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.


  1. Taken directly from the PADEP Act 2 report..."The Site Characterization Investigation found that SURFACE soils on portions of the Site contained concentrations of benzo(a)pyrene, arsenic, iron, lead, mercury, and vanadium exceeding their respective statewide Residential Direct Contact Medium Specific Concentrations (MSC's)."

    So no matter what Ann says, she's still endangering the residents of Downingtown by not allowing signs to be put up explaining the risks associated with going off the path at the Ponds. Too bad her property value will decrease now and so will her neighbors, b/c of the fact that it'll be public knowledge that the soil in her backyard park is contaminated.

    I've been in the woods there and it's a disgrace littered with old steel drums, metals, and even signs saying it's a dump...(far from a park)

  2. it is just a shame that finally the land was going to be cleaned up and taken care of. Now it will sit and continue to "marinate".

    There should be warning signs posted as a new family moves here and lets there kids play off the beaten path and gets deathly ill or sick. Great article and post

  3. Yes, the DEP report said it exceeds the level for "residential", which assumes a 24/7 exposure possibility. This is the reason it would have to be "capped" to put residential construction on TOP of all that contamination (note: ON TOP of the contamination)

    The standards for passive park use differ from those for residential use, since the exposure times are dramatically less.

    The DEP clearance is for passive park use, and is based on the Golder Report which indicates (as Judge Platt stated in her decision) the surface soils do not contain contaminates in levels that exceed the thresholds to restrict such use. The Golder report also specifically states that it erred on the side of caution, and that the risk was likely overstated.
    Most of the site was already covered with clean soil, by the Kardon Industries when they were trying to build on it, and also when the ponds were dredged, the Borough put that soil on top of the former dumpsite.

    The Golder report also states quite explicitly that the greatest danger from the contamination would come from the disturbance of the soil.

    Of course, excavating and earth moving in preparation for a 300+ unit townhouse community just might cause some disturbance of the soil.

    Facts never seem to bother proponents of the development of Kardon Park.

  4. " Direct from Judge Platt's decision:

    "In the Human Health Risk Assessment for Park Use, the Golder Report stated: U[T]he surface soil at Kardon Park does not pose a cumulative risk to park users in excess of the statutory threshold. Furthermore, the estimated carcinogenic risks are well over an order of magnitude less than the maximum carcinogenic risk level specified by PADEP for developing cleanup numbers at a Site." (P-19A). In 1999, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection reviewed the Golder Report (Kim-~1) and issued an Order under Section 512 of Act 2 stating: "A Human Health Risk Assessment for direct contact exposure to Site soils indicated that any risk to human health is within an acceptable range, as set forth in the Act 2 regulations." (Kim-22, page 2). " "

  5. Here is the DEP order:

    The "inconsistent" [prohibited] uses are: Residential use of any kind, and the drilling of water wells.

    The entire site is approved for passive park use, and was approved tentatively for commercial development which never ocurred. [such development would likely have been unlawful as is the current proposal] The commercial development proposal did not preclude the previous clearance for passive park use.

  6. Ms. Feldman is fighting to prevent the placement of residential housing on top of the contamination under Kardon Park, which is up to 12 feet deep, in unstable soil, and which will not be removed.

    The Colorado case cited is an excellent argument why no one should be living on top of that amount of contamination 24/7. The park has clearance from DEP for its current use, with no restriction on passive park use.

  7. No Ms. Feldman is not fighting to stop development she is fighting to keep a park that is contaminated period. The Colorado case IS NOT a perfect example of why development should not be put there it is a perfect example of why it SHOULD. The developer would be mandated to remediate the soil. In the Colorado case the water contamination levels were based on standards in the 1980's and they are much more restrictive now. But regardless the CO case was based on water contamination which is much more difficult to remediate and or clean up so your remark is mute.

    As far as Judge Platt's decision all that was looked at was carcinogens and that has been the mistake of every lawsuit that has been brought against building in what is a contaminated area to start with. Carcingens are less likely to be a problem then those chemicals that cause diseases like MS, RSD, and unexplained neuropathy. So without remediation of the soil because of the selfisness of a few there are children who if allowed to play in that area might very well come back to Ms. Feldman a few years from now very sick and I hope they expect her and her cronies to pay for their health care.

  8. Also Judge Platt made her ruling based soley on what she was told NOT what she had seen with her own eyes. Sure it can be used as a passive park if no one walks or plays on it. However, would you like to set up a volleyball net there or have a flag/touch football game on that soil? I think not. Ms. Feldman and her group should not be called "The Friends of Kardon Park" but "The Enemies of Downingtown."

  9. Ah, so objectivity is not your strong point. OK

    Personally, I will take the word from DEP before rabidly pro-development activists, on the contamination in the sub-soil of Kardon Park. And I will take the scientific evidence over personal opinions anyday.

    If DEP felt there should be restrictions on the use of the park for passive (note: passive) recreation they should have ordered restrictions. They did not. They based their order on "site specific" conditions, meaning the observed patterns of use, which have not changed. The gave Act 2 clearance to the park for precisely the use it has been used for for thirty years. And to date, not one example of the problems you refer to have been linked to Kardon Park. Not one case. Primarily because the uses have not changed in thirty years. People walk through the meadows, bird watch, etc. They are not camping out there, or digging up the soil. The developer's own environmental consultant testified he took his kids out there.

    If you have any evidence that anyone has suffered the health conditions from exposure to Kardon park, do us all a favor and post the information here. Until you do that, your assertions are suspect.

    The Golder report specifically (and quite thoroughly) states that disturbing the soil would create the very risks you are concerned about. You may disagree, and that is fine, but your personal opinion does not trump DEP or the scientific evidence. Nor does it trump thirty years of park history.

    If the claim is that putting 18 inches of soil of top of a toxic dump makes it safe for 24/7 exposure, then it would follow that a lesser amount of soil (already there) would render it just as safe for a short stroll through, a couple of times a week. That is what DEP has cleared it for. And the open space is the environment of the park, not a townhouse development. If people want to walk through high-density housing they have plenty of sidewalks to use in town.

    In the Borough of Downingtown, and in most places foundations and pipes must be 36 inches below the surface for frost-free applications (check the codes), so it is unclear how 300+ units get installed with frost-free foundations and utilities without violating the 18 inch cap. And the pilings to compensate for the unstable soil must be driven through the contamination , up to 12 feet.

    The fight to preserve the park IS a fight to prevent development.

    Of course none of this discussion matters if the sale of the park for development is illegal, as the judge has ruled.

  10. Objectivity? Really? So the fact that Judge Platt Ruled without see the "Park" for herself and going strictly by what she was told was objective? Hmmmmm....not to self need a new definition of some words.

    The DEP report also deliniated certain areas of the park for useage and only for certaint time limits, age restrictions and that one stayed on the paved walkways and the other areas to be off limits unless remediated....oh look isn't remediation what the developer was going to do? Oh wow now how did that pesky little FACT get in there if there is no objectivity? Oh and by the by the last Borough Meeting Ms. Feldman was severely against even putting up signage that complied with the DEP report, so gee I am getting conflicting views of objectivity here.

    Kardon Park does not even exist it is a conglomeration of The Ponds a sludge pond and a "paasive park" the remains in the imaginations of those opposed to moving forward in D'town instead of backward.

  11. Well now you are just making a fool of yourself.

    I posted the DEP order. Read it, and then comment. Shooting from the hip is for cowboys and gangsters, not informed commenters.

    Read the Golder Report. I have.

    The DEP does not impose restrictions other than for residential development, and for the drilling of water wells. The Act 2 clearance was for the assumed use patterns, meaning the observed and documented use...passive recreation, of limited duration. This would preclude organized activities such as athletic fields, etc. without corresponding DEP clearance for such use...which does not rule it out in the future, but would require remediation to accommodate it. Those types of activities would cause longer exposure times, as would residential development, and involve a change of use. Nowhere in the DEP order does it state the area to the west should be strictly off-limits for passive use. [which is why it never was] Moreover, the use patterns have not changed, as testified by Borough officials in the hearings. Few people venture to the west, as the clearance specifies. Barring a substantial change in use, there is no need for a change to the clearance, or the restriction of those areas.

    Where is it written?

    If you have any evidence of that, I would really like to see it in writing (not your writing, and not off-the-cuff comments by the solicitor or certain council members).

    You are evidently unaware that the stipulation of counsel that eliminated the 7 acres in EC, requested a visit from Judge Platt with all counsel to "assist in making findings of fact". "The visit should be made in the company of counsel and without notice to any party in this matter", "The visit should be made at the Court's convenience prior to the date of the first hearing, which is set for September 23, 2009". Judge Platt signed the stipulation on September 16, 2009. I assume she made the visitation to the park.

    Kardon Park has existed for over thirty years, and all of the documentation, and the experience of the people who have lived here that long supports it....which is why the Borough lost the case.

  12. I did read the DEP order. I also read that the site was to be used for BOTH a park and commercial development. If this was not done then the enforcements of the provisions of the report were to be put in place.

    Now let me ask you this why am I not allowed to bring up Ms. Feldmans ramblings as she is the one who is fighting to keep this eyesore so profoundly? Also you really ASSUME that Judge Platt visited the site? Ok. No the Kardon Park that you are talking about no longer exists.

    I wonder if those who wish to keep this "park" utilize any of the area that is "ok to be a park area but not ok to be developed"? And I am not talking only when the media is there or a photo op is presented but in everyday use. Guess we will see you there during the spring thaw for a picnic huh?

  13. Look, the clearance for a park was issued by DEP...all 50 acres. Subsequently somebody proposed using some of the land for commercial development, and secondary DEP approval for that was requested. They approved the park land for commercial use (environmental, not legal approval). The proposal never happened, in fact, it never got to the formal land development stage. If it had, and if it had been challenged under the same statutes as the Peck proposal (which also had DEP environmental approval), the legal outcome would likely have been the same. The original clearance remained througout and to this day.

    The commercial proposal is completely irrelevant today because it never happened. Why people keep bringing something up that never ocurred is a mystery. It doesn't matter if it never happened. The clearance for the park use remains. Peck's own environmental consultant stated that if the developement did not occur, no remediation is required.

    The "enforcements" (your word) were that it was limited to passive, as opposed to active recreation, and that no residential development or drilling of water wells is to occur. Now anybody reading that order can read whatever they like between the lines, but that does not make it so.

    There has never been any DEP "order" to make the western half of the park "off limits". The DEP place limitations on the property for "inconsistent uses" which are listed on the order, and those protocols were to be placed on the deeds (which incidently state the parcels were acquired for park use).

    Again, WHERE are the restrictions on public access specifically written? No one has produced that language.

    I assume Judge Platt visited the park, since she signed the stipulation, as did attorneys for FOKP, Borough, Kim Mfg., Peck/Loew, and the AG office. And also, since the matter of a visitation was discussed at the hearing.

    I have no documentation to support it, so yes, it is an asumption based on the stipulation and the discussions in court. It is highly doubtful that Judge Platt did not visit the park, since she agreed to. But I suppose it is possible. Regardless, she reviewed all the claims and evidence presented by all sides.

    You can bring up Ms. Feldman's comments all you want, and I am glad you did. It gives me the opportunity to set the record straight. But if you misrepresent the facts here, I will address them (unless you believe in censorship and delete my posts, which I fully expect).

    What basis do you have for the statement that "the Kardon Park that you are talking about no longer exists"? Kardon Park has remained unchanged for over thirty years until this past year when the Borough stopped mowing the grass, and eased any meaningful routine maintenance. Other than that it is unchanged. [Officially the name has changed, but clearly no one recognizes the change]

    The amount of use of any area of the park is not the issue. If one person strolls through there with a dog once a week, the public is utilizing the park. Hence, it serves its purpose, and is not "impracticable' to continue using as a park, since the Borough is deliberately not spending money maintaining it. The DDPA does not establish use criteria for the statute to be implemented. It is based on the land being acquired for and dedicated for public park use.

    Their lack of maintenance, and therefore lack of money being spent, actually works against the claims of "impracticability" which is the core question in the lawsuits, and the statutes.Their only hope in selling the park in the future is to prohibit use, and then claim in court that the park cannot be used...because use is prohibited. That is precisely what they are trying to do. They are setting the stage for another attempt to sell the park in the future, since they know there is little likelihood of winning the appeal.

    Unfortunately for them, everybody with half a brain can see right through it. It is hard to imagine any judge who would not comprehend that.

  14. First of all I do not censor anyone's comment or thoughts. Even if I feel you are way off your mark and to make that assumption based on what you only know from what I have written then you are not as smart as you would like to give yourself credit for. Secondly I bet you are the lawyer for the Friends of Kardon Park or someone who is studying law as you speak only to the letter of the law and not the spirit.

    If you would like "Kardon Park" to stay as is fine then I think you and anyone else that chooses to stand in the way of progress and wants to stop the Borough of D'town to not have any revenue coming in from an area that oould be proseperous then great.......but how about YOU ALL pony up the funds to take care of it?

  15. It's not an assumption, it is based on experience. Most people start these types of blogs as a platform to editorialize their opinion. Whenever someone challenges their opinions with reason, facts or logic, either they censor the posts they don't like or take the blog down completely. You may be different, and are to be commended, if that is the truth.

    It is no accident that the other web sites in favor of the 'Kardon Ponds' development offer no information from the opposing point of view, or no place to comment and set the record straight.

    There has never been any revenue coming from Kardon Park, or Kerr Park, or Johnsontown Park or any other park in the system. They are public parks, after all, and were intended to remain parks. They were not intended to generate revenue, or the borough would not have set them aside as parks.

    Both the letter, and certainly the spirit of the applicable laws involved here are tilted toward the preservation of public parks. As it should be.

  16. I am not sure where you got the idea that I believe that revenue came from parks, but you are off the mark. However if this tract of land, that if people were seriously honest about, doesn't get used because it's toxic were remediated and developed revenue would be coming in. But even if it does not get developed it needs to be cleaned up period. So if those who don't want development there and having raised funds to create this stink about it why not raise the funds to remediate the soil and make it into a real park, but not make the taxpayers foot the bill.

  17. Well, if you start with the assumption that a popular public park, established for over thirty years, and used by the public, and dedicated for such use, and approved by DEP for exactly that use the entire time, is not a park, and must be remediated to continue the historic use of over thirty years, you could come to that conclusion.

    As they say in the computer field...garbage in, garbage out.

    You start with a faulty premise, you end up with faulty conclusions.

    There is no point in rehashing the documented facts here, since it is public information, readily available to anybody with the ambition to research it, the willingness to look at it objectively, and that has already been done for the court case, which reached the only conclusion that could have been reached under the law, based on the evidence. The core information is in black and white in the judge's decision.

    The applicable laws in this matter are in place precisely to prevent the sale of public parks, because of the always present temptation to sell parks for quick buck by elected officials, who may not value them. Simply put, the laws exist to prevent what almost happened to Kardon Park.

    The developer's own environmental expert testified in the conditional use hearings that NO remediation is required if the development does not happen.

    Now if you are the type of person susceptible to propaganda and misinformation, you would, of course, likely not recognize those facts. There has been plenty of both in the Kardon Park matter. Fortunately the judge spent nearly a year looking at the evidence and the claims, and determined that FOKP and Kim Mfg. were telling the truth, and the Borough was not. She was not swayed by claims which did not bear up to examination.

  18. Great then let's leave the sludge pond and the terribly over run grassy areas just as they are. I enjoy an eyesore as much as the next person. Hey can we dig up some of the drums out of the sludge and leave them on your curb for awhile? There has been SO much use of the area west of the ponds in the 16 years I have lived here and gee it's only been since the area around the Desert Storm Memorial was cleaned up that a significant increase in riders, walkers and joggers has happened but hey that's ok..."It's a park!"

    Here's another good idea maybe since you have so brilliantly shown that the FOKP and their cronies have beaten the establishment then Ms. Feldman can now step down from council and let someone in there that really cares about more than one tract of land, some of which backs up onto the back of her property handle issues more pressing to the WHOLE borough....ya think?

  19. You may be surprised that the FOKP have filed a complaint in court to force the Borough to actually maintain the park, something they have deliberately NOT done in the attempt to sell it.

    So it seems you have an ally, if the current condition of the park concerns you. It greatly concerns the FOKP and their supporters. They have written letters to the editor about the deliberate neglect.

    Yes, mow the grass, trim the weeds, remove the vines, restore the water flow, clean the sediment pond as well as the race (really, calling it a "sludge pond" is clever, but a loose interpretation) Nobody likes blatant propaganda. I noticed your website has one picture of the "beauty of the park" and several of the sediment filter pond. Hardly an objective portrayal. I mean, are all of you proponents of development dumb enough to think people can't walk through there themselves, and aren't aware of the blatantly self-serving nonsense you keep putting out?

    Residents have been using and enjoying the natural environment of Kardon Park for about 33 years now, 17 longer than you claim to have been here, and they know what they have, and they know what is proposed, and they don't like it. They see no reason to sell a park for a development, and they see no compelling reason why their borough, which has a parks crew after all, can't maintain the park as it had been for thirty years.

    Newsflash: You don't have to personally like Kardon Park. You are entitled. It is your right. But trying to impose your one-sided opinion about the park has no bearing on the legality (or lack thereof) of selling it. It is, frankly, irrelevant. And it is meaningless to those who want the park to remain a park. Which, I'm guessing, is the majority of borough residents. Even if they have no strong opinions on the park itself, they probably have no great desire to see more traffic, congestion and higher taxes, all of which would result from the development.

  20. Sorry but 635 signatures on a petition does not a "majority of the borough residents" make. You accuse me of self serving nonsense when that is exactly what you are doing yourself so pot meet kettle. Also what you don't seem to understand is I am NOT talking about the area that is actually a park and would remain so I am talking about the area that IS NOT a park. Some may pretend it's a great area, but in reality it is not. I am NOT talking about Lion's Head or the Memorial, but the area that could be put to better use, but nah let's not do that let's let it sit unattended and toxic and we will just sweep those portions in with what really is a park and hope no one notices. The lies about traffic congestion and tax increases only makes your argument look silly when the builder would have put in improvements to street and pedestrian access and the revenues could have prevented council from raising taxes for operating expenses.

    But the whole orginal gripe here is that Ms. Feldman is holding a seat on council while still involved with a court case that involves council. How can that not a be a conflict of interest? Also how can someone with a conscience sit there and only be interested in one agenda item? Borough Council is to work for the good of ALL of D'town not just one tract of land.

  21. Ok let's talk numbers. There are approximately 7000 people in Downingtown, which includes couples and children. There were several petitions two by FOKP, one by the DMSA (CoC) and one by the fire company.

    My understanding is that the two pro-park petitions generated nearly 1000 signatures. The pro-development DMSA petition about 75, and I think the fire company petition less than 200. (the fire company gets the money, so that could hardly be considered objective input).

    So the known numbers heavily favor preservation of the park, on the petitions that were circulated.
    We know that Ms. Feldman defeated the pro-development Council President by a majority, over 50% or she would not be in office, since there were only two candidates.

    We know that on the official survey for the Comprehensive Plan, the number on answer for "what land use would you like to see expanded in the Borough?", was open space. 53%, a majority. It is unclear why a majority would now favor losing open space, especially a dedicated public park.

    At this point nobody has seen any indication that a majority of the public favor the development of Kardon Park, and the indications strongly indicate that they do not.

    I said I suspect the majority would favor not developing for various reasons including losing open space, parkland, as well as increased taxes and traffic, and judging from the numbers I suspect I am right. In the absence of some clear indication that the majority favor the development, that seems much more likely.

    We know that Kardon Park is officially (according to Resolution 2001-3) 47 acres, and 40.5 of that have been confirmed by a judge, with the remaining 7 removed from the court proceeding by stipulation for tactical purposes.

    So talking about the "part of the park that is not a park" is nonsense. All of the borough owned land north of Pennsylvania Ave is parkland.

    As far as a conflict of interest, Ms. Feldman cannot vote on matters affecting litigation, so there is no conflict. As far as her being only interested in one issue, she is a sitting council member and as such has equal input and influence on all matters that come before the board as the others.

    She can hardly be accused of pursuing her personal agenda, when her position is consistent with the law and her sworn duties as a trustee of the public park land. Conversely the other 5 have been pursuing an agenda which is both illegal (now confirmed by a judge) and inconsistent with their sworn role as trustees for the public land.

    Over 300 units are proposed, with a required two parking spaces per unit, which seems to indicate the possibility of 700 additional cars added to the area. It is counterintuitive, and downright silly to suggest that a few token traffic "improvements" will compensate for that amount of volume. Moreover, Chester County residents are well versed in the language of developers who always talk about the benefits, but never the negative consequences. They get their money and move on, and the rest of us are left to deal with the increased taxes, traffic congestion and all the other inevitable problems and costs associated with more development. We've heard the "share the tax burden" and "traffic improvement measures" scams too many times to fall for it any more.

    If the population of the Borough will be increased by 10 % by this development, it stands to reason the amount of traffic will correspondingly increase by 10%, and no amount of pedestrian crossings, turning lanes or traffic signal changes by Ms. Peck is going to mitigate that impact.

  22. Well we shall see what happens in the coming days won't we?