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.