First off, let me say that I truly appreciate the amount of time extended by the BAWG committee on behalf of the residents of Tredyffrin Township. As a committed community volunteer, I understand all too well the amount of time and effort, this project demanded of the BAWG committee.
Now on to last night’s Board of Supervisor meeting, the BAWG report and the St. Davids Golf Club’s $50K cash ‘offer’. The BAWG members were introduced, thanked and given framed commendations for their efforts. It was my understanding that BAWG Chairman Tom Colman would give a summary of the report; he did not, choosing instead to thank the township staff and other BAWG committee members for their willingness to help in the process. I expected that Supervisor Chairman Kampf would then ask if his fellow supervisors or audience members had any questions/comments related to the BAWG report. However, Mr. Kampf did not ask for comments but instead made a motion to accept the BAWG report as a township public document. Without further discussion, all supervisors voted to accept the BAWG report as a permanent document and proceeded on to the budget discussion.
As I had stated in an earlier posting, I intended to ask my questions surrounding the $50K St. Davids Golf Club cash offer contained in the BAWG report. In the official acceptance of the BAWG report as a public document, Mr. Kampf referenced using the report’s recommendations going forward – to me this implied anything contained within the pages of the report could be considered (including the St. Davids ‘offer’) as possible budget revenue sources.
Troubled by the offer from St. Davids Golf Club which appeared in the BAWG report as a suggested revenue resource, I decided to publically ask the following questions:
- Where did the $50K St. Davids Golf Club offer come from?
- Was this a written offer from St. Davids Golf Club Board of Directors and was it made directly to the BAWG committee?
- Was the Township Solicitor, Township Manager and members of the Board of Supervisors advised of the St. Davids Golf Club offer (prior to BAWG’s publication of its report)?
- If this is a written offer, what are the conditions and timeline for its acceptance? Who has the authority to accept the offer?
- Was this offer and the details discussed with the Planning Commission or Sidewalks, Trail & Paths (STAP) Committee prior to appearing in the BAWG report?
- Are any of the members of the BAWG committee also members of St. Davids Golf Club?
- Are any of the members of the Board of Supervisor also members of St. Davids Golf Club?
Just to ask these questions, became a testament to my patience (and for those who know me, I do not claim patience as one of my virtues). Apparently, Mr. Kampf decided that at first my questions were not budget-related; and therefore could not be asked during the budget discussion. However, having not been given an option to comment on the BAWG report earlier, and knowing that this report was now a public document that could be used in budget discussion, I felt compelled to keep going — to get the questions out there, and hopefully answered.
Finally getting the questions asked, I looked to the supervisors for answers to the ‘mystery’ of the St. Davids Golf Club $50K offer — where did it come from, who made the offer, what’s the timeline, etc. etc. I suggested that acceptance of this offer would be setting precedent for future land development projects (along with usurping the authority of the Planning Commission). In reponse to the question of the St. Davids offer, they knew nothing of any offer and suggested that Tom Colman come to the microphone and address my questions. Mr. Colman’s explanation was that he had just ‘heard’ of the offer, didn’t know from where or from whom, but thought it could have been right here in Keene Hall. He mentioned that the BAWG committee was independent and made decisions on their own, even stating that the Township Solicitor had suggested the removal of the St. Davids offer from the report, but that the BAWG members voted to keep it in.
Following Mr. Colman’s explanation that there was no $50K offer in writing and complete vagueness of the offer’s origination, I once again stepped forward. I told the supervisors that I had read every Board of Supervisor and Planning Commission meeting minutes from 2004 onward and that there was absolutely no discussion of any $50K offer from St. Davids Golf Club — was this OK to have a offer in this official public document that had no verification or proof to exist? My sense was that yes we can accept the BAWG report as public document with a suggested revenue source that is not verifiable and has no basis.
I sat there for a full 20 min. as the budget discussion continued on, trying to understand what had just happened. There was an easy solution, a right solution — why couldn’t someone make it? Why not offer the public full disclosure, why not take a stand and do what’s right? For this taxpayer, the St. Davids Golf Club cash offer of $50K appearing in the BAWG report was wrong. If this offer existed (albeit no one was willing to publically admit that the offer existed) where was the proof of its existence? Why wasn’t this so-called offer being seen as a way to allow St. Davids Golf Club off the hook for building the sidewalk? Sure, St. Davids would come out ahead — the cost of the sidewalk is more likely $75-100K, not $50K. What about the authority of the Planning Commission – the sidewalk was part of the acceptance of the St. Davids Golf Club land development agreement? Doesn’t anyone see the potential future problems with setting this kind of precedent?
At the end of the evening, other members of the audience took the stand to make similar remarks about the St. Davids’ offer. There certainly seemed a need from people to understand what they had just witnessed. Under new Board matters, Supervisor DiFilippo made a motion to set up a subcommittee with board members and Planning Commission members to look at the St. Davids offer and how they may be able to deal with future land development situations. Mr. Kampf offered to be on the subcommittee with Ms. DiFilippo. The motion passed, 6-0. This motion confused me further. If there was no actual $50K offer from St. Davids Golf Club, why was there a need for a subcommittee to look at it? Or did I just misunderstand the the reason for this subcommittee?
I do not question the integrity of the BAWG members or their commitment to this project. I just believe that if an error or inaccuracy is made, we should try to correct it – I still contend that there is great mystery surrounding the inclusion of St. Davids Golf Club’s $50K cash offer in the BAWG report. I also believe that the St. Davids offer had no business in this official report and should be removed as a possible revenue source. Following the Board of Supervisor meeting, Mr. Colman stopped to tell me that one of the BAWG members, Rob Betts was a St. Davids Golf Club member and that he recused him from votes pertaining to St. Davids.
It is fascinating to look at the dynamics of our local government.