Swedesford Road Open Space

Swedesford Road Open Space Guard Rail Replaced Today!

What’s the saying, a picture is worth a 1,000 words?

If you recall back in December there was discussion on the Swedesford Road Open Space repair project and whether the public works project should move forward in 2011.

As the closest resident to the Swedesford Road Open Space property, I believed a first-hand account of safety issues surrounding the property and its usage was important for the record and I spoke up at the December 21 Board of Supervisors meeting. I offered to the supervisors that for the open space to be available for public use, that the township bears a responsibility to make the property accessible and safe for visitors.  I explained that a large section of guard rail at the entrance of the open space is dislodged to a recent accident. I stated that my husband and I do not have an opinion one way or the other about the bridge repair but thought it important to underscore the safety issues when visitors are forced to back out on to Swedesford Road because there is no turnaround space.

One of the supervisors suggested that I was ‘over-dramatizing’ the situation, that there had been no ‘reportable accidents’ and debated my remarks.  The supervisor further suggested that visitors to the open space could just look in their rear view mirror and back out on to Swedesford Road. 

Fast forward and for the better portion of today, an entire crew of workers, have been replacing the damaged guard rail on Swedesford Road at the entrance of the open space . . . the exact section of the guard rail that I reported to the supervisors in December was caused by an accident.  I asked one of the guard rail workers what they were doing . . . and he responded that the police had called to report an accident and need for the guard rail repair.  I asked when he received the report for repair; was the report in the last day or two.  No, he explained that the report was probably a month ago.    

Although I was told at the Board of Supervisors meeting there had been no ‘reportable accidents’ at this site, . . .  we have repair to the guard rail at this site occurring today due to an accident.  So very interesting! 

To be clear, I am not saying (nor did I say at the Board of Supervisors meeting) that the accident occurred as a result of a car entering or exiting the Swedesford Road Open Space.  I don’t know whether that was the cause of the accident or not.  I only know this is a dangerous location (in the bend of the road) and backing out on to Swedesford Road is not appropriate. 

Evidenced by a requirement to replace guard rails due to a ‘reported accident’ at the entrance to the Swedesford Road Open Space, these photos illustrate today’s repair work.

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Tredyffrin Fiscal Responsibility . . . or taxpayer disrespect? Update from Board of Supervisors Meeting

The last supervisors meeting of 2010 was far less theatrical than the last meeting of 2009 that included the infamous cardboard check to the fire companies.  However, last night had its moments.

As my last post explained, the Swedesford Road Open Space bridge repair project was back on the agenda last night for a supervisors vote. I attended the supervisors meeting knowing there would be little discussion; and understanding that a decision ‘not to approve’ was most likely determined in advance of the meeting.

As the closest resident to the Swedesford Road Open Space property, I believed a first-hand account of safety issues surrounding the property and its usage was important for the record.  The Township’s purchase ($825K) of this property in 2006 was made possible with a $400K grant from Chester County.  As a condition of the grant, the open space was to be available to residents, and “utilized perpetually for park, recreational and natural-resources conservation purposes.”

For this open space to be available and advertised for public use, I suggested to the supervisors that the township bears a responsibility to make the property accessible and safe for visitors. A large section of guard rail at the entrance of the open space is dislodged due to a recent accident which I addressed in my remarks last night.  I also stated that my husband and I do not have an opinion one way or the other about the bridge repair but thought it important to underscore the safety issues when visitors are forced to back out on to Swedesford Road because there is no turnaround space.

Considering that in all likelihood the decision not to move the bridge repair project forward was made prior to last night’s official supervisors vote, what did I expect as a response to my comments?  Following my remarks, all that was required was a simple ‘thank you’ – take the vote and move on.  Unfortunately, for me, it was not that simple. Supervisor DiBuonaventuro, the western district township supervisor (Swedesford Road Open Space property jurisdiction) debated my remarks, questioned the accident and guard rail damage and suggested that I was over-dramatizing the situation.  He further suggested that there was no problems for visitors leaving this open space; drivers can just look in their rear view mirror and back out on to Swedesford Road.  Swedesford Road is a highly trafficked state road . . . trust me, you do not want to back out on to Swedesford Road!

Mr. DiBuonaventuro further claimed that the property is only used by a few fishermen. I am the one who lives directly across the road from the property but apparently, my observations regarding the property’s usage are not viewed as valid.  One hopes that the fingers-crossed approach to safety will continue to work. 

So what was Mr. DiBuonaventuro’s motivation for his behavior and attitude . . . to take a personal stand on fiscal responsibility?  Again, I suggest that a simple ‘thank you’ for my comments would have sufficed.  After all, the vote was predetermined so the debate of my remarks was clearly unnecessary.

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Deteriorating bridge, parking safety concerns, liability issues . . . Why spend taxpayer money on open space and not maintain?

Back on November 15, the Tredyffrin Township’s Board of Supervisors agenda included awarding the Swedesford Road Open Space bridge repair contract. (The lowest qualified bidder was Bill Anskis, Inc. in the amount of $84,655.50.)  This bridge repair has been on the Township capital projects list for a long time and had finally found its way to the top. The Swedesford Road Open Space property is located directly across the road from my house, so I am acutely aware of its usage and its associated parking issues for anyone attempting to use this Township open space.

I spoke at the November 15 supervisors meeting to explain the Swedesford Road Open Space usage, particularly during spring and summer trout fishing season.  Swedesford Road is a highly traveled road and I assumed that once the liability issues to the township were understood, this project would move forward.  In fact, in the township’s five-year plan, improvements to the Swedesford Road Open Space project specifically state, “bridge and parking lot safety improvements”.  Additionally, the necessary repairs needed for the Swedesford Road Open Space bridge and parking improvements is included in the implementation of the latest Township Comprehensive Plan. Rather than approving the Public Works project, the supervisors voted to pass it to the Parks Board for further discussion.

The Parks Board met last week and the Swedesford Road Open Space bridge project was on their agenda for discussion.  It is my understanding that the Parks Board voted unanimously not to support the bridge repair and parking safety project.  I simply do not understand. Either the members of the Parks Board did not visit the Swedesford Road site (and see the deteriorating bridge and existing parking liability issues) or they are choosing to follow the lead of some of the supervisors. But it does surprise me that members of the Parks Board would not support the needed repairs and maintenance of one of the parks they are appointed to protect.  As an appointed member of the township’s HARB (Historical Architectural Review Board), I liken their decision to . . . me not supporting the historic buildings in the township. I guess I do not understand the Parks Board motivation. 

If the township (1) supports open space through purchase of property and (2) advertises the use of the open space and parks, then (3) doesn’t the township have a responsibility to maintain the property so that it is accessible and safe for the residents to use? 

Back in 2006, there was a firestorm of debate over the purchase of the Swedesford Road property (and its price tag).  The purchase price  for the 5.7 acres of open space was $825,000. However, a Chester County grant paid for more than half the cost.  The Swedesford Road Open Space ordinance in 2006 stated the property was to be “utilized perpetually for park, recreational and natural-resources conservation purposes.”   Many in the community thought that the price was too high for this property but that debate is long gone . . . the taxpayers own the property and it should be accessible for use.  

It is also important to note that the Swedesford Road Open Space project is a capital expense and not included in the township’s operating budget.  The project is funded through bond and grants money and would not affect the supervisor’s passing of the 2011 budget.

In reviewing the agenda for the upcoming Board of Supervisor meeting on Monday, the Swedesford Road Open Space bridge repair and parking improvements is listed.  With the reinforcement of the Parks Board member’s unanimous vote not to move the repair project forward, it is doubtful that the supervisors will approve this Public Works project.

I do hope that the supervisors recognize that there is a liability issue for the township by choosing not to repair the bridge or improve the parking situation. Residents see the township’s sign ‘Swedesford Road Open Space’ and attempt to pull off the road on to the open space property.  With no room to turnaround, drivers are often forced to back out on to Swedesford Road . . . a risky proposition!

If the supervisors are not going to repair the bridge and improve the parking, I suggest that the township remove signage and close the area of Swedesford Road Open Space to discourage visitors.  However, before taking down the Swedesford Road Open Space sign and closing the area to public use, perhaps the township supervisors should notify Senator Andy Dinniman and Commissioner Carol Aichele.  Chester County dollars through a grant were used to fund this open space purchase and their names appear on the sign!

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Additional notes:

Following the November 15 Board of Supervisors meeting, an article, ‘Tredyffrin has its own bridge to nowhere’ appeared in the Mainline Media News newspaper – here is a link.

For those that are unfamiliar, I have included some photos of the Swedesford Road Open Space property – the bridge and the parking area.  In the last few weeks, there has been a traffic accident at the Swedesford Road Open Space where the guard rail has become dislodged.

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Quick Response from Township Manager & Public Works . . . Political Campaign Signs Removed from Township Park

I received a response from township manager, Mimi Gleason thanking me for me email and explaining that the township would take care of the removal of the political campaign signs from Swedesford Road Open Space Park.  Within minutes of receiving the email, a public works truck and  two township workers arrived at the park.  A township worker stood on the top of a tall ladder and  a garden rake and his long reach were required to remove the signs.  Good news . . . quick response from the township and  the political campaign signs are down . . . bad news is that is that it required township time and money for the removal.  

I’m sure that township residents don’t want their taxpayer dollars spent this way; I ask that political candidates instruct their campaign volunteers not to use our township parks for political signage.  Thank you Mimi and Steve Norcini for your quick response!

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What’s the Policy on Political Campaign Signs in Tredyffrin Township Parks? And What About Nailing Signs to Township Trees?

We live across from the Swedesford Road Open Space Park.  During the last 24 hours someone either used a ladder or climbed up a township park tree and nailed 3 political campaign signs into one of the trees.  We have lived here for 26 years and there has never been signs nailed on these trees.  If the trees were on private property and the individual had permission, I guess it would be OK. Although I still would question the damage it may do to the tree.  But the point is the tree with the signs is on township open space property.

During the political campaign season, you may see signs along Swedesford Road, particularly on private property or along the sides of the road but never on the park property.  I sent an email to the Board of Supervisors asking what the policy was concerning political campaign signs in our township parks but have not yet had a response.   If over zealous campaign workers had planted the typical metal campaign signs, you could simply remove them if the signs were in an inappropriate place.  But these signs are at least 10 ft. up the tree and would require a ladder for installation or removal. 

I do not think political campaign signs should be nailed to trees in township parks.  On my email to the supervisors from my husband and I, I copied the township manager, head of public works Steve Norcini and township solicitor Tom Hogan.  I asked the policy and asked  for the removal of the signs.  I do not think the signs should be removed at taxpayers expense nor should it be  the responsibility of the township’s public works staff to climb the tree and remove the signs . . . rather, I would hope that the political campaign responsible would remove the signs.

I have not taken a trip around to visit other township parks but I am hopeful there have been no other defacing of township property.

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