The community’s outrage over Monday night Board of Supervisors decision to return $25,000 escrow money to St. Davids Golf Club continues . . . Tredyffrin resident Dariel Jamieson provides the following Letter to the Editor in today’s Main Line Suburban Life.
Supervisors’ gift to country club
To the Editor:
What happened at Monday’s Tredyffrin Board of Supervisors meeting gives new meaning to the term “country-club Republicans.” In a stealth move that set a new standard for chutzpah, four members of the Board of Supervisors – Kampf, Lamina, Olson and Richter – voted to return $25,000 in escrow funds to St. Davids Country Club. There had been no public notice, the item was not on the agenda, and Mr. Olson, who made the motion, admitted the township had received no formal request from St. Davids to return the escrow funds.
After all the hoopla associated with St. Davids’ 18-month breach of contract, Monday night’s decision by four supervisors effectively absolves the golf club of its obligation to build a sidewalk along its property on Upper Gulph Road – an agreement reached with the Planning Commission in 2005 as part of an approval to expand its clubhouse.
But this is not about sidewalks. It is about the supervisors’ total lack of transparency, the appearance of impropriety, the complete disregard for the Planning Commission’s decisions, and the setting of bad precedent.
It became obvious during public comment that some members of the community had advance notice of the topic – some referring to typed notes as they spoke. That advance notice begs the question of why the item was not on the agenda. One supervisor said after the meeting that she “had been phoning people the whole latter half of the week.” People who clearly had not been made aware of the topic were residents of the Mount Pleasant neighborhood and members of the Sidewalks, Trails and Paths Committee.
I was also told after the meeting that the supervisors had asked for legal advice before the meeting and a representative of the township solicitor had assured them they were within their rights to take such a vote. Clearly there was time to get a legal opinion but no time to add the topic to the agenda. The stealth move was also scheduled on the same night as the Board of Education budget meeting, which was expected to have a “standing room only” crowd since it was covering the possibility of a significant tax increase.
Supervisor Michelle Kichline tried to initiate discussion opposing the motion but was silenced by Chairman Bob Lamina, who had announced that he would hear comments from the public before board members could speak. Ms. Kichline moved to table the motion in favor of St. Davids until serious legal and procedural questions could be answered but Mr. Lamina did not allow her motion to come to a vote.
Planning Commission Chair Bob Whelan stepped forward to rebut Mr. Olson’s claim that all immediate neighbors were opposed to the sidewalks and questioned why the board would want to completely negate the decision made by the Planning Commission. Later in the meeting Mr. Lamina suggested Tredyffrin should re-examine the role of the Planning Commission because the “Board of Supervisors are the ones elected directly by the voters and hence the ones accountable.”
One has to wonder why these four board members thought it was imperative to slip through a sweet deal for St. Davids. When the Board of Supervisors is willing to cut funding to the fire companies, libraries, public works and services to seniors, why was such effort expended to effectively make a gift to a country club?
Dariel Jamieson, Tredyffrin