Save Ardmore Coalition

“Train Station Project Advancing Quickly” — and NO, it’s not Paoli!

I saw this headline in Sunday’s edition of the Daily Local “Train station project advancing quickly”. No, the author was not referring to the Paoli Transportation Center or the Ardmore Transit projects.  Was it the Downingtown or Parkesburg train station projects that was advancing?

No,  . . . the “advancing” train project was the Coatesville Train Station!  According to PennDOT rep Bob Garrett, the train station at Coatesville is officially “ahead of projects in Parkesburg and Downingtown after a few months of hard work”. (No mention made of Paoli Transportation project . . . does PennDOT even know it exists!)

Interesting to note that the Coatesville train station has $16 million in secured funding from state and federal sources for a new train station, pedestrian cross-over and street-scaping.  Plus an additional $1.3 million in federal funds to rehab the old station even though there’s no firm use for it.

Remember how excited some of us in the community got about the $1 million funding to the Paoli Transportation Center project, and that was 1-1/2 years ago.  I am mystified as to how these other train projects move along through the system and our train project just seems to be quick mired for years and years.  When I read that Coatesville gets state and federal funding after a “few months of hard work” . . . you just have to shake your head and wonder don’t you?  Doesn’t anyone care about the Paoli transportation project? We know that there is a finite amount of state dollars (and federal dollars) for transportation projects and obviously, no credence is given to ‘time already spent on the list’.

Apparently, the Coatesville train station is not very busy – only 8 trains per day stop at this station!  The current Coatesville train station suffers from low ridership and doesn’t have any Amtrak amenities or a place to buy tickets. The idea is that by revitalizing Coatesville and the train station area and adding more stops commuter traffic will increase on the rails.

So again I ask, what about Paoli train station — where are its advocates?  There are elected officials pushing Coatesville and Downingtown train station projects; who is really behind Paoli?

 

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Conduct Unbecoming . . . Hate Mail Targets Local Blogger!

For the second time in 8 days, fellow blogger Carla from Save Ardmore Coalition has endured hate mail . . . that is, personally addressed mail with no note, only feces. The first envelope arrived at her home on February 10 and latest envelope addressed to her, arrived today at the post office box of Save Ardmore Coalition. This mail too contained fecal material.  Who would do this, and why?

As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “. . .  if you passively accept a wrong, you are as much involved in it as the one who perpetrates it. If you accept the wrong without protesting it, King said, you are really cooperating with it.”

Hate mail, whatever its form, is harassment, and it is wrong. Why should expressing your opinion result in foul and abusive hate mail?   Regardless of our roles – political figures, pundits, community activists – is this the price of free speech?   

Call it sisterhood, kindred spirits or one ‘blogger to another’, Carla’s incident has shaken me.  Every writer who says something slightly provocative or controversial is a target for hate mail.  And hate mail can come in many forms – including blog posts, anonymous comments, email and letters.  Hate mail never intends to start a discussion.  The goal is to silence.

The recent violence in Arizona shows us the level of anger and vitriol that some people are carrying around in today’s society.  Near-fanatical hatred drives personal attacks on people with whom they may disagree.  It is a Federal offense to send feces through the US Postal service and I hope that the Lower Merion Police Department can track down this criminal.  

Beyond adding awareness and offering my support through this post on Community Matters, I am feeling helpless. Is this the price tag for freedom of speech?

Below is Carla’s latest post on Save Ardmore Coalition.

So today started like any other day, except it was warm and beautiful out. Then around noon, Ria from Save Ardmore Coalition contacted me to let me know I had SAC mail at the P.O. Box in Ardmore – it happens occasionally.

But given what happened to me recently (being sent poop in the mail as documented in the post Is This a Price of Free Speech), I asked her to describe the envelope. What she described was a doppelgänger of the first poopy-gram.

Oh HELLO groundhog day! Seriously?

So I went to pick up the envelope and it was identical except the address was the SAC P.O. Box and the postmark was Philadelphia not Southeastern. Same pencil, same caps/block printing, same stinky contents.

I did not open the envelope and instead took myself right to the Lower Merion Police Department. I made an additional report and BOTH envelopes have been taken into the Lower Merion Police Department as evidence. They are being processed as evidence and the LMPD is taking this second incident seriously.

I have to tell you the LMPD was wonderful today. The LMPD actually opened the envelope which arrived today – and yes – the contents were the same: shit. (Of course I wonder how the post office people in Ardmore couldn’t smell this, because this one did stink.)

I also called NBC10, and yes, this will be a news story – they find the topic newsworthy and before someone rolls up here and says self-aggrandizement, I want you to stop and think how disgustingly timely this is. Think about what the blogging teacher in Bucks County, Natalie Monroe is going through – even if she is turning this into a national media tour. More to the point, were the scary assed threats the Notre Dame Teacher who blogged, Elizabeth Collins was subjected to.

The commonality is, like it or not, in my head – targeting bloggers, specifically female bloggers. This is a crime against women, like it or not. I don’t believe in crime against women.

Now, the country not heard from: The United States Postal Service. In spite of calls from high level customer service personnel at the United States Postal Service who have told me mailing shit is a federal offense, in spite of having been directed to a Philadelphia area inspector via (877)-876-2455, I have yet to have a phone call back from any postal inspector.

I write about lots of things, but I don’t believe this is any politician – not their M.O. – they just denounce me from podiums and lump me into small mean spirited groups of individuals and twaddle on about decorum as they eviscerate citizens for exercising their right to free speech.

Do I know who this is? No. But to be honest, this isn’t the first time I have had an “admirer”.

Not all of you may like my writing style or poking fun at politicians, but I do have standards and do not believe ANY blogger or ANY woman deserves this.

I thank all of you out there for your support and caring and concern – from the police to friends, fellow bloggers and members of the traditional media.

I will continue to provide the police with any poopy-grams and any threats I receive.

To the person out there who is doing this – I am not sure what I did, but I am sorry you are upset. But seriously, you need to stop, as what you have done apparently is actually illegal. To me it makes it SO not worth it.

Ok bloggers, weigh in.

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Bloggers to Pay for Free Speech in Philadelphia!

In the Philadelphia City Paper, there was a headline yesterday, “Pay Up . . . Got a blog that makes no money?  The city wants $300, thank you very much”. For obvious reasons, I was intrigued.  How in the world can government take to policing blogs and threatening free speech?

According to the article, Marilyn Bess, a woman in Manayunk has had a ‘living green in Philadelphia’ blog for the past 3 years.  Her blog, MS Philly Organic has low traffic and she occasionally contributes to the website ehow.com.  A hobby blog, it has earned the owner $50 in 3 years!

In May, Bess received a letter from the city of Philadelphia demanding that she purchase a business privilege license for her blog, at a cost of $300 and pay taxes on any profits earned.  Now perhaps it would be one thing if her blog was a moneymaking blog but one can hardly call $50 in three years a profitable undertaking.  When Bess tried to appeal her case to the government officials, it was suggested that she hire an accountant.

Another example cited in the article was Sean Barry’s blog, City of Fits, a music-oriented blog that generated a grand total of $11 in 2 years.  Barry’s blog is hosted by popular Blogspot and has 2 small ads on the site. Barry is quoted as saying, “Personally, I don’t think Circle of Fits is a business. It might be someday if I start selling coffee mugs, key chains or locks of my hair to my fans. I don’t think blogs should be taxed unless they are making an immense profit.”

The angle that the government officials of Philadelphia is taking is that there is ‘potential’ for blogs to earn money and they are interested in cashing in on those potential earnings.  Their attitude towards blogs is regardless of ‘how much’ or ‘how little’ revenue the blog makes, the government insists that the bloggers pay for a license and pay taxes on their profits.  I am not sure how the city of Philadelphia intends to track blogs and small-website owners.  Policing and enforcement of blogs, . . . what about the right to free speech?

I find the notion of taxing the potential profit a blog may generate as ridiculous.  The City of Philadelphia thinks they can charge for the right to free speech . . . unbelievable.  Philadelphia and the rest of the country is suffering economically but this is new low as a way to generate income.   Based on the amount of time I spend on Community Matters you would think it should be a business. And I suppose that I could have ads on my site that might generate some money.  How much money . . . my guess is not very much.  However, according to the city of Philadelphia, as the owner of the Community Matters blog site, I have the potential to earn money and therefore would be subject to the $300 business privilege license.  If I lived in Philadelphia, as the owner of Community Matters, I would be required to spend $300 to have the privilege of free speech. 

Save Ardmore Coalition blogger, Carla has an attention-grabbing headline today, WTF Philadelphia? Free Speech Has a Price? Yep, Philly Wants to Charge Bloggers to Blog.  As Carla says, “Come again? Charge for blogging? Charge for free speech? Are the Founding Fathers turning in their graves? Has a tsumani wave hit Independence Hall? Do we hold these truths to be self evident, err I mean self serving? Why not tax all the homeless people one trips on lying on Philadelphia sidewalks while they’re at it?”

One of the comments to Carla’s post, ” . . .  Bloggers paying Business Privilege Tax? Truth is stranger than fiction. Who would have imagined such a thing. Philadelphia’s economy is depressed with high unemployment and small businesses squeezed by taxes and regulations. Philadelphia government is desperate and now squeezing even the most marginal of citizens. Counterproductive, to say the least. Actually, bordering on delusional if the City government thinks this will raise revenue or improve its jobless economy. . . “

This person has it right, Truth is stranger than Fiction!  What’s that saying, Only in America?  Or should that be . . . only in Philadelphia!

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Mt. Pleasant Supporters From Outside Tredyffrin!

We understand that student housing problems and landlord issues are not limited to the borders of Tredyffrin Township.  Locally we know that Radnor, Lower Merion and Haverford townships have all had their share of ongoing issues with designing ordinances that help residents and then the enforcement issues that go along with these ordinances. 

Carla from Save Ardmore Coalition who understands the associated problems of student rentals and the specific problems that the rentals have caused in Mt. Pleasant has weighed in on our Monday supervisors meeting.  It’s good to know that Mt. Pleasant has advocates outside the township who will be watching (and reporting) the progress of these ordinance changes to the community.

Tredyffrin Stops Recording Public Meeting at 11:20 P.M., Passes Student Housing Ordinance – Mt. Pleasant Still Kind of Screwed

So as we learned courtesy of John Haines, Tredyffrin magically stopped recording their meeting at 11:20 p.m. Now the student housing stuff passed – not on camera- and thanks to Pattye Benson our intrepid Tredyffrin blogging pal, we have an update (including the fact that Tredyffrin had no air conditioning on in their building!)- bear in mind that in the panhandle, where Mt. Pleasant is that over the past five years, the total number of student rentals has risen from 0 to 22 – in a small area that is significant, and as I have seen it myself, I hope Tredyffrin Township doesn’t continue to show a blind eye.

One thing in about what you are to read that annoys me is Tredyffrin pulling the classic Lower Merion “we can’t do anything, it’s PA law”.

I for one am tired of that. Sometimes local governments CAN’T do anything more, sometimes they CAN get creative and find a legal loophole. And all these municipalities are capable of going to Harrisburg when it’s something they want, and they never want to do anything if it’s something they don’t give a crap about.

In my humble opinion, Tredyffrin did not like getting their hand forced by residents over student housing and truthfully don’t give a crap. Maybe Pattye and some of the others will say I am being too harsh, but it is what I believe. Tredyffrin had better do better now that they passed the student housing items – many are watching now. And any of you out there, if Tredyffrin doesn’t do as they say, feel free to join the conversation up here and tell us – Tredyffrin residents, you are your own best advocates, and while some of us can recount an issue as told to us, it’s your community and you can say it best.

Maybe now Tredyffrin will start to show the historic community of Mt. Pleasant some respect in other ways too? Or will they just let speculative development plow under history? What happened last night is a beginning, but it can’t and shouldn’t be the only action on the part of Tredyffrin.

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Save Ardmore Coalition Blogger Weighs in on Tredyffrin’s Student Housing Issues

Over at Save Ardmore Coalition, Carla has been following the ongoing problems of the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood and the student housing situation.  Reciprocal links are exchanged between SAC and Community Matters and thanks to social media, there are immediate notifications as the sites are updated.  I wrote of Tredyffrin’s upcoming public meeting re proposed college housing ordinances and Carla responded with the following on her website:

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ALERT!!! Dead of Summer Meeting on Student Housing in Tredyffrin MONDAY AUGUST 16th!

For almost a year now thanks to a blog/website I found and nice woman named Christine I met, I have been following the issue of off campus student housing in Tredyffrin.

This off campus student housing issue in Tredyffrin is quite serious because in my opinion Tredyffrin Township is all F*****d up with no place to go on the issue.

The issue is horrific in Mt. Pleasant, a historic African American community in the panhandle or Wayne section of Tredyffrin. But I also know a dear friend’s sister and her husband (and she is an old school chum of mine as well) who are in another very nice neighborhood in Tredyffrin off Old Eagle School who also put up with what often amounts to party city.

For years, while other municipalities like Radnor, Lower Merion, and Haverford Townships were creating rules (because you can only say creating zoning in Haverford and Lower Merion, because in Radnor Township, student housing is dumbly NOT in zoning I believe) surrounding off campus student housing and the number of people wh can live in group housing situations, Tredyffrin pretty much ignored it. So in Tredyffrin for the past however many years, off campus student houses all year round have resembled over-crowded shore houses in many cases.

I first became interested in this when I heard the plight of a mom in Tredyffrin who would awaken to things like a drunken college student peeing on her child’s toys in her fenced in yard. Then I heard stories of lack of action on almost mob mentality by Tredyffrin Police and the problems she had calling the police and getting them to respond. This was followed by reports of properties being gobbled up by developers, slum lords who wanted to turn a single family home into twins, etc and how Miss Mazie’s house had fared in Mt. Pleasant.

I have sat on the sidelines and watched as all these Tredyffrin residents have gotten jerked around by Tredyffrin Township officials and I think it is still happening because Tredyffrin has scheduled the crucial public meeting to decide on this student housing ordinance and how good it will be or how much it will suck for the DEAD, DEAD, DEAD of summer when all ther municipalities around aren’t even scheduling meetings. To me that is very telling on how important they think this is.

So I am posting this and hoping others out there who blog will cross post this and twitter it and Facebook it and tell whomever they know in the media to consider covering it so these people in Tredyffrin get a break from slum lords who just want to shove as many bodies as possible into rental properties – which if course in the event of fires and whatnot is also not safe for the students – and you know darn well these landlords are also probably charging these students a fortune too.

My fear as residents just try to get some rules in place is that Tredyffrin will grandfather so many of the places and not have proper seperation requirements that the zoning, etc will be worthless. And we all know when a local government wants to blow something by the residents and taxpayers the best time to do that is to schedule meetings when a lot of people aren’t around. Oldest trick in the book.

Many thanks to Pattye Benson over at Tredyffrin…Community Matters for notifying us of this crucial public meeting. . .

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Easttown Supervisors are Setting the ‘Bar’

My recent experience at Easttown’s special meeting re the Hawkins property and subsequent post has found its way east on the main line. 

In discussing the attitude of some Lower Merion commissioners, which at times places politics and special interest ‘first’  and their residents ‘last’ in the list of priorities, blogger Carla compared Easttown’s civility to Lower Merion’s elected officials  in her recent post, ‘If Only Lower Merion Thought of Residents FIRST Once in a While’.  (Here’s a link to Carla’s post).

Why should appropriate behavior at a township meeting, such as the recent special meeting at Easttown, be heralded as unique and special?  Lately, we have witnessed less than desirable decorum from some elected officials up and down the main line.  Doesn’t matter if it’s Lower Merion, Radnor or  Tredyffrin Townships . . . civility and appropriate decorum is slipping away, replaced with a combative atmosphere. 

Rather than a unique situation, Easttown’s civil discourse this week should be the norm, why has the ‘bar’ of local government now been set so seemingly low?

 How do we encourage change of attitude in our leaders? How do we raise the bar of expectation?  I know it’s possible . . . I saw it this week in Easttown!

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Save Ardmore Coalition Syndicates Community Matters

Save Ardmore Coalition, a 501c(4) nonprofit civic action organization has syndicated Community Matters and added it to their blog roll.  Save Ardmore Coalition (SAC) whose tag line is “Working Together for Lower Merion’s Future” is one of the earliest community grassroots organizations in the area and has attracted an impressive following. Believing in community input and consensus building, SAC has lively discussions and debates on school board meetings, township meetings, community events, etc.  Many of their local government and budget issues are similar to Tredyffrin Township and we can learn much from sharing our experiences.

On the bottom of each of SAC’s pages, you will find a listing of the blogs they support, including PA Watercooler, Conservative Reform Network, Postcards from Lower Merion, and now Community Matters, along with most recent posts from each site. I thank SAC and appreciate the recognition of Community Matters.  By increasing the traffic to Community Matters, we continue to shine light on important issues in our community. A greater awareness of the issues is a first step to finding solutions.  Thank you SAC.

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Lower Merion’s La Ronda was Demolished . . . Could this Happen in Tredyffrin Township?

Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust’s Spring Lecture Series will kick off tomorrow, Wednesday, April 14 with a very special lecture, La Ronda . . . The Fantasy of Architect Addison Mizner.  

La Ronda was an extraordinary and unique house in Villanova that was variously described as Spanish Revival or Castilian Gothic. Built in 1929 by flamboyant architect Addison Mizner for industrialist Percival Foerderer, its National Register nomination described it as including “51 rooms, 21 of which were bedrooms, Spanish towers, Gothic porticos, Venetian stained glass, Italianate monastery cloisters, and European formal gardens.”  After a lengthy and costly battle to save La Ronda, the magnificent structure was demolished in October 2009.   

Strafford resident and architectural historian James B. Garrison will be at historic Duportail House in Chesterbrook on Wednesday, April 14 as guest speaker of the Trust’s Spring Lecture Series.  Mr. Garrison’s lecture on La Ronda will include a slide presentation which will offer a last glimpse of the house and gardens, as well as discussing some of the preservation issues related to the remaining unique residential properties on the Main Line. A reception will begin at 7 PM followed by lecture at 7:30 PM.  Lecture admission is $15 and all proceeds go toward Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust’s rebuilding effort of the Jones Log Barn at the DuPortail House location.  Visit Trust’s website, www.tredyffrinhistory.org for further information or click here  Spring Lecture 10 – Garrison Press Release  for press release.

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La Ronda represented a valuable historic treasure in the community and this lecture provides an opportunity to remember its significance.  Save Ardmore Coalition documented the final days of La Ronda on YouTube; click here to view. 

For purposes of full disclosure, I am Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust’s president.  We live in a historic community and I would encourage your to attend this lecture and show your support for preserving and protecting our historic resources. 

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We are Standing With the Volunteer Firefighters, Can We Show Support for the Mt. Pleasant Community?

In much the same way that many of our community members have supported our volunteer firefighters in recent weeks, there is another township issue that needs our attention and focus — Mt. Pleasant.  For those that do not know, Mt. Pleasant is located in the Panhandle section, off of Upper Gulph Road, in the shadows of the St. Davids Golf Club.  Back on November 19, I wrote of the many issues plaguing Mt. Pleasant and their residents, student housing and rental issues, excessive late night noise, drinking, etc. 

There seemed to be movement from the township in helping this neighborhood and I was pleased to report that there had been a meeting between residents and Supervisors DiFilippo and DiBuonaventuro.  It was agreed that the situation required further discussion and a town hall meeting was scheduled by the Mt. Pleasant Action Group for Saturday, December 19 at the First Baptist Church in Wayne.  The meeting was to include Tredyffrin Township representatives including members of the Board of Supervisors, Police, and Zoning Enforcement.  However, if you recall our December blizzard hit that weekend and the meeting was cancelled.

Fast forward and we need to get back on track to help this community.  Beyond the student housing issues, there has also been subdivision and special exception requests to the Planning Commission for Mt. Pleasant.  A subdivision request for an Upper Gulph Rd. property was denied by the Planning Commission in November, suggesting that the Planning Commissioners are now understanding some of the ongoing problems with residential properties converting to student housing.  The Planning Commissioners recent ruling to deny the Upper Gulph Road subdivision application was applauded by the residents. 

However, there now appears to be a serious environmental situation  in the Black Bottom area of Mt. Pleasant.  I wrote that Mazie Hall’s house was part of this redevelopment area; apparently scheduled for 9 new homes built by F & H Mainline (This project requires the teardown of houses, including Mazie Hall’s home).  As part of the preparation of the site, I have just learned bulldozers arrived on Sunday, December 29 for immediate stabilization of steep slopes that have been wrongfully cleared of vegetation.  The developers were told to leave specimen trees in the clearing of the property, however that was ignored and the trees were removed.  In their places, trenches were dug to help correct the situation!

Christine Johnson, Mt. Pleasant resident and community activist extraordinaire has been leading this battle (along with other neighborhood issues)  for the community.  Christine graphically details the environmental situation on her Mt. Pleasant Action Group website and includes photos of the razing of Mazie Hall’s home and the problems now being created by the developers. Christine has been in contact with township engineer Steve Burgo and he agrees that the developer’s on site tree service did go beyond the limit of disturbance, is in violation and will be cited.  In regards to the latest development problem, Christine writes, “Is it worth destroying the environment as well as people’s spirits?”  Wow . . . can we please help this community? 

Township supervisors are you listening?  Christine and her neighbors are struggling, they can not fight the battle on all fronts. 

Can we re-schedule that cancelled Mt. Pleasant Town Hall meeting as soon as possible?  This community needs the attention of the township.  Can we show these residents that we care about them and want to help . . . ?

On December 29, Christine wrote the following entry on her website:

Main Entry: gen·tri·fi·ca·tion
Pronunciation: \ˌjen-trə-fə-ˈkâ-shən\
Function: noun
Date: 1964

gentrification: the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents

or a more appropriate definition:

“gentrification: the process by which higher income households displace lower income residents of a neighborhood, changing the essential character and flavor of that neighborhood”

“Gentrification isn’t just obnoxious yuppies bouncing from cocktail lounges to sushi bars. It also involves the systematic removal of working-class people from their homes.”

The issue of gentrification has historically included a strong racial component—lower income African-American residents are replaced by higher income white residents.

Residential segregation occurs with the tacit support of public and private sector institutions and traditions. As a result, an influx of higher income households inevitably will put pressure primarily on historically minority communities.

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Thank you to Save Ardmore Coalition

Save Ardmore Coalition, “working together for Lower Merion’s future” is a grassroots community organization that is dedicated to the revitalization of downtown Ardmore business district.  However, many of the blog contributors including Carla, are interested in communities beyond their own backyard, including Tredyffrin Township.  Carla has been following Mt. Pleasant’s neighborhood struggles and recently conducted a field trip to Mt. Pleasant to document the community. Her posting titled Visiting Mt. Pleasant: Another Small Neighborhood at Risk tells it all.  Carla’s Mt. Pleasant photos.

I am excited that the Save Ardmore Coalition has announced my Community Matters in Tredyffrin Township blog to their audience; click here for the announcement.  Communities helping communities is how we are going to make a difference! Thank you Save Ardmore Coalition for doing your part!

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