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'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.


(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 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.