STAP

Dry Weather Forecast for Open Land Conservancy’s Vine Day Tomorrow, Saturday 2 . . . Last Vine Day of the Season, Can you Spare a Couple of Hours?

 Has this winter left you suffering from cabin fever and a need to get outside for some fresh air?  There’s a perfect opportunity tomorrow, Saturday, April 2 to help the community and celebrate the end of winter!

The Open Land Conservancy of Chester County will be holding its last Vine Day of the season on Saturday at George Lorimer Preserve, 9 AM – 12 Noon.  Vines will be cut back so you will need to wear appropriate gloves and protective clothing.  Volunteers are asked to bring tools if they have them — prunners, saws, clippers.  But not to worry, the volunteers from Open Land Conservancy will have extra tools.

Lorimer Preserve is 88 acres of meadows, woods, ponds, stream, and extensive trail system are managed to provide a variety of habitats for wildlife in a beautiful rural setting. 

Directions:  head north on North Valley Road across Valley Creek, to entrance and parking lot on right.  For further information on Vine Day and Open Land Conservancy, click here.  Any questions, contact Ray Clarke at 610-578-0358. 

Looking at this photo from the last Vine Day of Harold Sheinbach and Mac Wilson, it is obvious that these vines could use some attention! You can make a difference with a couple of hours of your time tomorrow. . . it’s the last Vine Day of the season. 

 

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Community Matters – in and around Tredyffrin

Community Matters . . . in and around Tredyffrin

In one of the biggest property deals since the start of the global financial crisis, the Australian company Centro Properties Groups has agreed to sell its 588 US shopping malls to private equity giant Blackstone Group for $9.4 billion.

The local connection – Centro owns Chesterbrook Shopping Center and Valley Fair Shopping Center! I assume the existing retail leases in these shopping centers will pass with the transfer of sale.  Many folks are looking forward to McKenzies Brew House restaurant plans for the old Charlie Brown location at Valley Fair Shopping Center.  Here’s hoping that Blackstone will breathe new life into Chesterbrook Shopping Center and find a tenant for the empty Genuardi’s grocery store.  And let’s not forget that this corporate sale could mean significant transfer tax revenue to the school district and the township!

In case you missed this one . . . in order to make shelf room for new products, the Pennsylvania State liquor stores is having special discount sale, starting today.  Approximately 400 items have been marked down to clearance prices until they are gone.

Last night was the Board of Supervisors Meeting. Notes of the evening included Mike Heaberg’s swearing in as new supervisor by Judge Jeremy Blackburn; recognition of the 300th anniversary of the historic Baptist Church in the Great Valley and certificates of appreciation for volunteer service to Grace Keffer, Bob Haver and Molly Duffy.

By Board of Supervisors appointment, a Sidewalk Subcommittee was formed in March 2010 to look at resident’s wants and needs of sidewalks in the community.  The process included public meetings, resident sidewalk survey, observations and discussion and Sidewalks Subcommittee chair Tory Snyder presented the findings and recommendations last night at the Board of Supervisors Meeting. (Here is a link to the recommendations). Surprising some of us in the audience, supervisor Phil Donahue made a motion for the board to accept the Sidewalk Subcommittee recommendations and move it to the Planning Commission to create a draft ordinance.  Michelle Kichline seconded the motion and it passed unanimously. Hat’s off to the supervisors for this progressive, proactive show of support for the community!   (As an aside, the Sidewalk Subcommittee Green Routes Network recommendation includes St. Davids Golf Club sidewalk in the plan.)

In addition to crafting a draft ordinance in regards to the Sidewalk Subcommittee recommendations, the Planning Commissioners is drafting an amendment to the Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance to give the Board of Supervisors final land development authority.  Although there is a Public Hearing on land development authority scheduled for March 21, it was agreed there would be no final decision on that matter until after the sidewalk ordinance is resolved.

I was notified of a an updated ‘Best High School in Pennsylvania’ list and am pleased to report that Conestoga High School continues to receive high marks.  Each year, “Newsweek” magazine ranks the nation’s top 1,600 high schools–that’s only six percent of all public high schools in the country. This ranking helps parents and educators set standards for themselves. In 2010, 33 high schools from Pennsylvania, including Conestoga High School, made the list. These schools received high marks from both “Newsweek” and “U.S. News & World Report.”

According to the eHow.com 2011 update, “Conestoga High School is ranked as the No. 502 high school in the nation by “Newsweek” and as No. 79 by “U.S. News & World Report.” It offers more Advanced Placement courses than any other high school, public or private, in Pennsylvania, and had 37 National Merit semifinalists in 2010. . . “   Congratulations Conestoga High School and Tredyffrin-Easttown School District!

Speaking of Conestoga High School . . . the curtains go up tonight on the student production of Phantom of the Opera.  The show will run March 1 – 6, click here for ticket information. Phantom is one of my all-time favorite musicals –  best wishes to the cast & break a leg!

That is it for now.  I look forward to your thoughtful comments and please email me at tredyffrincommunitymatters@gmail.com if you have news or thoughts to share.

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What do these things have in common . . . St. Davids Golf Club, Planning Commission, BAWG, Sidewalk Subcommittee, land development authority, STAP, Board of Supervisors?

What do these things have in common . . . St. Davids Golf Club, Planning Commission, BAWG, Sidewalk Subcommittee, land development authority,  STAP, Board of Supervisors?

In looking at Tredyffrin’s Planning Commission agenda for tonight’s meeting, I discovered an interesting item listed under ‘new’ business — “Draft Amendment to the Subdivision & Land Development Ordinance”. 

To understand the Planning Commission agenda item, you will need to recall a Board of Supervisors motion from this past December.  At that meeting, Supervisor Bob Lamina questioned whether the Planning Commission should continue to have land development authority in the township . . . he thought that authority over land development should revert to the supervisors (as was the case many years ago).  However, to make an ordinance change requires a public hearing, which is scheduled for February 28.

Here’s the significance of the Planning Commission agenda item . . .  the Planning Commissioners are expected to draft the amendment that will relieve them of their land development authority and give that authority to the Board of Supervisors.

There are more connections. How many of you remember the community discontent and hostility over St. Davids Golf Club and the recommendation contained in the BAWG report suggesting the township accept $50K in lieu of building sidewalks.  Even though there was a signed contract between the township and St. Davids requiring the sidewalks, the Board of Supervisors pushed through a motion to return the $25K escrow money to the country club; removing the sidewalk requirement.  After much media publicity, many letters to the editor, accusations of Home Rule Charter violations, claims of deal-making and resident outrage, the Board of Supervisors reversed their earlier decision.

The reversal of the Board of Supervisors decision to return the escrow money had an interesting caveat attached.  St. Davids escrow money and the decision to require the construction of sidewalks was put ‘on hold’ pending the outcome of the Sidewalks Subcommittee recommendations.  At the same time the supervisors reversed their decision, they created a Sidewalks Subcommittee whose goal was to adopt a formal sidewalk policy to recommend to the Board of Supervisors.  Members appointed to the joint subcommittee were supervisors (Phil Donahue, EJ Richter, Michele Kichline), Planning Commissioners (Tory Snyder, Bob Whalen, Trip Lukens) and representatives from Sidewalks, Trails and Paths ‘STAP’ (Sean Moir, Beth Brake, Jim Donegan).

If you are interested in the St. Davids Golf Club-BAWG report background, go to the top right of Community Matters and enter the words, St. Davids in search.  Or for a particularly passionate post, read St. Davids Golf Club Decision Reversed but, . . . Was There Full Disclosure, Transparency, Deal-Making and the corresponding 68 comments. (click here for that specific post).

The Sidewalks Subcommittee began meeting last spring.  I attended most of the meetings and was impressed by their efforts. The committee engaged community members through public meetings and accepted input from interested citizens.  They created maps and conducted a township-wide survey to get a consensus on sidewalks, bike trails and paths needs throughout the township.  Their analysis was thorough and thoughtful.

At their last meeting (which I attended), the Sidewalk Subcommittee summarized their findings in preparation for a presentation at the upcoming Monday, January 24 Board of Supervisors meeting.  Chair of the Sidewalk Subcommittee and a Planning Commissioner, Tory Synder will make the presentation and deliver the committee’s recommendation to the Board of Supervisors.

Are the supervisors going to take the recommendations of the Sidewalk Subcommittee or will their efforts be ignored?  Will the St. Davids sidewalk requirement currently ‘on hold’ affect the supervisor’s decision to accept the Sidewalk Subcommittee recommendations?  Will the signed contract between the country club and the township remain intact?

Supervisor Michele Kichline is an attorney and served on the Sidewalks Subcommittee . . . Michele knows contract law; how will she guide her fellow supervisors?

Here’s the million-dollar question – Does the proposed ordinance change to remove land development authority from the Planning Commission to the Board of Supervisors have any relationship with the St. Davids sidewalk issue? Remember, the Planning Commissioners required the sidewalks as part of country club’s land development project.

Do some of the supervisors think that if they take back land development authority, they can override the Planning Commissioners decision to require St. Davids to build the sidewalk?

Why change the land development ordinance now? Just coincidental timing or is the ultimate goal to release the country club from their contractual agreement with the township.

The St. Davids Golf Club sidewalk business was a very hostile time in our local government’s history. When elected officials go behind a closed-door and make decisions, the perception can be as bad as the fact.  Let’s keep the door open!  Here is one resident who does not want to see another similar watershed moment . . . the citizens of Tredyffrin deserve better.

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Important Dates:

  • Planning Commission Meeting, Thursday, January 20, 7 PM
  • Board of Supervisors Meeting, Monday, January 24, 7:30 PM
  • Land Development Ordinance, Public Hearing, Monday, February 28, 7:30 PM
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Tredyffrin’s Sidewalk Committee – Update from Public Meeting

Update on the Sidewalks subcommittee . . .

I attended Thursday night’s Public Meeting of the Sidewalks Committee.  Based on the February 22 Board of Supervisors meeting, it was my understanding that the Sidewalk Committee would update the public on the prioritizing of sidewalks in the township.  If you recall, there was much debate about the St. Davids Golf Club sidewalk requirement in their land development plan.  First, the supervisors voted to return the $25K sidewalk escrow to St. Davids and then, based on public opinion, opted to reverse the decision in February.  The township continues to hold St. Davids sidewalk escrow pending the outcome of the Sidewalk Committee recommendation and then ultimate vote of the Board of Supervisors relative to sidewalk requirements in the township.  (I remain of the opinion that the township’s recently adopted Comprehensive Plan should provide the basis and guidance for land development plans).

Although it was my understanding that the supervisors had charged the Sidewalk Committee with focusing specifically on sidewalks in Tredyffrin, it appears their interpretation is much broader – to include bicycle paths and trails in addition to sidewalks as part of their recommendation.  I am not sure that this was the intended mission of the supervisors for the committee. For me, the larger picture is for current and future land development projects; and the liability issues to the township which currently exist. Land development projects requiring sidewalks and the direction of the Planning Commission on these projects remains open, pending the outcome of the committee’s recommendation and ultimate supervisors vote.  A decision is required by the end of the year and I am concerned about the ability of the Sidewalk Committee to meet that timeline given that it’s August.

The Sidewalk Committee has worked on a resident survey and discussed its mode of distribution — whether to email or mail to residents, use the township’s Facebook or the township website and associated costs, etc.  How to write the questions so as not to create bias in the response? Following the workshop meeting, an audience member suggested a marketing company needed to review the questionnaire and that a ‘test’ group should receive the survey before a public release.

Another discussion point was in regards to neighborhood community meetings and whether to solicit survey results before (or after) the community meetings were held – do not know if there was a definite answer.  The location of the three community meetings was discussed — Panhandle and eastern area of the township; the Chesterbrook area; and Berwyn/Paoli area.  I commented that the Great Valley residents should not be excluded in the sidewalk discussion – sidewalks should be a township wide discussion. As a result, I think all residents will be included and encouraged to attend the community meetings.

The Sidewalk Committee will continue to hold monthly public meetings however, I suggested that future public meetings be advertised as ‘workshop meetings’.  Similar to the Planning Commission’s workshop sessions, there are no questions or comments permitted from the audience until the end of the meeting; and only if there is time.  Discussion from 7-8:30 PM was among members of the committee – the audience could only observe, not comment.

For me, the most interesting part of the Sidewalk Committee meeting actually occurred during audience participation following the workshop meeting. After various questions and comments, a couple who lives on  Old Lancaster Ave. spoke about their personal experience with their ‘new sidewalks’ and their stormwater management rain guards.  Many of us in the audience and on the Sidewalk Committee were surprised and concerned by the rain guard discussion.  I was curious, took my camera to Old Lancaster Avenue, and am now more concerned for those residents.  I will share my photos and write about that issue separately.

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Interested in the Future of Sidewalks, Trails & Paths in Tredyffrin . . . Attend Tonight’s Sidewalk Policy Committee Public Meeting

Do you remember Tredyffrin’s Board of Supervisors meeting back on February 22?  At that meeting the supervisors reversed an earlier decision to return the sidewalk escrow money ($25,000) to St. Davids Golf Club.  In addition to a reversal of the earlier decision, the motion by Chairman Lamina also established a township subcommittee to study the future of sidewalks, paths and trails in Tredyffrin.

Although I was glad for the creation of a Sidewalk Policy Committee to review the sidewalk issues and involve the public in the discussion, I voiced concern about the open land development liability issues that remained to the township.  What was the timeline for establishing a formal sidewalk policy? I recall asking where this situation leaves current land development projects that contain sidewalk requirements.  Setting aside sidewalk requirements in current and future township land development projects, pending the recommendations of the Sidewalk Policy Committee, clearly places the township in a precarious position.  Lamina stated that the subcommittee would begin working in March and would be expected to present their recommendations by the end of 2010.  In the interim, the township’s liability on land development projects involving sidewalks would remain an open issue.

There is a public meeting of the Sidewalk Policy Committee tonight – 7 PM at the township building.  I am curious to see the progress of the committee.  Charged with coming up with a formal policy on sidewalks in the township, the committee members are about halfway through the established timeline as set by the Board of Supervisors.  With a goal to complete the study and make a recommendation by the end of 2010, they have been working on the project for about five months. 

Understanding the township’s open liability issues on land development projects, I am confident that the Sidewalk Policy Committee will update us tonight on their progress.  The 9 members of the committee include Supervisors Donahue, Kichline and Richter; Planning Commissioners Whalen, Lukens and Snyder; and STAP members Moir, Donegan and Brake.  As Planning Commissioners Whalen and Snyder fully understand the land development liability issues and should be able to address those concerns.  Presumably, the next step in this process will be to set up regional public meetings and to distribute a township-wide sidewalk questionnaire.  I look forward to updating you on the progress of the committee tomorrow.

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Will Radnor Commissioners Support Residents Vision to Improve Walking and Biking in their Community . . . And Will Tredyffrin’s Walkers and Bicyclists Enjoy the Same Support?

Over the last 6 months in Tredyffrin Township, there has been much public commentary about sidewalks and trails in Tredyffrin  — St. Davids sidewalk issue, Patriot’s Path, the Sidewalks Trails and Paths (STAP) committee and the newly formed subcommittee that will review sidewalks throughout the township’s communities.  We can see that the sidewalks are nearing completion along Conestoga and Old Lancaster Roads in Berwyn and I noticed that storm water materials have arrived for the Irish Road section of the sidewalks below the high school. 

Sidewalks and trails have become a much discussed topic among many in the community.  There are those residents that support and believe in making the township more walkable and bikeable; others that do not want an increase in taxes to provide for sidewalks, trails, etc. at any cost; and still others who simply believe that in today’s era, people are not going to use the walkways and therefore don’t think that they should be considered.  Depending on who you ask, you may be apt to receive several different opinions. Reaching a consensus on the subject of sidewalks and trails, . . . is that actually possible in Tredyffrin?

With sidewalks and trails such a ‘hot’ topic in Tredyffrin, it was interesting to read the following article by John Boyle, of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.  With the popularity of the Radnor Trail, there is a proposal to link that trail to the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, which I believe is down by the Philadelphia Airport.  Connecting Radnor’s Trail would allow for a connected 18 mi. bike ride.  Coming up in front of Radnor’s Board of Supervisors tomorrow night, I will be curious to see if their commissioners support the vision of many bike riders of creating interconnecting safe trails in the Southeastern section of Pennsylvania.  With so many differing opinions on the ‘value’ of trails in our community, do you think Tredyffrin bicyclists would ever the necessary support that’s required for such a vision as Radnor bicyclists are seeking?

The Vision for a Trail from Radnor to John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge
By John Boyle, Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia

Imagine a resident in Wayne, biking a few blocks to the amazingly popular Radnor Trail, but instead of the short out and back ride that is possible today, that person would be able to travel 18 miles and visit the Egrets and Bald Eagles at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge.

Such is the vision for a trail tentatively named Radnor – Tinicum Trail The trail would extend the existing Radnor Trail under I-476 via a deer tunnel and then follow the right of way of the Norristown High Speed Line (Rt. 100) just south of the Main Line across Haverford Township. The width of the right of way for the most part is wide enough for 4 tracks but since only 2 tracks were built there is in theory enough space for a rail with trail.

The trail would then follow Cobbs Creek on the unbuilt portion of the Cobbs Creek Trail which was blocked by NIMBY’s in the Overbrook Farms neighborhood in 1990’s. The trail will straddle the creek near Upper Darby and Millbourne before taking the existing Cobbs Creek Trail and the planned extension to Heinz National Wildlife Refuge and the East Coast Greenway. The TIGER funded 58th Street Connector Trail will provide access from Cobbs Creek to the Schuylkill River Trail via Bartram’s Garden and the South Street Bridge.

The trail alignment offers multitude of transit connections and will improve local walk and bike to transit access along Route 100 line including a long awaited direct pedestrian connection between Radnor’s Route 100 and R5 rail stations.

On Monday night the Radnor Township Commissioners Meeting will vote on a resolution to support the concept of a trail along the Rt 100 line. You can show your support by attending the meeting and voicing your support during the public comment period.

Radnor Township Board of Commissioners
June 21, 2010
7:00 PM
Radnor Township Municipal Building
301 Iven Avenue
Wayne , PA 19087

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Tredyffrin’s Sidewalk Project Underway — How are the homeowners on the sidewalk route effected by the project?

The sidewalk project is now in full swing on Conestoga Road and Old Lancaster Ave by Conestoga HS and T-E Middle School.  The series of pedestrian sidewalks were made possible by various grant funds, including $2.8 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (federal stimulus funds). To read further about the sidewalk plan, budget, and updates on the township website, click here.

It is true that change and progress sometimes comes with a personal price.  In the case of the sidewalks, some would suggest that there has been a very real economic and personal price tag paid for by the homeowners whose property has been effected by the sidewalk project.  As I drove down Conestoga Road last week, I stopped to take photos of examples of tree removal.  One of the beautiful historic houses that lost its front coverage was on Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust’s 1st Annual Historic House Tour, 6 years ago.  The house has lost trees, shrubs and plantings.  Here is a photo of the way the homeowner’s front yard currently looks:

Before anyone jumps in and suggests that I don’t care about the safety of the children who walk along Conestoga Road to school — that simply isn’t true; I care about everyone’s safety.  But it still saddens me to see the neighborhood along the north side of Conestoga Road so dramatically changed by this construction project.  I feel for the homeowners whose property has been forever altered.  Although the homeowners will not be compensated financially; it is my understanding that the sidewalk plan calls for replanting of all trees and landscaping that have been removed for the sidewalk project. 

Everyone should know that the upkeep of the sidewalks will becomes the responsibility of the individual homeowners.  I wondered what would happen if there was an elderly homeowner or an owner who wintered in Florida and was gone during one of our Pennsylvania snowstorms?   Who would be responsible for clearing their sidewalk?  I was told that the clearing and upkeep remains the responsibility of the homeowner . . . guess he/she better make those arrangements before heading south for the winter!  As wonderful as it may be to make our community more walkable . . . for some there is an additional personal price tag that goes along with progress and change.

Erica, a homeowner on Old Lancaster Ave. has provided her personal experience with the tree and landscaping removal as a result of the sidewalk project.  Erica created a power point presentation which passionately details the specifics, click here to review the ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos taken of her property on Old Lancaster Avenue.  Erica provides her personal remarks below on the sidewalk project from her vantage point as a homeowner on Old Lancaster.

No Gravatar, on March 26th, 2010 at 1:37 PM Said: Comment

Five years ago, I was going through a bad time. One day, I drove down Old Lancaster and saw that a house that I had admired for years was on the market. I was so excited that I put an offer in that day. Being English, I did the customary thing and named my house. Without hesitation, it became “HoHi” (after the “Hall of Intense Happiness – a building in I toured on a visit to China.)

My portion of Old Lancaster has old houses (most were build in the 20’s), no garages (converted years ago to extra living space), short driveways, and mature vegetation. We (had) a wide shoulder which left ample room for parking, walking & biking. My row of brick Tudors was “the” development of the time, I’m sure!

Anyway, long story short. Soon after moving in, I learned about the sidewalk project. Because the section of Old Lancaster is state owned, there is a 50’ easement — meaning , from the center of the road, the State controls 25 feet in each direction. I learned that Tredyffrin decided to go take all 25’ from the South side of the road – the side with no garages, no parking and mature vegetation. Because it’s a state road, extra ‘safety’ precautions were required i.e. EXTRA wide sidewalk plus “bump outs” to create a buffer between the pedestrians and the cars.

Residents banned together and formed a “Yard for a Yard” petition earning nearly every signature in the area. We contacted the TE historical society, the TE BoS, anyone that we thought might actually care, and we simply asked that the project be shifted 3 feet (a yard) towards the north side hence 3 feet of our yard would be saved. This would have translated into a saving of most if not all of the trees. We would still take the burden of owning the 5 foot (yes, 5 not 3) sidewalk but we would maintain our trees. Currently (pre-sidewalk) the paving encompasses 10’ in either direction (north and south – south being where the sidewalk will be built). With our proposal, the project would have gone from 10’ to 22’ instead of 25’ of the south side. The north side resident’s would be impacted by 3’(no trees and very, very few shrubs).

We were shot down so fast we didn’t know what hit us. It wasn’t until the sidewalk project became personal to the board did it gain attention. I have so much hurt and anger that it has been making me physically ill. Of course I share concern for the safety of children. Yet (knock on wood), I researched and was not able to uncover any accidents on record.

My HoHi is not a HoHi anymore. And thanks to rotten economy and eye-sore of a yard, I’m trapped here for at least a few years. Am I bitter? Clearly! While it’s too little too late, I truly do appreciate that people have taken the time to share sympathy. It means more than you can imagine that someone finally cares.

Tonight, I’m going to add a link to “before and after” photos simply to provide people a reminder of the importance of supporting neighbors because you never know when your home will be on the radar.

The appearance of established neighborhoods and historic buildings are now altered by the removal of trees and landscaping.

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Update . . . Tonight's Supervisors Meeting

My primary reason for attending the Board of Supervisors meeting tonight was for the announcement of the Sidewalks Subcommittee members. Three members were chosen from the Board of Supervisors, Planning Commission and Sidewalks, Trails and Paths (STAP) Committee.  Supervisors Kichline, Donohue and Richter; Planning Commissioners Bob Whalen, Trip Lukens and Vicki Snyder; and STAP members Sean Moir, Jim Donegan and Molly Duffy are the 9 members of the Sidewalks Subcommittee.  Township Manager Mimi Gleason will serve as the facilitator of the committee.

After the announcement of the Sidewalks Subcommittee, I expected an outline of the committee with a stated process; but none was offered.  What was the meeting schedule – how often would the committee meet? Would the meetings be open to the public?  What was the timeline for the committee? Will the community be given regular updates at future supervisors meetings?  In other words, I was looking for specifics on the subcommittee and the process. 

In a review of the February 22 Board of Supervisors meeting minutes, I found the following:

” . . . He [Lamina] said the plan is to have the new subcommittee begin work in March with the goal to conclude the process by the end of this year. . . “

So during the next 9 months, I guess the Sidewalks Subcommittee will begin a process to re-examine where the community wants and needs sidewalks.  I believe that the end-goal is for the Board to adopt formal policies and procedures to provide guidelines for the development and construction of sidewalks in the township.  Although not mentioned tonight, I am assuming that the subcommittee will set a goal to include the residents through area focus groups.  Transparency and openness of the Sidewalks Committee is going to be important if the community is to trust this process. 

I have publically stated, and remained concerned, that during this re-examining process by the Sidewalks Subcommittee there are liability issues to the township from developers/contractors doing work in Tredyffrin.  As long as the formal policy on sidewalks remains a ‘open issue’, this liability will exist.  Here’s hoping that the Sidewalks Committee is able to get underway quickly, remain focused and meet their goals and objectives by the end of the year.

Another item of personal interest to me tonight was the Mt. Pleasant town hall meeting.  Scheduled twice before and cancelled each time due to snow, I am pleased that the meeting is re-scheduled for next Monday, March 22 at the First Baptist Church on Upper Gulph in Mt. Pleasant.  Today I had received an invitation to attend the meeting from Officer Larry Meoli and was glad to hear the town hall meeting mentioned tonight.  Supervisors DiBuonaventuro, Kichline and Richter will be the liaisons from the Board of Supervisors at this Mt. Pleasant community meeting. Also in attendance will be representatives from the township staff, police and zoning. 

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Board of Supervisors Meeting on Monday, March 15 to Include Announcement of Sidewalk Subcommittee Members

The February 22 Board of Supervisors motion to reverse the St. Davids Golf Club decision included the creation of a  joint sidewalk subcommittee; members to come from the Board, Planning Commission and Sidewalks, Trails and Paths (STAP) Committee.  This subcommittee is to re-examine where the residents want sidewalks in the township and then create a formal process and procedure to design, develop and construct sidewalks and paths in Tredyffrin.  The agenda for the Monday, March 15 Board of Supervisors meeting includes an announcement of the sidewalk subcommittee members.  I am curious which members of the 3 organizations will be on the sidewalk subcommittee.  Personally, I would have liked the sidewalk subcommittee to include a couple of  residents (non-Tredyffrin board/committee members) to bring a different perspective.  Just a thought.

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Semi-Automatic Weapons in Valley Forge National Historical Park . . . Do You Feel Safer?

This past week brought much discussion on Community Matters about sidewalks, trails and paths.  Several people suggested that if you want to walk or bicycle, why not just use the paths at Valley Forge National Historical Park.  With that in mind, I wrote the following post with the hope of engaging some lively discussion.

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The next time you decide to visit Valley Forge Park to enjoy a bicycle ride or an afternoon of sledding with the kids, are you going to feel safer? 

Did you know that as of this week, fellow visitors with proper gun permits can legally pack heat inside our national parks, including Valley Forge National Historical Park?

Yes, a law that took effect Monday lifted the long-standing ban on bringing guns into our national parks.  In Valley Forge National Historical Park, as we walk the trails and enjoy family picnics, tourists will be allowed to carry guns – handguns, rifles, shotguns and AK-47s. Now, as long as guns are allowed by state law, licensed gun owners can bring firearms on park property.  Guns will be allowed in all but about 20 of the park service’s 392 locations, including some of its most iconic parks: Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Great Smoky Mountains, Yosemite and Rocky Mountain National Park, as well as historic parks, including our own Valley Forge National Historical Park. Guns will not be allowed in visitor centers or rangers’ offices, because firearms are banned in federal buildings, but they could be carried into private lodges or concession stands, depending on state laws.

The new rule allows people to carry firearms, including semi-automatic weapons, in most national parks and wildlife refuges, so long as they follow the gun laws of the state. (That could get a little complicated, as more than 30 parks occupy land in multiple states.) The rule means people can now carry concealed weapons while camping in places like Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon and Yosemite.

I admit up front that I am one of the people with issues concerning the availability of guns in this country.  My stance on stricter gun control rules will certainly strike a chord among some of the readers. I know the argument that strict gun control does not reduce crime because it does not keep weapons out of the hands of criminals. Criminals do not abide by waiting periods or registration requirements. The only people affected by these so-called “gun control” measures are law-abiding citizens, who are rendered less able to resist crime. However almost daily, our world is filled with news of gun violence in this country . . . in shopping malls, on college campuses, office buildings.

Gun crimes in any setting are horrific. However, crimes committed on the grounds of an academic institution take on an almost macabre air because of the serene atmosphere associated with such places. Gun violence on school campuses is a stark reminder that guns cannot discriminate amongst their victims, nor can they discern the intentions of those who wield them. This is repeated so often that it may as well be a cliché. If events over the past decade are any indicator, no positive response seems forthcoming. Though it is a human who pulls the trigger, there is no violent crime without the proverbial smoking gun. National parks [Valley Forge National Historical Park] like our educational institutions, are places that enshrine the ideals of knowledge and tranquility . . . should we not feel beholden to preserve these places as a utopian ideal for the future?  Do we want to be remembered as the generation that put guns into paradise?

The way I see it there are two camps on this.  First, there are the people who will feel safer knowing that they can be armed in our national parks, just in case they run into troublesome people or dangerous wildlife.  The second group will feel more unsafe.  You willl never know who is armed, and anytime there is a confrontation, firearms bring a whole new sense of alarm into the equation.  Once you pull that trigger, there’s no taking it back.  From my vantage point, toting firearms into our national parks poses a serious threat to the public.  There, I said it. Personally, the next time I am walking in Valley Forge National Historical Park, I am not going to feel safer knowing that fellow visitors on the path may be legally packing a weapon.

The new law permitting licensed gun owners to bring firearms into national parks has come over the objections of gun-control advocates who fear it will lead to increased violence in national parks.  Responding to the new law, John Waterman, President, US Park Rangers Lodge, Fraternal Order of Police offered the following statement:

The Ranger Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police has opposed this ill-considered law from the beginning. The new law goes beyond concealed carry to include all guns anytime.  The chances of an inexperienced visitor who has not seen a bear or buffalo wandering through a campground, gets frightened and takes out the now readily available firearm and shoots blindly at an animal or a person in a misguided effort to “protect themselves” from a perceived threat is now increased.  Allowing untrained and unlicensed people carrying guns in National Parks is an invitation to disaster. It puts the safety of the public and rangers at increased risk and virtually invites the desecration of our natural and historic treasures. 

Pennsylvania has fairly loose restrictions on carrying guns.  As long as a person is legally entitled to own a firearm – for instance they must have no past felony convictions, mental-health commitments or protection-from-abuse order restrictions – there is little stop a person from carrying a gun in public. I am sure that there will be readers who completely disagree with my position on the danger of guns in Valley Forge National Historical Park.  In fact, I am certain that some people will suggest that their ‘right’ to carry a gun should not stop at the park entrance.   

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