Main Line Suburban reporter Blair Meadowcroft’s account of Monday night’s Board of Supervisor Meeting is published today (article below). Sometimes when you are in the midst of a situation, you can loose your objectivity . . . but after reading Blair’s account of the meeting, I am convinced that the residents were right in their united message.
I do need to recognize the ‘Citizen Supervisor’ of the night . . . John DiBuonaventuro. Supervisor DiBuonaventuro heard the residents, agreed with them and stated, “I’d like to reverse the decision, start over and follow by the rules.” The problem of course is that he could count on Supervisors Kichline and Donohue votes to reverse the decision, but we know that Supervisors Lamina, Kampf and Richter still don’t get it! For the record, Paul Olson was not at the meeting but it is clear how he would not have supported a vote to reverse the decision (considering, he is the one who made the original motion).
I still remain convinced that with help (and encouragement) from the public, township manager and township solicitor, we will see our elected officials back on track at the February 22 meeting. I’m looking forward to seeing St. Davids Golf Club on the meeting agenda, and the re-institution of policy and procedure for Tredyffrin Township’s government.
Tredyffrin residents blast supervisors over St. Davids vote
By Blair Meadowcroft
At the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors meeting Monday night, three of the board members took to the microphone in an effort to apologize for their previous actions.
Since last meeting’s whirlwind vote was approved in favor of releasing $25,000 from an escrow account to the St. Davids Golf Club, residents have been expressing their confusion and dislike. In response, and after discussion with various members of the community over the last two weeks, three of the four board members who voted in favor of the motion in question publicly apologized. The fourth board member who voted to pass the motion for St. Davids was Vice Chair Paul Olson, who was not at the Feb. 8 meeting.
“All here tonight acknowledge that the process utilized was less than perfect,” said Chairman Bob Lamina. “I could have done a better job; I could have insisted on more public comment, or agreed with Supervisor Michelle Kichline to table the issue. The board plans to learn from this and we plan to figure out a better way in the future of dealing with this sort of issue.”
Supervisors Evelyn Richter and Warren Kampf agreed, echoing Lamina’s sentiments and adding a few of their own.
“I should have agreed to a delay; there was no rush on this,” said Richter. “And this should have been put on the agenda. I’ll work towards not allowing this to happen again.”
“A lot of thought has gone into this and in hindsight the motion to table the issue should have been considered, and announcing this in advance should have been done,” said Kampf.
While their apologies were appreciated by those in attendance, the three board members quickly learned that an apology would not be enough. Member after member of the community came to the microphone during a public-comment session to express their disgust at what had been allowed to happen at the previous meeting, questioned what sort of example the board members were setting, and demanded an answer as to what would be done to fix the problem.
“I want to understand how the meeting and the vote made does not set precedent for the future,” said Pattye Benson. “Township Manager Mimi Gleason said that it does. What will stop another developer tomorrow from saying no to doing something they once agreed to do? What you did was absolutely outrageous. You made an apology but that does not right the wrong.”
Agreeing, Matthew Valocchi, vice president of the Berwyn Fire Company, said that while the apologies were nice, there is still a “big problem” that needs to be taken care of. “This has been a heated political issue and it is a problem when a vote like this gets rushed by,” said Valocchi. “The letter of credit was a guarantee that something was going to be done. There was no request from St. Davids for this exemption and the board did not refer the matter to the township engineer before taking the vote.”
As the night went on, regardless of the decision made previously by the board members, the residents in attendance continued to fight for the sidewalks in question. They explained how they were necessary, how they would not affect trees or add to storm- water issues and that if put in place they would not be “a sidewalk to nowhere.”
“When the Sidewalks, Trails and Paths Committee put together their plan it was to allow residents to walk carefully through the township,” said one resident. “That part of the path was put there specifically to help that purpose. The question is what do you want Tredyffrin to be like in the future? If you want it to be walkable, we need the sidewalks to be put in.”
Although various points were made in their defense Chairman Lamina explained that in his opinion the sidewalks weren’t necessary and that was why he voted the way he did. “Who are we to insist a sidewalk go somewhere that a community doesn’t want?” asked Lamina.
As the meeting unfolded, residents asked repeatedly in a variety of ways for the township supervisors to reverse their vote, put it on hold, discuss it more in depth, anything to undo what was done. One supervisor voiced his opinion and agreed with the residents. “Maybe there is a way to start over and do this the right way,” said Supervisor John DiBuonaventuro. “I’d like to reverse the decision, start over and follow by the rules.” While the residents’ comments were heard, along with DiBuonaventuro’s request for a reversal, by the end of the meeting no change had been made to the previous vote.
While those in attendance were disappointed, the conversations remained calm throughout the meeting until John Petersen, Tredyffrin resident and one-time supervisor, approached the microphone. After asking the board members a few questions, including one to Kampf, the response he got started a heated argument.
“The audience in this room needs to know who this man is at the microphone,” said Kampf. “He sent an e-mail to each member of the board today saying, ‘You’ve asked for war, and war is what you will have. I’m going to get you. I am coming after you.’ I think his attacks are personal.”
The discussion that followed involved Petersen criticizing Kampf on his leadership skills and on the board’s actions in general. “Instead of defending your actions you are attacking me,” said Petersen. “You have no defense; you broke the faith and all you can do is hide. You are held to a higher standard and it is about time you started acting like it.” In response to his comments, Lamina ended the discussion by telling Petersen “You will no longer be recognized here.”
In other news at the BOS meeting, the supervisors thanked the public-works team for their efforts put forth to handle the weekend’s snowfall as well as to prepare for the upcoming storm. “This was the second largest snowstorm in Tredyffrin Township’s history; we got 20 inches,” said public-works director Steve Norcini. “The public-works crew did a fantastic job. They worked nonstop from 5 p.m. Friday until 3 a.m. Sunday. And as soon as that ended, they started preparing for the next storm, which we are ready for.”
Additionally, DiBuonaventuro commended the local fire companies for their courageous work done to fight a three-alarm fire that took place at Strafford Station Apartments Saturday, Jan. 30 at 9:25 a.m. The fire caused $1.2 million in damage and was determined to have been started by a fire in the utility closet at the complex. Along with thanking the firefighters, DiBuonaventuro thanked the local churches, the Red Cross and T&E Care for their efforts in helping and temporarily adopting the affected families.