

I don’t have the answers. And someone said well maybe they’re doing work on it. And this doesn’t look like work to me this looks like a wall collapse. A lot of these walls do collapse and I saw one not that long ago at a church in Upper Uwchlan and then they rebuilt the wall. When they rebuilt the wall then you could see they were telling people to stay away from it and using caution tape until it was set.

Reader submitted photo

The other thing to consider is a development is being built next door and vibrations from heavy equipment can affect old structures and that includes walls and headstones etc. doesn’t it?

Reader submitted photo

I don’t have the answers, but I do know that East Whiteland needs to go look at this. This is literally a historic site, and it matters. #thisplacematters

Reader submitted photo

Walls fall down. But this is a historic site. So again, something needs to be done sooner rather than later. This is a sacred place. And our historic sites should be as respected as much by municipalities as the developments they constantly approve.

Stay cool it’s so darn hot out there.

Reader submitted photo

PS: I am adding more photos here at the bottom that were just sent to me by concerned residents!

a juneteenth visit to ebenezer on bacton hill road in east whiteland

Ebenezer on Bacton Hill Road in Frazer (East Whiteland) is a sacred and historic place. It’s no secret I have written about this place for years.

The AME Church grew out of the Free African Society in the late 1700s, but the church became it’s own entity founded in Philadelphia around 1816.  So you can see given the age of Ebenezer AME in East Whiteland, Chester County, PA that it is truly part of the early days of a church and religion founded in Philadelphia.  Bishop Richard Allen died in 1831, just months before Ebenezer came to be after Joseph Malin deeded the land.

Hiram Woodyard was a Township resident and former slave who served in the Union Army as a teamster. He was a leader in the African American community and is buried at the Ebenezer AME Church. His home still stands on Congestoga Road. Other homes he built still stand. He was an inhabitant of Bacton Hill.

Without active preservation there will come a time that all which will be left of the area will be my blog posts including this one from 2017 which is an oral history complete with some really cool photos courtesy of Claude Bernadin, or this one from 2015, this one from 2016, this one from 2017, the ceremony November 2016, a post from October 2016, another one from October 2016, when for brief moment people stopped to visit the old souls now covered by weeds and brush once more, 2015 post which had links to earlier posts. Also what will survive will be the occasional newspaper article from every newspaper reporter who tried to raise awareness to this area and to Ebenezer.

Once upon a time people tried to get a Bacton Hill Historic District or something like that. It’s a shame it never happened. Because at least then there would have been a more organized history of the place.

So this Juneteenth, I was thinking of Ebenezer again and here are a few new photos scattered throughout this post. I remember the black civil war soldiers here and elsewhere throughout Chester County. I share again the oral history of one resident (CLICK HERE). I think of all of the people who have shared what they have discovered about Ebenezer over the years.

Juneteenth (on June 19) is know as Emancipation Day and also as Freedom Day, Jubilation Day, and Liberation Day. I never learned about this important day in any history class I took in school. Which is something I think needs to be rectified because it’s part of our history of this country.

Although Juneteenth is celebrating the end of slavery in the United States, it was still legal and practiced in two states – Delaware and Kentucky – until December 6, 1865, when ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution abolished non-penal slavery nationwide.

We don’t know when exactly Hiram Woodyard was emancipated or freed, do we? His house is supposed to be a historic resource too isn’t it?

On Fold3, there exist some records of Hiram, including voluntary army enlistment. These photos aren’t the best but here they are:

Someone has been cutting the grass again at Ebenezer. I don’t know if it is the developer who will be building houses all around it or someone else. It’s not the AME church. They need to become involved as we believe that this is STILL their land, but will they?

I am but a middle-aged white woman. I am not black and won’t pretend I understand the black experience. I try to learn and respect it. But given the state of racism in this country and the need for all Americans to learn more of this country’s history good and bad, to me, this also means we need to SAVE sites like Ebenezer and preserve their history.

So I am calling on officials state, local, county, federal, and from the AME church to save Ebenezer. The church is too far gone to save BUT capping and preservation of the church ruin is possible. We need a study including with that sonar stuff like they use for Duffy’s Cut to map out where all of the graves are and what stones may lie beneath the dirt.

Officials also need to remember and properly notate the Bacton Hill area because it was a well settled free black community once upon a time. This needs to be done because otherwise this will all sink as a footnote to history that will be forgotten.

Thanks for stopping by.

dear mayor kenney and chief outlaw,

Dear Mayor Kenney and Chief Outlaw,

My husband spent hours trying to figure out a way to get to my elderly parents and bring to us to get them out of the city. To no avail.

He couldn’t get to them. He literally went all the way down to Columbus Boulevard and over to South Philadelphia and back up! I am beside myself.

I just got off the phone with my mother and she tells me that the building Cole Haan is in was burnt out on Walnut, TD Bank and PNC Bank were destroyed all those other stores were loaded and broken into. She’s not sure about all that happened to places DiBruno Brothers on Walnut Street (they did get looted) but everything around it was pretty much destroyed.

This crap literally came to the front door to where my parents and another friend call home and that is so unacceptable and also while all this looting was going on last night? Apparently although they didn’t see a lot of police activity, but they saw a lot of news cameras and people with phones recording it.

A partial list of other things I found of what has been looted and/or destroyed includes: Boyd’s , Brooks Brothers, AT&T, Apple, 7-11, Target, Macy’s, GAP, Lacoste, Old Navy, JCrew, Marathon Grill, Reading Terminal Market, UNIQLO, DiBruno’s.

There are many, many more. There is looting and rioting in the Northeast. Port Richmond is in particular crisis as I type this.

My parents are elderly. They live in YOUR city. I don’t feel they or my other friends in Philadelphia are safe. I never thought I would say that. And if you can’t get control of the city, we can’t get to them. HOW WOULD YOU FEEL IF THESE WERE YOUR PARENTS?

I believe there should be justice for George Floyd. I had no problems with peaceful protests. But where is the justice for the innocent residents of Philadelphia and elsewhere who are the victims of the terrifying rioting and looting? Truly no one is safe right now. Doesn’t that worry you?

I’ll leave it there.

pandemic rescheduling: billboard hearing postponement in east whiteland township

One good thing we can thank coronavirus or COVID-19 for is the postponement of unpleasant land and other development plans.

Accordingly, because the expanded Pennsylvania “stay at home“ orders now run through May 8, the billboard hearings scheduled in East Whiteland Township for April 27 and April 29, 2020 have been canceled. And rescheduled.

Today from East Whiteland Township I received the updated legal notice containing the rescheduled hearing date and other relevant details regarding the proceedings. The new date is May 26, 2020 and that will replace the previously scheduled and subsequently canceled hearing dates noted.

The hearing information is as follows:

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Beginning at 7 PM in the East Whiteland Township Building

209 Conestoga Road

Frazer PA 19355

Please monitor the township website if you were interested in this or other issues in East Whiteland Township. The township website is www.eastwhiteland.org

I applaud the township for putting residents first and their health during a global pandemic. I also can’t help but wonder is this God’s way of telling us we don’t need giant electronically lit double sided billboards on Route 30 in East Whiteland, neighboring Tredyffrin, or other places like Haverford Township or Lower Merion’s parts of Bryn Mawr?

#NoBillboards

no billboards in bryn mawr…haverford township…lower merion township…tredyffrin township….east whiteland township…and MORE

In 2009, lots of people (myself included) started going to billboard hearings in Haverford Township. And in Lower Merion Township. Sometimes we numbered in the 150+ per meeting.

We all also used to protest regularly. The two townships and their solicitors and commissioners were solidly with the community too. They didn’t want these billboards anymore than the residents in these locations.

My friends in small Haverford Township neighborhoods were the most imminently threatened, like my pals on Penn Street, Dayton Road, Lee Avenue, San Marino and more (there are multiple locations in Haverford Township, these were just the streets near me.)

However, my own neighborhood which stretched out behind Our Mother of Good Counsel Church in Lower Merion was potentially affected. And even worse? Where I lived was in a HISTORIC DISTRICT! (Which is why The Lower Merion Conservancy is alerting people to the court hearings beginning today in Media! It’s STILL a historic district!)

Then after a few years of attending meetings which seemed monthly if not more, my life changed. First breast cancer, followed by a move to Chester County, and I thought well at least I don’t have to worry about those ugly billboards anymore, right?

Wrong.

Phoenixville, Charlestown Township, West Whiteland, Tredyffrin now headed for county court, and a lot of them planned for East Whiteland Township.

Relentless.

I get that the billboard company owner wants to sit in traffic and look at his signs, but they are his signs. They don’t belong to the community at all. Which is why you see elected officials in Lower Merion and Haverford Townships still fighting for the residents and starting today, if y’all want you can join them in Media:

Also this week? The billboard company is doing a presentation at the Desmond in Malvern on what they want to do in East Whiteland. See this flyer (which I personally did not create but I am sharing):

‼️Is this Chester County or Las Vegas? Good question. ‼️

It’s no secret how I feel about these billboards. I think they’re simply awful. I don’t think they have a place in our communities. I don’t think they do anything positive for our communities. It’s all about somebody else’s sense of capitalism. And while on a certain level I begrudgingly respect their desire to make a buck, they shouldn’t do it at the expense of people in communities everywhere should they?

The media has not really picked up on billboards in East Whiteland. They should as it is just another in a long long line or list of communities facing the same company.

And why is it that these billboards have to be everywhere? Or anywhere? Let us not forget there are FOUR states in this country that do not have billboards and they seem to live just beautifully. Vermont, Alaska, Hawaii, and Maine—have prohibited billboards.

The protest photos you are seeing were taken by friends in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania yesterday. This morning I wish my friends who are headed or in court already in Media best of luck.

As communities near and far we are #StrongerTogether. #NoBillboards

the end of the decade, new year’s eve 2019

Lovely Loch Aerie, Frazer, PA

It has been a crazy decade chock-full of so much. I wasn’t sure what my last post of the year was going to look like until I started looking at some of my photos of houses that had captured my interest and fancy in the past decade.

So in all of the houses I have looked at in this decade I have decided to remain true to Chester County today and give you my three favorites.

Ironically my three house picks for the decade are not traditional 18th century Chester County Farmhouses, but three 19th-century stone houses of a certain era.

You see the first house above. My ultimate old house love, beautiful and lovely Loch Aerie mansion. I have written about her enough that I don’t have to reinvent the wheel and restate her history.

Loch Aerie on Lancaster Avenue in Frazer in East Whiteland Township enters the next decade with a guaranteed and brilliant new lease on life. She is being restored to her former glory, and will have an adaptive reuse that will ensure her place in architectural history for decades to come.

Old stone house Francis Ave, Berwyn, Easttown.

Next on my list is a house I was reminded of this morning. I know nothing of her pedigree. It is the great stone house on Francis Avenue in Berwyn.

My great friend (and Chester County historian and artist) Catherine Quillman and I stumbled upon this beauty in 2016 one fall afternoon.

We took a wrong turn somewhere after leaving Jenkins Arboretum and all of a sudden we were on Francis Avenue in front of this house. And before anyone flips out, we did not trespass. I had a camera with a zoom lens with me and I took photos from the street. This house captured my fancy for a number of reasons, including the fact that the stonework reminded me a lot of Loch Aerie.

I know absolutely nothing of the history of this house other than its 19th century and in Easttown Township . I think it probably has a name (possibly according to a 1912 atlas it appears it was maybe called “Rhydlyn” home of James G. Francis, whose sister in law I believe was famed local photographer Lucy Sampson according to census records from the early 20th century and according to the census she lived there for a while!) I don’t know if it is listed on any national registries or even a state or local registry. I couldn’t find it listed anywhere. (I am told it is mentioned HERE.)

It strikes me as a similar vintage to Loch Aerie. I also do not know the current ownership of the home but I am told it is being preserved as part of some kind of a development. I am also told that the glorious slate roof is no longer which I can’t say surprises me because old slate roofs are incredibly expensive to maintain and it’s a lost art of the craftsmanship of roof building. There are very few slaters left.

My last house which captured my fancy a great deal in this last decade is the Joseph Price house in West Whiteland Township.

This house is on S.Whitford and Clover Mill Roads in Exton. The Joseph Price House in West Whiteland Township.

Here is a wonderful little slide show presentation on prezi. This house is historically listed. It was built in 1878 and altered in 1894 by the house namesake inhabitant at the time. It was altered from a Gothic style to a Queen Anne style.

I was also told in the 1990s it was separate apartments inside and there were also cottages around it which were rented out as well.

In the 1950s and 60s there was a large barn there that was a sale barn for cattle run by Bayard Taylor —a blog reader told me that. He knew because his mother did bookkeeping for that business while she was in college.

This house is not completely deserted I am told there is a caretaker who still lives there. However, this house has an uncertain future at best and nobody seems to know what will happen to it. Which is a shame because it’s very cool.

So as we lift a glass one last time to toast a crazy tumultuous decade everywhere, let us think of our future and historic preservation. There are so many cool houses like this throughout Chester County from all eras of time.

Less development. More land and structure preservation and adaptive reuse. That’s my final wish for Chester County for 2019.

Please do not trespass on these properties. Either get permission to wander around or look from the street.

Have a safe and happy New Year’s Eve!

Joseph Price House. West Whiteland Township.

chester county memories

I got a comment into my blog today concerning the historic rotting house you see above. It is located on the Clews and Strawbridge property in Malvern on Lancaster Avenue in East Whiteland.

Here is the comment:

I remember when the now abandoned house next to Clews and Strawbridge was occupied by the Clews family (1970). Their daughter Sylvan was one of my closest friends. The home was filled with art and antiques, as Sylvan’s father, Mancha, was the son of a noted sculptor, and her mother Margaret ( a member of the family that founded the Strawbridge and Clothier department store), was a painter. I lost touch with Sylvan, but was somewhat amused that when I met my current husband years later, he was living almost directly across the street from that house, in Westgate Village. Now, I pass that house on my way to work almost every day, and often think about what it was like when the family lived there (and I wonder what creatures might currently be in residence, from bats to squirrels?)

This is another house that is part of Chester County’s architectural history that is just being allowed to rot.

Apparently in this county they can only build new these days. And isn’t that pathetic?

And did you know the Chester County Planning Commission has someone whose sole job has to do with the history… a “Heritage Preservation Coordinator.”

I have to wonder do they realize all the structures are out there? And do they care?

To the residents of Chester County: As someone who is somewhat new to your ranks even after a few years, I love the stories don’t stop telling them to me.

what is really going on in caln township with lloyd farm?

Many thanks to Abandoned Steve Explorations for the use of his gorgeous photo of Lloyd Farm in Caln Township.

Abandoned Steve Explorations took the glorious photo I am opening this post with. I am positively obsessed with the cool structures he covers. He was nice enough to lend us the use of this photo it’s part of an upcoming project. You can find him on Facebook , his website, and YouTube.

Lloyd Farm is haunting me. Part of a Penn Land Grant, dating its origins to the 1600s.

(See this history by Edward C. Lendrat)

Then there is the 18th Century farmhouse with an equally historic 1901 addition.

What am I talking about? 1757 was when the farmhouse was originally built and 1910 when the Lloyd family commissioned Gilbert McIlvaine the Philadelphia architect to build a “modern” addition that paid homage and melded with the original farmhouse. Mr. McIlvaine maintained a home in Downingtown for many years and was also active in the Boy Scouts founding several troops I am told in Chester County.

Back to Lloyd Farm…except the people who have called it home or who had something to do with it are important to the very fabric of Lloyd Farm’s history.

Yesterday I learned surprising news when a copy of an old historic preservation application was unearthed from the early 1980s – possibly 1982. Yes – seriously – Lloyd Farm Application for Historic Designation: PA Historic Resource Form Circa 1982.

From this form we learned quite a few things including that Lloyd Farm around or before the Civil War was a freaking stop on the Underground Railroad!

It’s just crazy and you have to ask what in the heck is going on in Caln Township? How long have these commissioners known the history of Lloyd Farm and why didn’t that historic designation proceed? Why wasn’t it pursued for a national historical status?

Did I mention the demolition permit? There is one. And what is with the date mismatch in that letter thing?

I don’t live in Caln. I do know amusingly enough like Lower Merion Township , it’s a First Class Township. But who runs the Township? Because it surely doesn’t seem like the elected commissioners does it? I know in Lower Merion Township years ago because I was part of it when the residents rose up after having had enough over the threat of eminent domain for private gain in Ardmore that we flipped half of the board of commissioners in one election.

And Caln residents are upset about this.

Really upset.

I want to know why the developer wants to tear down the house don’t you? Is this going to be like the death of Addison Mizner’s La Ronda in Bryn Mawr, PA? A case where a magnificent home was torn down for salvage just because someone could?

Caln resident submitted photo.

Look at the historic comparables in Chester County that are actually getting saved and restored: West Whiteland Inn, Exton. Benjamin Jacobs House, Exton. Fox Chase Inn and Barn, Exton. Linden Hall, Malvern (even if I don’t like some of what is being done it’s being saved, finally.) Loch Aerie, Malvern. The Jenny Lind House, Yellow Springs Village.

Also to be considered? Several Toll Brothers projects including in Chester County where similar vintage farmhouses and/or barns have been or are being saved. Now it is no secret how I feel about Toll Brothers developments, but if even they can preserve historic structures on properties they are developing why couldn’t the developer for Lloyd Farm do that? Or why couldn’t they contemplate something like selling off the farmhouse with a small plot of land around it to someone who might want to preserve it and live in it or something like that?

Caln resident submitted photo.

I don’t have the answers and every day I have more and more questions. This is one of those situations I just don’t get it. I just don’t get what is going on here. I don’t understand why this property isn’t more valued for the centuries of history involved here?

Our history should not always belong to the wrecking ball.

That’s all I have got.

#SaveLloydFarm #ThisPlaceMatters

Caln resident submitted photo.

revisionist history on the main line

File under the more things change, the more things stay the same.

When an article comes out about anything Lower Merion Township, let alone Ardmore, PA I give it a read. I just lived there too many years.

This is both puff piece and a lovely attempt at revisionist history.

Main Line Today March, 2018

As Ardmore Prepares for a Revitalization, Some Residents are Hesitant About the Change
Will additions like One Ardmore Place disrupt the town’s way of life? Many locals are divided.

BY MICHAEL BRADLEY

Excerpt:

📌None of this is Angela Murray’s fault. Not the giant crane that hovers over the Cricket Avenue parking lot, its American flag billowing in the breeze. Not the 110 apartments rising from a giant hole in the ground. Not the upheaval for residents and business owners alike. Not the possible traffic congestion. None of it.

“People have blamed me,” says Murray, who’s been Lower Merion Township’s assistant director of building and planning for 16 years. “But I think it meets a need that was pressing.”….The allocated state money was supposed to go for the station, but when Amtrak balked at allowing apartments so close to its tracks, the plan—which included replacing some buildings along Lancaster Avenue south of the station—lost momentum. Meanwhile, the Save Ardmore folks filed lawsuits and protested the idea mightily. “Amtrak didn’t want people living so close to the rail line because it didn’t think it would be safe,” Lower Merion’s Murray says. “They were concerned about people throwing things out of windows onto the track.”📌

So….this is quite the piece in favor of Ardmore development. I don’t know who the writer is but my, he was sure led by the nose down a primrose development path.

I also take issue with the latest attempt at glossing over eminent domain in Ardmore. But then I also do not quite understand the article love affair with Angela Murray of Lower Merion Township, but perhaps she had a hand in the placement of the article?

Lower Merion Township can not unring the bells of the past.

Back in the day, as a member of the ORIGINAL Save Ardmore Coalition, Ms. Murray was awful to us. She was not nice, she was perennially unpleasant. However she wasn’t alone. You were either with them or against them. If you were against them, well then you were the enemy.

Let’s recap:

In 2004–2006, Ardmore’s business district was the subject of a hotly contested eminent domain for private gain battle. Lower Merion wanted to take a nice train track side chunk of land via eminent domain and give it over to private development- hence the private gain part.

A grassroots organization of which I was part of until diagnosed with breast cancer in the spring of 2011, the Save Ardmore Coalition, along with local businesses and other civic associations and civics groups, opposed eminent domain as a redevelopment program that would have involved the demolition of historic buildings, in favor of preserving those buildings for other commercial use.

In March 2006 after the previous election in the fall of 2005 when a large chunk of the THEN Board of Commissioners got voted out of office and the then new and improved 2006 Lower Merion Township Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution disavowing the use of eminent domain for the benefit of private redevelopment projects. The Ardmore battle was also instrumental in prompting PA to enact state legislation in 2006 restricting the use of eminent domain for private projects.

So that is the Cliff Notes version. Those of us down in the trenches back then were vilified and targeted. We were publicity spun into being resident and business owner pariahs by our opposition. It was really, really bad. All for defending what we loved.

Lower Merion Township have you forgotten? I haven’t.

Mind you this is not the first time that Lower Merion has placed Ardmore pieces that were glossy and glossed over things. May 2009 for the same magazine was one time and they even used my photo:

It hasn’t all been fabulous and if people point fingers at Lower Merion Township appointed and elected officials well shall we say it has been with good reason?

Ardmore’s largest handicap, is the fact Lower Merion Township as in the township seat, is situated there.

I am not commenting on the most recent past president of Save Ardmore Coalition or the litigation they filed in more recent times. It was sort of a horse is already out of the barn scenario to go after One Ardmore Place when they did. I did not think they would get the necessary traction and a positive result, and they didn’t.

But are they wrong?

I still think this development is a hideous mistake. I think their overlay zoning ordinance known as MUST (Mixed Use Special Transit/More Unfair Special Treatment take your pick) has been a disaster since enactment, and the development on and off Ardmore’s “Main Street” is ridiculous. You know, like the “mini” Target and whatever else is going to happen at the corner of Ardmore Avenue and Lancaster Avenue?

I think these developments will destroy Ardmore. But perhaps the only way for other parts of Lower Merion Township to survive is to lose Ardmore to all of this development?

The thing is this, I think for the most part these types of developments ultimately fail is because nothing is done in moderation. Nothing is done truly in concert with residents and/or small businesses. A good game is always talked, and with the case of Ardmore, Lower Merion Township is always trying to change the underlying narrative, but they can’t.

The township is responsible for this cluster F. They are responsible for the mistrust of residents and the like. They have never owned their part and their many, many missteps.

It’s a shame, really.

The other fault lies with Lower Merion Township voters. And who they allow to continue to represent them.

I loved spending a lot of my growing up and young adult to early middle-aged years in Lower Merion Township, but as an adult the bloom came off of the rose. And a lot of that had to do with all of the politics, development, and Ardmore.

It is because of what I bore witness to in Lower Merion that the pace of development in Chester County terrifies me….because I have already lived through the negative effects of overdevelopment.

And it is only getting worse because read the jaw dropping Main Line Times article of April 20 on what Lower Merion School District wants to do.

Lower Merion School District eyes four properties for future middle school location
By Richard Ilgenfritz rilgenfritz@21st-centurymedia.com @rpilgenfritz on Twitter Apr 20, 2018

Lower Merion Township claims it’s brand as exclusive and well-heeled. I think the history books will remember this time as the cautionary tale of what happens to a beautiful area when development takes over.

Another post with a postscript, as I received a note tonight with photos:


📌Loved your post tonight, especially as one who lives smack dam in the center of the nightmare – Suburban Square neighborhood. You came to my house once, about 14 years ago.

Take a look at this, and please consider encouraging anyone you know who cares about fighting the blood thirsty developers in LMT to show up at the meeting Township Planning meeting this week to oppose the demolition of three quintessential Main Line Homes to make way for CF Holloway’s next apartment building – 4 stories and a parking garage directly across Montgomery Avenue from Suburban Square. I live in one of them.

Sale of all three homes is contingent upon Holloway getting LMT’s buy-in. Sadly, I think we both know how this will turn out. Here’s a pic of the building I live in on Glenn Road.📌

Wonder if the developer will cry on cue if things do not go his way like he did one time in Radnor?

People live in that house. It is in nice shape and it is lovely. But does the fact that people live there and it’s lovely matter in Lower Merion Township? (And by the way, the head of the Chester County Planning Commission lives in Lower Merion. And spent many a year on Lower Merion’s Planning Commission.)