St. Davids Sidewalk Required or Not?

Whatever happened to the sidewalks that St. Davids Golf Club was required to install with their land development project? Tredyffrin’s Planning Commission told St. Davids that they must install the sidewalks as initially required with the land development plans.  I believe that the Township is still holding escrow money not be released until the sidewalks are installed.  Wonder how many years ago the St. Davids plan passed?  Today I read in the BAWG report that instead of installing the sidewalks there is the suggestion that we accept $50,000 from St. Davids and waive the requirement.  It is one thing to make suggestions about revenue sources and future budgets, but are we now allowing the BAWG to change past township decisions?  Why the offer of $50,000 – is that St. Davids cost for the sidewalks?  Does this decision not impact the Planning Commission’s ability to have their decisions upheld?  If the Board of Supervisors agree to this BAWG suggestion, what does that say about future Planning Commission decisions?

BAWG Report Released

Here is a copy of the BAWG report for those unable to attend the Budget Workshop meeting yesterday. The report is now available on the township website. I just gave the report a quick review – some of the suggestions are to be expected. Cited are various ways to reduce expenses including centralizing purchasing, placing a ‘hold’ on capital projects, etc. I am alarmed that there continues to be a notion of reducing the staff. About a month ago, there was a township-wide reduction in staff so I can only hope that this report is not suggesting further reductions but rather that the recent reductions were the implementation indicated in this report.  In my opinion,  further reductions in staff will clearly result in further reductions of services. There is a delicate balance between reduction of services and creating a potential crisis and/or emergency situation within the township.  Not intending to be an alarmist, I am concerned what continued reductions will do for the quality of life in this community.

I was part of a  5-member budget group of the Paoli Business & Professional Association (PBPA) that met with the BAWG members in July.  Following our meeting, we provided the members of the BAWG committee and the Board of Supervisors with PBPA’s suggestions for possible expense reductions and revenue sources, from a small business standpoint.  One of the suggestions of our PBPA group for the BAWG was a review of Earned Income Tax (EIT) as a possible source of township revenue.  At the meeting with BAWG, Dave Brill, Tredyffrin’s Finance Director offered that the estimated revenue was $8M should an EIT be instituted.  It would appear from the BAWG report, that our suggested review of EIT was dismissed by BAWG.  My understanding from the BAWG report is the suggestion of a ‘flat business tax’ be imposed — meaning that major corporations (Vanguard, Unisys) would be taxed the same as the small businesses located in the township (i.e. the Great Valley House, my small bed & breakfast).  Yet, BAWG concludes negatively on further exploration of EIT, based on 2007 T/E School Board findings.  I believe that Tom Coleman led the budget review committee for the school board as he did as the chair of BAWG.  On the topic of EIT, BAWG concludes that the implementation of EIT is a ‘short-sighted’ approach.  I suggest that the opposite is true — it is ‘short-sighted’ not to review the pros and cons of EIT.  The residents of Tredyffrin are owed an open and thorough review of ‘all’ revenue sources (including EIT).  It should be an obligation for the Board of Supervisors to provide all information to the public, and not make decisions in a vacuum.

Keep Your Dreams Alive

“Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe.” -Gail Devers

Tredyffrin Township: Budget Workshop Meeting Tomorrow

Saturday, November 14 at 8:30 AM there will be a Budget Workshop Meeting at the Tredyffrin Library.  The public is invited to attend and I strongly suggest that you attend if possible.  The meeting will be an opportunity for the public to be the first to hear the BAWG’s report.  I am hopeful that there will be extra copies available.  It is my understanding that the township will not have the budget available online until after the budget approval process is completed.  I guess I understand their rationale but personally, I would like to at least see a glimpse.  At this week’s Board of Supervisor Meeting, township manager Mimi Gleason gave an overview of the 2010 budget.  The stated mission of the BAWG was to review all aspects of the township’s operation and to make budget recommendations; I am anxious to see their findings. I am concerned about the future quality of life of township residents should the staff reductions and service cuts continues.

A Letter of Thanks

Letters to the EditorAppearing in the Main Line Suburban Life today is a Letter to the Editor from me in which I thank all those who helped me during the election cycle.  I am still in the reflection period of post-election but the clouds are starting to lift — it is good to feel like I’m coming out on the other side.

A New Beginning

Life is about facing challenges and obstacles.  How we face those challenges and how we get to the other side is what makes the journey all the more interesting.  My latest challenge was the election and how I would get to the other side.  I may have lost the election but this past 9 months confirmed my commitment to the community.  I remain committed that our community needs to be represented and needs to have a voice. The voter turnout for this recent election was very low, probably somewhere between 20-25% of the registered voters.  It will be those people that came out and voted that will be deciding our future.  This still leaves about 75-80% of our registered voters, plus many more unregistered voters whose voice will not be ‘technically heard’. 
Which brings me to the point of this blog entry.  I made a decision today.  I have decided to continue my blog – obviously no longer as a candidate but as a person who believes that community matters.  I have discovered that I enjoy writing and now this will allow me a vehicle to comment.  My comments will not be about politics, because as we now know — I’m no politician.  I was involved in the community with all my activities before and during the campaign and I am now picking up where I dropped off.  Going forward, I will comment on community activities, events and people as I feel appropriate.
For me, getting past the challenge of last week’s election, means becoming proactive.  Proactive will take the form of writing on this blog.

In My World . . . Honesty & Integrity Matter

Yesterday was Election Day in Tredyffrin Township and today has been a difficult day for me. The outcome was not what I expected, nor was it what I wanted for this community.  I lost the election as well as did my other 2 running mates, Sean Moir and Eamon Brazunas.  In my world of looking for the ‘best’ in people, I fear that the residents of our community lost more than just having these three people serve as Supervisors.  Together with Sean and Eamon, I truly believed that we represented the right reason for serving the community.  Idealistic and committed to the community, we share a passion and enthusiasm with background of community service that was unmatched in our opponents.  The three of us always took the higher road in this campaign, believing all the while that the ‘good guys’ would finish first.  Not so this time.  Our combined 30 years of experience, education and committment was no match. 

We were not prepared to counter the lies and misleading attacks of our opponents.  Just not interested in further dividing the community with the same type of negative campaigning, all in the name of ‘politics’.  We knew the people that came to the polls to cast their vote for us . . . those people believed in us and we would not let them down.  They believed that we could make this a better place . .  one where everyone worked together; a place where your word meant something.  Today I can look in the mirror and take comfort in knowing that I am may not have been elected, but I know I am a better person than some of my opponents. 

Do I regret the time and energies spent on this campaign?  Absolutely.  Do I regret trying to make a difference in our community?  Never.  The eternal optimist, I find the ‘rose-colored’ glasses are a bit smudged, and a little cynicism has crept in to my thoughts today.  I am hopeful that with some time and distance to be able to get back some of my spirit that I lost while on this journey. 
To my many friends and neighbors, and people that I met a long the way, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.  I am only sorry that I will not have the opportunity to be your Supervisor and help to make a difference in Tredyffrin Township.

Tredyffrin Township Political Notebook Returns

After a few months off, John Petersen has returned to blogging. John presents his blog Tredyffrin Township Political Notebook as a way to hold our government, political parties, elected officials and candidates accountable with straight talk – not influenced by any political party or ideology. John has an interesting insight in to the fact vs. fiction of issues in our local political community. 

Main Liners Sound Off on Upcoming Election

 Letters to the EditorMain Line Suburban Life newspaper’s Editorial section included Letters to the Editor from community members offering opinions on Tredyffrin Township’s school board and township candidates. Please read the Letters to the Editor

Letter to the Editor 10-8-09

Paoli Sings the Blues . . . a perfect day!
Far from ‘singing the blues’, Paoli was alive and energized for the first ever Paoli Blues Fest this past Saturday. Co-chairing with Marie Thibault, this exciting community event far surpassed our wildest dreams. The day started with threatening dark skies and a weather report to match. The stage crew, tent rental company employees and the fest volunteers worked as the light rain began to fall. As if on cue at noon, as the musicians warmed up, the clouds parted, the sun began to shine, the temperature soared and memories were created.
Working with our fellow Paoli Business & Professional Association members and volunteers over the past year, this event was an opportunity to showcase our hometown spirit and the big heart of the community. With an $8,000 grant from the Chester County Conference and Visitors Bureau to get us started, we are grateful to the many individuals, businesses and corporate sponsors including Malvern Federal Bank, The Big Easy, Paoli Hardware, Matthews Paoli Ford, Main Line Today, Harvest Financial,, to name a few, who believed in us, our vision and the community.
People arrived by car, by train and on foot to enjoy the special blues bands at the five stages set-up along Lancaster Avenue. Fifteen different bands performed all afternoon at Malvern Federal Bank, Paoli Hardware Center, Paoli Design Center, 1776 Center and the main stage at Paoli Village Shops. It’s hard to have an exact count on how many attended; we know the number was high and in the thousands; streets, sidewalks and parking lots were full and overflowing. With the economic difficulties facing our local business community, the 1st Annual Paoli Blues Fest created an opportunity to introduce our local businesses and give the public a reason to come back to Paoli.
We thank the music committee, the tireless volunteers, the sponsors and most of all we thank the public for spending a magical, special afternoon in Paoli for the first ever Paoli Blues Fest. The memories of this day will last long after the music stopped and I was thrilled to be a part of it!

Pattye Benson
Co-Chair, Paoli Blues Fest
Director, Paoli Business & Professional Association

Paoli Sings the Blues – BluesFest Saturday October 3rd

I am co-chairing the upcoming Paoli Sings the Blues with Marie Thibault, president of Paoli Business & Professional Association. The Bluesfest will be held on Saturday, October 3, 2009, Noon – 6 PM, rain or shine! The festival will feature 15 different live blues bands performing on 5 stages spread throughout Paoli. The main stage will be bluesfestart1located at Paoli Village Shops and there will be fun for all the ages — in addition to music, there will be 60 food and local business vendors, activities for children including miniature golf, stiltwalker and magicians. Exotic and antique cars will be on display as well as Harley Davidson motorcycles.

This special free community event was made possible by a group of dedicated volunteers and generous sponsorship by local businesses and organizations. A starting point for fundraising to support the Bluesfest was created with a grant from Chester County Conference & Visitors Bureau. On behalf of the Paoli Business Assocation, I wrote the successful grant and was thrilled that CCCVB supported us and provided the $8,000 grant will gave us the needed ‘seed money’. Their grant also validated our community event and provided added incentive for the local businesses to help.

5th Annual Historic House Tour a Success!

As President the Trust and chair of the Annual Historic House Tour, I would like to thank the special homeowners who allowed us to feature their beautiful homes on this year’s 5th Annual Historic House Tour. It is wonderful to live in a community that has people who cherish their historic properties and then allow others the opportunity to enjoy them!

The annual house tour provides an opportunity for our historic community to showcase their neighborhood architectural heritage and demonstrate how historic homes can be a perfect fit for our modern lives. Old houses tell wonderful stories, and this year’s featured homes did not disappoint. Under the vibrant blue sky and perfect summer-like temperatures, these generous homeowners opened their doors to Tredyffrin’s past to over 150 guests. As one of the Trust’s most anticipated annual events, we are extremely grateful to our historic homeowners who by sharing their extraordinary homes allow us to better understand Tredyffrin Township’s significant and unique history. I would like to thank also the many community volunteers and Trust Board members who volunteered their time and talents to help make this another successful Trust event.

After the house tour, I received many emails and calls, but think the following excerpt from a guest’s email probably best sums up the house tour for her and other visitors —

“. . . The Historic House Tour was superb, a beautiful day for touring with friends, and each house unique in its history and presentation. From small cozy rooms to a vast master suite, from springhouse to media room to “his and hers” pub space, all of it was fascinating. The grounds of each house were manicured and lovely and it was nice to find chums along the way. . .”

A sense of history and preservation of our historic resources is just one of the many reasons that Tredyffrin Township is a special place to live. Continuing to protect and honor our historic and architectural heritage will remain important to me should I be elected to the Board of Supervisors.

Memorial Day . . . A day of remembrance

Memorial Day . . .a day of remembrance. Words, symbols, heated rhetoric and clever argument all pale when measured against the brilliance of the white of marble and the emerald carpet of living grass. Dignity, honor, respect and a day of remembrance is all that they ask now of us. Especially, remembrance. From their dark and silent graves, these men and women give honor to our Nation. With fields and fields of flags upon their graves, we bear quiet witness to the precious, eternal value of the sacrifice of these Americans. Whether in combat, or fifty years later surrounded by only the memories of comrades long since passed, the men and women resting forever under those flags once marched proudly under that banner. They have earned nothing less than the unqualified respect of a grateful Nation, and her grateful people.

“…that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion, that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God, …and that government of the people by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth.”
– Abraham Lincoln

Memorial Day… a day of remembrance. Honor the Day. Honor Them!

Low Turnout Afflicts Primary Day

This was my first primary election in Tredyffrin Township as a candidate. Knowing that all candidates for the Board of Supervisors were endorsed and that the election was uncontested, I guess I was still surprised. On Tuesday, May 19, I arrived early at my polling location (W2) at Delaware Valley Friends School in Paoli with the memory of November 2008 Election Day still fresh in my mind. That autumn day the voter line stretched through the parking lot, on to the sidewalk and down the street. The wait to vote was nearly 1-1/2 hours but the festive, party-like atmosphere made the wait even more exciting!

With memories of the last Election Day swirling in my mind, I enthusiastically looked forward to 2009 Primary Day (and my first as a candidate). After morning and lunch-hour rushes that looked more like a trickle, I remained the eternal optimist. Until the polls closed at 8 PM, I visited the township’s 17 voting locations and met many volunteers and voters. The day provided a wonderful opportunity to see many old friends, and to meet new ones.

The polls closed and the votes were counted. The voter turnout was low . . . a history-making low for Tredyffrin Township. We had 12-15% of our registered Tredyffrin Township voters participating in this year’s primary. In the days since the primary, I have reflected that the election was probably overshadowed by the attention-grabbing presidential campaign of last year; many voters were still feeling the ‘burn out’ from the politicking of 2008.

Thank you to the voters who voted in the primary. Remember, for local government to be effective we all need to participate in the process. I am looking forward to an exciting Election Day 2009 – Tuesday, November 3 when our vote can make a difference!

May 19 – Primary Day is Approaching!

Many voters consider “off year” elections to be less important than presidential-year elections. That’s just not true.

As elections get closer to home (congressional to state to local), the voting districts get smaller. This means that there are fewer people casting a ballot, meaning the candidates have fewer votes to compete for. This makes each vote weigh even more. Not only that, but decisions made at the local or state level often lead to more immediate change in your community…the further up you get, the slower improvements or changes to policy can come. But this also means that damage can be done more quickly.

So whether you are a student, a young professional, a homeowner, a retiree, or a a single parent, it’s important to vote in each and every election. Take the time to know your candidates and vote for that person who best represents your view for the future of our community. As residents of this wonderful community, we depend on our local elected officials to represent the voters – show your support with your vote. All 6 candidates (3 Democrats and 3 Republicans) in the race for Tredyffrin’s Board of Supervisors are endorsed candidates and will appear on the November 3 ballot. In this year’s election there are 2 At-Large seats and the seat in the middle available. For the first time in a very long time there are no incumbents for the 2009 election in the Board of Supervisor race for Tredyffrin Township.