Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Random Files: short news updates

Tredyffrin’s Special Election Results . . . Chester County Voter Services completed the hand count of the Duffy/Heaberg Special Election ballots from the May 17 primary a couple of weeks ago. Originally, the count indicated Heaberg ahead by 3 votes but a provisional ballot for Duffy was found; 2 votes currently separate the candidates. Due to many malfunctioning voting machines countywide, it is my understanding that voter services has been working overtime to certify the election results by the 30-day deadline on June 17. Look for the results to be certified early this week; word has it that alignment issues with Republican ballots heads the list of possible reasons for the problem. Does make you wonder about prior close elections . . . here’s hoping that whatever the problem, it is thoroughly researched (and corrected) prior to November’s general election.

Genuardi’s in Chesterbrook Shopping Center . . . Empty for a year, we had heard that the Bottom Dollar Grocery chain was going to take the vacant space but that offer fell through. The next development in March of this year, Centro Properties sold 588 shopping centers (including Chesterbrook) to private equity giant, Blackstone Group for $9.4 billion. Although the lease sign remains on Genuardi’s, there has been recent movement in the last few days. Paul Prestia, a local attorney with Ratner Prestia in Westlakes is floating an idea to the community to create a food co-op in the former Genuardi’s space. Using a model similar to Swarthmore Co-op, it would specialize in locally sourced and organic food. This is an interesting redevelopment idea for the Chesterbrook Shopping Center and I will be curious to see if it develops further.

Brian O’Neill . . . the King of Prussia developer behind the Uptown Worthington project in Malvern is back in the news. The O’Neill Properties vs. Citizens Bank trial is slated to begin in December and O’Neill has dramatically reduced his original $billion+ demands down to $297 million. Once the parties reach a settlement, construction is expected to get underway again at Worthington. O’Neill’s vision remains for Uptown Worthington – the ‘Center City of Great Valley’. His vision will require more than the current two stores, Wegnman’s and Target, on the 100+ acres.

T/E School Budget . . . The TESD school board makes the final 2011-12 budget vote on Monday night, June 13, 7:30 PM, Conestoga High School. Property tax increase is projected at 3.8%. Click here for the agenda.

EIT Tax Study Group . . . Applications are still being accepted from Tredyffrin and Easttown residents for the TESD EIT Tax Study Group – deadline for applications is Wednesday, June 15. The TESD Public Information meeting is Tuesday, June 14 and the selection process will be discussed. There are to be 9 committee members chosen and my understanding is that 100 applications have been received to date. Click here for the application. The success of the tax study group depends on a non-political selection process and committee membership.

HARB no more . . . As of the May Board of Supervisors Meeting, the Tredyffrin’s Historic Architectural Review Board (HARB) was replaced by a Historic Commission. With an expanding mission to protect historic properties in the township, I was pleased that supervisors showed their support of preserving the township’s historic resources with a unanimous vote. I am expecting great things from our new commission, and am excited to be part of it.

Planning Commission – Where’s the Sidewalk Ordinance amendment on your agenda . . . I was very surprised to see that the sidewalk ordinance discussion is off this week’s Planning Commission agenda. The proposed ordinance amendment establishes the criteria for the requirement to construct sidewalks and establish a fee in lieu of construction procedure and is scheduled for a public hearing on Monday, June 20. Having attended the last Planning Commission meeting, it appeared commissioners had not reached a consensus on the ordinance, so why is it off the agenda for their meeting?

For those that may have forgotten, the St. Davids Golf Club sidewalk issue remains outstanding since December 2009. The land development agreement between the township and St. Davids requiring sidewalks is now 4 or 5 (?) years old and yet the clock continues to tick (and tick, and tick). Whose responsibility is to enforce the sidewalks at St. Davids? It is now eighteen months since the St. Davids sidewalk issue was ‘set aside’ by Tredyffrin’s supervisors and, to date there remains no resolution in the matter.

Is the sidewalk issue going to be the 2011 supervisor campaign issue, as the 422 issue was to the 2010 State House race? Adding a new twist to the continuing sidewalk saga, supervisor Paul Olson (R) is up for re-election from the eastern district. Having served as supervisor for 30 years, he is on record as opposing the St. Davids sidewalk; proclaiming it the ‘sidewalk to nowhere’. Olson’s opponent in the supervisor race, Tory Snyder (D) is a Planning Commissioner and served as chair of the sidewalks subcommittee. She supports the green routes network and the sidewalks component of the township’s comprehensive plan. Olson and Snyder are scheduled to square off against each other in November’s general election.

Valley View Shopping Center . . . If you haven’t driven down this section of 252 lately, you might be surprised at the level of activity. The redevelopment of the old Bargain Bookstore is well underway; it appears that they are gutting both floors of the building for a new branch of Mealey’s Furniture. In the same shopping center, the old Charlie Brown Restaurant is undergoing much change for its transformation in to a new McKenzie Brew House. Originally slated for completion in September, signs point that the microbrewery is on schedule.

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  1. Pattye,

    I know you are kept busy with your B&B. Thus, it is amazing how much time you are able to dedicate to Community Matters.

    Not only do you manage to keep yourself well informed about virtually every issue that impacts our community, but you succeed in conveying this knowledge to your readers. The breadth of local issues you covered in this one story alone is ample proof of that fact.

    When you factor in your role as moderator of this Website’s Forum (requiring you to review, post, and sometimes respond to reader comments), as well as the time spent on the tech side keeping everything up and running, I simply don’t see how you have time for sleep.

    Do you have a team of helpers or are you a one woman show? If the later, you should consider getting some assistants. Why not a student intern? There must be some Conestoga students who would love to learn how to operate a Media Blog such as yours, while acquiring experience for their resumes and college applications.

    keep on keeping on.

    1. Thanks, appreciate your comments! The Great Valley House is very busy, especially this time of the year. Most people probably don’t realize it but there are guests here 7 days a week. All rooms may not be booked but there is always someone in the house. And sometimes, the breakfast conversations become community matters-related. Just yesterday, there was a guest who is a township manager from one of the municipailities in Berks County that is at the other end of the 25-mi 422. (I won’t say his name or municipality to protect his identity). It was fascinating to learn that even though the people in that end of 422 are the ones most effected by the traffic congestion of 422, there is virtually no discussion — whether it is from the public or from local government. He was shocked when I told him about the amount of discussion from our end of 422 . . . the amount of Philly Inq news coverage, etc. I said to him that perhaps people where just avoiding 422 in the western sections — no, he explained there are not that many options of side roads and that 422 is really the only game in town for people travelling to KOP or Philadelphia. Surprising, why are the politics at this end???

      Back to Community Matters . . . I am so much of control freak, I don’t know how well I would manage with assistants. So, to answer your question, yes, I do it by myself. But what is really helpful is when readers send me emails, make suggestions, or provide the background information on community issues. Hugely helpful. The best email address:

      But beyond Community Matters, where I really need help currently in my life is fundraising for the Trust. I am president of Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust and we need approx. $200K to complete the rebuilding of the Jones Log Barn at DuPortail in Chesterbrook. We have raised approx. $300K over the last few years and Phase I, the foundation, is complete. But the well has run dry on grant money and government assistance and now we need some real help from the community. I need help to raise the money. I would love a professional fundraiser in the community to take the project on and help us get it finished. Any suggestions would be appreciated! Each year I chair the Annual Historic House Tour for the Trust and our 7th tour is coming up on September 24. As we move closer to that date, spreading the word about the tour and getting tickets sold will be another way that Community Matters can help me.

      Really, thank YOU for your comments — it makes it all worthwhile.

  2. I was shocked to learn the Genuardi’s was closed down when I moved back to TE for the summer a few months ago. My first thought was that they should put a coop into that space, I’m a member at a coop in Chapel Hill NC, where I live most of the year, and swear by it. I hope that becomes a reality.

  3. “Originally, the count indicated Heaberg ahead by 3 votes but a provisional ballot for Duffy was found; 2 votes currently separate the candidates.”

    It’s my understanding that provisional ballots might be issues under any number of circumstances, including when someone is insistent that they be allowed to vote even when they may not be eligible. So, just because a new provisional ballot was found doesn’t necessarily impact the final totals. I wouldn’t have mentioned this except it makes a difference when the differential is a mere three votes and might potentially become only two. This is why they say you need 50% + 1 to win.

      1. Ah. Okay, thanks.

        You know, if nothing else this race is so illustrative of the maxim that every vote counts. Two votes. It doesn’t get much closer.

  4. I hope the Co-op materializes.

    My daughter & her husband have shopped at the Swarthore Co-op ever since they moved to Rose Valley from DC. They love it. They shop at the Co-op (& Trader Joe’s) in spite of the fact there are 2 Acmes, a Pathmark & a Giant within 2-1/2 miles of their house..

    The Co-op has a great butcher department.- like the farmers market, except it’s every day. When I’m at their house, if they say we’re going to the Co-op, I say “I’m in” & hope I can get home withouy spoiling what I bought.

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