is a small child with down’s syndrome a criminal?

te 1

I was told about this yesterday evening.  I don’t know this lady or her child but I don’t know where to go in my head with this, and all I keep coming back to is how wrong this is.

Yes, here is the letter: Maggie Statement 2020 0121. I found it here:

te 2

If this is YOUR school district or if you have a special needs child here is the meeting information:

Tredyffrin/Easttown School District
TEAO – School Board Policy Committee Meeting
Feb. 4, 2020
Starts at 7:00 PM

Policy Committee Agenda
February 4, 2020 – 7:00 p.m.
Room 200, T/E Administration Offices
1. Approval of Minutes of the January 21, 2020 Policy Committee Meeting
2. Public Comment
3. Review of Policies for 2nd Reading
 Policy and Regulation 1120: Communications with the School Board
 Policy 4350: Health and Safety in the Workplace
 Policy 5223: Promotion
 Policy and Regulation 5405: Student Substance Abuse
 Policy and Regulation 8040: Emergency Preparedness
4. Information
 None
5. Follow Up from Previous Policy Committee Meeting
 Policy and Regulation 5401: Student Discipline
 Policy and Regulation 6151: Staffing the Educational Program (Class Size)
6. Policies and Regulations for Review and Discussion
 Regulation 3233: Federal Fiscal Compliance – Procurement
 Regulation 3323: Procurement
 Regulation 3380: Travel Reimbursement
 Policy and Regulation 5001: Enrollment and Registration Requirements and
Verification of Student Residency
7. Policy Committee Goals
8. Future Meetings
Policy meetings for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year will be on March 3, April 1,and May 5. Unless advertised otherwise, all meetings are held at the Tredyffrin/Easttown Administration Offices, 940 West Valley Road, Suite 1700, in Room 200 at 7:00 p.m.

My friend and fellow bloggeress, Patty Benson has written about this today as well.

Community Matters: TE School District Policy 5401 “Student Discipline” Results in Police Record for Kindergartner With Down Syndrome — School Board, How is This Possible?
February 3, 2020

I learned of a troubling situation from the January 21 meeting of TESD Policy Committee. Although I was not in attendance at the meeting, I reviewed the video of the meeting and would encourage all reading this post to do likewise (click here for video).

According to Maggie and Mark Gaines, their 6-year-old kindergarten daughter (who has Down Syndrome) now has a record with the Tredyffrin Township Police Department.  

Oh yeah… the video

Start paying attention RIGHT at the beginning.  Mrs. Gaines comes on around 1 minute 32 seconds (or there abouts)

Here is a long excerpt from the statement I uploaded earlier in the post:

My name is Maggie Gaines. I’m here with my husband Mark and our six-year old daughter Margot. We live in Wayne. I am speaking tonight to make the School board aware of how its “threat assessment” policy is being implemented in the elementary schools of T/E to the detriment of students.

Our daughter Margot is a kindergartener at Valley Forge Elementary School. And she now has a record with the Tredyffrin police department, because the district alleged she had made a threat to her teacher.

On November 19, Margot, who has Down syndrome and often struggles transitioning between activities, was asked by her teacher to do something she did not want to do. At one point in her refusal she pointed her finger at her teacher and said, “I shoot you.”

I imagine the utterance was not unlike the instances when I’ve told her it’s time for bed and she says, “I hate bed. I hate mommy.” As most parents can attest, I have learned not to take offense. For I know that a short time later she is usually cuddled up to me, while we read bedtime stories and exchange kisses and cuddles before saying good-night.

At any rate, the teacher claimed this response was a “threat” and brought Margot to the principal, who talked to my daughter and quickly determined that she neither understood what she was saying nor meant any harm to her teacher or any of her classmates.

The principal then followed district policy and convened a “threat assessment” team.

The threat assessment team met and determined Margot had made a “transient” threat, which is simply an expression of anger or frustration with no intent to harm anyone. The threat assessment team recommended no disciplinary action. Also, there was no recommendation from the principal, Margot’s teachers nor any other members of Margot’s IEP team to address the “problem” behavior in her IEP since it appeared to be an “isolated” event.

I think most people would agree that this is where the issue should have ended. And yet it did not.

Hours after the threat assessment team met, the principal informed me by phone that the school was still required under the district’s policy to call the police regarding the incident.

I disagreed and argued it was absurd to involve the police for an episode involving a kindergartner who pointed her finger, not in malice, but in protest to a request to change classrooms. The principal agreed to discuss the issue further with me the next day.

After reviewing Policy 5401, my husband and I did not see anywhere in the text that required the school to call the police for a transient threat. That evening I sent an email recapping my concerns regarding the policy to Becky Wills, the principal, Ellen Turk, the district safety officer, Chris Groppe director of individualized student services, and Mark Cataldi, director of Assessment and Accountability.

More than 24-hours after the incident occurred, I received another phone call from Becky Wills and Ellen Turk, who told me they had conferred with the district’s administration and concluded the policy required them to “consult with law enforcement.”

Ellen Turk admitted during our discussion that the purpose of the so-called “consultation” with police was not applicable in Margot’s case. But she said that because this was the district’s policy, she had to follow it without exception for every student, in every situation. There was no room for anyone in the district to use common sense to interpret the policy any differently.

My husband, Mark, and I insisted on being on the phone when the call was made to the Tredyffrin Police Dept. The information that was relayed was the same as what would be given to law enforcement when filing a police report.

They recorded my daughter’s name, birthdate, and address. They asked for the names and birthdates of myself and my husband. And they took details of what had happened.

When I asked Officer Garns, who took the call, if he viewed this as a consultation. He answered “no.” He said he was merely recording what had happened.

I also asked how long the information would be held by the Tredyffrin police department. He said it was entered into the department’s database and would not be deleted or expunged after any reasonable time period. I asked who could access this information, and he said it was publicly available.

I am well aware that we live in a time when parents are concerned for their children’s safety in school. When I think of incidents at Parkland High School or Sandy Hook Elementary School, I too am haunted and disgusted.

But I also think our society and our schools across the country have overreacted with respect to perceived threats, resulting in even finger guns wielded by kindergartners being viewed as cause to alert authorities. 

I am chilled to the bone. One reason is I have heard other tales of misuse of this policy in this district.  I have heard of parents (don’t know any but have heard they exist) afraid to come forward because they fear being targeted and what exactly is this school district building here?

What would the ACLU or a savvy Americans With Disabilities Act lawyer say to this? This is a child. A small child in kindergarten with Down’s syndrome. Why are Becky Wills, Chris Groppe, Ellen Turk, and Mark Cataldi (whomever they all are ) are working for this district? To instill fear and loathing? I think they have achieved those objectives and should be on their way now, don’t you? Yes.. FIRE their asses.

And while I am loathe to criticize a local police department, don’t they have any leeway here? Why do they want parents and little special needs kids treated this way?  And if this school district cries wolf enough, would they even be able to recognize (God forbid) a REAL and credible threat and evaluate it? Where is the actual focus here? It’s too broad a brush of a policy isn’t it? (Read TESD Policy 5401 here)

Why does the Tredyffrin Easttown School District have so many messed up problems? Do they need a new Superintendent of Schools and a school board too? Remember this:

Philadelphia Inquirer: Anti-Semitic text messages and an alleged threat of school violence. Did a Chester County school district handle the situation correctly?
by Katie Park, Posted: June 15, 2018 – 3:40 PM

Nora Nissenbaum thought the boy in her sixth-grade class was cute, so they casually texted for about a month. But she didn’t like it when the boy insulted her friends at a school dance — and told him so.

The relationship soured. The boy sent anti-Semitic memes and text messages. A caption for one meme reads, “Orange Jews: 100% Concentrated,” under an orange-tinted photo of concentration camp prisoners standing behind barbed wire….All the while, parents say, school officials kept the trouble quiet and didn’t alert families in the district to a threat that many consider a public safety issue that should have been dealt with swiftly and transparently. And in the absence of a statement from the district, parents found out about what happened through the rumor mill.

So if this mom had not come forward would it be the good old rumor mill again? As I sit and continue to listen to this last meeting on You Tube, I am shocked, uncomfortable, outraged and fearful.  A whole lot of CYA going on with that school district and few answers.

There is a problem here and what is the solution??

One thing I would like to know is how many OTHER parents are out there dealing with this other than Maggie and Mark Gaines? Maybe Tredyffrin Easttown School District and the Tredyffrin Police Department should let the public know?

I know policies need to be in place as we live in a crazy world, but when the people who are supposed to be educating and protecting our kids and families seem to have lost touch with reality and file police reports on kindergartners with Down’s Syndrome, maybe there needs to be a closer look, policy adjustment, and an investigation into the people at this elementary school? I don’t get how the police department even went through with this report do you?

I mean do they seriously think parents will continue to volunteer at the school or have their kids involved in this school and others in the Tredyffrin Easttown School District? If I had a child in this district I would be pulling them out of this district.  When public school districts piss and moan as to why kids get pulled out of their school districts and put in private and other schools like charters, look no further than something like this.

People, this is OUTRAGEOUS.  Who is going to keep the kids safe from their own school district? Is Tredyffrin Easttown School District inspiring the future or fear?

fear (1)

 

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

over-development coming to radnor on dodo hamilton’s property?

218 Strafford Ave

A Radnor Township friend called this morning about this:

New housing in works for Wayne estate of Campbell Soup heiress Dodo Hamilton
By Linda Stein lstein@21st-centurymedia.com @lsteinreporter on Twitter Jan 13, 2020 Updated Jan 13, 2020

New housing in works for Wayne estate of Campbell Soup heiress Dodo Hamilton

RADNOR — Although no plans have been filed with the township, word is getting around that a developer has set his sights on the Wayne property of the late Dorrance “Dodo” Hamilton, who was one of the Main Line’s iconic grande dames….Hamilton, a billionaire who grew up in New York and Newport, R.I., where she also kept a home, was a generous philanthropist who gave millions to various institutions in the Philadelphia area….Radnor Township Board of Commissioners President Jack Larkin, who represents Ward 1, has written about the pending development at Eagle and Strafford roads in his newsletters to residents. When asked to comment, Larkin referred a reporter to those missives.

“The developer has shown me two concept sketches for the lots; the first is purportedly a by-right plan, and includes approximately 40 homes,” Larkin wrote in his newsletter. “This is, to me, an unattractive plan: Because the units are, by right, single family dwellings, cramming 40 homes onto the two lots means filling them with houses without space for buffers, open space, or stormwater recharge areas.”

Larkin continued, “The second plan would require a conditional use approval by the township, and would put approximately 50 homes into the two lots —41 town homes on the western lot, and nine single-family dwellings onto the eastern lot. Because the homes on the western lot are town homes, they leave a lot of space for the things that are absent in the by-right plan: Stormwater management, sidewalks, buffers, and open space. The density is problematic for me, but with that in mind, it is a good plan.”…Meanwhile, about 40 nearby neighbors sent this statement to Larkin: “We understand and appreciate the developer’s rights to develop the property, and our goal as a neighborhood is not to squash any development, but to mitigate any negative changes to the neighborhood and keep its current character. For those of us who have lived here many years, we have seen the negative effects of cutting down trees on the Hamilton’s property and the building of just four homes on the corner of Strafford and Eagle Road. Despite the assurances of the engineers, developers, and other experts, our neighborhood has been substantially damaged and our lives negatively affected by ‘tiny’ changes to the Hamilton’s property. There are approximately 40 neighbors on Strafford, Hedgerow, Grant, Forrest, Fairfield, and Old Eagle School who will attest to being harmed financially by the improper regulation of storm water runoff in the past.

“The character of the neighborhood will be drastically changed by the proposed development. Haverford Properties is seeking to double the number of homes within our small community. Our current neighborhood contains 35 acres and 64 homes, approximately two homes per acre. The developers plan to build 50 homes will result in 114 homes, for over three homes per acre….Meanwhile, the developer, Charles Houder, with Haverford Properties Inc., declined comment, saying that he wants to meet with the neighbors first.

Is dear Dodo turning in her grave yet? Do we think the esteemed and philanthropic Dodo would have wanted this for her beloved home?  I mean isn’t the family raking in the cash already? They made what, like $9 million off of the sale of the Newport, Rhode Island property in 2018 according to Town & Country Magazine:

“Judge Judy” Scheindlin and husband Jerry have made the move to Newport, Rhode Island, with the purchase of a $9 million mansion. The iconic home, known as the ‘Bird House” and previously owned by Campbell Soup heiress Dorrance “Dodo” Hamilton, sits atop one of the highest points in all of Newport

And then there were the auctions of antiques and stuff, right? There was one at Bunch in Chadds Ford I remember. And the millions from the auctions held by Freeman’s right? (One was written up in the Philadelphia Inquirer, and Freeman’s also auctioned off some of her very spectacular jewelry, didn’t they? (Forbes even mentioned the jewelry, and Philadelphia Magazine had an article too at the time.)

In 2008 Philadelphia Magazine wrote an article on Mrs. Hamilton:

The Last Great Lady
Campbell Soup heiress Dorrance “Dodo” Hamilton has enjoyed a life of wealth and glamour: a debutante coming-out splashed in the “New York Times”, summers in Newport, and years as the face (and hat!) of the Main Line. In the waning days of Philly high society, we need “Mrs. H.” more than ever.

by AMY KORMAN· 10/21/2008, 10:02 a.m.

Matt Hamilton already knew that his mother was one of your more independent billionaire heiresses…. (When you’re a billionairess, people call you “Mrs.”) With her elegant suits and trademark wide-brimmed hats, she might look the part of the classic old-school socialite, but Dorrance Hill Hamilton (“Dodo” was a nickname inherited from her mother) puts her own stamp on everything she does. This past summer, her clan joined her in Newport, Rhode Island, to celebrate her 80th birthday at a full-on ball at the Newport Country Club — just around the corner from her summer estate, a splendid 1901 mansion called Wildacre — that featured, among other things, face-painting and an ice sculpture in the shape of a dodo bird. Along with her blue satin dress and emeralds, the guest of honor wore a tiny red hat in the shape of a birthday cake….Dorrance Hamilton was born to the role of socialite, of course — she is, famously, the granddaughter of Dr. John T. Dorrance, who invented the condensing process for soup and became the president of the Campbell Soup company in 1914. But while she has led a rarefied life, she is much more invested in carefully distributing her wealth, making sure that the money she bestows so generously is working properly. Recent gifts include $25 million to Thomas Jefferson Hospital; $5 million to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; $5 million to the Kimmel Center; $1 million to the costume collection at the Art Museum’s Perelman Building; and quietly dispersed millions to education causes all over the city, including several parochial schools in West Philly. In essence, she is CEO of what might be called Dorrance Hamilton, Inc., juggling businesses, charities, real estate projects and foundations.

So given what the late Mrs. Hamilton was about, would she be about having a cram plan of her estate whose driveway is on Strafford Avenue in Wayne, adjacent to the Eagle Village Shops ? You know where The Little House Shop and Valley Forge Flowers and more are?

This is the furthermost edge of Radnor Township and will also IMHO drastically affect Tredyffrin Residents won’t it? Traffic is already a nightmare there regularly, and what of Radnor Township School District?  This morning I had parents with kids in Radnor schools express serious concerns off the record.  Apparently the schools like many other schools and school districts are bursting at the seams.  More development doesn’t alleviate this issue. Also back there is a mess when it really rains, so what about storm water management?

Here is what Delaware County has about the real estate parcels. The commercial parcel is Eagle Village and all those stores:

 

Whether it’s the by right plan or the one which would require zoning approvals, why is this what they want to do with the property? I get that the heirs probably have their own ideas about what should happen, but is this what Mrs. Hamilton would have wanted?

For example, Mrs. Hamilton was an avid gardener. I have a Clivia plant that I bought decades ago at St. David’s Fair. It had been grown in Mrs. Hamilton’s greenhouses.  I almost lost this plant a few years ago when I accidentally left it out in too much sun.

And do people know here how she restored the famous Frederick Law Olmstead Jr’s Blue Garden in Newport, RI??  She was a fixture literally at the Philadelphia Flower Show for decades.

Does anyone here much know that she founded the Swiss Village Foundation also up in Newport, Rhode Island. SVF is a nonprofit that along with Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine  is dedicated to preserving heritage breeds of livestock. One of the animals they study and protect are the Dutch Belted Cattle which many in Chester County recognize as the “Oreo” cows. Mrs. Hamilton was mourned throughout New England when she died  for all she did.

She gave millions away to charity and seriously, are her heirs suddenly destitute or something? I mean I could get not wanting to be responsible for all of the land but why overly dense development?  Why not have at least part of the property become something like an arboretum like Jenkins, or even go under the umbrella of PHS (you know like  Meadowbrook Farm?)

I find this all to be incredibly sad. And it’s truly so disappointing that her family is considering this. I mean do they need the money that badly? I wish they would consider something else.  But in the end, will they care enough? Who knows. This sad saga is just beginning.  And I predict the surrounding residents will not just go quietly into the night over this. Nor should they.

218 Straf

#nobillboardsintheburbs

Back to billboards. Happy Holidays affected residents, the issue that never seems to go away is back again.

May, 2009. That was the first billboard hearing about billboards in Haverford Township.

This includes the two ginormous billboards proposed for Lancaster Avenue in Bryn Mawr across from the Bryn Mawr ACME and Our Mother of Good Counsel Church. Two ginormous billboards that would cast a ginormous shadow on lovely small neighborhoods in the vicinity.

Now mind you this was only one site proposed for Haverford Township, there were multiple sites. All in the shadow of churches, schools, small businesses, neighborhoods. And don’t forget the issue at five points in Bryn Mawr, which while technically in Lower Merion, also affects Radnor and Haverford Townships as this is the literal point where two counties and three townships meet. (To see articles about this topic, go to Main Line Media News and search “billboards, Bryn Mawr“.)

Well here we are at the end of 2019 and billboards are back as you can see above. This letter was sent out by Haverford Township 5th Ward commissioner Andy Lewis.

Andy said:

📌As per the attached letter, the hearing on the application of the Bartkowski Investment Group to install billboards in four locations in Haverford Township, including two along Lancaster Avenue at Old Lancaster and Penn Street, is scheduled to commence on Tuesday, January 21st and continue for three days. Please save the dates📌

I never know what the media is going to cover or not cover, and they have been quite devoted over the years to the residents potentially affected by these billboards. However, I have a lot of friends that still live near these billboards sites so I am posting this because how could I not? Back in the day I went to every billboard hearing until I was diagnosed with breast cancer in the spring of 2011.

I will also note this is the same company residents in Tredyffrin are fighting. (See Community Matters.) In Tredyffrin they want to tear down the historic toll house replica built by Okie at Lancaster Ave and Route 252 in Paoli. (Also see Ban Digital Billboard in Paoli Page on Facebook.)

I saved lots of photos from these old Haverford Township hearings and I’m posting a few of them here. I want people to see things like when the firetruck shot their ladder up in Haverford Township above houses to show how tall the billboards would be. Or when residents in Haverford Township made a mock-up using big blue tarps of the actual size of a billboard screen being proposed. and photos of residents taking to the streets over this issue.

I no longer live in or near the areas of Haverford Township being threatened, nor do I live close by to the proposed site in Tredyffrin in Paoli. But as a citizen of this country until they revoke it, I still have my First Amendment Rights… which interestingly enough has always seem to be one of the arguments for why these billboards should be allowed and I’ve never understood that and can you understand that?

#NoBillboardsInTheBurbs pass it on. Please support the residents of Haverford Township, Lower Merion Township, Tredyffrin Township, and any other township who objects to these monstrosities in their communities.

I will also note that four states—Vermont, Alaska, Hawaii, and Maine—have prohibited billboards. Yes, they banned them. So why can’t we say no?

I wonder would the folks from the billboard company want BIG digital billboards on their front lawns? Probably not and I doubt their neighbors would either, right? So why shouldn’t these communities be able to say “no thank you”?

BILLBOARDS = BLIGHT

asking again in 2018: don’t we have enough billboards in chester county already?

In September, 2017 I asked the question of didn’t we have enough billboards already in Chester County when West Whiteland residents became aware of the desire for the Billboard Baron who spent years having residents from Lower Merion and Haverford Townships attend billboard hearings because he wanted billboards in Bryn Mawr along Lancaster Avenue across from Our Mother of Good Counsel Church for one location. Then there was the whole Lower Merion billboard issue near Bryn Mawr Hospital. This has all been well documented in the media over the years.

A little closer to home for us in Chester County, in addition to whatever happened or hasn’t happened or will happen in West Whiteland, Tredyffrin is now tag you are in in the municipal game of billboards.

Community Matters/Pattye Benson: Proposed digital billboard and demolition of R. Brognard Okie building – Tredyffrin Township, is this progress?

So this is the little Clockworks Building:

clockworks

I love this place!  It and this place not too far away (next photo below) have always captured my imagination:

17289122083_3b81ba6f9e_o

These little bits of our history are little architectural gems that dot our landscape.  And Clockworks is an Okie! (Iknow nothing about the other little building and how it came to be.)

toll clock

toll2

Ok so this isn’t my circus in Tredyffrin, I don’t live in Tredyffrin, but I don’t care if the billboards are digital or SMD (surface mount diodes) or platinum encased Lincoln Logs, at what point are there enough? This is at a crazy intersection of a densely populated area. WHY?????

If you listen to the Tredyffrin township meeting recording (and who knows how long this stays on line) it sounds like this presentation occured as part of some litigation settlement agreement? Something like Tredyffrin was threatened with litigation over the way they treat billboards by the billboard company?

So yo Tredyffrin, even Phoenixville fought the billboards. And they WON:

Billboard baron loses fight over Phoenixville zoning
By Michael P. Rellahan mrellahan@21st-centurymedia.com May 28, 2014

WEST CHESTER – A Chester County Court judge dismissed a Philadelphia-area billboard baron’s challenge to the Phoenixville zoning ordinance that he claimed improperly excluded such signs from the borough.

In a May 20 ruling, Common Pleas Court Judge Mark Tunnell upheld the ruling by the borough’s zoning hearing board, finding that the zoning ordinance did allow for billboards and other large outdoor signs to be erected, just not in the location that Thaddeus Bartkowski III and his company, Chester County Outdoor, wanted to erect them.

Bartkowski had filed a substantive validity challenge to the ordinance in 2011, claiming that it unconstitutionally prohibited a type of business from the borough. In 2012, the zoning board ruled against Bartkowski, finding that the types of signs he wanted to erect were a permitted use, even if they were not specifically identified.

It makes you wonder sometimes in these situations whose rights are valued more, doesn’t it? But if Phoenixville could prevail, I am thinking so could Tredyffrin’s solicitor if challenged?

Below is a screen capture from the televised presentation and is this what you want people of Tredyffrin? I will leave you with that image. I put an arrow as to where Clockworks would be removed from.   I vote for Clockworks but I don’t live in Tredyffrin, so that is just my opinion.

I hope the residents of Tredyffrin step forward to preserve their own special historical gateways once again. (Tredyffrin might wish to check out a website called Scenic Philadelphia  and Preserve Our PA Towns /  No Billboards in the Burbs.)

I leave you with a fun fact: Maine is one of a handful of states (Maine, Vermont, Hawaii, Alaska)  that exist just fine without billboards so why can’t we?

836a9314-3276-4e12-97d6-8d029b3692ab

flooding. everywhere.

39099083_10216471930053471_1476057384915828736_o

A friend of mine took this photo less than five minutes ago in Tredyffrin. Lancaster Avenue and that is Old Covered Wagon Inn to your right I believe.

Friends and other readers are alerting me to flooding photos, so here is a slideshow. From Lower Merion where stormwater management in the township needs a makeover to flooded out Little Chicago in North Wayne, to out around West Vincent and beyond the flooding is crazy. Highways are closed like parts  the Schuylkill Expressway, turnpike, etc.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

But of course, global warming is an urban legend…and all of the development never, ever causes any storm water runoff problems, right?

radnor street at willow

Willow Avenue at Radnor Street Road in “Little Chicago” in North Wayne, PA. (Radnor Township) Neighborhood was built at turn of 20th century over the Wayne Natatorium…which at the time was largest outside pool thanks to Gulph Creek and all those springs and water sources underground.  These people are flooded horribly today.  Feel sorry for them. Photo from Twitter this morning.

will village of howellville get squeezed by development in tredyffrin?

Pattye Benson Community Matters Photo

Pattye Benson Community Matters Photo

The Village of Howellville is one of Tredyffrin’s earliest villages. So historic and it was easily accessible by the farms of the Great Valley.  According to Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society it started with a tavern around 1712:

Howellville, one of Tredyffrin’s earliest villages, grew in an area convenient to the farms of the Great Valley. A tavern was often the start of a town, and the first one here was built about 1712. By the early 1700s, sawmills and gristmills had appeared. Nearest to the center of town was the sawmill on Crabby Creek. Several of the early farms had their own limestone kilns. The first school opened about 1720. A factory of some kind belonging to the Workizer family is listed on the 1798 Direct Tax. [Note 1] By the late 18th century, a shoemaker and a wheelwright had set up shop.

More industry developed in the 19th century, including a woolen mill owned by Samuel Wood. There was at least one blacksmith. By the middle of the century there was a store and the Chester Valley Railroad, and by the late 1800s Howellville was a thriving industrial town. The limestone quarries became big business and Italian immigrants arrived to work at them. Other nationalities followed, but were never as numerous or as prosperous as the Italians.

By the early part of the 20th century, Howellville had become a close-knit community-a bit naughty, with lots of drinking and gambling. Then came the Depression which dealt rather harshly with the village. Having lost their jobs, and with no place to go, the quarry workers lived hand-to-mouth. In 1934 Frances Ligget, later a member of the Tredyffrin Easttown History Club, marshalled the help of the Valley Forge Farm and Garden Club to clean up the town and help the unemployed workers and their families. Free seeds were given for gardens. The state provided medical assistance as well as sewing, knitting, and cooking classes, and a nursery school. Weaving was taught by Lettie Esherick, wife of the artist Wharton Esherick.

In 1681 land in the center of Tredyffrin Township that would eventually become most of Howellville belonged to William Mordaunt and John Hort Each owned 500 acres. They were Welsh Tract brokers-they bought the land from William Penn but never lived on it. In 1711 Mordaunt’s sons sold their 500 acres to John Evans, who had previously been Governor of Pennsylvania. Just to the east lay 1340 acres that David Meredith sold to William Powell in 1706. They were also Welsh Tract brokers.

Llewellyn David, a Welshman and one of the early settlers, bought 300 acres in 1708. The name David (later changed to Davis) was the biggest name in Howellville for the next two centuries.

The area sat at the bottom of a natural bowl where three hilly roads met to form a triangle. Swedesford Road, forming the north side of the triangle, came into existence about 1720, very early in the settlement of the Great Chester Valley. It led from the vicinity of Randall Malin’s house in East Whiteland to the Swede’s Ford at the Schuylkill River, near present day Norristown, and gave settlers in the interior access to Philadelphia.

Bear Hill Road, which formed the southeast side of the triangle, connected the Valley with the Black Bear Tavern at the top of the South Valley Hill near the Lancaster Road and today’s village of Paoli.

The southwest side of the triangle was Howellville Road, until a traffic light was installed at the corner about 1960. Then it became part of Swedesford Road and the north side of the triangle was made one-way. It was this way until most of Howellville’s buildings were torn down and Route 202 was completed and dedicated in 1971.

The triangle at the bottom of these roads was a convenient place for horses and wagons to stop and rest, and in 1745 a license was granted to establish the first tavern. When David Howell settled in the area and became the second innkeeper of the tavern, about 1765, it was called Howell’s Tavern. The village that grew up around it became Howellville. When the old inn was razed in 1921, the only house in the triangle was the little house described by Henry Darling later in this article.

The triangle disappeared in 1967 when Route 252 was widened and Route 202 was built.

READ THE ENTIRE HISTORY HERE

The history of Howellville is fascinating and rich.  Most people just think of Howellville Road today…not that it was a historically important crossroads village. It is an integral part of the history of Tredyffrin and was discussed in Tredyffrin’s 2009 Historic Preservation Plan.

001r

Last time I was on Howellville Road was in the fall  when I was noodling around and found myself on that road.  It has long fascinated me and I lament the loss of one crossroads village after the other as time progresses.

villa-straffordToday I just finished reading a blog post by my friend Pattye Benson about a proposed development there. Oh and the developer is a name familiar to East Whiteland and Radnor 6602889_0_jrbnqjresidents: Benson Companies. Or you know, the townhouses without real trees crammed in at 115 Strafford Ave in Wayne and the eqully unctious cram plan that finally got approved at 124 Bloomingdale Ave in Radnor. And for East Whiteland? Linden Hall. You know the developer that said they would restore historic Linden Hall if they got approved for townhouses, only they haven’t done anything other than sell approved 124-bloomingdaletownhouse plan  to Pulte who built the townhouses with a view of the cigar store, Route 30 and the still rotting Linden Hall? But is that all on Benson? What about the teaming up with O’Neill at super toxic Bishop Tube?  And do not forget Kimberton Meadows, right?27685291670_2d629ed33d_o

Anyway….Benson is once again the proposed townhouse gift that keeps on giving:

Community Matters: How many townhouses and assisted living communities does Tredyffrin Township need (or want)? Can the T/E School District accommodate the increase in student population?

You may recall the abandoned Jimmy Duffy property on Lancaster Avenue in Berwyn and the subsequent construction of Daylesford Crossing, an assisted living facility on the site.  The approval for Daylesford Crossing was a long, drawn out redevelopment process in 2012 that required a text amendment to permit senior living facilities as a by-right use in C-1 (commercial) zoning.

Some argued at the time that the zoning change to permit senior living in C-1 was ‘spot-zoning’ to accommodate this specific project and others questioned what this would mean for future C-1 development in Tredyffrin Township. In 2015, the township expanded the C-1 District zoning to also include townhouses as a by-right use.

During the last few years, developers have flocked to the township with their assisted living and townhouse, apartment and condominium plans. Assisted living projects currently under construction or in the review process include Erickson Living at Atwater Crossing in Malvern (250 beds) and Brightview Senior Living on E. Conestoga in Devon (196 beds).

On the townhouse-apartment side in the township, there are many projects in the planning stages or under construction….Areas that were once farmland continue to be developed.  Top ranking school district, T/E brings an influx of people to the area which means an influx of students, and the growing problem of finding a place to put them….. a new proposed land development plan in the works that is extremely troubling – townhouses on Howellville Road. The proposal is to wedge a cluster of 20 townhouses, in four buildings, between the village of Howellville and the shadow of the Refuge Pentecostal Church.

howellville-road-townhome-plans

….The proposed land development plan on Howellville Road is not compatible with the character and appearance of the area.  Beyond the impact of traffic on Howellville Road, the proposed development plan creates serious safety concerns.  The steep narrow winding nature of Howellville Road makes entry and exit from the proposed dense townhouse project a dangerous situation.

Benson Company’s proposed townhouse project on Howellville Road will change the look and character of this community as well as place a greater burden on the narrow, winding road – and again more students for the school district!

John Benson of Benson Company has enthusiastically offered that his proposed Howellville Road townhouses will look like his Grey’s Lane townhouses on Lancaster Ave.  A couple of things – (1) Grey’s Lane is on Rt. 30, a commercial 4-lane road vs. Howellville Road, a rural country road and (2) he squeezed 12 townhouses in at Grey’s Lane in 3 buildings where as this proposal is for 4 buildings with 20 townhouses….Areas that were once farmland continue to be developed. Between the assisted living communities and the townhouses and apartments, should the objective in Tredyffrin Township be to approve any and all land development projects regardless of the impact?

How awful this sounds and allow me to share two screen shots – one is Pattye’s photo of where the proposed townhouses will be stuffed in and perched like Jabba The Hut and all his children, and a rendering of the “Greys Lane” townhomes…another cram plan, and cheap looking to boot.

And from an aesthetic point of view, every time I see a staged interior of a “fabulous” Benson new construction piece of new construction dreck I am struck with the fact that every interior looks the same. If you want Barbie’s dream house, you are pretty much there. No character, predictable, mass produced, plastic.

Photo by Pattye Benson Community Matters

Photo by Pattye Benson Community Matters

25 Greys Lane, Berwyn, PA:

7db6d1b352d8413-6924697

YUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Residents of Tredyffrin are soooo right!!  How much of this does any one township want or need? And much like neighboring East Whiteland it seems like people are hell bent on developing every square inch of the township! Who needs King of Prussia? Soon Tredyffrin and East Whiteland will definitely resemble King of Prussia meets Bensalem.

Oh yes, one more thing? Tredyffrin residents need to get to the Planning Commission TOMORROW February 16th when this next great godforsaken plan makes it’s debut along with “Westlakes Hotel” and “Chestnut Road Apartments”.

Again I ask where the hell the Chester County Planning Commission and Brian O’Leary are? Lord above, Chester County is drowning, yes drowning in development plans.

tredyffrin

save strafford’s old covered wagon inn!

Pattye Benson Community Matters photo

Pattye Benson Community Matters photo

Yesterday I wrote about the wrecking ball of doom hanging over a very beloved and well-recognized landmark, the Old Covered Wagon Inn of Strafford PA. Once it was a tale of two counties, and apparently at some point the structure got plunked 100% in Tredyffrin Township, Chester County. (Say, has anyone asked Radnor Township how they feel about this??  It is right on the border and they are always taking care of than intersection aren’t they?)

Today thanks to Pattye Benson I have these great photos to share with you.  And a new post:

Preserving Tredyffrin: Inside the Covered Wagon Inn Today

 

There has been questions about the exact date of the Covered Wagon Inn. According to Tredyffrin Township’s 2003 Historic Resource Survey, the construction date is attributed to circa 1780. A team of professionals from Preservation Design Partnership in Philadelphia conducted the municipal survey documentation project, which surveyed and documented over 350 historic resources in Tredyffrin Township.

Interestingly in 2004, the Historic Resource Survey was given the Government Award by Preservation Pennsylvania. The project was described as “providing a usable preservation planning tool for a suburban township currently under intense development and redevelopment (in the form of “tear-downs”) pressure.”  The award description went on to say that, “Tredyffrin Township Historic Resources Survey represents a model for the use of technology to document and plan for the management, protection and preservation of historic buildings, sites and districts valued by a municipality.”

The township’s 2003 Historic Resource Survey was funded with taxpayer dollars and was intended to aid the municipal officials and staff in the protection of Tredyffrin Township’s resources. The preservation of historic buildings like the Covered Wagon Inn is a one-way street.  There is no chance to reuse or save the building, once it’s gone.  Preservation and restoration is the ultimate form of recycling.  What is historic, and worth saving, varies with the beholder.

 

How horribly and sadly true. Not everyone sees the value in our old and historic structures.

Don’t you wish they would in this case?

http://tinyurl.com/SaveCoveredWagonInn   (Sign the petition!)

 http://www.facebook.com/SaveCoveredWagonInn (like the Facebook page and share your memories and photos!)

The Facebook messages and memories are pouring in – today one that just touched my heart:

 

I proposed to my lovely wife 64 years ago there

 

I.can’t.even. How beautiful.

All these people sharing all of these memories.

And less than 24 hours after launching the Facebook Save page…  1,141 likes and growing! The petition had 1893 signatures last count and that also has not been up a full 24 hours.

#ThisPlaceMatters Keep it up!  Thank you for caring!

Covered Wagon Inn fireplace. Photo courtesy of Pattye Benson Community Matters

Covered Wagon Inn fireplace. Photo courtesy of Pattye Benson Community Matters

 

 

 

for the love of community and history

 

photo courtesy of Pattye Benson and Community Matters. artistic filters applied courtesy of Simple Shots Photography: The Magic of Ordinary Days

 

When my friend Pattye Benson told me about what was up for discussion at a recent Tredyffrin Township meeting, I thought I misunderstood her. I thought they could NOT possibly raze the old Covered Wagon Inn located in Strafford on the corner of Lancaster and Old Eagle School. After all, it is one of the most rcognized landmarks on that part of the upper end of the Main Line in Tredyffrin, Chester County. It also is an ongoing example of adaptive reuse. No matter who rents or owns the site, it endures.

But it is true. (check it out on Scribd)

As Pattye writes for Community Matters:

The last item in front of the Planning Commissioners tonight has personal interest – a land development application to demolish a building a construct a CVS Pharmacy and drive-thru. Summit Realty Advisors will present a plan for the 1-1/2 acre property located at 625/629 East Lancaster Ave. in Wayne. This property is located on the corner of Old Eagle School Road and Lancaster Ave – the Paddock Restaurant (previously John Harvards Brew House) property.

I have no issue with the redevelopment of this property, including the demolition of the ‘new addition’ located at 629 Lancaster, which housed the Paddock Restaurant. But … I have a real problem with demolition of 625 East Lancaster Ave, the historic building that currently houses Thos. Moser Furniture. According to Tredyffrin Township’s 2003 Historic Resource Survey, the building was built about 1780 as a private resident. John Palmer owned a farm which included this structure in 1873, indicated on the 1881 atlas map. The structure was enlarged during the 20th century and was known as the Covered Wagon Inn. Well-known on the Main Line for fine dining and dancing, in its heyday the Covered Wagon Inn featured big name bands and performing artists such as Count Basie and Duke Ellington and their orchestras.

I personally also have no issue with redevelopment per se (although I will admit I do not see the need of yet ANOTHER big box of a chain drug store or a big box store in general) but like Pattye I have a HUGE issue with razing this historic building. The old Covered Wagon Inn has stood for 250 years. It’s a local landmark in use currently, means something to the area, so why demolish it? Especially when the Summit Group ironically was involved with a very special adaptive reuse in Ambler, PA as Pattye continues:

In a review of the Summit Realty Advisors website, there are many, many CVS Pharmacy development projects, including a similar current project in Media. However, in the midst of their drug store building portfolio, I discovered a very special project by John Zaharchuk, owner/developer with Summit Realty Advisors. Zaharchuk oversaw the redevelopment of Ambler Boiler House, the 19th century power plant of an abandoned asbestos factory. Working with historic architectural firm, Heckendorn-Shiles (a former historic house tour sponsor) of Wayne, the project redesigned the circa 1897 brick building, preserving its architectural integrity and recycled it into a clean-and-green office development.

Now…what to do with this? You see a major stumbling block is Tredyffrin, like many Chester County municipalities, historic structures are NOT protected (you know like Linden Hall and Loch Aerie in East Whiteland for two other examples?)

 So what can we do?  Quite simply raise awareness and try to change the developer’s mind. Can we do it Chester County and beyond? The answer is we can darn well try! The building is in good shape and occupied and has been basically continually throughout the course of time.

 Yesterday we put our heads together as the blizzard swirled around us and we started a Save The Covered Wagon Inn, Strafford Pa page on Facebook, launched a petition on Change.org http://tinyurl.com/SaveCoveredWagonInn .

In less than 24 hours we have just shy of 500 signatures already on the petition (and growing!) and well OVER 1000 Facebook page likes and growing. Thank you to those who have joined us already and here is an invitation for any of you out there wherever you are to join us!

#ThisPlaceMatters so we have shared our early efforts with The National Trust For Historic Preservation too! In addition to the petition and Facebook page we invite anyone who is preservation minded especially when it comes the the old Covered Wagon Inn to take a photo outside the building with a simple hand lettered sign on a pie of copy paper that says #THISPLACEMATTERS and either post it on the Save The Covered Wagon Inn Facebook Page or post it on Twitter to @SavingPlaces @tredyffrin @TredyffrinTwp  .

Also we are looking for photos of the Old a Covered a Wagon Inn throughout the years. You can send them to Pattye Benson directly at tredyffrincommunitymatters@gmail.com or post them on or message them to the Facebook page.

 One thing that has come out of this since we launched the Facebook page is people sharing memories of The Old Covered Wagon Inn throughout the years. My friends and I in our early 20s danced many a night away at the then “Main Lion” . Here are some of the other memories:

“My parents met at the Covered Wagon! It was a family favorite…..for so many reasons.”


“I have a personal connection, it was the site of my wedding reception. More long term, my family, Davis’, have a long history in Tredyffrin Township, Chester County ,dating back to the 1600’s as shown by Graves in the Valley Baptist Church off Valley Forge Rd, Devon. Please preserve and protect the history of this area and this building in particular.

“My mother took me to see Harry James at the Covered Wagon. She convinced me to go backstage to get his autograph. He must have been in his 70s but he could really play. Nicest guy you’d ever want to meet.”

“They can’t do it!!! Our Saint Katharine of Siena eighth grade graduation celebration was there!! It’s like tearing down Independence Hall, or Betsy Ross’s house. Buildings that involved very very important people and/or events MUST be preserved, cherished and maintained.”


“I remember the 70’s when Mt. Zion AME Church Devon had many Fashion Shows at The Old Covered Wagon Inn. It was gorgeous. So much history. Hopefully it will be restored.”


“The Old Covered Wagon was a frequent advertiser in the Radnor Historical Society Bulletin years ago; feel free to use this ad if you wish to post it.”


 

from the Radnor Historical Society



There is also another post on Community Matters you should read:

Save the Covered Wagon Inn … Say No to Demolition of Main Line Landmark!

 

Community Matters/Pattye Benson photo

Well that is all from me on this snowy Sunday morning. Thanks for stopping by. We hope you will sign and share the petition. As an extended community our history matters.

here we go again in tredyffrin

wall

I haven’t written about Tredyffrin in eons. But the news out of Tredyffrin is disturbing if true.

In July of 2012, then Township Manager Mimi Gleason resigned.  In 2014, Tredyffrin relieved then Public Works Director Scott Cannon of duties. In more blunt terms, Tredyffrin fired him.

Tredyffrin Township released a statement at that time (TT Press Release 2014 02 10 ) which said in part:

In his capacity as Director of Public Works, Mr. Cannon engaged in conduct, himself, and directed vendors and subordinates to engage in such conduct, involving two instances of the improper disposal of materials on Township property in a manner prohibited by Pennsylvania’s environmental laws. Since the areas affected are not easily accessible to the public and, as addressed in more detail below, since no immediate danger was identified by DEP, we cannot disclose the locations until that agency’s investigation is complete.

 

Well apparently Mr. Cannon was arrested and is facing criminal charges on chemical dumping (MDJReport Tredyffrin Cannon ).

Tredyffrin issued a statement over the past few days (Tredyffrin Press Release Nov 2015 ) which states in part:

Former Public Works Director, Scott Cannon turned himself over to the Tredyffrin Township Police Department for processing on Friday, November 20, 2015.

The charges brought by the State Attorney General’s office arise from facts that were disclosed publicly in February 2014 during a meeting of the Board of Supervisors following the Township’s own internal investigation. The Township is unaware of any allegations of violations other than those disclosed in February 2014.

 

Walt Hunter at CBS3 was the first media to cover this story. Walt quotes Cannon’s lawyer on the charges:

In response to a CBS 3 inquiry, Cannon’s attorney, A.J.Chotkowski, emailed a statement that reads in part:

“Mr. Cannon was surprised and disappointed to learn that charges were filed against him today… the charges occurred less than a year after Mr. Cannon initiated a civil action against Tredyffrin Township stemming from his termination as the Director of Public Works… Mr. Cannon denies that he, or any other employee under his supervision, violated any law or caused any environmental harm. The substance alleged to have been released is magnesium chloride, which is merely a common salt product used to treat roads.”

 

Ok but according to the state, aren’t chemicals like this supposed to be disposed of properly?  As in not just dumped on Tredyffrin Township owned property and allowed to spill into the Valley Creek?

Yes, the Valley Creek. You know where Tredyffrin had raw sewage issues? Remember groups filed suit against Tredyffrin this time last year over violations of the federal Clean Water Act? 

To quote Penn Environmental at the time :

penn enviro 2014

Last December 2014, Tredyffrin agreed to a costly clean up settlement in the raw sewage case .

And now this. The Philadelphia Business Journal says in their article:

Scott Canon, 56, of Glen Mills, is facing four counts of unlawful conduct and a count of prohibition against other pollutions for opening a large tank containing magnesium chloride, and releasing 1,000 gallons of the chemical into the township’s public works facility, according to the Office of the Attorney General.

Main Line Media News has a story today on this as well and the comments are as interesting as the actual article.

MLMN article

Political chess anyone? Mimi Gleason (so much for that pretty quote of “a job is not a life”, eh?) went to West Whiteland and Bill Martin came out of the polluted Bashore era in Radnor Township via problematic Bridgeport, correct? Is there culpability when it comes to Tredyffrin’s former Public Works guy and the current and former Township Managers of Tredyffrin when it comes to this case? Has anyone contacted Mimi Gleason in West Whiteland for her thoughts? Did she hire this Scott Cannon?

I can’t help but wonder what else will surface in the always politically charged muck and mire of Tredyffrin Township. Because can it said nothing there is ever simple?

But at the end of the day what disturbs me the most are Tredyffrin’s pollution problems. It’s bad enough when it’s a specific company in a certain municipality and all of this has been well, municipally caused has it not? First raw sewage, now this?

And how have these issues affected Tredyffrin residents as well as their municipal neighbors?

To all the sewage add a 1000 gallons of Magnesium Chloride.

What the heck, Tredyffrin Township? Well only time will tell where this case will go , especially given all the problems in the attorney general’s office in Pennsylvania.

Sign me glad not to live in Tredyffrin but I sure wish they would clean up their act (and pollution problems).