Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Tredyffrin Board of Supervisors BAN Digital Billboard petition: Over 1,400 signatures — GoFundMe & Yard Signs Next

Since launching the social media campaign less than 5 days ago to bring awareness to the proposed digital billboard in Paoli, the response from the community has been overwhelming. Thank you Caroline O’Halloran for updating readers in the latest issue of Savvy!

The petition has garnered over 1,400 signatures from people opposing the proposed digital billboard. The ‘welcome to Tredyffrin Township’ digital billboard monument planned for the intersection of Rt. 252 and Lancaster Ave. in Paoli would include the demolition of the historic R. Brogard Okie (“Clockworks”) building. The opposition to the proposal is significant – with comments ranging from safety concerns to the destruction of a historic building. (Remember folks, Tredyffrin Township is the township on the Main Line without a historic preservation ordinance of protection!)

One of the more disturbing issues with this proposed digital billboard is the fact that the public was kept in the dark for 18-24 months as the Board of Supervisors entertained the Catalyst Outdoor Advertising proposal. As I have repeatedly said, the public does not need to be involved with the details and decisions of all township business. However, I find it incredulous that something as significant as a digital billboard proposed for one of the busiest intersections in the township (41,000 cars daily) was not presented to the public until the 11th hour with a threat of a lawsuit. Wouldn’t it have made more sense for the supervisors to have engaged the public from the beginning – to get a pulse from the community on this important and landscape-changing issue? How often have we seen taglines from political candidates touting support for transparency in local government?

Sadly, since launching my BAN Digital Billboard campaign, some of the supervisors are now responding with statements to residents that the proposed digital billboard is “now in the hands of the Solicitor” and that the petition is “unsupported by data and/or are inadvertently misleading” and that digital billboards are actually safe. Really? Maybe digital billboards are safe if they are on Interstate 95!

One of the supervisors refutes my claim on the petition that there is no financial gain for the township — he states that “the proposed project will generate real estate taxes”. Let’s be real clear, the owner of the proposed digital billboard location (1819 Lancaster Avenue) already pays real estate taxes. The property is not changing ownership, it’s a lease agreement with Catalyst.

Also interesting to note that when responding to residents and attacking the petition, a couple of these supervisors neglect to address the lack of transparency issue over the proposed digital billboard and conveniently ignore the demolition of a township historic resource. Oversight or misleading? I guess me and the other 1,400 petition signers will have to decide.

So where to go from here? A number of residents have asked for BAN Digital Billboard lawn signs and as a result I have created a GoFundMe site with a goal of $1,000. The amount of money raised will determine the number of lawn signs. If you are interested in supporting the BAN Digital Billboard social media campaign, here’s the link for GoFundMe contributions.

It Takes a Community to Stop the Digital Billboard!

Swedesford Road Open Space Guard Rail Replaced Today!

What’s the saying, a picture is worth a 1,000 words?

If you recall back in December there was discussion on the Swedesford Road Open Space repair project and whether the public works project should move forward in 2011.

As the closest resident to the Swedesford Road Open Space property, I believed a first-hand account of safety issues surrounding the property and its usage was important for the record and I spoke up at the December 21 Board of Supervisors meeting. I offered to the supervisors that for the open space to be available for public use, that the township bears a responsibility to make the property accessible and safe for visitors. I explained that a large section of guard rail at the entrance of the open space is dislodged to a recent accident. I stated that my husband and I do not have an opinion one way or the other about the bridge repair but thought it important to underscore the safety issues when visitors are forced to back out on to Swedesford Road because there is no turnaround space.

One of the supervisors suggested that I was ‘over-dramatizing’ the situation, that there had been no ‘reportable accidents’ and debated my remarks. The supervisor further suggested that visitors to the open space could just look in their rear view mirror and back out on to Swedesford Road.

Fast forward and for the better portion of today, an entire crew of workers, have been replacing the damaged guard rail on Swedesford Road at the entrance of the open space . . . the exact section of the guard rail that I reported to the supervisors in December was caused by an accident. I asked one of the guard rail workers what they were doing . . . and he responded that the police had called to report an accident and need for the guard rail repair. I asked when he received the report for repair; was the report in the last day or two. No, he explained that the report was probably a month ago.

Although I was told at the Board of Supervisors meeting there had been no ‘reportable accidents’ at this site, . . . we have repair to the guard rail at this site occurring today due to an accident. So very interesting!

To be clear, I am not saying (nor did I say at the Board of Supervisors meeting) that the accident occurred as a result of a car entering or exiting the Swedesford Road Open Space. I don’t know whether that was the cause of the accident or not. I only know this is a dangerous location (in the bend of the road) and backing out on to Swedesford Road is not appropriate.

Evidenced by a requirement to replace guard rails due to a ‘reported accident’ at the entrance to the Swedesford Road Open Space, these photos illustrate today’s repair work.

Tredyffrin’s Supervisors Mysteriously Extend Deadline for Interim Supervisor Resumes . . . Why the Intrigue?

Due to Warren Kampf’s formal resignation at Board of Supervisors meeting on December 20, a vacancy for an interim supervisor exists. From early December, there was a notice on the front page of the Tredyffrin’s township website, suggesting interested candidates send their resumes to the township manager by December 31, 2010.

Fast forward to tonight’s Board of Supervisors meeting. The meeting was over in less than 30 minutes and for the most part, uneventful except for one thing. Chairman Bob Lamina (elected tonight by the other supervisors as chairman and Paul Olson as vice chairman) announced the supervisor vacancy (I thought the vacancy was announced at the last supervisors meeting with Kampf’s letter of resignation). Lamina then told the audience that the Board of Supervisors had decided to extent the deadline for interim supervisor resumes from the previously stated (and advertised) December 31, 2010 deadline to January 10. Why did the supervisors decide to extend the deadline? Don’t know and no explanation was offered. It is my understanding that a number of prospective interim supervisor resumes have been received . . . so why extend the deadline? I have to believe that there must have been at least one qualified candidate among the admissions. Very strange.

Lamina further explained that after the application deadline ends on January 10, each person will be interviewed by the supervisors. The intention is that the interim supervisor will be announced at the February 7th Board of Supervisors Meeting.

Not sure how many interim supervisor candidate resumes are needed, but . . . if you are interested, you now have an extra week to send your resume to Township Manager, Mimi Gleason,

Looks Like Tredyffrin Township May Have a New Finance Director

The Main Line Suburban Life newspaper is reporting that Radnor Township has hired a permanent finance director who will start in July with a salary of $127,000. Watching from the sidelines in Tredyffrin, the residents of Radnor have had more than their share of financial problems and it’s good to know that help is on the way for them.

The article also mentioned that this new hire in Radnor will be the regions best-compensated finance director and listed the salary of Lower Merion’s finance director at $114,921. At the end of the article, one sentence caught my eye — stating that Tredyffrin Township’s new finance director will start this month at a salary of $100,000. This was news to me — I checked the township website and I didn’t see an announcement (actually the website has the finance director position listed as still available). I have emailed the Board of Supervisors and Mimi Gleason for confirmation. I’ll let you know if Board of Supervisor chairman Bob Lamina responds.

As a taxpayer, I am very concerned about the township budget and its financial oversight and would feel more comfortable knowing that our township has a qualified finance director onboard. Here’s hoping that the news is correct.

Update: Mimi responded to my email — yes, a new finance director has been hired and will start on June 28. She offered that she could provide further details on that date.

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