Update . . . Tonight’s Supervisors Meeting

My primary reason for attending the Board of Supervisors meeting tonight was for the announcement of the Sidewalks Subcommittee members. Three members were chosen from the Board of Supervisors, Planning Commission and Sidewalks, Trails and Paths (STAP) Committee.  Supervisors Kichline, Donohue and Richter; Planning Commissioners Bob Whalen, Trip Lukens and Vicki Snyder; and STAP members Sean Moir, Jim Donegan and Molly Duffy are the 9 members of the Sidewalks Subcommittee.  Township Manager Mimi Gleason will serve as the facilitator of the committee.

After the announcement of the Sidewalks Subcommittee, I expected an outline of the committee with a stated process; but none was offered.  What was the meeting schedule – how often would the committee meet? Would the meetings be open to the public?  What was the timeline for the committee? Will the community be given regular updates at future supervisors meetings?  In other words, I was looking for specifics on the subcommittee and the process. 

In a review of the February 22 Board of Supervisors meeting minutes, I found the following:

” . . . He [Lamina] said the plan is to have the new subcommittee begin work in March with the goal to conclude the process by the end of this year. . . “

So during the next 9 months, I guess the Sidewalks Subcommittee will begin a process to re-examine where the community wants and needs sidewalks.  I believe that the end-goal is for the Board to adopt formal policies and procedures to provide guidelines for the development and construction of sidewalks in the township.  Although not mentioned tonight, I am assuming that the subcommittee will set a goal to include the residents through area focus groups.  Transparency and openness of the Sidewalks Committee is going to be important if the community is to trust this process. 

I have publically stated, and remained concerned, that during this re-examining process by the Sidewalks Subcommittee there are liability issues to the township from developers/contractors doing work in Tredyffrin.  As long as the formal policy on sidewalks remains a ‘open issue’, this liability will exist.  Here’s hoping that the Sidewalks Committee is able to get underway quickly, remain focused and meet their goals and objectives by the end of the year.

Another item of personal interest to me tonight was the Mt. Pleasant town hall meeting.  Scheduled twice before and cancelled each time due to snow, I am pleased that the meeting is re-scheduled for next Monday, March 22 at the First Baptist Church on Upper Gulph in Mt. Pleasant.  Today I had received an invitation to attend the meeting from Officer Larry Meoli and was glad to hear the town hall meeting mentioned tonight.  Supervisors DiBuonaventuro, Kichline and Richter will be the liaisons from the Board of Supervisors at this Mt. Pleasant community meeting. Also in attendance will be representatives from the township staff, police and zoning. 

Board of Supervisors Meeting on Monday, March 15 to Include Announcement of Sidewalk Subcommittee Members

The February 22 Board of Supervisors motion to reverse the St. Davids Golf Club decision included the creation of a  joint sidewalk subcommittee; members to come from the Board, Planning Commission and Sidewalks, Trails and Paths (STAP) Committee.  This subcommittee is to re-examine where the residents want sidewalks in the township and then create a formal process and procedure to design, develop and construct sidewalks and paths in Tredyffrin.  The agenda for the Monday, March 15 Board of Supervisors meeting includes an announcement of the sidewalk subcommittee members.  I am curious which members of the 3 organizations will be on the sidewalk subcommittee.  Personally, I would have liked the sidewalk subcommittee to include a couple of  residents (non-Tredyffrin board/committee members) to bring a different perspective.  Just a thought.

Semi-Automatic Weapons in Valley Forge National Historical Park . . . Do You Feel Safer?

This past week brought much discussion on Community Matters about sidewalks, trails and paths.  Several people suggested that if you want to walk or bicycle, why not just use the paths at Valley Forge National Historical Park.  With that in mind, I wrote the following post with the hope of engaging some lively discussion.

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The next time you decide to visit Valley Forge Park to enjoy a bicycle ride or an afternoon of sledding with the kids, are you going to feel safer? 

Did you know that as of this week, fellow visitors with proper gun permits can legally pack heat inside our national parks, including Valley Forge National Historical Park?

Yes, a law that took effect Monday lifted the long-standing ban on bringing guns into our national parks.  In Valley Forge National Historical Park, as we walk the trails and enjoy family picnics, tourists will be allowed to carry guns – handguns, rifles, shotguns and AK-47s. Now, as long as guns are allowed by state law, licensed gun owners can bring firearms on park property.  Guns will be allowed in all but about 20 of the park service’s 392 locations, including some of its most iconic parks: Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Great Smoky Mountains, Yosemite and Rocky Mountain National Park, as well as historic parks, including our own Valley Forge National Historical Park. Guns will not be allowed in visitor centers or rangers’ offices, because firearms are banned in federal buildings, but they could be carried into private lodges or concession stands, depending on state laws.

The new rule allows people to carry firearms, including semi-automatic weapons, in most national parks and wildlife refuges, so long as they follow the gun laws of the state. (That could get a little complicated, as more than 30 parks occupy land in multiple states.) The rule means people can now carry concealed weapons while camping in places like Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon and Yosemite.

I admit up front that I am one of the people with issues concerning the availability of guns in this country.  My stance on stricter gun control rules will certainly strike a chord among some of the readers. I know the argument that strict gun control does not reduce crime because it does not keep weapons out of the hands of criminals. Criminals do not abide by waiting periods or registration requirements. The only people affected by these so-called “gun control” measures are law-abiding citizens, who are rendered less able to resist crime. However almost daily, our world is filled with news of gun violence in this country . . . in shopping malls, on college campuses, office buildings.

Gun crimes in any setting are horrific. However, crimes committed on the grounds of an academic institution take on an almost macabre air because of the serene atmosphere associated with such places. Gun violence on school campuses is a stark reminder that guns cannot discriminate amongst their victims, nor can they discern the intentions of those who wield them. This is repeated so often that it may as well be a cliché. If events over the past decade are any indicator, no positive response seems forthcoming. Though it is a human who pulls the trigger, there is no violent crime without the proverbial smoking gun. National parks [Valley Forge National Historical Park] like our educational institutions, are places that enshrine the ideals of knowledge and tranquility . . . should we not feel beholden to preserve these places as a utopian ideal for the future?  Do we want to be remembered as the generation that put guns into paradise?

The way I see it there are two camps on this.  First, there are the people who will feel safer knowing that they can be armed in our national parks, just in case they run into troublesome people or dangerous wildlife.  The second group will feel more unsafe.  You willl never know who is armed, and anytime there is a confrontation, firearms bring a whole new sense of alarm into the equation.  Once you pull that trigger, there’s no taking it back.  From my vantage point, toting firearms into our national parks poses a serious threat to the public.  There, I said it. Personally, the next time I am walking in Valley Forge National Historical Park, I am not going to feel safer knowing that fellow visitors on the path may be legally packing a weapon.

The new law permitting licensed gun owners to bring firearms into national parks has come over the objections of gun-control advocates who fear it will lead to increased violence in national parks.  Responding to the new law, John Waterman, President, US Park Rangers Lodge, Fraternal Order of Police offered the following statement:

The Ranger Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police has opposed this ill-considered law from the beginning. The new law goes beyond concealed carry to include all guns anytime.  The chances of an inexperienced visitor who has not seen a bear or buffalo wandering through a campground, gets frightened and takes out the now readily available firearm and shoots blindly at an animal or a person in a misguided effort to “protect themselves” from a perceived threat is now increased.  Allowing untrained and unlicensed people carrying guns in National Parks is an invitation to disaster. It puts the safety of the public and rangers at increased risk and virtually invites the desecration of our natural and historic treasures. 

Pennsylvania has fairly loose restrictions on carrying guns.  As long as a person is legally entitled to own a firearm – for instance they must have no past felony convictions, mental-health commitments or protection-from-abuse order restrictions – there is little stop a person from carrying a gun in public. I am sure that there will be readers who completely disagree with my position on the danger of guns in Valley Forge National Historical Park.  In fact, I am certain that some people will suggest that their ‘right’ to carry a gun should not stop at the park entrance.   

Township Lawsuit . . . Where Does it Stand?

I received the following from John Petersen this morning in regards to the township lawsuit.  There has been much discussion and debate concerning the lawsuit; I think it is important that the facts be presented in John’s own words.

Just so everyone is clear about the [law]suit – I did speak with Tom Hogan at length on Tuesday. I have decided, for the time being, to stand down on the suit so that the subcommittee can go forward.

However….

I have made it clear that the new subcommittee cannot suffer the same fate as the BAWG. I, along with many of the people here, will pay close attention to happens with that process. I note with interest, the stimulus funds that have been received on behalf of sidewalks. I do wonder what this new process means for those funds….

I want to leave you with Bruce Parkinson’s comments:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8aILCXIcLQ

When he looked to his left, he was looking at me: re his comments about this matter being a “political football”. If there is a political football, it is because Kampf, Lamina, and especially Olson, have made it so. My issue is about following the rules. Parkinson on the the other hand, apparently believes that as a member of the club and the club itself, is subject to a different set of rules. And to that end, the government can break its own rules for the benefit of the club and its members. At least, I think that is what he was saying. When it comes to political footballs, I take Parkinson’s comments to be nothing short of a political threat.

in other words, they were instrumental in getting people like Olson back on the board…they could be instrumental in getting people removed. In other words, Parkinson was telling the BOS to “play ball.” There is simply no other way to take his comments.

For the record, Parkinson is a local committee for the GOP and is also a member of the county GOP executive committee. Further, he was chairman of the building committee in 2005 when the development was approved.

Parkinson was the one, along with the club president, to agree to the sidewalks. You didn’t hear him talk about that on Monday….did you????

I simply do not have any more time to waste on folks that are so intellectually weak that they could be placed in a position to break the rules (Kampf, Lamina, Olson and Richter). And for sure, I don’t have any more time and patience to deal with the country club set and that faction of the GOP that believes it is OK to corrupt the government so long as it suits their needs.

I believe that if I went to court, I would prevail. However, that victory would not result in a thorough review of the sidewalks, trails and paths. That is what the subcommittee is supposed to do.

If it turns out to be a ruse, there will a stiff price to pay for that.

Political committee seats folks..that is where the path to taking our government and community back begins. That is what I’ll be concentrating on now.

Main Line Suburban Life Weighs in on Board of Supervisors Meeting and St. Davids Golf Club Motion

Today’s Main Line Suburban Life newspaper offered the following article by Blair Meadowcroft concerning the recent Board of Supervisors Meeting and the St. Davids Golf Club Motion.  I decided to post this article because it quotes John Petersen as saying that he intends to move forward with the lawsuit against the township.  As of today, John has changed his mind and will not file the lawsuit.  Rather than people reading this article and misunderstanding, I thought it best to clarify the situation.  John has left on a business trip otherwise I would let him explain . . . perhaps he will offer an explanation for his decision once he gets to Austin. 

    Tredyffrin board votes to look at St. Davids Golf Club controversy

By Blair Meadowcroft

The St. Davids Golf Club issue, which has been a heated debate for weeks in Tredyffrin Township, has taken yet another turn.

First the Board of Supervisors voted 4-3 to approve a motion to release $25,000 from an escrow account to the golf club on Jan. 25. Then on Feb. 8 three of the four supervisors who approved the motion publicly apologized, saying their actions were not perfect. Two weeks later, after getting requests from numerous residents to reverse the vote, Chairman Bob Lamina offered a new motion that he hoped would serve as a “solution.”

Specifically the motion stated that the vote made on Jan. 25 “be reversed and rescinded.” While this on its own made residents happy, more conditions were added to the motion that quickly changed their opinion. According to the motion, the BOS, Planning Commission and Sidewalks, Trails and Paths Committee (STAP) will form a subcommittee to “begin a process to re-examine where the community wants and needs sidewalks.” Under this motion the committee will look at the “conditions upon which the Planning Commission may from time to time grant relief from our land-development ordinance” among other specific assessments including prioritization and funding sources.

According to Lamina the subcommittee will be initiated in March and the process of re-evaluating should be done by the end of the year.

“I hope this motion can get us back to where we should have been all along,” said Lamina. “We need to get back into a dialogue process for paths and sidewalks in the township. My hope is that we can move forward together and not look backward.”

According to Township Manager Mimi Gleason, the idea of discussing and defining the greenworks network, which is a part of the Comprehensive Plan, had been considered, and such an assessment, if done, would hopefully gain resident input on what is wanted or needed in the township.

However, in response to Lamina’s motion, residents questioned why there wasn’t a simple reversal without added conditions. Many suggested the board divide the motion into two separate parts, and requested to see it in writing and be given time to consider it before taking a vote. The underlying feeling from those who spoke at the meeting was that the residents no longer trust the board and therefore question its actions.

“I wrote the motion with the idea that this was a comprehensive response to the discussions and comments that have been made, and that it would put us to where we were before,” said Lamina. “There is no deal, no reasoning behind the second part of the motion. This is just trying to move forward.”

According to Lamina, St. Davids officials confirmed their continued obligation to put in sidewalks, and that everyone he had spoken to regarding the proposed motion was on board.

As one of the supervisors who originally voted against the motion Jan. 25, John DiBuonaventuro stated that he supported the new motion on the table because “if anything less than a genuine evaluation comes out of this, I will speak up against it and so will you, and for now we have to get past this.”

After hearing varied comments from residents, most of whom were against the motion, as well as comments from board members in favor of it, Lamina held a vote. The board unanimously passed the motion.

As a result of the conditions placed on the motion, Tredyffrin resident and one-time supervisor John Petersen has decided to sue the township. Before the meeting Monday night, Petersen had written up a complaint against the township and specifically the four supervisors who originally voted in favor of the motion. His intention was to wait to see how the meeting played out and then decide whether or not to serve the township the papers.

“They did not do what I requested, which was to formally reverse, in pure form, what happened on Jan. 25,” said Petersen. “I asked for declaratory judgment stating that what happened was wrong, but Monday night there was no admission or recognition that what happened was against the Home Rule Charter, Paul Olson never apologized and the board didn’t simply reverse the vote; they added new conditions.”

According to Petersen, his plan is to review the lawsuit and make a few changes, and will go forward with this within the week.

“I am going to remove the individual names from the lawsuit because the focus of this now is about the township and the board as a collective whole and wanting them to do the right thing,” said Petersen. “With the unanimous action from the board, there is no reason to distinguish the members.”

He went on to say that no such lawsuit should have to be filed, and that his filing will be subject to the board “doing the right thing.”

“All I am asking is that the court declares what happened as illegal, and that the vote made last night was null and void,” said Petersen. “I want everything to go back to exactly the way it was before Jan. 25.”

Board of Supervisors 2/22/10 Meeting . . . St. Davids Golf Club Motion

BOS Meeting 2–22-10 Part I: St. Davids Golf Club Motion.  Here is the YouTube video clip of Monday’s St. Davids motion made by Lamina, seconded by Olson.

Below is the motion made at Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors’ meeting, February 22, 2010 in regards to the St. Davids Golf Club escrow and the development of the subcommittee.  The exact wording of the St. Davids motion was taken from the Tredyffrin Township website, www.tredyffrin.org; the motion is as follows:

I hereby move that the Board’s motion of January 25 regarding St. David’s be reversed and rescinded; and do hereby further resolve that the Board of Supervisor’s form a joint Subcommittee with the Planning Commission and the STAP to begin a process to reexamine where the community wants and needs sidewalks, with a goal that this Board may adopt more formal policies and procedures to provide additional guidelines relative to design, development and construction of the sidewalks and paths in the Township atlarge. At a minimum, this re-assessment should address both the timing, prioritization, funding sources, the conditions upon which the planning commission may from time-totime grant relief from our land development ordinance, and recommend any other changes the prospective new policy might require. While the subcommittee process take place, neither the Board or the Township will be formally moving to compel St. David’s to build the path, until the new policies are adopted or the Township has put in place designs and funding for sidewalks or paths that would connect to the proposed St. David’s pathway. The Subcommittee in carrying out its re-assessment will seek input and participation from the Public and the Committee’s involved which necessarily will include the Planning Commission and the STAP.

Motion made by Lamina; Second by Olson

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St. Davids Golf Club Decision Reversed but, . . . Was There Full Disclosure, Transparency, Deal-Making?

I went to last night’s Board of Supervisors meeting convinced that the residents of this community had been heard by our elected officials. I was certain that the supervisors were listening to us when we spoke out at previous Board meetings, wrote passionate letters to the editor, emails to the supervisors and left thoughtful comments on this blog. Last night I entered Keene Hall confident that the energy from so many would pay off, that justice would prevail, and good government would be restored in Tredyffrin Township.

I had heard scuttlebutt about some ‘deal-making’ before the supervisors meeting began but I was not prepared for what was to come. Chairman Lamina read his very lengthy prepared St. Davids Golf Club motion. The motion started out well, stating that its passage would reverse the supervisors’ decision of January 25 and restore the St. Davids Golf Club escrow. That should have been the end of the motion. Was that not the intended purpose of the motion . . . was that not what the public had asked . . . to restore the escrow? But no, Lamina took a breath and launched in to the other part of the motion; this motion would additionally include the formation of a subcommittee to look at sidewalks and trails township-wide; this ‘sidewalk’ subcommittee would include members from the Board of Supervisors, Planning Commission and STAP (Sidewalks, Trails and Paths); and there would be focus groups formed to discuss the location of sidewalks in the township, starting with the St. Davids area.

After Lamina completed his long-winded ‘motion’ and it was offered for discussion to audience members, I think we all struggled to ‘take in’ what we had heard. What kind of motion was this? . . . Was this just another way to protect St. Davids Golf Club from honoring their land development contract? . . . What about the rights of the Planning Commission who had consistently voted to enforce St. Davids land development commitment? . . .  What would this motion do for the precedent for developer/contractors not to comply with their contractual commitments? . . . Would this ‘sidewalk’ committee be part of the existing approved Comprehensive Plan?  Many, many questions, no answers offered.

Audience members spoke up, thanking the supervisors for reversing the escrow vote but many asked for Lamina’s motion to be split in to two motions. They suggested the first motion should be for the return of the St. Davids Golf Club escrow, followed by a second motion to create the ‘sidewalks’ subcommittee. The supervisors were not listening; their decision preordained. When several people asked Lamina ‘why’ not separate the motion in to two motions? His response was consistently no; that he wrote it that way. Period. Interesting to note that Kampf offered his commentary on government and making compromise. Perhaps what Kampf should have explained was that the compromise was a behind the closed-door agreement with the other supervisors, there certainly was no compromise with the citizenry. In advance of the vote, both supervisors Kichline and DiBuonaventuro offered that they would be supporting this motion. I guess that was supposed to make the residents ‘feel better’ since these two supervisors, along with Supervisor Donohue cast the 3 votes against the original motion on January 25.

A constant thread among the supervisors comments last night on St. Davids Golf Club was their desire to ‘move on’. The supervisors wanted this motion delivered, a vote taken and the ability to put St. Davids Golf Club behind them.  And a vote the supervisors took; it was unanimous, 7-0 to support Lamina’s motion.

Why did I leave the meeting with the feeling that we (the public) had been manipulated and that our government had let us down? I should have felt that justice was served and our government policy and procedure restored . . . after all, the motion did include the reversal of the St. Davids decision. But no, I went home, drank 3 glasses of Pinot Grigio and reviewed what had just happened. The St. Davids discussion and motion was completely orchestrated . . . an obvious deal made in advance. Where was the transparency of the supervisor’s actions? For me transparency in government means that the citizens must be able to “see through” its workings, and to fully understand what goes on when public officials transact public business.

Transparency is the new buzz word in American politics. You hear politicians say it all the time when referring to ways of providing constituents with access to more information and mobilizing people to get more involved in government processes. Transparency is a way of protecting fairness and ensuring common good. When we know what our government is up to, we have a better chance of ensuring that decisions treat everyone equally and protect the common conditions that are important to everyone’s welfare. It was obvious that the supervisors had already debated and settled the issue of a subcommittee, prior to the Board of Supervisors meeting, outside the view of constituents. Am I the only one who is concerned over possible violations of the state’s Sunshine Act? The open meeting law bars four or more of the Board’s seven supervisors from deliberating township business or taking official action behind closed doors, with few exceptions. Why do we have to fight to keep the door open? Is it that the supervisors want the appearance of unanimity, to aim for as little contention as possible in public? When you go behind a closed-door and make decisions, the perception can be as bad as the fact.

As far as they are concerned, the Board of Supervisors may feel that with their vote last night, that St. Davids Golf Club is now past history. But for me, the issue is far from over; no they just created a whole host of new problems with their latest decision.

I can hardly wait to see this new ‘sidewalks’ subcommittee . . . knowing what the desired outcome for St. Davids Golf Club must be, the supervisors will want to make sure that Paul Olson is their representative on the committee. From the STAP committee the supervisors need to make sure that Bruce Parkinson is included on the sidewalks subcommittee; as a member of St. Davids Golf Club he would be an invaluable choice. From the Planning Commission, I am not sure who would be the politically correct choice; are any of planning commissioners also members of St. Davids? If so, make sure and let the supervisors know as that is an important selection criteria. When the Board of Supervisors is forming the public focus group for St. Davids area, they need to make sure that no one from the Mt. Pleasant community is included. As we know, Christine Johnson and her non-country club Mt. Pleasant neighbors live where that proposed St. Davids sidewalk to nowhere would have ended.

Was last night about full disclosure, transparency, deal-making? . . . you be the judge.

United in their Resolve, Tredyffrin Residents Speak Out Against Actions of Supervisors Lamina, Olson, Kampf & Richter

Last night’s Board of Supervisor meeting represented a victory for the people. 

‘New Matters from Board members’ of the meeting kicked off with Supervisors Lamina, Kampf and Richter making apologies to the community in regards to the St. Davids Golf Club motion and vote to return escrow which occurred at the last Board of Supervisors meeting. They took responsibility for their actions, admitted that procedure had not been followed and stated that they would try to ‘do better’ in the future. Mention was made that everyone makes mistakes and that they had learned from theirs.

As I listened to the apologies, I thought to myself . . . OK, they made a mistake, admitted their mistake and now they will just ‘fix it’.  But no, there was no offer of correction, no suggestion to ‘reverse the decision’, nothing.  Were they thinking that the community would just accept their apology, move on and act like the ‘mistake’ never happened?  I don’t think that they were prepared for what was to come next . . . it was the residents turn to speak.

I cannot remember the last time I was so proud of this community.  Freedom of expression is the cornerstone of democratic life.  And one after another, residents took to the floor.  People came from all over the township . . . Chesterbrook, Malvern, Berwyn, Strafford, Mt. Pleasant, Wayne.  It did not matter if the speakers were Democrats, Republicans or Independents, there was no political party agenda.  They were firefighters, lawyers, retired citizens, members of township boards, one after another, each passionately saying the same thing over and over.  Separately, the residents spoke, but united their message. Each person in his or her own way sought justice from the Board of Supervisors, appealing for the ‘wrong’ to be made ‘right’.

The ‘sidewalk’ became a symbol for something much larger . . . it represented how four individuals (Lamina, Olson, Kampf, Richter) thought they could be allowed to just make the rules and break the rules, without consequence or intervention for their actions.  What I heard loud and clear  was the powerful voice in this community of intolerance to their actions; residents are standing together.  Were the supervisors listening?

In the words of Martin Luther King, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.”  Speaking out, many in the audience eloquently spoke of their distrust in our elected officials.  We elect these people because we believe that they will serve our best interests.  We entrust them to govern according to the rules . . . to follow the policies and procedures as set forth by the Home Rule Charter.  We rely on them to make the best decisions in our interests.

In the end, there was no resolution to ‘righting the wrong’ of the vote to return the escrow to St. Davids.  Not last night, but I believe that this matter is far from over.  I believe that between now and the next Board of Supervisors meeting, a way must be found to resolve this matter.

Trust in our elected officials must be restored.

Tredyffrin Twp Board of Supervisors Meeting Tonight . . . St. Davids Sidewalk Issue, a Photo Essay

Tonight’s Board of Supervisors meeting is shaping up to be one for the history books.  It would appear that some of our elected officials have become entangled in quite the spider’s web.  The actions taken at the January 25 Board of Supervisors meeting, the resulting vote to return St. Davids escrow, the newspaper articles, Letters to the Editor, discussion on Community Matters, etc. have left many residents pondering the state of our local government.   

I have remained consistent in saying that the sidewalks are not the issue; however, I believe that many people probably do not understand the bigger picture and the ramifications of the Board’s actions to our township and its residents.  Having said that, I think it would be helpful for people to look at this photo essay.  Thank you to the local TTDEMs for helping the community better understand through photos and description this section of the township, which Supervisor Olson consistently refers to as ‘sidewalks to nowhere’.  A special thank you to Sean Moir for his mapping skills, which clearly show the section of the St. Davids sidewalk.

Here is the Board of Supervisors agenda for tonight’s meeting.

Another Angle on St. Davids Escrow Desision . . . STAP (Sidewalks, Trails & Paths) Committee Member Weighs In

Molly Duffy, member of the STAP (Sidewalks, Trails & Path) Committee looks at the recent Board of Supervisor decision in a different light.  What does this decision say to its residents about the future walkability of our community?  The STAP Committee thought that the supervisors shared their vision for a walking, biking landscape, but do they? Below is Molly’s letter to the editor that appears in this weeks edition the Main Line Suburban Life newspaper.

Tredyffrin supervisors missing the big picture

To the Editor:

Five years ago a handful of concerned Tredyffrin residents got together to talk about how we could make the township more walkable and bikable. The township agreed that this was a worthy goal. After all, 78.5 percent of residents who responded to the 2004 Parks Recreation and Open Space survey stated that they would be likely to use an interconnected townshipwide trail system in Tredyffrin designed for pedestrian, runners, skaters and bikers.

Later in 2005 the Board of Supervisors formally created the STAP (Sidewalks Trails and Paths) Committee and charged it with the mission of identifying priority trail and sidewalk areas, determining appropriate trail and sidewalk types, and researching funding options. This very committed and energized group of volunteers did just that. The township’s Green Routes Network can be viewed at www.tredyffrin.org. As a member of STAP I’m proud to say that our highest-priority sidewalk project will be under construction within a few months. New sidewalks will connect T/E Middle School, Conestoga High School, Daylesford Train Station, the YMCA, the Easttown Library and the village of Berwyn. Residents will no longer have to walk on the road and risk their lives to get to any of these locations, and the school district may be able to eliminate the cost of operating a few buses. Because of the dedication of STAP and the township’s very talented and effective staff, the township received a $2.8-million grant that will pay for this project. If STAP and the Board of Supervisors had not had the vision and patience to move ahead with this project, it would not have been shovel-ready and consequently it would not have received ARRA grant funds.

The Board of Supervisors’ Jan. 25, 2010 vote to forgive St. Davids Golf Club’s obligation to build a path along Upper Gulph Road, which is part of the Green Routes Network, makes me wonder if the township still cares about its future.

Transforming Tredyffrin, largely developed in the car-centric 1950s and 1960s, into a walkable, bikable community is no small task. A best-case scenario estimate would put completion of the Green Routes Network at 15 years. Nevertheless it is a task we must complete if we want Tredyffrin to be a place where people want to live and work in the future. Yes, it will cost something. Perhaps it will be grant-funded. Perhaps it will not. Regardless, it is a wise investment in our future.

It is standard practice for new developments in Tredyffrin and elsewhere to include sidewalks in their plans. For many reasons people don’t want to rely on their cars to take them every place they need to go. People of all ages call Tredyffrin home. Many are too young to drive, some are unable to drive, and many more just want another option for getting from here to there. The ability to walk to school, church, work, the library, the dentist’s office or shopping gives us all, young and old, a sense of independence and some decent exercise.

The Green Routes Network will never include every street in the township. Instead it strives to connect residents to popular destinations. In the next few years, the Chester Valley Trail will cross our township on its way from Downingtown to Valley Forge. If we plan proper linkages, many Tredyffrin residents will be able to safely walk or bike to the trail from their front doors.

Recently the national news has focused on studies showing that while real-estate values have dropped, homes with a high walkability score have dropped much less. It is becoming standard for real-estate listings to show a home’s “walk score” because many homebuyers want to be able to walk or bike to a destination. You can find your home’s walk score at www.walkscore.com.

If we don’t begin to implement the Green Routes Network that the board of supervisors recently approved in the updated Comprehensive Plan and reaffirmed in the Green Tredyffrin Resolution, we’re taking a step backwards and depriving our children and grandchildren of a livable, desirable community.

Sincerely,

Molly Duffy, Paoli

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.