Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Great Valley Association

Help Save the Trees . . . Vine Day at Cool Valley Preserve Tomorrow!

Saturday, March 5th
Cool Valley Preserve Vine Day!
9 AM

Honeysuckle, choking a tree.Save the trees! Chester County Open Land Conservancy volunteers continue to wage their battle against the invasive vines that are strangling the trees in the Nature Preserves . . . and could use some help tomorrow.

This is a great opportunity to get some fresh air, work with some of your neighbors and make a lasting impact on the Nature Preserves. Saturday, March 5, starting at 9 AM is the Cool Valley Preserve ‘Vine Day’. Although the volunteers generally work 3-4 hours, any help that you can offer would be greatly appreciated!

Directions to Cool Valley Preserve: Off Swedesford Road turn into Shadow Oak Drive. Follow to the end (circle). Turn left at circle one block to Cool Valley Road and turn right to Preserve entrance.

Volunteers are asked to meet in the Cool Valley Preserve entrance at 9 AM. Any questions, contact Ray Clarke, 610-578-0358. All that’s needed are protective clothing, gloves and, if you have them, tools such as loppers, pruners and hand saws to supplement Open Land Conservancy’s supply.

Help Save the Trees!

Malvern Power Couple Heading to Harrisburg

Noun 1. power couple – def: a couple both of whom have high-powered careers or are politically influential

Just yesterday, it was announced that Gov-elect Corbett had selected Carol Aichele to serve in his cabinet as Secretary of the Commonwealth. Today we learn that Carol will be able to carpool to Harrisburg with another Aichele family member.

Corbett has selected Carol’s husband, Steve Aichele, to serve as the state’s Chief Counsel. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of major Philadelphia law firm, Saul Ewing, Corbett will oversee the Commonwealth’s legal department which employs 500 attorneys and represents the governor and 32 executive and independent agencies.

Epitomizing the phrase, ‘all in the family’, Carol and Steve Aichele are certainly Malvern’s newest power couple going to Harrisburg.

One of Tredyffrin’s Own Heading to Harrisburg . . . Gov-Elect Names Carol Aichele to Cabinet

Today it was announced that Gov-Elect Corbett has named Carol Aichele, Chester County Commissioner to his cabinet. Carol has been named the new Secretary of the Commonwealth. This position is responsible for overseeing the state’s election system and monitoring 800,000 licensed business and health professionals. In his praise of Aichele, Corbett spoke of her role in securing three Triple A bond ratings to Chester County for its financial management practices. Her appointment must be confirmed by the state Senate.

Great Valley resident, Aichele has served as one of the three-member Board of Commissioners of Chester County since her election in 2003. She was re-elected to that post in November 2007. Her current term runs through 2011 so presumably, there will need to be a County Commissioner appointed to fill the vacancy. Any suggestions?

Great Valley Association Annual Meeting – Wednesday, November 10

A reminder that the Great Valley Association’s Annual Meeting is tomorrow night, Wednesday, November 15, 7 PM at the township building. One of the major topic of discussions at the meeting will be the Pennsylvania Turnpike Open House scheduled for next week, November 16. The Great Valley Association has been actively involved with the turnpike expansion project and the Rt. 29 slip ramp.

For an update on the project and discussion of the upcoming open house, the public is invited to attend tomorrow night’s Great Valley Association meeting.

Great Valley Association Pleased Rt. 29 Slip Ramp Project Moves Forward, However . . . Stormwater & Sound Wall Issues Unresolved

In a letter to the Editor in this week’s Main Line Suburban newspaper (see letter below), Great Valley Association president Al Charpentier and Turnpike Sub-committee Chair Lou Erdelan expressed their gratitude for local officials assistance with the turnpike’s Rt. 29 slip ramp project. But as Al and Lou explain, open issues remain with the stormwater and sound walls in the planned turnpike expansion plans. Thanks Al and Lou for your update.

Speaking of the turnpike . . . As a member of the Design Roundtable for the Total Reconstruction and Widening Project of Milepost 320-326, I was just notified by the Turnpike Commission this week of a meeting to be held on August 31. Senator Andy Dinniman will attend the meeting and provide a recap of his discussion with the PA Turnpike Commission and will hope to resolve outstanding issues surrounding the turnpike expansion project. Representatives from the Turnpike Commission will update the Design Roundtable members on progress since our last meeting, which was held in March.

To the Editor:

You may have read the recent announcement that the PA Turnpike Commission (PTC) approved the long-delayed Route 29 slip-ramp project, now scheduled to get under way in March 2011 and be completed by late 2012. A widening of the roadway from four to six lanes is also in the planning stages.

The Great Valley Association created a Pennsylvania Turnpike sub-committee of private citizens in March 2005 to represent the residents of Tredyffrin living in addresses affected by the turnpike roadway in terms of stormwater control and noise abatement. Along with other residential groups, we partnered with township and local elected officials including State Rep. Paul Drucker, State Sen. Andy Dinniman and Tredyffrin Supervisor John DiBuonaventuro, who have been instrumental in moving both the slip-ramp and turnpike-expansion projects forward. While viewing these projects as separate, they have worked cooperatively with the PTC and other state officials on both, to protect local residents’ property and quality of life.

We thank our elected officials and the Turnpike Commission for resolving the slip-ramp issue. Remaining to be resolved are the stormwater issues and the sound-barrier issues for the widening in Tredyffrin and the same level of cooperation should make that resolution possible. While substantial progress has been made, these issues are still not fully resolved and GVA will continue to strive for a resolution that works for Tredyffrin residents.

Our local state representative, Paul Drucker, is confident “this project will not only ease congestion on local roads and reduce travel time for thousands of commuters, but [it] will create jobs.” Senator Dinniman views the turnpike’s decision to move forward with the slip ramp as “crucial to the continued vitality of our region.” Supervisor DiBuonaventuro says, “I view the Aug. 5 announcement [on the slip ramp] as having nothing to do with the sound-wall element of the 6-mile widening project… The progress made with respect to the widening project has been very positive over the last year [but] there are still both stormwater refinements and sound-wall issues to finalize.”

The GVA will continue to work on behalf of the residents along with our elected officials and turnpike management to provide effective sound walls and stormwater control as planning for the widening project unfolds.

More information will be forthcoming between now and the end of the year. Thank you.

Albert Charpentier, President, Great Valley Association
Lou Erdelan, Chairman, Turnpike Sub-Committee

Tredyffrin Township . . . First Board of Supervisor Meeting of the New Year

Last night was the first Board of Supervisors Meeting for 2010. Most of the meeting was about the necessary housekeeping for our local government . . . swearing-in of new supervisors (Kichline, Donohue, Richter) and also the election of the chair and vice chair of the Board. Supervisor Lamina will serve as Chair and Supervisor Olson as Vice Chair of the Board. It was curious to see how the seat assignments of the members of the Board — aside from the chair and vice chair, I wonder how the seating on the board is decided. Can we read anything in to the placement from left to right as follows: Donohue, DiBuonaventuro, Kampf, Lamina, Olson, Richter, Kichline.

The organizational meeting included the resolution to name the emergency services; adoption of the meeting schedule for the various township boards and approval of the consultants and law firms. I wonder if the township reviews the contracts with the various consultants/firms yearly as part of the budget review process. I wonder if these firms just become ‘grandfathered in’ and are status quo year after year. Do you suppose their fees are discussed and whether they are negotiable? Due to the economy, many firms are having to adjust their fee schedules to remain competitive — should there be an expectation on the part of the township to ask for this kind of consideration of the companies doing business with the township. Just a question.

Following the organizational meeting, there was a brief regular meeting. In fact, Chair Lamina asked if any Board member or audience members had any new business. The question was asked so quickly that at least one person I know missed the question and missed the opportunity to give her prepared written remarks. The pace was such last night if you blinked, you missed an opportunity to make comment or ask questions. Supervisors neither offered an update on the contributions to-date nor did residents ask for a status report on the Fire Department contribution; guess it’s a good thing that we have this blog — otherwise, we would not know have a clue on the subject.

A Public Hearing on the Patriots Path Plan followed the Board of Supervisors meeting. The consultants gave a slide presentation of the draft plan. Audience members spoke passionately both in favor of the plan and also some of the residents likewise related their concerns about the project, particularly about the width of the path, privacy, elimination of wildlife and trees and plants. Residents in the Great Valley are in the process of putting together a survey and asked that the supervisors not vote last night. The Board agreed to delay a decision to allow for further review and discussion; the plan will be revisited at the February Board meeting.

I have lived in the Great Valley for 25 years and I have never been to the Warner Spur/Cedar Hollow area to see the old railroad trail, location of the proposed Patriots Path. I suggested to several Great Valley Association Board members that I think it would be a good idea for a field trip for supervisors and interested residents to visit the site. I understand that this is private property owned by the Township so I would suggest perhaps a Sunday afternoon date that everyone could meet at a specific location and review some of the proposed path area. It’s hard for some of us to visualize the path without having seen the area. Perhaps the Sidewalks, Trails & Path Committee and also members of the Open Land Conservancy could be available to show the residents around. Just an idea . . .

All in a Name . . . Patriots Path Plan

Following tonight’s Board of Supervisor Meeting will be a Public Hearing for the Patriots Path. The Patriot Path Plan is a proposed trail network which will connect historic American Revolutionary War sites within East Whiteland, Malvern Borough and Tredyffrin Township via the Chester Valley trail system. The path would connect East Whiteland’s Battle of the Clouds Park, Malvern Borough’s Paoli Memorial Grounds and adjacent Paoli Battlefield, which was the site of the infamous Paoli Massacre, and Valley Forge National Historical Park.

The Board of Supervisors adopted the Tredyffrin Township Park, Recreation and Open Space Plan (PROS) in 2005. The PROS plan was included in the township’s 2009 Comprehensive Plan. The primary benefit of incorporating the Patriots Path Plan in the Comprehensive Plan is for help with future funding opportunities. As part of the multi-municipal effort, the Patriots Path funding opportunities could be increased. That said, tonight’s discussion does not imply a commitment to build the trail, nor impose any timeline on further action.

The purpose of the public hearing will be to consider the adoption of the Patriots Path Plan as part of the Tredyffrin’s Comprehensive Plan. There are two segments of the Patriots Path that are located within Tredyffrin Township:

  • Valley Forge Segment: 1.8 mi. connection from the Chester County Trail to Valley Forge National Historic Park through Tredyffrin Township
  • Cedar Hollow Segment: 1.8 connection from Chester County Trail to Cedar Hollow Preserve and Cool Valley preserve via the Warner Spur Trail and then extending an additional mile to East Whiteland to connect to the Valley Creek Segment.

There is concern among some of my Great Valley neighbors over the proposed Patriots Path and the proximity of the path to their properties. Tonight’s discussion should be useful for members of the community who are ‘for and against’ the proposed path. Sometimes misunderstanding of the facts can be at the root of the problem; tonight’s information session should help both sides with any misinformation.

For many of us, we will recall the years that some Radnor Township residents spent in argument over the 2.2 mi P&W Radnor Trail. There were resident that lived next to the abandoned railroad tracks that were very much opposed to it and the trail debate lasted decades (lawsuits, gag orders, etc) and became a major political issue. The Radnor Trail finally became a reality and many of the resident’s earlier fears have not materialized. In fact, I’m thinking that many of the neighbors probably use the Radnor Trail themselves and the trail certainly stands as a success story and attribute to the Radnor community.

The success of Radnor Trail aside, we need to look at the Patriots Path Plan and make sure that concerns/questions of Great Valley residents can be answered by the township staff and the Supervisors. Good open discussion is always helpful — here’s hoping that tonight’s public hearing will provide that kind of forum.

I thought it might be useful to give some links to those of you who like to read further about the proposed Patriots Path Plan. Tim Lander, member of the Open Land Conservancy and also on the Sidewalks, Trails and Path Committee offered helpful information, including articles concerning the Radnor Trail and providing a vintage photo (below) of the trestle bridge over Valley Creek. I encourage people to attend the Public Hearing tonight and if interested, review the following documents:

former trestle across Valley Creek, with nothing but farmland in sight (foreground is now the OLC Cool Valley Preserve);
The former trestle bridge across Valley Creek in the Great Valley, with nothing but farmland in sight (foreground is now the Open Land Conservancy’s Cool Valley Preserve);

Just in Time for the Holiday Season . . . Great Valley Association Helps Save 18th Century Malvern Home

I am delighted to share this special story, just in time for the holidays.

Once upon a time there was a beautiful, historic home in the Great Valley. This 18th century home on Yellow Springs Road in Malvern has been home to many families since it was constructed in 1789. For over 2 centuries, this house has weathered major snowstorms, flooding and droughts; and its many owners have endured economic hardships, illness and disease through the years. The current owners, Mr. and Mrs. Feninger, however feared that their old house story was not going to have a happy ever after ending. You see, this historic house lay right in the path of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s planned expansion project! But the Feninger’s need not have worried; because for centuries neighbors in the Great Valley community have always helped each other in time of need. With the support and mission of the Great Valley Association to protect and preserve; and a willingness to listen from the PA Turnpike Commission, the treasured historic home has been saved. This wonderful old house will continue to provide special memories for its owners for many years to come. And that my friends is a happy-ending!

Below is Jill Feninger’s letter of appreciation which appears in today’s Main Line Suburban newspaper:

Thanks, GVA, for saving our home!

To the Editor:

Here’s a happy-ending story for the holiday season.

It began about a year ago. Neighbors, including myself, were invited to attend an open house hosted by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC). The PTC wanted to introduce local residents to a plan for widening the turnpike in our neighborhood. As I studied the plan I noticed that my home was covered with cross-hatches, indicating it would be claimed as a “total condemnation” in order to create a water basin to handle runoff from the turnpike. My heart sank. Our home for the past 21 years, a home built in 1789, was being taken. Completely. (Incidentally: my 83-year-old husband – a five-year pancreatic-cancer survivor – suffers from end-stage kidney disease and survives through hemodialysis. After making electrical and plumbing modifications to our guest room, we perform this daily procedure in our home.)

I felt totally at sea. But I needn’t have worried: also attending this PTC open house were members of the Great Valley Association, whose mission is “to preserve the character and quality of life for the residents in the Great Valley.” And for these past 10 months, this worthy organization has spent countless hours informing themselves, researching options, communicating with elected officials, writing letters, attending meetings, coordinating efforts.

Now here’s the happy-ending part: just before Thanksgiving we received a letter from the PTC; it seems they’ve revised their plans and our home will no longer be needed. We can stay in our home! I appreciate the open-mindedness of the PTC to consider other options. But I reserve most of my thanks to the members of the Great Valley Association Board. Without their support and determination I am certain we’d be spending this holiday season packing.

Jill Feninger, Malvern

Patriots Path Discussion Set for January 4

The first meeting of the Board of Supervisors on January 4, 2010 could be challenging; on the agenda will be the Patriots Path. The township Planning Commission unanimously approved the draft plan and is recommending to the Board of Supervisors the inclusion of the Patriots Path in to the Comprehensive Plan. The path has been 7 years in the making and will connect 3 municipalities that share Revolutionary War history; East Whiteland, Malvern and Tredyffrin. The path would connect East Whiteland’s Battle of the Clouds Park, Malvern Borough’s Paoli Memorial Grounds and adjacent Paoli Battlefield, which was the site of the infamous Paoli Massacre, and Valley Forge National Historical Park

The Great Valley Association has formed a sub-committee to look at the pros and cons from the residents standpoint. I myself live in the Great Valley in a pre-Revolutionary House and I can see both sides of the argument. I have neighbors who are concerned about this path (and the potential of strangers) close to their properties. But on the other hand, I think that the concept of the Chester Valley Trail system is wonderful. The Radnor Trail originally met with much opposition and has turned out to be highly valued in that community; the hope is that the Patriots Path can enjoy that same degree of success in the Great Valley. I know that the Sidewalks, Trails and Path Committee (STAP) have worked very hard on these plans and I want all the residents to full understand the benefits. Involving the Great Valley residents in the process and implementation can only help with the success of the project.

To read further about the Patriots Path, please look at STAP’s link.

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