Tredyffrin Township

14th Annual Historic House Tour – Saturday Sept. 29, 12 Noon – 5 PM

To those who have sent me emails, text or phone messages that may have gone unanswered, it has been a very busy several months. Between a family reunion, an out-of-town wedding, a first birthday party for granddaughter Audrey in Seattle and a trip to our Port Royal Island, SC house (for those that have asked, Hurricane Florence did miss our 100 yr old ‘little pink house’ in SC) in addition to the management of the Jones Log Barn rebuilding project in Chesterbrook, it’s been crazy!

Squeezed in between all of the activities has been the ‘care and feeding’ of my annual historic house tour. Hard to believe but the 14th Annual Historic House Tour is almost upon us — it’s next Saturday, Sept. 29, noon – 5 PM (tickets available at www.tredyffrinhistory.org) The preview party was held last Sunday at Duportail House and was a wonderful turnout of the historic homeowners, sponsors and community members.  The countdown to the house tour  is on — fingers-crossed, we will have perfect weather for the fourteenth year in a row!  Weather gods, are you listening!?

There’s much going on in the township and the school district and I have a list of issues and topics to discuss as soon as the house tour is over.

Without a historic preservation ordinance in Tredyffrin Township to protect our beautiful historic properties, the annual historic house tour is all the more important!  Local history and its preservation does matter!  Please purchase a house tour and join us as we celebrate historic preservation — another important reason that makes this community special. In addition to Trust Board members and other adult volunteer docents, there will be nearly 20 Conestoga High School volunteers assisting at the house tour. In addition, there will be CHS students playing the piano at Tredyffrin Library for ticket pick-up!

Below is the 14th Annual Historic House Tour poster and the final list of our wonderful house tour sponsors — individuals and companies who make historic preservation a priority!  As president of Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust and chair of the 14th Annual Historic Preservation Trust, we thank them and the generous homeowners who make the annual historic house tour possible.  All proceeds from the house tour go toward the completion of the Jones Log Barn as the Living History Center.

Thank you 14th Annual Historic House Tour sponsors!

 

 

 

 

 

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Redevelopment plans proposed for Picket Post Swim Club property in Chesterbook – Plans include saving the historic 19th century barn

In the last few weeks, I have received many emails and phone calls about a privately owned historic barn in Chesterbrook. Rumors have swirled about the deteriorating 19th century timber post and beam barn, its possible demolition and a proposed redevelopment plan of townhouses for the Picket Post Swim Club owned property. For those that do not know the property, here’s a photo of the barn which I took last night.

Referred to locally as the Chase Road barn, its historic name is the Green Valley Farm Barn and is listed in the 2003 Tredyffrin Township Historic Resource Survey with a c. 1890 construction date.

Hidden in the middle of the Ridings, one of the 28 Villages in the Chesterbrook community is a group of original Green Valley Farm properties – the Federal manor home, a tenant house and the barn.  In the 1700s the Green Valley Farm of 800 acres adjoined the Chesterbrook Farm owned by Alexander Johnston Cassatt. Cassatt, the 7th President of the Pennsylvania Railroad, bred thoroughbred race horses on his 600 acres.

Fast forward to 1969, and Richard Fox from Jenkintown bought the property (which would become Chesterbrook) for $2.3M.  There was strong opposition from the neighboring residents to the development of this land. A battle that went as far as the Supreme Court ended and in 1976, they began grading and clearing the 865 acres originally known as “Green Valley Farm”.

In 1985, the large manor house was architecturally developed into three separate condominium units, while maintaining its original style. The tenant house to the property is a single-family private residence and the barn became a part of the community swim club and tennis courts (Pickett Post).

Although the manor house and tenant house are enjoyed and successfully maintained by their owners, sadly the historic barn has not fared as well.  During the last decade, Picket Post Swim Club membership and revenues has declined.  In 2016, the swimming pool on the property was closed to save repair and operational expenses. The property’s sole current use is for tennis while the maintenance, taxes and insurance of the entire 4.8 acres is paid by Picket Post Swim Club.  And without attention, the condition of the 130-year old barn has continued to deteriorate.

In 2018, the community is at a crossroads, with opinions divided on the swim club property and its future.

Picket Post Swim Club placed the 4.8 acre site up for sale and my understanding is that several developers looked at the property but for various reasons did not move forward. One of the significant stumbling blocks for development is the property would need to be re-zoned to R-4 (currently the zoning is Rural Conservation RC).

According to several sources, including John McFadden, the president of Picket Post Swim Club, the township is not interested in the property – although some in the community believe that the township wants the tennis courts and will manage them.

But the Picket Post property is more than the tennis courts, there is a closed swimming pool and more importantly, a deteriorating historic barn. And although the large 19th century barn is a Tredyffrin Township Class 1 historic resource (see below), the structure is not protected from demolition. Remember, the township does not have a historic preservation ordinance.

To further explain — In 2003, historic resources were identified and listed in the township’s Historic Resources Survey and classified into three categories – Class I, Class II, and Class III.  Viewed as the most important historic structures (and therefore most worthy of preservation), Class I resources are identified as resources that are listed or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. The survey identifies 47 historic resources, including the Chase Road barn, in the Class I category.

I met with the swim club president John McFadden three years ago about the Chase Road barn and its future. At that time, the barn had already fallen into disrepair, which is more obvious from the inside. Major issues included a weak, sagging wall and roof problems.  The meeting resulted in no clear-cut direction and the barn’s condition has not improved in the intervening years.

As mentioned, a major obstacle for the property is the Rural Conservation  (RC) zoning designation. RC zoning permits one single family home. Since advertising the Picket Post property for sale, one company emerged as willing to taking on the challenges of development. Green Bridge Development LLC has entered into an Agreement of Sale with the swim club and will seek to have the property re-zoned.

As president of Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust, whose mission is to preserve and protect historic and cultural resources in Tredyffrin Township for the benefit of present and future generations, I take the role seriously.  When discussing the proposed Chase Road project with the Green Bridge developers, my first question was “what about the barn”? Knowing that the cost to stabilize the large barn had to be over $500K, any plans for the barn would require a significant financial commitment.

After thorough discussion and review of the plans with the developer, I am pleased to report that the barn will be saved. In addition to townhouses, the proposed redevelopment plans include the adaptive re-use of the barn. A fan of re-purposing historic buildings, this is a way for old buildings, such as the barn, that have outlived their original purposes to have a ‘new future’.  With agreement to retain the integrity and historic features of the barn, I support the developer’s adaptive reuse of the Chase Road barn into 4 condominiums.

Green Bridge Development has hired local architect Rene Hoffman of R.A. Hoffman Architects in Paoli to design the project. Below is the rendering for the proposed adaptive re-use of the Chase Road barn —

If you attended the Trust’s 12th Annual Historic House Tour in 2016, one of the featured stops was the Westthorpe Farm Barn, c.1915 in Berwyn. In 2015, Bob Coppock of Coppock Properties and R. A. Hoffman Architects (the same firm hired for the Chase Barn conversion)meticulously crafted two luxury homes, retaining original architectural and historic elements — adaptive reuse of a historic barn at its best!  (See below)

There are some community members who want the Picket Post Swim Club property to remain ‘as is’.  Unfortunately, that is not a realistic option – the swim club cannot afford to keep the property and needs money for its other Chesterbrook swimming facility at Bradford Road. Additionally, the barn continues to deteriorate and in my opinion, is standing on borrowed time. Without financial intervention, the barn will probably need to be taken down at some point in the near future. When that happens, the community loses another historic resource.

There are those who want the Picket Post property to become a community park – again, not certain this is realistic. The purchase price on the property is $1.5M, where will the money come from to purchase and then maintain the property?  Taxpayers?  Grants?  Individual contributions?

Lots of opinions about the Picket Post Swim Club property and its future. The clock is ticking for this property and in my opinion, to ‘do nothing’ is not an option.

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Memorial Day – A Day of Remembrance. Honor the Day. Honor Them!

“…that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion, that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God, …and that government of the people by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth.”     ~ Abraham Lincoln

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance and we honor the day by honoring them!

From local resident Dan McLaughlin, I received the following email along with photos (below) from today’s local Memorial Day remembrance ceremonies. Thank you Dan.

Local Memorial Day Remembrance  –
This Sunday, members of Paoli American Legion Post 646 and Wayne American Legion Post 668 honored local Veterans who gave their lives in service of our nation. Ceremonies took place at the Baptist Church in the Great Valley, the Philadelphia Memorial Park in Frazer, and the Veteran Memorials in Berwyn and Paoli.

At each location fallen service members were honored with prayer, a 21 Gun Salute, and a Bugler playing the National Anthem.

Memorial Day parades to remember our nation’s Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and members of the Air Force will take place in Wayne starting at 9:45 a.m. this Monday, May 28th and in Malvern on Sunday, June 3rd at 1:30 p.m.

 

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Second Time Around — Support for Common-Sense Gun Control Legislation by Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors?

In light of the devastating tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, we are all concerned about the level of gun violence in our nation.

It’s past time to face reality. We, as a nation, need to do better. In the wake of the unspeakable horror of children being killed while at school, now is the time for action and … for sensible gun control laws.

Gun control doesn’t have to mean no guns. Arguments can be made for shotguns and rifles for hunting and handguns for protection. Somewhere, between these moments – the legitimate use of guns for hunting, and the too-easy access to guns by children and the mentally ill – there needs to be a solution. For me, that solution lies in sensible gun control measures.

But as Tredyffrin Township Supervisor Matt Holt learned at last month’s Board of Supervisors meeting, the support for common sense gun control legislation is challenging.  At the February 20th meeting, Holt presented a motion for a township resolution to support legislation sensible gun control laws. Without receiving a ‘second’ from any of his fellow supervisors, Holt’s motion failed.

To the credit of audience members attending the Board of Supervisors meeting, there was an unwillingness to let Holt’s motion fail without discussion. As a result of the demand for public input, Supervisor Murph Wysocki presented a new motion, seconded by Supervisor Sean Moir stating that the supervisors would work together on a new resolution to support legislation for common sense gun control laws for presentation at the next Board of Supervisors meeting on March 19.

The proposed resolution to support sensible gun control law legislation is included on the agenda for tonight’s Board of Supervisors meeting — the public is encouraged to attend and offer their input.

Here’s hoping that the second time around that the ‘new’ resolution, to support common sense gun control legislation, receives unanimous support from the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors.


Update:  After discussion and many comments from audience members, I am pleased to report that the resolution supporting common sense gun control legislature passed unanimously 7-0 at tonight’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

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Sometimes it doesn’t matter how you get to the finish line, it just matters that you finish!

As an update to my last post, Tredyffrin Township supervisor Matt Holt presented his proposed resolution at last night’s Board of Supervisors meeting. Holt’s motion on the resolution to support legislation for common sense gun control laws did not receive a ‘second’ when presented during new business.  A second to the proposed motion is required for the motion to have discussion from the Board of Supervisors.

Hearing no second to the motion, Chair Heather Greenberg attempted to move the meeting forward. To their credit, there was an immediate outcry from audience members demanding discussion. After several residents spoke out and a few comments from supervisors about the proposed resolution’s process, insufficient notification, representation of all residents, etc, etc, a new motion was presented by Murph Wysocki and seconded by Sean Moir. The Board passed the motion 7-0 and states that the supervisors will work together on a new resolution to support legislation for common sense gun control laws to present at the next Board of Supervisors meeting on Monday, March 19.

We thank Matt Holt for his proposal to support sensible gun law legislation and applaud the audience members who would not let the motion fail without discussion. Other than the fact that it was a freshman supervisor who initially proposed the resolution, it is unclear why further discussion and re-working is required — but we will look forward to the supervisors working together and presenting a new resolution on March 19.

Coincidentally, State Rep Warren Kampf (R-157) sent a constituent email out two hours before last night’s Board of Supervisors meeting, stating that he will introduce legislation to address mass shootings.  His proposal will focus on “… identification of potentially troubled individuals, especially young people, support for increased mental health and mental rehabilitation services, and commonsense actions to address firearm issues.”  Included in Kampf’s proposed legislation is the requirement for background checks on all gun sales, the prohibition of bump stocks and high-capacity magazines and funding for school security.

Rep. Kampf’s message read in part —

Unlike many who are playing politics or simply appealing to the simplest of emotions, I am making concrete proposals that have a chance of becoming law and making a positive difference. I know that I will be attacked by people on both sides of these issues. Pennsylvania is a diverse state and there are members of both parties who feel as strongly about enacting no controls as there are others who simply want to ban all firearms. We can either watch that fight continue with nothing happening, or we can follow a path toward intellectually honest action, and toward results. That is what I am choosing to do.

Don’t know whether it was Rep. Kampf’s message or the audience members at last night’s meeting who moved the Tredyffrin supervisors to continue discussion on a resolution to support common sense gun control legislation but I’m just glad it did!  Sometimes it doesn’t matter how you get to the finish line … all that matters is that you finish!

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No Prepayment of 2018 Property Taxes Permitted in Tredyffrin

The new tax reform bill signed into law by President Trump reduces the amount of state and local taxes a person can claim as deductions on his or her 2018 federal tax return and fewer people may itemize deductions on their 2018 return because there’s a larger standard deduction. The federal tax legislation that takes effect January 1 will cap the state and local deductions on federal tax returns at $10,000. Since the passing of the tax bill, there’s been much discussion about whether or not residents could prepay their 2018 property taxes before the end of the year.

t’s official in Tredyffrin Township and the answer is no to prepayment of property taxes. The bottom line is, unless there’s an assessment and a bill issued, you’re not able to take the deduction The notice below was posted on the Tredyffrin Township’s website yesterday:

2018 Property Taxes Pre-Payment Information

To all Township Residents:

This notice is being posted to address inquiries we have received from several resident homeowners about prepaying 2018 real estate taxes.  Please be advised that Tredyffrin Township cannot accept prepayments of 2018 real estate taxes.

The Township is prohibited by the Pennsylvania Local Tax Collection Law (specifically, 72 P.S. §5511.15) from collecting taxes that have not been assessed yet.  The Township does not issue the new tax assessment until January of 2018 and therefore cannot accept payments before that point in time.

Also, be aware that the IRS issued an advisory notice on December 27, 2017 that it will not allow any deduction in 2017 for 2018 property taxes unless those taxes were assessed and paid in 2017.  As stated above, the Township’s assessment will not be made in 2017, because the millage rates will not be set until January 2, 2018 at the Organizational Meeting of the Board of Supervisors.  The IRS’s advisory notice can be found at: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-advisory-prepaid-real-property-taxes-may-be-deductible-in-2017-if-assessed-and-paid-in-2017.

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Election 2017: Referendum on President Trump as Democrats upped their game in Tredyffrin and TE School District races

The “Trump Effect” sweeping the nation found its way to our local municipal and school board elections. Every local election can be seen as a referendum on President Trump as voters came out in mass and cast their votes overwhelmingly in support of Democratic candidates, ousting sitting Republicans in the process.

In the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors race, At-Large candidate Murph Wysocki (D) was re-elected to a second term and newcomers Matt Holt (At-Large) and Kevin O’Nell (Middle District) candidates beat their Republican opposition. Historic in Tredyffrin Township, the election marks the first time in its 300 year history, that three of the seven seats will be held by Democrats.  If memory serves me correctly, Paul Drucker was the first Democrat elected to the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors in 2005.

As a result of the 2017 election, there are big changes coming to the T/E School Board.  Running for second terms on the school board from Region III, Easttown residents Virginia Lastner (R) and Doug Carlson (R) lost to their Democrat opponents Heather Ward and Tina Whitlow.  Region I school board candidate Scott Dorsey (D) had no opposition and will serve a second term.

In the T/E School Board Region II race, current Valley Forge Middle School teacher Kyle Boyer (D) prevailed over his Republican opponent Doug Anestad.   As a teacher in the T/E School District, Boyer has been the focus of much attention since declaring his candidacy last March and is now required to resign from his reaching position before the December 4 school board meeting. It has been stated that Boyer will immediately tender his resignation to the school district and the District will waive the 60-day notification requirement so that he can take office.   As a result of the 2017 election, the T/E School Board make-up will be seven Democrats and two Republicans.

All Chester County row office elections were won by Democrat candidates, including Tredyffrin Township resident Yolanda Van de Krol as newly elected County Clerk.

Thank you to all the candidates for caring about our community and your willingness to serve! Congratulations to those who have been elected – wishing you much success!

 

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Know Your Candidates Before You Vote! Tredyffrin Supervisor & T/E School Board Candidates Forum

With less than a week to go before Election Day, do you know who you are voting for? If you are undecided or have a specific issue to discuss, please consider attending the Chesterbrook Civic Association’s Candidate Forum and learn about the Tredyffrin Township supervisor and TE School District candidates on Saturday.  Open to the public, the event will give voters an opportunity to bring important topics to the forefront — Saturday, November 4, 10 AM – 11:30 AM at Tredyffrin Township Building in Chesterbrook.

What do each of the township supervisor candidates feel is the single most important issue facing the township? And what is their background and/or experience makes them qualified to help with the issue. 

School board candidates — how will you balance the sometimes-conflicting interests of the students, taxpayers and teachers. And what in your background and/or experience will help you meet the needs of these three groups.

Use this opportunity to learn in depth about the understanding of issues, the personal perspectives, and the goals of candidates standing for election in our pending local elections.  The importance of knowing your candidates and what they stand for is especially significant in these times, when recent history teaches that what politicians say they plan to do is not necessarily what they actually do after being elected.

It’s important to know the issues, and to vote. Not voting can influence an election as much as voting does. If the person you did not want to win an election prevails, it may be that people who were eligible to vote did not vote.

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FREE: “Opioid Crisis in Our Back Yard” – Sunday, Sept. 10, 1-4 PM, Wilson Farm Park, Chesterbrook

Addiction can strike anywhere and in any community, including ours — we have watched heroin use and seriously life-threatening addictions become more common.  Our community, like many across the country, is learning this first-hand with a dramatic rise in the cases of drug abuse, addiction, overdoses and deaths.

Learn about the “Opioid Crisis in Our Back Yard” on Sunday, September 10, 1-4 PM at Wilson Farm Park in Chesterbrook.  A free informational session, open to the public, please plan to attend.  

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The Battle of Brandywine Meets Chester County Johnston Gang — Wednesday, April 12 with Bruce Mowday

As President of Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust, I am  excited to announce our 2017 Spring Lecture Series kicks off with Chester County award-winning journalist Bruce Mowday on Wednesday, April 12. Bruce will speak about two of his books — “The Battle of Brandywine” and “The Johnston Gang”. The reception is at 7 PM with the lecture follows at 7:30 PM at historic Duportail House in Chesterbrook.

September 1777 was a pivotal time in the history of our nation and Chester County – the main engagement of the Philadelphia campaign during the American Revolution, the Battle of Brandywine fought on September 11, 1777 played a crucial role in shaping our country’s future.

Bruce will also talk about infamous Johnston Gang of Chester County. In the late 1970’s, the Johnston burglary ring had operated almost untouched in southern Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware for more than a decade, stealing heavy farm equipment and cars and launching operations such as the theft of more than $50,000 from Longwood Gardens.

An enthusiastic invitation is extended to all for a wonderful evening with Bruce Mowday! For further information and reservations, please call 610-647-1051 or visit our website, www.tredyffrinhistory.org 

Bruce will be around following the lecture for book purchases and signing — the perfect graduation, Father’s Day gift for your personal history buff!

We appreciate that Gene Donahue,TV studio/station manager at Tredyffrin Township, will be taping the Trust lecture. Tredyffrin Township Television is offering the Spring Basics of Production (free to township residents), the basics of video production and certification. Don’t just watch TV, make it! For details, click 2017 Basics of Production flyer. Class start next week, sign-up by Friday, April 15 by calling Gene at 610-408-3633 or email TTTV@tredyffrin.org.

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