Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Wilson Farm Park

$1.5 Million Designated for Tredyffrin’s Wilson Farm Park Updating – Who’s making the Decisions and Where’s the Input from the Township Park & Rec Board?

In the last few days, I have received emails, texts and phone calls from concerned township residents regarding the plans underway for the Wilson Farm Park Master Plan. It turns out that the more I learned about the situation, the more troubled I have become – hence the need for today’s post.

For many residents in Tredyffrin Township, the opening of the award-winning Wilson Farm Park in 2004 was a very special time. Located in Chesterbrook, the 90-acre recreational facility quickly became the jewel of the township, offering sports fields, picnic areas, pavilion, putting green, amphitheater, tot lot, etc. The Fourth of July fireworks, Community Day and the Summer Concert Series are all held at Wilson Farm Park and enjoy tremendous support from the community.

Last fall township supervisors approved a $7M municipal bond initiative. With a three year window to use the funds, the bond money was to go to a variety of needs, including township building improvements, road and street repairs and our community parks. With the aging infrastructure of Wilson Farm Park showing a need for general maintenance and updating it was good news that $1.5 million of the bond money was earmarked for township parks.

Over several supervisor meetings, discussion evolved about the use of the bond money, including Wilson Farm Park. I noted in a review of the November and December supervisor meetings, that a subcommittee (Jack Trimmer, Troy Logan and Meg Hamilton) of the Parks & Rec Board was approved to work on the bond funding usage for the parks. Understanding that the Parks & Rec Board is integral in determining how the $1.5 million would be spent in the township parks, their voices would be critical in the process.

At the November 18 meeting, the supervisors approve a proposal for Simone Collins Landscape Architects for $21,750 for the Wilson Farm Park Master Plan. There was no mention in supervisor meeting minutes about a request for proposal (RFP) so the specific scope of work is unclear. However, it is noted that Simone Collins is well respected and is who designed the original plans for Wilson Farm Park in 2003/4.

Fast forward and the next thing we know there is an Open House this past Monday, Jan 13 in Keene Hall, 7 PM to discuss the Wilson Farm Park Master Plan. Posted earlier on the same day on the township website is a ‘Wilson Farm Park Master Plan Survey’. Several residents whom contacted me complained about the lack of notification of the meeting and therefore poor attendance.

At the meeting, Simone Collins delivers a complete presentation for the Wilson Farm Park Master Plan. As detailed in the PowerPoint, the team includes Simone Collins personnel as well as Spotts, Stevens & McCoy engineers. The Simone Collins plan includes many needed updates and routine maintenance in addition to some “new” features including the transformation of the putting green into four pickleball courts.

All of this brings me to the point of this post – many questions and few answers.

Where is the input from the township’s Parks & Rec Board on the Wilson Farm Park Master Plan, specifically the subcommittee that was established to work with the consultant?

This appears to be a much-evolved master plan for Wilson Farm Park, when exactly did this work begin? In addition, since the members of the township’s Park & Recreation Board have not had a seat at the table, who exactly is leading the charge for the township?

It was my understanding that the $1.5 million was to be spent on updating existing park infrastructure so where did the idea to transform the putting green in to four pickleball courts come from? Not saying that pickleball courts are not a good idea; but if the Parks & Rec Board did not recommend it and the community has not yet weighed in, where did the idea come from? Not to mention, that the chosen location of the “new pickleball courts” is right next to the folks who live in Newport townhouses. It is no surprise that a number of the residents living next to Wilson Farm Park are very upset about the proposed plan and have contacted me!

It appears that this is a “cart before the horse” situation – the township now has a new Wilson Farm Park Master Plan proposal without any input from the members of the Parks & Rec Board and without the results of the citizen survey. According to the Simone Collins timeline contained in the presentation, the Wilson Farm Park survey is to be available until approximately Feb. 29 yet it lists the date of March 1 as “Plan Complete”. It is important that the community is involved in the process of spending funds for park development/improvement, but is that really happening here.

According to the Legislative Code of Tredyffrin Township, § 138-5 Powers and duties of the Park and Recreation Board, “The Township Park and Recreation Board shall have general supervision of all Township parks, and all maintenance thereof, including replacements of property and equipment therein. ..” so why are they not involved in this process?

How is it possible that the township can spend $1.5M in the township parks without input from the Parks & Recreation Board? If memory serves me correctly, the $1.5M bond money was earmarked for “parks” and not just for Wilson Farm Park. There are 12 parks in Tredyffrin Township, yet there is no mention of money going anywhere but to Wilson Farm Park. Is Simone Collins working on the other parks too? Or is the complete $1.5M going to Wilson Farm Park?

On the Board of Supervisor agenda for Tuesday, Jan 21 is a “motion to approve proposal from Simone Collins for Wilson Farm Park Master Plan”. Is this “proposal” the PowerPoint presentation that Simone Collins presented on Monday, Jan 13? Are the supervisors approving a plan without input from Parks & Rec members? In addition, what about results from the citizen survey which does not end until Feb. 29, how does that factor into the “proposal”?

If the township has three years to use the $7M bond money, why is there a rush to push through $1.5M spending on Wilson Farm Park Master Plan. Wouldn’t it make more sense to slow the process, involve the Park & Rec Board, review the results of the Wilson Farm Park Citizen Survey, hold a public forum for community discussion and THEN take the next step on approving a Wilson Farm Park Master Plan.

It is important that the community is involved in the process of spending funds for park development/improvement. Our voices matter and it is imperative that government be transparent and honest with the public, especially when taxpayer dollars are involved.

FREE: “Opioid Crisis in Our Back Yard” – Sunday, Sept. 10, 1-4 PM, Wilson Farm Park, Chesterbrook

Addiction can strike anywhere and in any community, including ours — we have watched heroin use and seriously life-threatening addictions become more common. Our community, like many across the country, is learning this first-hand with a dramatic rise in the cases of drug abuse, addiction, overdoses and deaths.

Learn about the “Opioid Crisis in Our Back Yard” on Sunday, September 10, 1-4 PM at Wilson Farm Park in Chesterbrook. A free informational session, open to the public, please plan to attend.

Kristen Conrad – Tredyffrin Township’s own ‘Rocker Mom’

Cool Confusion Kristen C

Kristen Conrad

Like many multi-tasking moms, Berwyn resident Kristen Conrad has a busy life managing her full-time day job as a researcher with parenting responsibilities to two T/E School kids – one a middle schooler and the other at Conestoga HS. However, Kristen doesn’t let life’s balancing act. between family and job, keep her from her other passion … music.

In the evenings and on weekends, Kristen, a classically trained musician, sings at weddings, church services and performs with Vox Ama Deus, a performing ensemble that specializes in Renaissance, Baroque and Classical musical styles.

But … there is more to Kristen’s musical pursuits and it’s her ‘Rocker Mom’ persona that intrigues me most!

Kristen is a singer and keyboardist with Cool Confusion, a rock cover band playing music that spans the 60s to the present. With emphasis on music from the 70s and 80s, the band covers a variety of musical styles, including classic and modern rock, funk, new wave, and classic R&B/Motown.

Performing with Cool Confusion for twenty years, Kristen is the band’s only female muCool Confusion bandsician. The Media-based band has played throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware in bars/restaurants, casinos, weddings, parties and private events since forming 1992. Other band members include Lou Brechemin (guitar and vocals), Jeff Gabriel (vocals and guitar), Ray Guy (drums and vocals) and Jim Laguna on bass.

Here’s some local trivia, anyone remember Dylan’s, the bar and restaurant in Chesterbrook? If so, you may have heard Cool Confusion,Cool Confusion Kristen singing one of Dylan’s regular bands. Without many places in the area with live music, there’s little opportunity to hear the rock and roll sounds of Kristen and her band. However, that is about to change! Cool Confusion is performing at 30 Main, (660 Lancaster Ave, Berwyn) in the “The Second Floor” this upcoming Saturday, May 30, 9 PM – 1 PM. $10 cover, but cover is reduced to $5 and you get 10% off your dinner bill if patron dines in 30 Main restaurant.

Cool Confusion 30 Main posterAnother opportunity to hear Cool Confusion locally is at Wilson Farm Park in Chesterbrook this summer. Performing at Shire Pavilion on Thursday, July 9, 7 PM – 9 PM, Cool Confusion is participating in Tredyffrin Township’s 2015 Summer Concert series. All the summer concerts are free to the public, just bring a blanket or a lawn chair and come prepared for some fun and good music!

A renaissance woman in every sense of the word, my guess is that for Kristen’s teenage kids, having a mom that is a rock and roll singer is most likely embarrassing at the same time that it is ‘way cool’. For friends, neighbors, fans, please mark your calendars for May 30 and July 9. Come hear Cool Confusion and cheer on our local rocker mom as she’s lives her dream – you won’t be disappointed!

Wilson Farm Park Gazebo Dedicated to Judy DiFilippo!

Yesterday’s threatening sky and a few raindrops was not going to keep members of the community from thanking Judy DiFilippo for her 20 years of public service to Tredyffrin as a township supervisor. Judy had the vision for Wilson Farm Park so it was only fitting that the park’s gazebo was named in Joe Barks, Jack Edson & Jack Trimmer join Judyher honor.

Providing accolades for the occasion was Joe Barks from the township’s newly formed Parks & Recreation Foundation and Jack Edson and Jack Trimmer of the Parks & Recreation Board.

Tredyffrin Township supervisors Olson, Richter, DiBuonaventuro and Kampf joined former State House Rep Carole Rubley, current State House Rep Paul Drucker, Chester County Commissioner Terence Farrell, T/E School Board member Debbie Bookstaber and Assistant Director of Chester County Planning Commission David Ward at the dedication. Public Works Director Steve Norcini, township Parks and Recreation Director Hillary Mallory and township Inspector Mike Pilotti also attended as did several members of the township’s police department. Family and friends joined in the celebration.

The appropriate inscription on the gazebo plaque reads, “Leading by example to make Tredyffrin a better place”. The next time you are Wilson Farm Park, I hope that you take the time to stop by and see the newly named gazebo. An honor well deserved, we thank Judy for her many years of service to our community!

Judy DiFilippo . . . Leading by example to make Tredyffrin a better place!

Reminder: Gazebo Dedication Today @ 3 PM — Please attend as Judy is honored!

‘Leading by example to make Tredyffrin a better place’ describes former township supervisor Judy DiFilippo and are the words chosen as the inscription for the gazebo to be named in her honor, at Wilson Farm Park. The dedication and reception will take place this Sunday, 3 PM at Wilson Farm Park. This special recognition is to honor Judy’s work in creating Wilson Farm Park and also to thank her in a very small way for her 20 years of public service to the township as a supervisor.

My friendship spans 20+ years with Judy and I cannot imagine a more deserving person for this honor. She may have retired from the Board of Supervisors, but her volunteer efforts continue . . . Judy is on the board of the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust and is helping raise the necessary remaining funds for the rebuilding of the Jones Log Barn at DuPortail. Together, she and I will be again co-chair In the Mood, the Trust’s annual fundraiser (Friday, October 22).

I hope that you will take a break from your summer activities and join me at Wilson Farm Park on Sunday afternoon to celebrate a very special person — my friend . . . Judy DiFilippo!

Update from Board of Supervisors Meeting

Last night’s Board of Supervisor meeting went very quickly. A few updates — The newly formed Sidewalk Committee and the Stormwater Committee are both going to meet this month. On the subject of the Sidewalk Committee, there were a couple of residents who live on Upper Gulph Road (close to N. Wayne Ave.) who spoke about sidewalks on Upper Gulph Rd. Neither were fans of sidewalks on their street; explaining that their houses are very close to the road, and in one case a sidewalk could come so close as to effect the foundation of their historic house. The gentleman with the historic home told the supervisors that a sidewalk would come within 5 ft. of his house and that if a sidewalk was planned for his section of Upper Gulph Rd. he would expect that the township purchase his house. He distributed photos of his house to the supervisors to make his point. He also mentioned some email circulating in his neighborhood about sidewalks on Upper Gulph and Paul Olson, . . . I didn’t understand that comment or its significance. Perhaps someone can offer clarification.

Mt. Pleasant was discussed under new business by the supervisors. In Mimi Gleason’s absence, Assistant Twp Mgr Tom Scott updated on Mt. Pleasant. He explained that the demolition had started for the Henry Ave. townhouse development. It was obvious that Mr. Scott had not visited Mt. Pleasant because as I have previously indicated on Community Matters all 4 vacant, abandoned houses are now down and rubble removed at the future townhouse site. Discussion continues on the Mt. Pleasant Ave. vacant lot; Mr. Scott mentioned that the Chester County Health Department has been notified and there will be follow-up with that organization. On the subject of the student housing ordinance, discussion is ongoing. Supervisors DiBuonaventuro and Kichline both spoke about the ordinance and encouraged the residents to get involved in that process and to review neighboring municipality ordinances. Mt. Pleasant residents Donna Shipman and Christine Johnson both presented personal comments on their neighborhood; and thanked those involved for attending the town hall meeting. There are positive changes in Mt. Pleasant and I am encouraged. As an aside, following the meeting, Bob Lamina thanked me for posting the photos of Mt. Pleasant; confirming my belief that pictures do speak a 1,000 words.

Another topic of discussion last night . . . everyone should be aware of the upcoming clean-up Tredyffrin days on April 17 and 18, 9 AM – 3 PM. I encourage everyone to get involved in your community. We all know that is was a very long, hard winter and major clean-up is required to get our neighborhoods back in order. Even if you only have an hour or so to spare, please consider helping with this worthwhile community event . . . Tidy Up Tredyffrin Day!

One of the highlights of the Board of Supervisors meeting was brought up by Supervisor DiBuonaventuro. On behalf of the Parks Board (he serves as the Board liaison) DiBuonaventuro asked Chairman Lamina about furthering the process to have the gazebo at Wilson Farm Park officially named for former supervisor Judy DiFilippo. Some of you may recall, that upon the opening of Wilson Farm Park, the Parks Board had asked that the Board of Supervisors officially name the gazebo after Judy for her hard work and dedication in making the park a reality. At the time, the decision was made not to move forward on the dedication because Judy was a serving supervisor; rather they made the decision to postpone further discussion until the time Judy was no longer a supervisor. I’m excited to report that the time has come . . . there will be a ceremony to dedicate the gazebo in Judy’s name. Biased as I am, I am hoping that we can make the dedication in to a very special celebration!

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