civilian bravery followed by questions in the wake of yesterday’s fire on pottstown pike.

Ginny Kerslake photo.

This morning the Daily Local has an article about a vicious fire that could have been deadly yesterday along Pottstown Pike/ Route 100.

Daily Local: Firefighters battle apartment fire in Uwchlan

By Pete Bannan Pbannan@21st-Centurymedia.com 7 hrs ago Comments

UWCHLAN — Fire erupted at an apartment house in the 500 block of N. Pottstown Pike Wednesday.  

Lionville Fire Company was dispatched just before 3 p.m. for the report of a possible subject trapped in the former two-floor motel annex.

Firefighters reported heavy fire on the second floor of the building….The cause of the fire is under investigation

I think at least FIVE fire companies responded. And given HOW busy 100 is, many, many kudos to the first responders because that is difficult location no matter how you slice it. I am also told access to this property is somewhat dicey? I wonder if they could even get fire trucks across the little driveway bridge off Route 100 that I am told crosses a creek there? People say it’s not great?

The reporter/photographer for The Daily Local is someone I have known for years. He covers a lot of fires and one time he covered a house fire next door to where I lived many years ago. I will never forget that fire because the firefighters had to work so hard to keep the flames engulfing an old Victorian house owned by an absentee landlord from jumping to the roofs next door, including my own.

What the reporter/photographer doesn’t mention is a selfless local Chester County resident who stopped to help BEFORE first responders arrived on scene.

And I am NOT saying this as a chide, I am not sure anyone knew. But I know so I am going to tell you.

The person who stopped and risked her own safety was my friend, Ginny Kerslake. Yes, the same Ginny Kerslake who ran for Chester County Commissioner in the recent Democratic primary this past spring that the Chester County Democrats chose NOT to endorse. (And yes THAT is most decidedly a dig at the flawed endorsement process of a major political party.)

This is what my friend Ginny shared with us yesterday shortly after the fire erupted:

Avoid route 100 just north of Township Line Rd.

As I was driving past I saw black smoke and then the flames. Called 911 and banged on the apartment doors right next to the house to alert residents. A woman used my phone to call the woman who lives in the house – luckily she was out somewhere but her husband who smokes may be inside where the fire is. I really hope he’s not. First responders on scene. It’s frightening to see.

I left once there was nothing for me to do but get out of the way. I’m home now hearing lots of sirens and hoping for the best for everyone there.

Ginny acted in a selfless and heroic manner in my opinion. She put herself in danger to try to help others before first responders arrived.

Ginny is a modest woman and doesn’t seek accolades or personal glory for the amazing things she does. However, yesterday what she did was brave and heroic and she deserves our praise and thanks. In a world where so much is ugly, I am honored to have a friend who truly will put her own needs and life aside for the greater good. Ginny exhibited a selfless act of bravery in the true spirit of community.

I don’t think Uwchlan Township even realized what she did.

That above was the Uwchlan Township Police Department press release post incident. They obviously did not realize that Ginny Kerslake was in part responsible for getting people out of the structure(s).

I remember yesterday when PulsePoint reported the incident. They said “commercial structure” so I was not sure where they meant.

You undoubtedly have driven past this now fire location before if you are traveling Route 100.

The above photo with the arrows is one I shared in the fall of 2017 when a billboard was being proposed for the derelict and boarded up farm market or whatever it is next door. I used the arrows to remind people of not only the location on Pottstwon Pike/100 but also the proximity to the location which had the fire yesterday.

And this location is what was once known as the Dogwood Motel. Now it appears to be apartments of some sort. And this location once again represents the very limited supply of “affordable housing” in this part of Chester County. Like the mobile home parks we see scattered about including in townships in close proximity like East Whiteland and further away near or in other municipalities like Wallace Township, Honeybrook, Phoenixville, and the Downingtown areas, the old Dogwood Motel represents a very limited supply of affordable housing.

And as Chester County continues to get bombarded with new developments, the affordable housing supply continues to dwindle. And we are not simply referring to section 8 housing, we are referring to low income housing for those of modest means in all categories including our elderly who live on fixed incomes in a lot of cases. With all of this new development, taxes and rents increase often pricing life-long residents quite literally out of their homes.

No, I am not being a drama queen, it’s true. And people of low incomes and modest means are the invisible people society doesn’t wish to see.

This location at 514 N. Pottstown Pike is run down and has been for years. A search through Chester County records indicates the property is owned by people who seem as if they lived locally at one time, but now reside in Florida. I am not positive but if I am reading old deeds correctly they bought it possibly in a Sheriff’s sale decades ago? Here is are screen shots from Chesco Views:

The Daily Local indicates there is some sort of investigation post-fire. That is normal. Of course other questions would now include if the property owners are the equivalent of absentee landlords who is responsible for day to day maintenance on this property? And who at a township level and county level is responsible for seeing that this structure and other low income rental properties are safe and up to code?

It is thanks to first responders and ordinary people like Ginny Kerslake who is not a first responder that no lives were lost.

But what happens now to all of the residents who call this location home? I can’t answer that question but myself and many others are wondering.

If anyone does any LEGITIMATE fundraisers for the residents here, please post a comment on this blog’s Facebook page.

But for the grace of God go any of us in a situation like this.

Ginny Kerslake photo.

SHUT DOWN. sunoco is halted again (for now) on the mariner east pipeline…

From Uwchlan Safety Coalition via Facebook:

The #emergency order from the PUC has been granted! #MarinerEast 1 will be shut down!!!!!

Public hearing will be March 15th!

#Uwchlan must be heard here! Please, while many of you have already #emailed your supervisors today, please, do it again!

Ask for them to file their own complaint with PUC!

Consider this! Uwchlan Township is next door to the area where #Sunoco did not do their homework on the geology and put public safety and property at risk! Our water supply and our unique land formations including a fault line exists along the pipeline route in Uwchlan! Let’s make sure Sunoco has done their job correctly here!

Email our township supervisors asking for the complaint to be filed at PUC!

WMiller@uwchlan.com

MBaumann@uwchlan.com

KDoan@uwchlan.com

http://www.puc.state.pa.us/pcdocs/1556680.pdf

#noME2 #stopETP #shutitdown

What is in the media (there is more as this story is spreading like wildfire, I just posted a couple of sources):

Delco Times Heron’s Nest by Phil Heron Thursday March 8:

PUC pulls plug on Mariner East 1 – for now

Karst….I’m pretty sure Sunoco Pipeline is already tired of hearing it.

Karst refers to a geologic formation where the ground is situated on old limestone formations that have been weakened by moisture over decades.

It turns out it’s a pretty common occurrence in this area – particularly across a swath of Chester County.

Exactly in many of the same spots where Sunoco Pipeline is now running gases through its Mariner East 1 pipeline and is constructing Mariner East 2….These weakened karst areas are susceptible to sinkholes, fissures and other ground settling, in particular when the ground is disturbed, such as when drilling trenches for a new pipeline.

READ MORE HERE

and… Philadelphia Inquirer…

PUC orders Sunoco pipeline shutdown after sinkholes expose bare pipe near Exton

Updated: MARCH 7, 2018 — 5:36 PM EST

by Andrew Maykuth, Staff Writer amaykuth@phillynews.com

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Wednesday ordered the immediate shutdown of Sunoco Pipeline’s Mariner East 1 system after sinkholes exposed the bare pipeline in Chester County, which PUC investigators said “could have catastrophic results” if not repaired.

Gladys M. Brown, the PUC’s chair, granted an emergency order to halt operations on the 8-inch-diameter pipeline, which went into service in 1931 originally to carry motor fuel. It now carries up to 70,000 barrels a day of high-pressure volatile natural gas liquids such as propane from the Marcellus Shale gas region to a Sunoco terminal in Marcus Hook

Craziness.

How is it life had to reach a crisis point like this?

Apparently where the pipeline is causing sinkholes over in West Whiteland is also close to train tracks? Active train tracks? As in AMTRAK tracks? I am guessing the railroad will not be too happy about this when they check it out or we can hope, right?

There is so much that could go wrong and so much that already has it gone wrong, right?

And all they are doing is back filling sinkholes with concrete, correct? Considering we are talking Karst formations (and geology is not my forte and I have heard other terminology used as well with Chester County and the sinkholes which can occur) are they just going to turn Chester County into one giant concrete pad and that is their solution?

Is Sunoco/Sunoco Logistics/Energy Transfer Partners L.P. that greedy that they would put our homes, health,safety, and welfare at risk like this? (Yes, I realize that is a somewhat redundant question, but it has to be asked yet again, doesn’t it?)

Supervisors, commissioners, and borough officials throughout Chester County really should be paying attention to this. And a lot of them aren’t. And if you live in a Township affected by pipelines you should be pressuring your elected officials to contact the PUC immediately!

And this is also why people shouldn’t just roll over with regard to the Adelphia Gateway pipeline poised to become Mariner East- Lite.

Go ahead, plug your address into that interactive pipeline map Chester County Planning Commission has on their pipeline information page. You will see what I saw that there are a lot of pipelines crisscrossing Chester County and neighboring counties. I was told (and I have no reason to disbelieve the person who told me) that a lot of these pipeline companies are waiting to see what happens with Sunoco, so doesn’t that say to you if we don’t stop this now as an extended dual county and extended county community, we will just keep fighting the same thing over and over again?

Our homes are our castles. They want to take part of our land via eminent domain as fake utility companies and we’re supposed to be OK with that and all the havoc pipelines are causing?

Bull Twaddle.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not OK with it. I’m not OK living in a blast zone, that’s just as bad as having the pipeline go down my street as far as I’m concerned.

Perhaps the most galling thing of all is still the fact that we don’t benefit for what they are raping our land for and destroying our property values for, are we?

What is being plundered from the very ground below us, doesn’t benefit us. It gets shipped overseas, doesn’t it?

Please note the photos used in this post are courtesy of Eric Friedman/Middletown Coalition for Community Safety. If I have not attributed properly– community groups, please let me know.

#DefendWhatYouLove – there is no other option. We live here. It’s where we call home. We cannot as a collective extended community just silently fall victim to these corporations.

this is progress?

Ann Pugh Farm todayIt was marketed as a “Main Line Classic”. A “Historic Estate Property.”  Only in the end it was just another demolition in the march of new development in Chester County.

It was the Ann Pugh Farm

pugh farm then

And then it wasn’t.

pugh

The property was idyllic. And updated. It was in short, amazing.  But although historic, there was nothing in Tredyffrin Township, Chester County to protect it. I wrote about it twice, Tredyffrin Community Matters wrote about it.  At the time both blogs took an enormous amount of guff for doing so.  We were being mean and unfair and so on and so forth.

A quote from one of comment leavers on Commuity Matters at the time:

You are losing sight of the issue, is it preservation, or is it simply opposition to new construction?

I thought Pattye Benson summed up everyone’s thoughts who were distraught at what we felt was wanton destruction when she replied:

Not opposed to new construction — just support the preservation of our community’s historic resources.

 

And that is the truth.  You can’t save every old mansion, house, farm, barn, and storefront.  But we need to preserve more in our communities than we are.  We need balance between the old and the new and progress should not erase our history. (Speaking of preservation, check out Savvy Main Line’s shout out for a preservation buyer for Chester County’s La Ronda known as Loch Aerie in this week’s column and news round up.)

The friend who sent me the photo of the Ann Pugh replacement today remarked that whomever built the house might still have their former home on Pugh for sale? I have no way of knowing, and do not really care but what I will never understand is living down the street from something that was as beautiful as Ann Pugh Farm and then tearing it down to make your mark on the landscape, can you?

The other thing I find so sad with all of this is the fact that in the two years between Ann Pugh coming tumbling down and today, Tredyffrin has not changed the way they protect historic assets in their township.  After all, if they had, perhaps the Old Covered Wagon Inn in Strafford would not be at risk for demolition, right?

And the thing is that Tredyffrin Township is home to some amazing historic preservationists that are active and visible in the community.  But when zoning and planning and ordinances don’t match up and the Municipalities Planning Code of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania do not match with a community’s desire to protect at least some of their history and architectural heritage what can you do? (The short answer is not much and you have to get lucky.)

I keep hoping East Whiteland will wake up before it’s too late.  As a municipality they are facing essentially wanton commercial and residential development, and it is not necessarily what the majority of residents want but does that matter? The East Whiteland Historical Commission has made a couple of public utterances lately, but what exactly is there to back up what they are saying?  Do they have a game plan? Or are they just beating their chests because they were awoken from their relatively inactive slumber?

Or they love their history and work to preserve it actively like East Goshen and Willistown? Like the beautiful and historic homes lovingly preserved in the Boroughs of West Chester and Kennett Square? Wouldn’t you love more preservation like Historic Sugartown, Goshenville, and Yellow Springs Village?

West Vincent is another municipality in the throes of development. There residents are worried this once idyllic township is disappearing one development at a time and where you used to smell the smells of crops and live stock, on a sunny day if you are close enough, you smell plastic. The new plastic smell of tract houses and development with no soul. In West Vincent residents are wondering what it would take to get the zoning found in Willistown and Charesltown townships and other places in Chester County where they wisely added lot size requirements to their codes in an effort to at least retain some of the open space if they can’t save the old houses and farms.

People in West Vincent are terrified over huge tracts of land like Bryn Coed.  Bryn Coed is roughly twice the size Chesterbrook was amassed to be before original development, correct?  And it is an estate in more than one municipality, right? So what happens if Bryn Coed gets developed? Or is it more like when? It is a huge amount of land for people to be caretakers over in today’s economy, so I am just being practical as I do not see it surviving and neither do most people. But what will it become? The new Chesterbook? A Bensalem lite?

And that is the problem throughout Chester County: there is not enough to save the history and barely enough to hang on to some of the open space.  If we all do not come together in this county, what we love about Chester County will literally cease to exist.  And what of the farming? What happens when you develop away all of the farms? Or add chemical plants where they once stood?

It’s a lot to think about, but we must. We have an opportunity in a Presidential Election Year to demand more transparency from candidates for every level of office when it comes to open space preservation, land conservation, environmental conservation, farming, development, historic preservation.  Ask the candidates. Whether running for a local supervisor to Congress, to State House to State and U.S. Senate it doesn’t matter who you are, ask the candidates the tough questions and make them earn their votes.

It’s time to #SaveChesterCounty before what we love is all gone.