Pattye Benson

Community Matters

PA Turnpike Commission

Tredyffrin Township 2016 Budget – No Tax Increase! New Steps for Township Building!

Tredyffrin Township supervisors held their last board meeting of 2015. Some of the newsworthy items to report from the meeting:

  1. The supervisors approved the 2016 budget with no tax increase! This is news because the board of supervisors had unanimously approved the 2016 preliminary budget in November with 3.05 percent tax increase. Citing larger than expected dollars from commercial and resident real estate transfer taxes, supervisors will not raise township taxes. (Those same unexpected transfer dollars to the township also affect the economic outlook for the TE School District! I hope that the school board is paying attention.)
  1. The supervisors approved the settlement agreement between Tredyffrin Township and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. Malvern resident Stephen Kline spoke in opposition of this agreement, claiming that it is wrong not to hold the Turnpike Commission to the same stormwater standard as required of residents in Tredyffrin Twp. As a resident on Salem Way whose property (and value?) will be affected by the actions of the turnpike, Kline (himself an attorney) stated he will take legal action against the township, supervisors (current and those serving since 2009), the solicitor, township manager, assistant manager and engineer as a result of the agreement. Kline has been a constant at township meetings regarding the turnpike project. (Click here to read the agreement). *** See comment below for clarification from Mr. Kline ***
  1. The supervisors approved Project #15-05, the township front and rear entrance steps rehabilitation project! These was the third time the township had bid the project for the steps and as township manager Bill Martin said last light, guess that the third time was indeed the charm! (Two earlier RFPs regarding the steps project failed due to technical glitches.) The total cost for the rehabilitation project is less than $400K and here’s hoping that the working will be done in the spring. The steps have long been an eyesore for anyone visiting the township building – am glad for this news!

Last night marked the final meeting for three supervisors, Kristen Mayock, John DiBuonaventuro and chairman Mike Heaberg; newly elected supervisors Trip Lukens, Sean Moir and Heather Greenberg will take office on January 4, 2016. The township will particularly miss the financial expertise and time commitment of Mike Heaberg, whose kindness and patience in his leadership style will be hard to replace. Thank you to all who give of their time to elected service.

JUST IN: Third time is the charm – House passes $2.4 billion transportation funding bill

Just in from Harrisburg – tonight a third vote was taken on the transportation funding bill and it passed 104-95! Apparently, Gov. Corbett managed to persuade some of his fellow Republicans to switch sides! At this time, I have no information on how our local elected officials voted except that 63 Republicans and 41 Democrats approved the bill.

Last night the transportation funding bill failed twice to get the necessary votes. If I were a betting person, I would have bet that after last night’s two failed attempts, that was the end of the road for the proposed transportation funding for 2013 and probably 2014. Guess third time’s the charm!

The bill will provide $2.4 billion in new funding for the state’s roads, bridges, tunnels and transit systems over the next five years. This represents a 39 percent increase in current transportation spending. The breakdown of the $2.4 billion funding package is $1.8 billion for road, bridge and tunnel improvements, $500 million for public transit systems and $144 million for rail freight, ports and airports.

It should be noted that the bill must still win final passage from the House and the Senate. Although the Senate overwhelming approved the transportation bill in June it was without the amended House version that lifts the threshold at which public projects must pay union wages. There’s a clause that would lower construction workers’ pay on some road and bridge projects that are below $100K.

With the approval of the transportation bill, it looks like the Paoli Transit Center and the PA turnpike widening projects are back on the possible funding table!

Senator Dinniman Holds Neighborhood Meeting to Provide PA Turnpike Stormwater Updates . . . Great Valley resident Kathleen Keohane attends meeting and shares her notes

Senator Andy Dinniman held a small meeting last night to focus on the PA Turnpike stormwater management issues. He brought together turnpike representatives as well as elected officials and individuals representing various homeowner and associated groups in the area. Kathleen Keohane, a resident of the Yellow Springs/Great Valley section of the township attended and graciously provided the following update notes from the meeting. Thank you Kathleen!

Notes from Great Valley Resident Kathleen Keohane

July 27, 2020

It was State Senator Andy Dinniman’s idea to bring decision-makers from the Turnpike Commission together with representatives of the Township and Tredyffrin‘s civic, neighborhood and environmental groups to discuss the Turnpike’s revised stormwater management plan. This is one part of the overall 6-mile-long road widening design plan that will also include sound walls along most of the roadway.

Major discussion points:

-Stormwater runoff from the turnpike will be controlled at near 100%, even with the now planned 26 foot median. This represents a significant improvement in volume control since the original stormwater plan was presented; Control rates exceed DEP standards and in almost all cases, meet Tredyffrin Township’s more stringent criteria.

– Only 18 properties in Tredyffrin will be affected under the revised plan– with 15 partial ‘takes” and 3 complete acquisitions. Among those three, no homeowner has been forced to sell. This also is a far cry from the original design plan which called for the partial taking of almost 90 properties and the acquisition of 8 homes.

The meeting, held in Keene Hall on Tuesday evening, drew about 50 people. As Senator Dinniman pointed out, “The decision-makers are all here” – including PTC’s head, Joe Brimmeier, Head Engineer Frank Kempf and Project Manager, Kevin Scheurich. State Rep. Paul Drucker attended, as did Supervisors Di Buonaventuro, Donahue and Richter. Representatives from civic, neighborhood and environmental groups were there, as well as several residents whose properties are being acquired by the Turnpike.

Most of the evening’s discussion focused on stormwater problems in the Glenhardie area. This eastern-most section of the 6-mile-long expansion project has proved to be the most challenging given the confluence of roadways, the large amount of impervious cover and the extent of local flooding in heavy rains and damage to Trout Creek.

The Township acknowledged that Turnpike runoff is not the only source of the neighborhood’s stormwater problems, and that a “regional” approach will be necessary – one that will involve the Township, PennDOT, commercial property owners as well as the turnpike.

While Tredyffrin stormwater expert and engineer Steve Burgo readily agreed that the Turnpike’s stormwater plan had evolved to include greater volume and rate control, he felt there was more that could be done at off-site locations.

The acquisition of a small parcel from the Richter property located at the confluence of Old Eagle School, Glenhardie and Walker Roads) was mentioned as was the use of a small piece of land (6.-1 acre in size) at Teegarden Park, near the top of the Trout Creek watershed.

Turnpike Engineer Kempf was firm in the limits of the Turnpike’s involvement. “We do not want to commit to something we cannot control,” he said. Since off-site property is privately held, there is the problem of eminent domain, which “could hold up the Turnpike’s project and add to the cost.”

Though the Turnpike is willing to listen to alternatives, in their view, they have proposed a viable solution that handles 100% of the turnpike’s runoff in the Glenhardie area. Despite some differences regarding what constitutes adequate stormwater mitigation in this area, a spirit of cooperation seemed genuine and all remaining issues appeared solvable as the meeting wound down.

Engineer Pete Goodman, past president of Trout Unlimited and a long-time advocate for maintaining the “exceptional value” of Valley Creek, brought up two areas of concern: that discharges from several of the Turnpike’s proposed detention basins would flow directly into Valley Creek or Wilson’s Run (a tributary) with no volume control. TP Project Manage Scheurich countered that the discharges were not direct in his view and met over 100% of the volume criteria. Both agreed to follow-up with more detailed discussions.

Near the end of the meeting, Supervisor DiBuonaventuro questioned the Turnpike’s decision to build a 26 foot median instead of the 16 foot size previously favored. From his perspective as an EMT – and echoing Police Chief Chambers’ position, a wider left-hand shoulder would encourage drivers to use it for emergencies. DiBuonaventuro believed it posed a danger to emergency vehicles coming to a driver’s aid as well as to drivers merging back into the fastest lane of traffic. Engineer Kempf defended the wider shoulder as recommended by the National Transportation Safety Bureau.

DiBuonaventuro also raised the issue of additional tree buffer having to be cut down to accommodate the extra 5 feet of roadway needed on each side for a 26- foot median. Kempf acknowledged that some additional trees would need to be cut down but promised to work on a property-by-property basis to determine what had to be cut. He pointed out that residents should be pleased that the Turnpike planned to build retaining walls instead of taking additional private property. He also committed to continue monthly Roundtable meetings throughout the entire construction phase so that residents could express their concerns.

Still, as one environmentalist pointed out, building a 26 foot median will require the elimination of 8.2 acres of woods over the length of the expansion in Tredyffrin That’s a lot of trees…..

Another meeting was scheduled for the end of August to continue what proved to be a very informative and useful discussion.

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

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