I did not think that I was going to an amusement park last night, but that is what happened at the Borough Council Meeting. I think none of us had the idea we were getting on a roller coaster once the meeting opened. First up a citizen from Johnsontown Community Group got up during citizens to be heard and requested and answer as to what was going on with the oil spill in the Brandywine coming from the vicinity of a house on Bradford Ave right near Glenside. He got the typical bureaucratic pass the buck to the environmental agencies that are apparently taking care of the situation, yet the borough has not had an update in awhile. Yeah OK we believe that.
Then those of us in attendance got to sit through a very contentious resolution discussion on the parking issue for the Classic Diner. A gentleman who seemed to be a partner in working on the building was extremely upset that the council wanted to pass a resolution that would move the building forward. He spoke out of turn and generally made the council members uncomfortable, which at first made me a bit angry until our turn came, but I digress. Some of the questions that came from council were valid, but there were some that could have held for another time as the diner is still looking to get their permits and ducks in a row. Another resolution that I will have to do some research on was passed and then it came time for Johnsontown Community Group's turn. We were requesting that the process be started to rectify the parking issue on East Church Street. We had done our due diligence, spoke with Chief McGowan, Jack Law and the residents to come up with what we thought was the best solution to the problem. We suggested that one parking permit be issued per household for parking on East Church Street excluding the two houses at the top of the street and the two houses at the bottom of the street since they have access to their own parking. We had discussed at length this issue with the residents at various times and had come with petition in hand. We had made a suggestion that the overflow or visitors would be given a grace permit to park in the Johnsontown Park parking lot if it was needed. It seemed like a simple request, but it turned into a nightmare. First of all none of the council members truly listened to what our president Nick Winkler had said. They got stuck on the topic of the overflow parking and that is not our main concern. It was also brought up that if it is different than what the borough usually does then it could become a problem. Then the coup de grace....Steve Henning who apparently heads the parking committee in the Borough quashed everything with a few well placed words and the council put us on the back burner until the parking committee could go over the issue. Jaime Bruton looked at us and said, "I know this is not what you want, but it is how it needs to be handled for council to make an informed decision." Really? If you had listened to what was presented one person with the ego the size of an elephant would not have been able to derail a simple request from a community group who had done their homework and did not come to the table willy nilly with no solution just suggestions.
After the meeting Steve Henning was approached by a member of Executive Council for Johnsontown Community Group and a resident on East Church Street. She politely requested that he attend our next meeting to speak with the residents about the issue as it is easier for some of the older residents to only have to travel to our meeting at night. Mr Henning declined in a not so polite way. In fact we were told that this was not an issue for an open forum by Mr. Henning. I am not sure where you got that idea Mr. Henning, but I abhor people who are not willing to work with the residents that will be impacted by your high handedness.
That was not the end of the rancour last night. The appointments to boards and commissions got very heated also. I could honestly see both sides. Councilman Gazzarro and Councilwoman Feldman both made good points that the council usually goes with the committees recommendations or the most qualified which I can certainly see. But Council President Bruton, Councilman Benner and Councilman Smith had a another good point too that new blood is needed on and around these positions. A compromise I saw was to move the alternate into the voting position and then place the "new blood" in the alternate position, but who am I?
After the meeting we at JCG spoke to several council members and I believe got some of their support for the parking issue. They had time to actually listen to what we wanted...our immediate concern was to get permits for the residents of East Church Street and worry about overflow later. I personally had to swallow my pride and bias and ask for help from the person you would least expect me to approach, but when I truly thought about it Kardon Park is one issue in the borough and that will be there later and if Ann is truly willing to help then I will work with her any way I can to help our community in Johnsontown.
However, I still have to work on my resentment towards Steve Henning as I see him letting his ego get in the way of the job he needs to do and that is the worst kind of bureaucrat there is.