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.