Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas

No I am not afraid of offending someone saying, "Merry Christmas" since I am not offended if my Jewish neighbor down the street chooses to wish me a Happy Hanukkah or someone else in my travels says, "Happy Festivus for the rest of us," and if I was I would need to seriously get over myself.  A really funny comedian Brad Stine made a very good point the people who primarily don't say or are offended by Merry Christmas are those who don't believe in God or the birth of Jesus.  Therefore it really makes no sense if you are offended by something you don't believe in, so as Brad says, "PUT A HELMET ON!"

I have heard all the arguments...it's not His REAL birth date, how can you believe a baby was born of a virgin, Horus was really born on December 25th blah blah blah.  I won't knock your spiritual beliefs so hows about you don't knock mine.  I am willing to share with you what I feel, and believe deep in my heart and soul, but I am not going to tell you you are wrong and then proceed to list your shortcomings. 

So when someone says to you, "Merry Christmas" don't grumble and growl if that is your usual SOP smile because someone cared enough to share their joy with you.

Merry Christmas to All.

Elaine

(A beautifully decorated house on 322 in Downingtown)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Continued Musings

Lately I have been in a quandary about the goings on in Downingtown.  For a few weeks now I have been considerably concerned about the budget proposal for 2011 and how it started out with a $230,000+ shortfall yet budget proposals for many things were thousands of dollars more than they had been or even what had been actually used in the past year.  I do have to say that in the Borough Council meeting last night I felt a bit better when Council President Jamie Bruton stated that he, Councilwoman Ann Feldman and Director of Finance Judith Walters had been scrutinizing the budget and had found $53,000 dollars that could be additionally cut from the budget.  In many ways that does not seem like much, but when a resident is faced with a 10% increase in taxes as opposed to maybe 8% it's a lot of money.  I felt more confident that with the push from Mr. Bruton there will be a continued effort to look into more cuts if possible.

The large debt load that Downingtown does have was brought up and it was brought up by Ms. Feldman, which I thought was a bit ironic when she has the borough caught up in a court battle that would lessen the debt load if she would back down and let the development of Kardon Park go through.  After the meeting Ms. Feldman came up to me and spoke to how she felt that she did not know how it had gotten personal in my ire towards the FOKP and her, but that the photos that I have taken for my business and specifically of Kardon Park were pretty.  I tried to answer her as honestly as I possibly could.  In my professional life and private life I have a few pet peeves and it really doesn't matter who gets on the bad side of them, they tend to really irk me to no end.  One of them is when in a business or professional setting one must conduct themselves in a manner that cannot be misconstrued as whining or a stuttering oratory.  The other really big peeve is being at least on time to a commitment and fulfilling the commitment regardless of other interests.  Almost three years ago I committed myself to a group and while other things are pulling in my life I WILL finish out the commitment until 2011 and I will not schedule meetings, doctor appointments, family outings and other such things when I know I must be in attendance.  My only recourse is that I DO have an alternate to attend the  functions if necessary, but if I did not I would make sure that unless something dire was occurring I would be there.

There have been times when I have agreed with Ms. Feldman, but the ire that has been produced by the lawsuits tends to color not only my vision, but I am quite sure those of the others on Council who are on the opposite side of the aisle, but also citizens who feel that FOKP are helping Downingtown to die a slow death.  While I am not a fan of how Ms. Feldman has been spoken to nor treated at times, I can understand why....I won't excuse the behavior though, because no matter personal thoughts, it is business.

With that said, I was looking on various sights to see what other municipalities were up to AND also to read more about passive parks and open space.  I was perusing the FOKP site when I came across the "dedication picture" of Kardon Park in 1978.  I could not tell exactly what part of the area it was taken but when I read the caption it said that it was 12 acres of park.  What made me sit up and take a good look was that the FOKP are saying that with that dedication ALL of the "park" had been dedicated.  How can that be when it is a parcel of land over 40 acres?  I truly do understand that some people feel that developing the area that is contaminated will alter the experience or some other reason, but I ask this.....What good is an overgrown, contaminated parcel of land that is not that pleasing to the eye to a dying town?  Can you really and truly say leaving it as is benefits each and every resident and business in Downingtown?  You might want to think about that.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Year to Reflect

I know that Johnsontown Community Group had been around a little more than a year now, but since we are having our Second Annual Christmas Party I thought now would be a good time to look at some of the things we have accomplished.  There are now yellow lines on the upper half of Church Street to delineate lanes, most of the lights in Johnsontown are in operating order and when they go dark Jack Law and Public Works are on it.  The pit bull issue that plagued Talucci Drive came to a close with the workings of neighbors, police and the mayor.  When our community was hit with graffiti, many people came along and were helpful in handling the situation and shortly afterward the perpetrators were apprehended.  It might seem minor, but now there is a trash can in St. Joseph's Alley from Viaduct so that children coming back from Turkey Hill can dispose of their trash in a receptacle instead of the street or yards.  We have had three successful Clean Up Days and of course our National Night Out which was a rousing success.  We had expected maybe a turn out of 50 people and at one count there were 120 coming through.  Neighbors met one another and we came together as Johnsontown.  We now have the issue of the Boot Road Extension coming into Johnsontown Park, but thanks to the work of the Executive Board and Committee we now come to the table ready to compromise and work within the development realm instead of being at sixes and sevens with Borough Council and the developer.

However, for me the biggest accomplishment is that I know a good portion of my neighbors now and even if we don't know each other's names we can wave as we pass by on our walks, driving the kids to school or coming home from work.  We look out for one another and we are coming together as a community and what better way to end the year than on a note of fellowship and holiday cheer........so here's to you Johnsontown and Merry Christmas to everyone!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Duplicity Is Not Just A Movie Title

I honestly can say that my opinion of a person has never undergone the drastic changes in so few days as mine has of Ann Feldman. On Wednesday night December 1st I attended the Downingtown Borough Council Meeting. I was a bit miffed to begin with as I had reviewed the 2011 budget that was published after the last meeting and I was none too happy and none of the council members were my favorite people that night. But as I sat there and agenda items were brought up I was flabbergasted at the fact that for once Ann Feldman and I were in accord. Ms. Feldman brought up that the Borough Christmas party was not being held in the borough, but at a venue in East Caln and that council members should pay their own way. I almost fell out of my seat because I thought she was right on target. I was also a bit tired of other council members trying to hush her up when she had a very valid point. I left that particular meeting wanting to thump a few heads and surprisingly Ms. Feldman’s was not one of them. Alas though, here we are on Friday and Ms. Feldman, myself and several other residents are again at cross purposes.


Last night I again attended an informational session for the group IDEAL of which Cara DeStephano has spearheaded. I had heard some of the information before, but was enlightened in other areas as well. Intelligent questions abounded after the presentation; however there was one small irritant that appeared at the meeting. Ms. Feldman joined our little group last night. Now on the face of it that would not be a problem, unfortunately her tactics were a bit underhanded. Ms. Feldman did not join us until after the lights had been turned off and the presentation began, slinked in, pulled out a pad of paper, took copious notes and then slunk out again when the meeting was over. I do appreciate that she did not turn this meeting into a free for all and she did show a bit of decorum, but that was blasted all to heck and back this morning when I read Ms. Feldman’s Op Ed piece in the Daily Local.

In her writings Ms. Feldman states that the park “…has been a well-used 50 acre public park in Downingtown Borough for the past 30 years.” Ms. Feldman, I ask, you were you not listening when Ms. Peck stated that the lands west of the trail have been up for sale and development since 1999 when the DEP came out and did a report at the request of the EPA? I know that you were there, but were you listening? If you weren’t let me do the math for you…if any kind of development has been under consideration since 1999 that was 11 years ago which in turn means that the park has not been thought of , maintained nor used as a park for 30 years…see 30-11=19. Also the intent to remediate to site specific standards was published in the Philadelphia Inquirer 2/19/1999 and when the 30 day public period had ended no public comments were received.….where were you then Ms. Feldman?

Ms. Feldman also parses words on what is considered safe and what is not. It has been reported in each and every study that direct contact with the soil will result in contamination; yet it is safe? I am not sure how a park can be considered safe when you cannot venture off trails and have direct contact with the soil. Are we only supposed to walk in the park and not enjoy any other activities? What about our dogs who do have direct contact with the soil? I believe I need to find the dictionary that Ms. Feldman and FOKP are using so that I may glean some insight to what they consider “safe”.

Now for the biggest faux pas of them all. As I said in the beginning, Ms. Feldman brought up a very valid point that borough functions should be kept in the borough regardless of another boroughs support and help and that council members should be ready to pony up a few dollars to help defer costs especially in this economic climate. Then I read this morning in Ms. Feldman’s article that when the petitions that started this whole hullabaloo were circulated there were almost 1,000 signatures which would be impressive for anyone, except for one small thing 209 of them were obtained outside of the borough. Isn’t that a bit disingenuous to want to keep borough business and celebrations within the borough, yet when it helps your cause you go out of the borough to assert your agenda? It begs the question that if you were willing to go outside of Downingtown to garner support for FOKP and the legal wrangling that you have tied the council up in what lengths you would have gone to defeat Anthony Madiro in 2009.

It seems that Ms. Feldman and her group are only for the good of the borough when it suits their purposes, but when the NIMBY syndrome kicks in to heck with the borough and its residents and that my dear councilwoman is called duplicity.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Attitude of Gratitude

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving full of happiness, family and cheer......except for one little thing, don't you think that this attitude should be carried throughout the year instead of just one day?  So little in this world is actually looked at with an attitude of gratitude.  Oh we throw words around like, "Thank God.........(insert whatever here)!"  But do we really mean it?  My family and I rarely celebrate any holiday that comes around, mainly because our family is so small (my parents, my husband and two boys) and we see each other frequently that it isn't necessary to have a HUGE dinner just for an excuse to get together, but also we would like to be treated every day like it was Valentine's Day, or our Birthday, or Anniversary, or any other holiday.  Think about the people you spent today with, do you ever call them just to thank them for being in your life?  Do you ever thank your higher power just for being able to get up in the morning no matter how much your joints creak and groan?  Do you ever look at a sunrise and appreciate the fact that you are vertical one more day?

My challenge to you is to write down the alphabet and next to each letter write down something or someone you are thankful for.  It isn't easy and sometimes just being thankful that no one plays the xylophone in the house may be enough, but it might open your eyes to the blessings right in front of you and help you to be thankful ALL year.

Monday, November 22, 2010

IDEAL and the Daily Local

DOWNINGTOWN — A new citizens group that supports development and revitalization is taking shape.


The group announced its recent formation at Wednesday's Borough Council meeting.



Resident Cara DeStefano told council that she and about 60 other residents met Nov. 12 to form IDEAL, which stands for Invigorate Downingtown's Economy and Lifestyle.



The group's stated mission is to support revitalization and development in the borough to increase the tax base and property values, she said.



"I want to see our property values and quality of life thrive here," DeStefano said in a written statement.



The group's initial focus is on the proposed development of Kardon Park.



Last month, the Chester County Orphans' Court ruled the borough could not sell the park for private development. That case is being ap



pealed by the developer and the borough in Commonwealth Court.

Read the full article here IDEAL


The meeting that took place at Dane Decor was not just for a select few it was for all residents who share the thoughts of IDEAL.  Here are a few links if you care to investigate.
Kardon Park on Facebook
IDEAL on Facebook

Also if you get  a chance read Borough Council President, James Bruton's article in the Daily Local
Precautionary Moves for Protection

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Citizens Form New Civic Group to Promote the Revitalization of Downingtown Borough

Press Release: For Immediate Distribution  11/17/2010


An ad hoc group of residents, business owners and citizens have joined together to form a new group to promote the revitalization of Downingtown Borough. To be called “I.D.E.A.L.” (Invigorate Downingtown’s Economy and Lifestyle), the group seeks to support public and private investment in Downingtown which will help stabilize the tax base, support businesses and restaurants on Main Street, and increase long term property values, while promoting enhancements to the environment.




Over sixty people attended a meeting on Thursday November 12th held at Dane Décor on Main Street in Downingtown to learn more and express their support for an organized way to move Downingtown forward. Dane Décor co-owner Hank Hamilton was once a leader of the Downingtown Main Street Association, which was instrumental in getting projects such as Main Street Village redeveloped from a contaminated former industrial site to the beautiful townhome community it is today. Hamilton chairs the Downingtown Marketing Support Agency, a committee of the Downingtown Chamber of Commerce, which has lent its support to the I.D.E.A.L. group’s formation.



“I have lived in Downingtown’s Main Street Village for the past 10 years,” says Cara DeStefano, the chief organizer of the group and the evening’s event. “I want to see our property values and quality of life thrive here.” She cited the Philadelphia Magazine article which named Downingtown Borough one of the 10 best places to live in the region, and the fact that it is “totally ready to bloom.” “I share that vision for Downingtown as an excellent place to live, work, shop, raise a family and enjoy restaurants, parks and entertainment,” she said, “and I want to help make it bloom.”



One of the immediate areas of concern is to support Borough Council’s efforts to redevelop the contaminated Kardon Park site. “There are many people like my wife and I who use the Struble and Lions Trails regularly who favor improving the park with new trails and parking, and fresh running water to clean up those terribly stagnant ponds, comments Richard Bryant, a local resident on Washington Avenue. Bryant states that the proposed improvements would turn an underutilized resource into a visual and economic asset for the community.

“We are all dumbfounded by the Orphans Court Judge’s recent decision says Sean Lawrence, a resident on Buchanan Court. “The decision leaves the Borough having to maintain a contaminated site forever that it cannot afford to clean up. We wholeheartedly support Borough Council’s vote to appeal the decision.” Lawrence adds: “It is hard to believe that the Judge would allow a former landfill that has never been capped to be open for access by the public. It would be unthinkable today to acquire a landfill for a public park without capping or remediating it.”



Adds Bryant: “We really want to educate the public as to the facts about the contamination in the surface soils. There is a lot of misinformation circulating since the Judge’s decision that ‘the park is safe.’ The park is safe if people stay on the paved trails. We very much agree with Borough Council’s decision to post signs about the risks associated with going off the path at The Ponds.”

“This underutilized site just a couple of blocks from the center of town has tremendous potential to generate cash for the tax payer,” says Doug Castaldi, a business owner in the Borough. “I have reviewed the charts on the fiscal impact of the project and it will be a cash cow for the school district as well as the borough and the county – not to mention generating over $8 million for Borough residents that can be used to pay down some of the Borough’s debt and lower operating expenses. We need new residents and businesses coming into our town in order to stabilize taxes.”



Kevin Mathews, owner of Downingtown Running Company on Main Street, echoes the sentiment of many business owners and restaurants in town: "We care about character and environmental preservation. We can be environmentally conscious and have community growth at the same time."



DeStefano says that a key goal of I.D.E.A.L. will be to bring like-minded people together who share a common vision for moving Downingtown forward. “We have been a ‘Silent Majority’ but we will not be silent any longer,“ she said. “Our voices will now be heard loud and clear.”


IDEAL on Facebook        Cara~contact person to join the cause.
 
I am glad to be involved with such a worthwhile group.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Does It Have Appeal?

We are off the races once again thanks to Ms. Feldman and her FOKP. The borough is looking to purchase a tract of land for $100,000 which it has been leasing since January at the cost of $400 per month for a new public works facility, leaf mulching site and a potential placement for the Minquas Fire Company. The land does contain some contaminants and the borough has a ballpark of what would be needed to clean it up along with the availability of grants, yet Ms. Feldman says the purchase would be premature due to the fact that she is now in litigation over the seven acre parcel of land in East Caln that the borough owns which is now used for composting. It seems as if Ms. Feldman can’t decide what she DOES want. That particular piece of land was not in the Orphan’s Court decision which is also now in appeal thanks to FOKP. Is there anything that will make these people happy? I seriously doubt it.


During the whole issue I have made it known that while I see quite a bit of potential if part of what is being called Kardon Park were to be developed, but my biggest problem is with what I see is a conflict of interest with Ms. Feldman holding a seat on borough council yet continually tying council up in litigation and not voting on issues which is what the voters put these people in office for. It has been said that Ms. Feldman won the election because a majority of residents were behind her Kardon Park litigation. Yet when the statistics are meted out it is found that Ms. Feldman only won her seat by 13 votes against Mr. Madiro. That is not a mandate; the mayoral election showed a vote count of 1270, therefore half of the town voted between Ms Feldman and Mr. Madiro and the other half were split in the other races for seats. Even in the election the Mayor’s position was only won by 48 votes: that’s not a mandate that is malaise and the same goes for the election of Ms. Feldman. I have been told that my thoughts about Ms. Feldman and the FOKP are disingenuous and denigrating? Really? So someone can tell me that Ms Feldman is not the only one who is appealing the East Caln tract of land sale and development? That Ms. Feldman herself has not said, “I can make a stink on Borough Council.” And that is not self serving?

Oh wait I am the one who is self serving I forgot. Yes it’s because I agreed that part of the park if it is to stay a “park” should have signage and people should be informed what is actually in that area before trekking through it. Also that I posted a picture of the forth pond at daybreak and then three shots of what I call the sludge pond right behind me, yet “Most people who use the park would never even see the silt pond you have featured so prominently, since its north of the forth lake. They would have to enter at the silt pond to see it and that entrance point leads nowhere.” Yet even on the FOKP website it was stated that, “These two parcels are also part of Kardon Park, have been historically and are currently used as parkland…” So which is it? Is the area part of the “park” or not? You can’t have it both ways.



I have also been accused of having posts that are “…..illogical, irrational, and disjointed, as well as misinformed.” Oh yeah and I apparently am scary too. In the interest of not having the reader fall asleep I had wanted to keep the posts short and to the point I was making at the time, but since I have been “called on it” here we go.

The site that is called Kardon Park as of right now contains concentrations exceeding the MSC for Non-Residential in Use Aquifers of benzo(a)pyrene, arsenic, iron, lead, mercury and vanadium all of which lead to various ailments such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, developmental delays and interruptions and even brain damage. Now I am not too sure about you but I don’t want to expose adults to these let alone children. So a secondary remedial action was proposed by the ACT 2 report and that was to maintain part of the site as parkland and allow the other portions to be used for development. I am not an expert in legalese but to me that means that the part of The Ponds area that is already parkland is to stay that way with many enhancements, but the area that is still very toxic is to be capped with a minimum of two feet of clean soil, stone or pavement if the presently suggested development were to go through. Now if Ms. Feldman wins her suit then according to the ACT 2 that part of the land needs to have restrictions according to the non-residential park use. If the taxpayers had to pay to cap this area it would be to the tune of $1.5 million dollars of a $6 million dollar budget for the Borough. That’s about 25% of one year’s budget. Right now in Downingtown our tax burden is 6.7 mills and $1.5 million equals to 4.2 mills……tax increase anyone?

Other arguments that come to light are the burdens to the school district, traffic, and a fiscal impact. First of all the homes are to be townhomes and garden level homes which are not as attractive to families as to first time buyers, investment properties, and empty nesters looking to downsize. Even so there is already a proposed middle school that is being built on the taxpayers’ backs when there has been no significant growth in school age children in the last year. Therefore, the housing would generate cash surplus to the district which would ease the tax burden the new school will cause. The traffic will be impacted very little as it will not add more than 40 more cars on the surrounding roads within an hour’s time, due to the proximity to the train and the proposed traffic lighting to ease congestion that now exists. The fiscal impact is the big one….our taxes have risen 48% since 2006 and it’s not something that is going to go away soon. However, the borough would receive cash proceeds from the sale of $8.1 million which could then be used to pay down some of the outstanding debt of $7.6 million which is about a 1/3 of the tax burden. In addition the borough would get approximately $130, 000 per year in surplus cash and Chester County would realize about $40,000 per year.

I have been called on my assessment of the decision of Judge Platt also. I honestly do not think that had she really had all the facts in front of her that she would have been swayed the way she ruled. Even within the ruling she says, “There is less substantial evidence of a dedication of the areas of the property which are not adjacent to the trails, ponds, and Victims Memorial, particularly those areas which are contaminated……….I am compelled to treat them as one parcel. [sic] The public has historically been given access to the entire property……” So what was her decision based on? Anecdotal evidence? Most likely, because if she really had seen what the contaminated areas are used for if at all I do not see her deciding the way she did, “based on law” as the other side would have you believe.

So to the detractor who “visits” here frequently…how’s that for informed? Never mind you will still try and spin it for FOKP.

I will get back to you on the whole Johnsontown issue when it comes to fruition, but for now we are putting ourselves out there for compromise and working with the individuals we need to. It does pay to use honey over vinegar, FOKP might want to try that…oh wait little too late for that.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Just For Today

On this Veteran’s Day I sit and read the many tributes and thanks posted on various sites and blogs and I wonder how many of these people would be willing to answer the call that the young men and women who have served and are still serving did. Would we really be willing to sacrifice everything we had to preserve the freedoms that these people have helped guarantee for us? Could we leave our homes and our families to travel to distant lands to fight an enemy that is willing to go to any length to see us destroyed? Could you face that kind of hate head on with your head held high and your eyes straight ahead? I don’t know if I could have ever made that kind of sacrifice. I know that I would lay down my life for those I love, but would I have been willing to do it for someone I didn’t. I ask myself could I have gone into battle knowing that not every person was behind me and when I return be it in one piece or in a flag draped coffin that there would be those who still mocked my existence. There would be those who would shout epitaphs against those who had asked for my time, my effort and the skills that I possessed and could I have held my tongue when hearing such nonsense and be as gracious as I have heard one vet be when he said, “I fought for their right to be angry, and I fought for their right to speak their mind and I fought for their right to be stupid.” I know that I love my country with all that is in me and I well up at the mere mention of anything patriotic and the tears begin to flow when I hear our National Anthem or the heartfelt words of a tribute to those who have gone before us, but could I willingly give my all?


So as I ponder these questions today, I ask that you examine your heart along with me. For if it were not for these brave young men and women we would not be able to enjoy what most just think of as a day off from work because we would not have the freedom to think that without them being able to relinquish the life that we know to go into the fray for those who can’t. So don’t just thank a vet today, pray for those who are still serving, for those who will not come home again and hug those you can, look them in the eye and really say “Thank you.” For they have given what they can and some have given their all.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Tide Has Turned

This morning I awoke to the news that the GOP had completed their mission and the majority had spoken.  In our little mecca Jim Gerlach handily won his seat, Representative Schroder will be going back to Harrisburg, Jim Toomey pulled it out in the end, and we will have a Republican Governor at least for a little while.  Will it make a difference?  No one knows unless they posses the ability of precognition or they have a crystal ball, but I do believe that the American people have awakened from a stupor and realized that not making our leaders hold fast to what they promised and listen to their constituents is a mistake not to be made again.  In the previous election too much rhetoric and not enough substance was presented and the American people fell for it hook line and sinker and then when it did not work out began pointing fingers at the prior administration for the mistakes this one was making.  It reminded me of the cartoon Family Circus when the invisible characters "Not Me" and "He Did It" would run around wreaking havoc in the house.  It astounded me that no one wanted to take responsibility for the mess that THEY were making.  Did your parents not teach you to own up to your mistakes, or was it taught to you to blame everyone but yourself?  It still floors me that even after two years people and the administration are still blaming the one that came before.  Were some bad choices made for the eight years previously?  Yes.  Was money spent unwisely? Yes, towards the end it was spent like a drunken sailor on leave.   But the name calling became so bad that on one side of the aisle a name for it came about;Bush Derangement Syndrome.

I believe what became so divisive in the country wasn't even so much across party lines because there were and still are bad apples in each barrel, but the fact that when this administration was disapproved of the attacks on the other side were personal, not necessarily based on political ideology.  I know being on the side of the aisle where a "R" resides I was called racist, unrealistic, stupid and various other nastiness.  It had little to do with the fact that I did not like the turn the administration was taking, but because the backers of this presidency, I guess had shot their load, they could come up with little else to refute my arguments because in reality I was on the right track....and owning up to their mistakes is just not done.

I now await to see if our leader can really work across the aisle like he has said he wants to, although with the tone of his rhetoric during the campaign season he is going to have to work pretty hard to get the Republicans to listen when he called several of them some choice names.........nothing vulgar mind you, but being beaten with words still leaves bruises, you just can't see them.

So for now I think America has spoken and the message is loud and clear.........don't hand us a bill of goods with nothing to back it up.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Tuesday Madness

As we all know Tuesday is election day here in our little corner of the country.  There are several heated contests and some that a few people would like to think were heated, but they produce about as much of a temperature rise as lighter in an empty room.  If you have read anything I wrote lately especially then you know my leanings, but with that being said I urge you to get out and vote.  What I caution is that you know who you are voting for.  It's dangerous to go to the polls uninformed and it's also in my eyes irresponsible.  I have never come into an election year without researching a bit about a candidate;both sides of the aisle.  I also make a decision as to what issues are deal breakers for me and what aren't.  Something that is minor for me compared to something that will effect me for years to come is not what I am going to base my vote on.  Also I know that if it comes down to it a fight about the minor issue is easier when you come from common ground in other areas.

Go to the candidates websites, read what they have to say (yes I know some tend to be long winded), check their voting record, look at their experience not only if they have been in a seat of power before but what will they bring if they haven't, and then ask yourself is this person going to represent me the best he/she knows how.  Nothing is full proof and sometimes we make major mistakes when voting individuals in, but that can be rectified next term.

Here is who and what you as Pennsylvanians will be voting for:

US Senator
6 year term
Pat Toomey (R)  http://www.toomeyforsenate.com/
Joe Sestak (D) http://joesestak.com/splash.html

Governor of PA
4 year term
Dan Onorato (D) http://www.voteonorato.com/splash
Tom Corbett (R) http://tomcorbettforgovernor.com/meettomcorbett/

US Representative
2 year term
Jim Gerlach (R) http://jimgerlachforcongress.com/
Manan Trivedi (D) http://www.trivediforcongress.com/


State Representative District 155
2 year term
Barbara Bergeron (D) http://www.barb4pa.com/online/
Curt Schroder (R) http://www.curtschroder.com/


So make the choice for yourself and don't always follow part line rhetoric.  Good luck and GET OUT AND VOTE!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Do You Really Mean That?

This evening has been interesting in the little borough of Downingtown.  The Borough Council had their meeting and during the meeting the subject of Kardon Park was brought up yet again.  The solicitor that, according to my understanding, is handling the legal issues for the borough suggested what the council could do to limit liability if someone should become ill or hurt while visiting the area west of The Ponds.  The suggestions seemed reasonable to even a council member who sided with "Friends of Kardon Park" other than than the woman spearheading the commotion.  The solicitor cited Ms. Feldman specifically and she agreed that she had said that it was not safe to develop on the site because of the contamination.  When called on the point Ms. Feldman said that  that was right, but it was safe to be a park.  If development was to go on then the soil would be disturbed and be dangerous, but if not disturbed then it was fine.  Really?  Have you ever taken a young child anywhere and had them put things in their mouths including dirt Ms. Feldman?  Is this not an act of disturbing the soil?  What are you going to say to the mother whose child is now seriously ill because they happened to have digested some of the soil?  Oops?

The arguments went on with Ms. Feldman pushing nothing more than her agenda.  So I looked up some of the chemicals that were allegedly dumped on this site and I was appalled that Ms. Feldman was fighting the fact that anyone was willing to come in and remediate that area even if it meant more houses in that area.  My reasoning being this......During my formative teen years I lived in an area in Colorado called Unincorporated Jefferson County and I attended Columbine for my high school years.  I still keep in touch with many of my classmates and a strange thing happened one night.  Several alumni had gotten together and were talking about how at our age we should not be suffering from all the maladies that had befallen every one of us.  A few of us took up the banner and ran with it and found out that several companies had dumped toxic waste into an area that fed our water system for many years.  We then reached out to other alumni from other classes and found that the illnesses were in great number and most had lived in a section that had had the contaminated water pumped into their homes.  Now we are not talking about maladies like simple headaches and such, but MS, RSD, severe mental issues, fibromyalgia, unexplained neuropathy and the list went on.  We tried to fight the government, but because there had been a suit brought long ago that had been settled we hit brick walls every which way we turned.  I am here to inform you Ms. Feldman and the "Friends of Kardon Park" that some of the toxicities that reside within your "PARK" are the very ones that were found to be in our water in Colorado oh so long ago.  Therefore, no matter which way this suit finally ends up I hope someday that if it is discovered that many children later become ill because they played in "Kardon Park" find out it was you and your group who helped precipitate their illness and they find a way to win back all the legal fees you have cost the Borough and the citizens of Downingtown.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Kardon Park? Really?

Is it possible for someone to tell me when this tract of land really became a park and not only that, but one with a name?  I have lived in Downingtown for over 15 years and I have never seen anyone make good use of what is being called Kardon Park.  Why is that?  Is it because people still tend to dump their unwanted materials there?  Or is it because it becomes a mud pit when it rains, or how about the fact that it wasn't even close to being an area that was sellable till they tore down the old building and put Rite Aid in?  What possibly could draw a person to this "park" to walk and enjoy nature?  I don't think it's the "wetlands" that were mentioned as we only have two heron that live near and around here....a white one and a blue one and of course a plethora of geese, but I do not think the geese will be too upset if we clean this area up and like anyone can go to another eating establishment or bar down the street if they don't like the one they are in the geese can manage to waddle over to The Ponds where I am sure the atmosphere is much more like "Cheers" in the respect as that's where everyone goes anyway.  The builder was willing to clean up the area and there were plans in the makings for some new traffic patterns and egress so that there would not be the suspected and complained about congestion.  Tax revenue would come into the borough which is sorely needed as many places do not see Downingtown as a mecca of growth and businesses are not first inclined to think of our little spot in the county.

     But it has come down to some judge on some bench that appears to think that this tract is really a park and is beneficial to everyone.....really?  So since that is the case I propose that the "Friends of Kardon Park" (I still have trouble saying that without either snickering or furrowing my brow) foot the cost of the toxic clean up and maintaining of the "park" so that they can stop pretending that something is really there when it's not.  Oh yeah and when you are done with that how about you hot foot it over to Johnsontown Park (one that really does exist by the way) and help us clean up our end of town where people could honestly benefit from someone helping us as we are working to actually raise the quality of life.  How about putting some effort into a worthwhile project?  There really is a park here with running water and residents here not some trumped up image of something you would like it to be.


There is no doubt there is beauty around this area as seen above on an early morning, but just turn around.....







Saturday, September 11, 2010

Where Were You?

Today has been a tough day to get through, not because of any family crisis or neighborhood uproar, but for the simple fact that it is 9/11.  I remember so clearly not even thinking we were being attacked when the first plane was said to have hit the first tower and later seeing and hearing the horror unfold.  So many conversations that I had that day run through my head today, nine years later.......should we go and get our kids out of school or are they safer there, were friends living in NYC safe and had anyone heard from them,  are we sure the plane in PA was truly part of the atack, who was behind the massacre and simply "Why?"  For a while we came together as a nation.  It didn't matter the color of your skin the person you had chosen to love or the way you punched a ballot, we all hurt and we needed each other to get through this.  People flew flags and hugged one another tighter, said, "I love you" more frequently and mourned with the greatest of sympathy those we had lost.  Unfortunately that did not last; actions that were taken with the best of intentions were scoffed at, fingers were pointed and even rumblings of an inside job were circulated amoung the people.  It all seemed as if the anger we felt at those who had caused the real harm was being directed in the wrong place.

Today nine years later my heart still hurts, not as much about the events that unfolded this particular day, that pain has lessened, but the ache comes from the fact that we as Americans have turned our backs on what made this country great long ago.  We as a people have become banal and complacent, we don't hold the values that our founding fathers had originally put forth to create the United States of America.  We stumble over the word God because it might offend someone and we have taken Him out of everything that Franklin, Adams, Jefferson and the others who originated what we were to become had placed Him in.  We tolerate things simply because "We are supposed to be free."(there's freedom and then there is being a doormat).  And we give in too easily because doing the right thing is sometimes hard.

I personally would like to be as brave and as dedicated to America as those who hijacked the hijackers on Flight 93.  They did not roll over and let those men, who had distorted their religion and ideals, murder more people than those who were on that plane.  They took matters into their own hands and they brought the aircraft down in a field in Pennsylvania not on the White House or another DC target.  It's time that we did not let these people die in vain and in doing right we do not let those who died in NYC and the Pentagon simply become a distant memory.  I say it's time to do the right thing so.............."Let's Roll!"

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ponderings on a hot day

Today I was engaged in a heated "discussion" about federal politics (surprised?  I wasn't) and the exchange was almost laughable when it came down to it.  But it made me think about things on not only a national level, but a local level as well.  As many people know a proposed mosque is to be built in NYC near Ground Zero and many people are quite against this endeavor, but the government will not take a solid stand either way.  Many politicians that represent both that area and on a national level have been very wishy washy as to what can and cannot be done even when the opposition is strong.  Then here, we are in our little burg of Johnsontown and we have been TOLD that a new road will be built right through our park.  There are those of us who live here who are not all that thrilled with the idea and mainly because we have not been clearly informed as to what this will entail, but it appears on the surface that we have no choice because local government has deemed it so.  Nothing wishy washy about a new road right through our park, but no one in office will come out and take a stand (either way) on a building that will effect the area for millions, not just a few hundred.  How lopsided is that?  How is it that a local government, right or wrong, can make a decision and stand on said thought while the national government will make a statement, backpedal, obfuscate and any other adjective you can think of?  Makes you wonder doesn't it?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Oh What A Night!!

    Last night August 3,2010 The Johnsontown Community Group hosted the First Annual Johnsontown National Night Out at Johnsontown Park from 6-8PM and it was a rousing success!  During the evening we were joined by approximately 120 people flowing through the park.  Neighbors got to meet some of our elected officials, join and or get involved with us in JCG, meet the local police and fire departments and enjoy food provided by Chick-Fil-A and participate in a few raffles for gift certificates and money.

    This is the first year we were able to participate and it was bigger than anyone thought, so next year should be even bigger and better.  Many thanks go out to Minquas Fire Company, Downingtown Police, Mayor Josh Maxwell, Representative Curt Schroder, Foster Boys, Dog House Burgers, the many volunteers and of course Melinda Winkler who is the JCG Events Chairperson and Nick Winkler who worked his mandibular magic with the local businesses.

     I know I am looking forward to next year!
Bird's eye view of the park
Council Member Bob Smith
Rep. Curt Schroder
Council Member Ann Feldman stopped by

Monday, July 19, 2010

National Night Out

On Tuesday August 3, 2010 we are participating in NATIONAL NIGHT OUT.  The Downingtown police will be joining us and neighbors are asked to come out and meet each other.

National Night Out is:

  • Promoting neighborhood spirit and cooperation with police and other authorities.

  • Sending a message to criminals that the neighborhood is organized and is watching.

  • Generate support for local anticrime and drug awareness programs.


The National Association of Town Watch has partnered with Target and we are excited to be involved this year and will be an even bigger participant next year.  So on August 3rd...turn your light on, join us on your porch, come out and meet some of the officers of Downingtown's finest.  So mark your calendars and hope to see you there!!!!!

Monday, July 5, 2010

What Holiday?

I have a bone to pick, so bare with me.  First off I hope that everyone had a fantastic Fourth of July and that time was spent with family and friends.  That said, I am ready to unload about the whole weekend.  To begin with Downingtown had Good Neighbor Day on Saturday which was fine, however it boggles my mind why when we have several lovely trails for runners and bikers was it necessary to close off almost every road in town for entrants to ride or run on the streets of D'town.  Would it not have been easier to station police officers only where the trails intersect those roads instead of having officers all over the place closing off 282, Business 30, Pennsylvania, Manor and other various inroads to town and around it?  Shouldn't good neighbor day instill good feelings towards our neighbors and officials, not being completely ticked off because we have to go miles out of our way to get where we need to go?

My other beef is why are businesses closed today July 5th?  What holiday is it today?  What kind of message does it send to our young people that a three day weekend is more important than commemorating our struggles to break the chains of tyranny?  We have managed to mangle almost every other holiday to finagle a three day weekend in, in most places.  Take Presidents Day for example.  Who gave us the right to lump two very significant people into one day just to get Saturday, Sunday AND Monday off from work?  We have become a nation that just does not give a damn unless we can get something out of it, yet if our children display that kind of behavior we let them know how wrong it is for THEM to do it. How sad is it that we think only of ourselves and what we will do with that extra day instead of lingering on thoughts of the blood that was shed and the heroics that were displayed in that long ago time so that we might become rotten examples of patriotism.  No wonder no one respects the US, we don't even respect ourselves.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Message From Nick Winkler

I hope everyone is keeping cool with the increasingly hot summer days. I would like to have had this message be a positive one about the start of summer, however, recent circumstances have dictated otherwise. We have been saying for many months now that with the coming of summer we can anticipate an increase in mischievous activity in Johnsontown. However, little did we anticipate it would be the very first night of summer.




As some of you may already be aware of, on Monday night there was a graffiti hit throughout our community. I have surveyed the area by car, bike, and foot now three different times and count 12 different locations that were hit. The tagging may not have affected your personal property, but nonetheless it affects all of us because this is OUR community.



Some of our members were hit, some non-members, our recently cleaned up park, and even one of our churches. I believe these recent acts of vandalism now put our months of planning and preparedness to the test. We will never be able to stop unwanted activity 100% of the time, this recent incident highlights that, but what we do now will show what our group is capable of.



I have spoken to the Police Chief, the Mayor, and the Public Works Director, who are all aware of the situation and taking the appropriate actions on their end. However, this now calls into question the very mission as to why we exist. We have stated that "we the residents of Johnsontown, are committed to creating a safe and clean community for a better quality of life in our neighborhood." These acts of vandalism are a direct hit towards our objective.



I am asking everyone to play a role in helping bring these vandals to justice. As always, DO NOT take matters into your own hands. It is not your job, in your best interest, or in your own safety, to do the work of the Downingtown Police department.However, that does not mean that our efforts cannot be used to help bring justice to this specific situation, and discourage future copycat incidents. With over 50 pairs of eyes consciously observing the neighborhood we should be able to make a serious impact.



There are a couple of specific things that can be done;



* Check to see if your house or property was hit. If it was, REMOVE the graffiti immediately. Studies show you are less likely to get hit again if you clean the area. For a relevant example, there is a garage that was hit in this recent attack off of St. James Alley, that would require extra effort to tag.



However, I believe the extra effort was made because there appears to be years worth of graffiti still on the garage.

They decided to add their mark on what is clearly the place that everyone hits.



- SAVE your receipts! Whatever work needs to be done, or products that are purchased to remove the graffiti, will be repaid by the vandals upon conviction.



* Make an extra effort to drive back through the alleys at night (St. James and St. Joseph's). Obviously this kind of activity happens after dark, so make an attempt to be more present.




* It is fair to assume that these acts were done by local children or teenagers in our community. Kids talk, so if you have children please ask them what they have heard from the kids in the neighborhood or their friends. Also, if your children are on Facebook or any social networking site, monitor their recent postings.Acts like these are often seen as bragging rights.



Also, speak to your children and the neighborhood kids about the incident. Make them aware of the situation and let them know that there are serious consequences. I spoke with some kids in the park earlier today and they were very engaged in talking about the situation with me. They agreed that it was stupid and are aware that the vandals will be in a lot of trouble They are now a couple of extra ears and eyes towards our cause.



* HELP ENFORCE THE CURFEW. During the summer months children under 18 years of age are not permitted to be out past 11pm. There are some exceptions. If they are with a legal guardian (a friend over 18 does not count), they are coming home from work, or if they are walking back home from a friend's house. In all other circumstances call the police at the afterhours number of 610-383-7000.



-Be aware of children walking with book bags in the evening. As reminded by the Police Chief earlier today, kids will often have backpacks to hold their spray cans in while committing these acts.



* Please report and document any incidents or graffiti to your respective Block Representative on our website

www.Johnsontowncommunity.com



Remember this is one of the main reasons why we organized our community group in the first place.This is an opportunity for us to not only put to use the months of preparations, but to make a statement. An attack on one is an attack on all. There may have been times in the past where these kinds of crimes were tolerated, looked over, or accepted as the way it is in Johnsontown, but that is no longer the present time. In the past we were simply neighbors because of where we lived, but today we are community linked by our shared commitment and our active involvement with each other. We are Johnsontown Community Group, and we are now watching!



Thanks,

Nick
President~Johnsontown Community Group

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Don't Ask Don't Tell

No, I am not talking about the Army, Air Force, Marines or Navy I am talking about the Boy Scouts.  Who ever thought that an institution like the BS would have to defend their charter from a city of "Brotherly Love"?  In the year 2000 the U.S Supreme Court decided that the scouts were a "membership organization" and could include or exclude anyone they saw fit.  Yet, the city of Philadelphia is saying we don't want to play by the rules and we want them to pay rent on a building that the scouts have occupied for years because the scouts not rejecting their national scout policy is violating local rules.  I am beginning to think that since there is an incredible deficit within the city Mayor Nutter and Council are looking for any dimes they can find in the couch cushions and because this fight was started in 2006 they can push that much harder.  The city leases land to other organizations and institutions that have "membership rules" one which includes a Catholic Church, yet they are not threatening to yank their rent or throw THEM out of their buildings if they do not conform to the city's rules.  In fact one group, the Colonial Dames of America who control the Lemon Hill Mansion limit their membership to people who are direct descendants of those who lived in a colony before 1750.  In my thought process lots of people can get upset and up in arms about that, it's a very restricting membership to say the least, but why is the city not pushing the Dames to pony up more rent?

It's a sad day when cities and towns have to attack an organization that has done many good deeds within each city and town and has caused very little if no harm to come to anyone just because they choose not to except into their organization a person.  Where does it stop and when are we going to leave well enough alone?  Maybe when Philadelphia can pay their bills?


VS

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Little Consideration Please

So, you are in the market to purchase a car and like any good consumer you do your homework, have reams of printed prices and accessories that you would like to add to said car and you are loaded for bear.  Like any good comparison shopper you visit at least two "stores" that have the product that you want and you compare what each place will offer you.  You "talk" to at least two sales persons along with their managers and you weigh each offer carefully before making a decision on which vehicle to purchase.

Now the flip side of that purchase.  To begin with most consumers have the thought that the price of the car that is listed is just a suggestion and not what is needed for that dealership to keep the car on the lot, and keep it in running order.  There is also the misconception that salespeople will make an enormous amount of money on your purchase and giving up 5 hours of their day is worth the moola he/she will make.  Of course these people are also to be there at your beck and call and are not to have a life outside of the dealership.  It's no problem when a consumer comes in at 8:50PM and wants to make a deal even if the dealership does close at 9PM and the sales staff has only been there 12 hours already, because these people have no life and no family to go home to.  Let us also not forget that each salesperson is out to "take you" for everything he/she can...it's not like the MSRP or Kelly Blue Book can possibly give the consumer any idea of what the car is worth and the salesperson can "slip in" extra costs that will make them more money, like say taxes on the purchase.  A favorite of any salesperson is the consumer who feels that he/she should pay bargain basement prices for a brand new car because as we all know there are so many hidden costs that make the car not really worth the price the dealership is asking, and oh yeah the salesperson has no right to make any money on that car even if he/she has patiently spent way too many hours on a person who actually deserves to be thrown out on their behinds.

Don't you think that a little consideration should be made that car salespeople are humans too?  They work long hours for much less money than you think and they must plaster on a smile for the nastiest and demanding of the human race, and yes also the nicest and most cooperative too.  Of course I say buyer beware, but don't you think that it should also be buyer be nice?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Decoration Day

Puzzled by the title?  Does Memorial Day ring a bell?  Decoration Day is what Memorial Day started out as to commemorate those who had died in the Civil War, later on it included all service members from all conflicts.  It was first officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 and was first observed on May 30, 1868 when flowers were placed on the graves of Civil War soldiers at Arlington Cemetery.  It wasn't until after WWI that it recognized all soldiers who had given their lives.  Unfortunately too many people have forgotten the reason for the day.  It's not to have a long weekend or the "unofficial start of summer", but to remember the sacrifice of the men and women in uniform.  So when you are firing up the grill to cook the burgers and the dogs, or walking from your condo to the beach for some sun, take a moment and look around at all you have, because without the soldier and what they gave, there would be nothing to celebrate.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Clean It Up

Last Saturday, the Johnsontown Community Group had our second neighborhood clean up.  Several residents along with the Mayor of Downingtown joined in our efforts.  It appeared that the streets and alley ways were not as trash laden as they had been.  We had staged a clean up in November right after Halloween and it is possible that that along with our presence in the neighborhood others are not as tempted to throw their trash in unacceptable places.  We did discover though that there is a need to concetrate on Johnsontown Park as that seems to be the place that people feel that their refuse will not be discovered.  A Ford pick up truck bed liner was found, washing machine parts, bed springs and maybe an old mattress, car parts and all sorts of other blech was uncovered during our time out and about.  We are planning another day in the fall so come join us if you can and we hope to see everyone at our next meeting in June on the 8th @7:30PM.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Listen Up

An unfortunate experience has driven me to a new opinion about some of the elected officials not only nationally, but also locally.  Maybe all the problems have stemmed from a society that has taught children that EVERYONE gets a trophy no matter how much effort you put into winning or your work.  Or maybe it came from the "I'm OK, You're OK" thought process, but honestly I am a bit tired of the lackadaisical, martyr approach of those whom we have voted to represent our interests.  I guess I am wondering why it is that not one official that I have seen recently has the chutzpah to handle things when a heated discussion ensues or their constituents are displeased and just want a straight answer.  Understandably plenty of people can become rude and even belligerent when asking a question of a senator, mayor or council member, but there comes a time when it is earned.  It is time for these officials to understand that if I wanted to waltz I would have taken dancing lessons not come to an open forum to discover what is going on within the realm of which I live.  Listen up bureaucrats, all you have to do is answer the question simply and succinctly.  Don't dance around the issue, don't sidestep a direct request and for goodness sakes do not underestimate my intelligence.  If you chose to do the aforementioned then expect to have your lunch handed to you because those of us who feel the same way are about done with doing the Watusi just to hear "I don't know."  And by the way if you happen to encounter a constituent who pushes just a little too hard, don't go whining to your friends complaining that it was not fair.....suck it up and grow a pair!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

We have been computerized

What a meeting is was last night!  The Daily Local News came and with not much more than an IPhone, a tripod and a great photographer, our meeting was streamed onto the web.  We had two great speakers:Jack Law-Public Works and Councilman Bob Smith.  Mr. Law gave us some great insight as to what to do to get things done in our little part of town and when we can schedule others.  He has been a good friend to Johnsontown and I am sure we will experience a long and prosperous time together.  Bob Smith was gracious and patient with us even when it became a little heated about the bridge project for Johnsontown Park.  Josh Maxwell was also there and he helped calrify some points on the project, but it's a hot button topic and I am sure that we will see and hear more about it.  I, myself do have to apologize to Mr. Smith, as I was the one who brought up the bridge project not realizing that it would put him in the kind of spot that it did and not intending it to become that heated.

I think as a group we did learn that we need to start attending council meetings on a more consistant basis, that our executive board needs to hone the skills that we do have, and that we do have a voice, we just have to learn to channel that sound to the apropriate places.  Can we up the quality of life in our neighborhood and maybe even "fight City Hall"?   Time will tell.  I have every confidence that together we can.

Johnsontown Community Group

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Big Happenings Tonight

Just a brief little note for tonight.  This evening we have the pleasure of being the first group to have their meeting streamed live on the net on the Daily Local News Website.  This is a new venture for the paper and for our group as it gets the word out about both.  I will let you know how it goes and you can let me know what you thought Johnsontown Community Group Goes Live.


Hope everyone can find some time to drop in!!!!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Educating the Instructors

The March issue of Philadelphia Magazine gave the distinction to Downingtown "The Grower".  The article, "10 Awesome Neighborhoods To Call Home" took a look at several places around Philadelphia and the suburbs to find some diamonds in the rough.  Having lived in Downingtown for 16 years now I would say for the most part it is a great place to live, but some of the drawbacks tend to make my temper flare at various times and lately the school district is stoking the fire.  DASD just released a statement saying that the budget will fall short approximately 5.6 million dollars and there will be some serious cuts in programs.  The board has looked at outsourcing jobs, done a transportation study, going paperless, not hiring as many new staff members and "streamlining" where they can.  In fact the next few years do not look good and even more cuts might be needed.  Normally this would not bother me, but enrollment numbers have not increased since the 2008-09 school year, yet a new middle school along with a STEM Academy are being built within the district.  In fact there was talk about raising taxes above what can normally be done within a district;special permission at one time was being sought.

When my children were in sixth grade, about two years ago, DASD teachers went on strike for more money and lower insurance premiums.  One of the only reasons the teachers returned to work was that their salaries were published in the newspaper, otherwise they most likely would have been out a lot longer.  When published the lowest paid teacher in DASD made almost $20,000 more than the median income in Downingtown and most certainly for working less hours.  DASD teachers race for the door once their "contract time" is up.  In fact they are in arbitration right now because they worked 10 minutes more than they were supposed to on "Back to School Night."

So here we are the residents of Downingtown, looking at paying more taxes for what in the long run has become a lackadaisical education on the part of some of the educators in DASD, a brand new middle school and a STEM Academy when those monies could most certainly be used in a more responsible way.  Those of us who live in Chester County know that our taxes are high for a reason, but when the reason is not viable nor visible why should we pay through the nose?  It's time to educate the educators on basic economics.....you don't buy a boat if the lake has dried up.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Bridge Too Far

If you have ever traveled by train into Downingtown the station you will come into is right in our little neck of the woods in Johnsontown.  The largest of the parking lots for this venue is within what is sadly called Johnsontown Park.  For the longest time this "park" was more or less empty open space nearest the homes on Viaduct (and yes, nefarious deeds were done in the darkened areas near the Brandywine) and fields that were used for soccer during the season on the eastern side.    A few years ago a small "playground" was built and the Lions constructed a pavilion, but still the park is not used as much as it could be if the borough would put more time and money into it like they have done with other parks in the area which actually have less of a population of people around them.

Now we are being told that a bridge will be built from Boot Road and 322 into Johnsontown right through the park.  Why you might ask?  Well when one asks any local official you will hear just about the same thing, "it will be good for the borough."  Oh really? And what about the citizens of Johnsontown?  How will it impact our quality of life?  Were we even asked or considered?  Not so much.  Doing some investigation I found that the reason that the bridge has been proposed is because that area  is what is called a KOZ which means a Keystone Opportunity Zone.  These areas have generated very little state and local tax revenue and if developed are expected to attract spin off taxable activity.  If you take a good look at a map of Johnsontown you will see there is actually NO ROOM for this!
Not only is there no room for this kind of construction it will make traffic patterns a nightmare and inconvenience and generally make life a living hell for those who reside on Viaduct.  If you have ever come around this part of the neighborhood once a train has arrived at 5, 6, or 7 pm you would know from where I speak.  Trying to get into Johnsontown or out of it becomes a test in patience.  The small tunnel that exits onto Business Route 30 only travels one way at a time and becomes extremely congested at quiting time.  Viaduct Rd would also have to be widened if the proposal that has been floating around the rumor mill is true and this would mean that home owners would lose portions if not all of the front area of their property.  How would you like the road you live on to be right outside your front door?

I say if you want this area to start generating taxes, help the residents clean up the area, give our community group the funds needed to begin some projects that we would like to accomplish but can't without more substantial money than we can generate on our own.  Make the people and children of Johnsontown a priority rather than seeing us as a liability to be pushed around at your whim.  I say this will be a BRIDGE TOO FAR!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Crossing The High Wire

No one can say definitively what the meaning of sneakers or shoes tossed over power wires is, but in many areas, ours included, it defines where and when drugs can be purchased.  I have looked all over the net and many sites state that it is an urban legend that this means nefarious activity;it's children playing, it's kids who are just bored and in some cases that is just what it is.  However, a friend of ours who is a recovering addict let us in on the little secret when it was mentioned that shoes were dangling from various power lines in various places in the neighborhood.  The shoes are not a permanent fixture in each location, so the fact that it's bored teens or kids does not jibe with where and when the shoes are seen.

Within our community group we have found that when we do "walk arounds" in the neighborhood that the frequency of the shoes appearing drops.  We don't ever engage those conducting business that we would rather see stopped, but when the perpetrators of these practices see that there is NOT "no one around" it makes it more diffcult for he/she to conduct business.

So if you see a pair of kicks or shoes hanging from a wire, if they are your size take em, otherwise report their presence to your local law enforcement and document everything.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Pot Holes or Car Consumers?

Ever been driving along and not notice that dark patch in the road and all of a sudden your teeth are rattled out of your mouth along with the hubcap on your tire making a run for it?  I know even in Johnsontown there have been a few occasions where the potholes have caused me to cuss and swear quite loudly in the car.

The Daily Local has partnered with See, Click, Fix to report to local government if there is a pothole or a road hazard in your neighborhood.~See, Click, Fix~
So join us in helping to clear up the nastiness in the streets that can cause sometimes serious damage to cars and tires.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Look With New Eyes

I am sure that many of us have faced prejudiced in some form or another, but facing it about where you live can be really hard. I have lived in Downingtown for the last 16 years and the last 10 in Johnsontown. When people ask where I live and I say Downingtown of course they ask, “Oh really where in Downingtown?” The looks on their faces or the sound of their “Oh” when I say near the train station is one of disappointment and a bit of disgust. At times I know that Johnsontown was not “THE” place to live in the town, but there is beauty that is yet undiscovered in Johnsontown and quite a few up and comers are moving into the area along with a lot of long time residents and their families.




One of the founders of St. Anthony’s Lodge on Church Street resided on Bradford Ave while living in Johnsontown. At first St. Anthony’s was housed at 231 Church Street and then in 1929 it moved to where it is now at 259 Church Street. Every August the lodge hosts a “Frog Party” where men gather to eat frog legs and share in brotherhood.



The Johnsontown playground got a facelift not too long ago with some equipment and swings. Soccer is played during the season on the wide open fields in the park and the Downingtown Lions Club built a really nice pavilion.



The gardens flowers and trees around the neighborhood are well tended and bright with color and the churches may be small but they are powerful in their message and congregation.




On a nice spring day take a walk around Johnsontown and see the growth and see it with new eyes as the neighborhood we love.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Our General Meeting

The Johnsontown Community Group had our general meeting last night at St. Anthony's Lodge.  We started the evening off with a 50/50 raffle to put some extra money into our account.  Each Executive Board Member and Committee Chairperson gave a report on what was being done and what we hoped to accomplish.

We will be doing a Membership Drive on Saturday April 24, 2010 in the afternoon to inform more of our neighbors, up our membership and get people involved.  A "Clean Up Day" has been scheduled for Saturday May 8th with a rain date of May 22nd.

A brainstorming session produced many ideas that need just a small amount of work to grow them into great opportunities.

We are hoping that you all will join us at our next meeting where we will be livestreaming the session;thanks to Andy Hachadorian~Editor.  Plans are to have our Borough Council Members as our guests.  The meeting is scheduled for May 11, 2010 at 7:30PM @St. Anthony's Lodge on Church Street.....see you there!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sunday Tidbit

:::::Sniff sniff:::::::Smell that? That is the smell of local politics. Our community group made their first presentation to the Borough Council.


The president Nick Winkler addressed:James Bruton, Anthony Gazzerro, Mark Benner, Ann Feldman and Bob Smith and represented our group very well.




We even educated the council on some issues. One of them would be that, when you see shoes hung over the wires of town that is a "tell" for purchasing narcotics within the neighborhood. Depending on how many shoes there are and where they are placed it will determine the "buy" spot.




A conversation held with Chief McGowan afterward produced a promise to give us an idea of what we need to do as citizens to help aprehend the dealers and or those who choose to come around our area to "make a buy". We might not be able to round up every dealer, but we might be able to make it uncomfortable for them to continue to business in Johnsontown.




We will be having our monthly meeting on Tuesday April 13, 2010 at 7:30PM @St. Anthony's Banquet Hall. If you feel so inclined all are welcome to join us.....united we stand, divided we fall. Hope to see you there!!!




Elaine


Communications Chairperson

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Hoppy Day

Today for most Christians it is a time to spend with family and reflect on the great gift given to us by our Higher Power. But it's also time for renewal. For me, Easter is the beginning of Spring no matter that it officially started in March. More flowers beging to emerge, animals begin having their young and the temps are climbing.


I saw some beautiful trees in the parking lot of Ashbridge Square shopping center and the medians are showing off some very pretty posies. The Post Office on Boot Road is sporting some nicely flowering trees with two perfect nests in each one. The CCIU's fauna should begin to unfold soon. So without going far one can enjoy the beauty that has been given to us.


On that note everyone have a blessed holiday and enjoy the time with family or in the sunshine!