Thursday, April 7, 2011

So Tell Me What You're Hiding

During yet another D'town Borough Council Meeting the Sunshine Act was brought up again, and I have to tell you I am a bit tired of the whole thing.  The funny thing is I agree with Ann Feldman.  It all started back when Johnsontown Community Group was asking for Council to help, approve or change an ordinance that would allow one car parking permit per household on East Church Street.  One small request and a whole hullabaloo was started.  Some of the problem stemmed from the fact that some people on the Parking Committee were not pleased that we had figured out a solution to the problem ourselves as a community without their official input.  Good heavens not that!  Not a community that can band together and actually solve their own problems!  After a disastrous discussion at the presentation of the solution to council because no one wanted to stand up and say, "Yes this street is unique and we need to address this issue." our group asked if the Parking Committee held open meetings.  Boy the firestorm that has started!  I don't believe that a council meeting has gone by that it has not been revisited since.  I believe the sticking point happens to be, is that there are some on that particular committee that would like it to be a private fiefdom where no mere mortal shall enter and the second problem is that Ann Feldman has brought the Sunshine Act to the forefront and has pursued whether committee meetings should be open to the public or not.  I sat in one particular meeting and listened as council members tried to do an end run around it and suggested that the committee now be made an internal agency just so they did not have to face the fact that not only do they have to advertise the meetings, but they must be public.

What I'd like to know is what is being hidden that this has become such a HUGE issue.  I would also like to know why good people are throwing common courtesy out the window just because Ann Feldman is trying to hold our little government to the standards that have been set forth.  I am afraid that if Ann yelled "FIRE" and meant it it would be ignored just because people have a bee in their bonnet about her stance on Kardon Park and the East Caln parcel.  News flash I feel she is way off base on those issues?  Oh yeah!  Does the fact that she tends to nit pick EVERY issue get on my nerves at times?  Good gravy yes, but for the good of Downingtown get over yourselves people.  When someone has a good idea swallow your pride and give them the due they should get.  That and the unprofessional and unbecoming attitudes of some of the people we are counting on to represent ALL of us......I have to say I cringe at the tone of voice that I have heard from various individuals. 

Just because I like a certain politician does not mean that I will agree with that person on every issue.  The same is true in reverse......just because I feel that someone is not whom I would vote for, but the people have placed in office does not mean that once in awhile that person will not come up with a good idea.  Personally while I will fight Ann tooth and nail on development that will enhance any part of Downingtown, in my eyes, that she is against does not mean that I will not work with her on an issue we agree on and I think it is about time that council and other employees of the borough, committee members and other volunteers need to suck it up and put forth a more professional attitude.


  1. Sounds like politics in all of it's glory! Usually when there is that much resistance there is either something to hide. If there is nothing to hide then it is ego run wild.


  2. ......yawwn......

    This blog aint' what it used to be. How's a person supposed to argue with: "I agree with Ann Feldman"?


    PS. I agree with Elaine. Oh, crap. I need a new hobby.

  3. Chris I could've told you that a long time ago :o)

    Now don't get too far ahead of yourself....I am sure I will find something else to disagree with Ann on lol.

  4. There are however working groups, which I am a part of, on the planning commission that come up with ideas for new ordinances (ie. Solar panels, sidewalk cafe, etc.). The products of those groups are eventually advertised as all new ordinances are before adoption in the newspaper. We also discuss these ideas put together at our meetings which are public and advertised. Do I think we need those groups advertised whenever we

    Same goes with the comprehensive plan update. We discussed thoroughly at our planning meetings which consultant to go with. Was Ann there....NO. She could have been though, along with any person who wishes to be there. Yet she complains that we are selecting consultants behind closed doors.

    I think the highlight of the last meeting was her concern over the Main Street Association and the Comprehensive Plan update...why....because they will discuss change. It scares her and you can see it in her eyes.

    The fact that she can't vote to support a Main Street Association means she doesn't want improvements or good change for the Borough. It's truly sad.

  5. Why would the Johnsontown Committee want someone from the east end of town working with them on any concerns of the community? This reminds me of the day Heather Bruno walked around Johnsontown knocking on doors, had her picture taken for the newspaper and asked people their concerns, started raising trouble, but had no resolve, and a bunch of empty promises. What was left was a mess!
    Ann has clearly shown that she is not for progress or change. She lacks the spirit, drive and forward moving thinking of the borough. Without the progress and revitalization that Council and the citizens of the borough have worked, so hard for, over the last 10 years, Downingtown would be in the same boat as Coatesville…. struggling to rebuild now. Why, because they did not have the vision or support from their community. We have to be forward thinking.
    While I support the “Johnsontown Committee”, for their initial intent to work with the community, in an effort to have a voice and bring light to council some of the “Johnsontown” issues, and working as a “Town Watch Group”, some member are losing sight of this intent (for example just because they ask or say, doesn’t mean it needs to be put into effect , they are not a governing body).
    Let me go one step further…..The committee brought an issue to the table regarding permit parking for E. Church St. which is fine, however; there is a lot more that goes into permit parking then just giving out permits, …..a cost to borough residents on a whole:
    1. Maintaining the permits (admin expenses).. Then you have the problems you have in W. C. where every street is permit parking just to make everyone happy, except now you have to have a whole department just to maintain the permits, then you need parking garages (eye sores) for those that don’t have permits or just come in and visit a friend or relative and are charged by the hour to park.
    2. Policing the parking (police department time and labor)
    3. The first person that lives in the borough that goes to park and visit a friend on E. Church St, doesn’t have a permit and gets a ticket, because someone was doing their job… they start screaming and yelling at the borough employees.
    4. Then there’re those that want special exceptions and special permits.
    Johnsontown Committee is a self appointed committee, that also charges it member, and while it is recognized and respected, it is not an appointed borough committee that represents the borough as a whole.

    Thanks to forward thinking and progress we have a beautiful Main Street, KOZ, the paper mill revitalization, Milltown Market and Green Street development.
    All for Progress!

  6. It is a matter of historical record that the plan to develop Kardon Park originated with the 'Main Street Association' or something under the 'Main Street' banner, headed at the time by Mr. Valocchi, who testified to it in the hearing.

    Is this the same group, or a new group working under the same name?

    If it is the same entity, it would only seem natural that Ann Feldman might question the changes they have in mind. Since the development of Kardon Park was inconsistent with the Comprehensive Plan, one wonders what changes the group would like to see to the plan.


  7. The "charging of members" for JCG is so that we can have things like a "Sweetheart Dinner" and clean up days, movie nights,National Night Out (which was attended by others not living in J'town btw) and other activities in the community. The "dues" are $5 a HOUSEHOLD and that is so that we can distiguish between voting members and those who are on the email list who do not live in Johnsontown. If $5 is that much of a hardship I do not think that anyone would put up the money, nor do I think we as a group would come down the street with pitchforks and laterns to run them out of town.

    The point about the committee meetings is getting out of hand. It is not the little offshoots of the Planning Committee or the Historical or any of the others that falls under the Sunshine Act nor was it asked if those types of groups were open. It was the direct groups such as Planning Committee, Parking Committee, Historical etc. As for the ordinances I did not hear any complaints about that and I might be wrong, but let's face it the advertising for those types of things rarely makes it past page "42" in the DL, however that was not the original objection in the first place.

    Now as for Ann being willing to work with us...yes she is from the East end of town, but do you see any of the West Enders stepping up to the plate? Did any of the representatives from the West End of town come to us with copies of the parking ordinance that might have applied to East Church Street? That would be a no.

    The Main Street Association....I signed a letter supporting it. It is great to have revitalization becoming part of the community and looking to move forward. But I have to admit that I am trepidatious about the Borough matching funds for this group. Two positions were cut along with some other deep cuts just in January so that taxes would not go up in the Borough. To me that says there is no extra money....and if there is I would rather it be used to pay down the debt than for what can be considered extras. But I had no beef either way on the vote for Main passed yet people are still complaining. I myself would like to see some of the proposals that they have come up with.

    Now on to the critisim of JCG. First of all no one said that we expected anything when we asked or requested or even came to council with a petition duly signed by an 90% majority of the property owners of East Church Street for possible permit parking, that it would be granted right off the bat and if you believe that that is what happened then you really need to come to one of our meetings before throwing that kind of stone. As for the "problems" it would bring up....gee project much? First of all there would be no significant cost IF ANY to the residents other than those on said street. Secondly, I have seen our esteemed parking guru driving along in his litle truck and handing out tickets and chalking cars all over the there problem for him to actually go down East Church Street other than the cone that was put there because of the sink hole? The whole "we would have to have a department for permits" argument....really? Do we not have parking by permit on many streets now? One small street which is composed of 16 residents needing the permits and now we need a whole department for permits....oh please....let's see if we can make this molehill an even bigger mountain. First of all if another person comes to visit a resident on East Church Street they will more than likely know that they are not allowed to park on the street and if they don't, you cannot tell me that a borough employee cannot handle one MAYBE two angry people for a brief period of time. There will be no one that wants special exceptions when the whole street has agreed! What part of signed petition from all but the property owners of the rentals did you not understand?

  8. Johnsontown is a unique area along with some long time residents whose voices have not been heard and we as a group are helping them to have that voice, but it appears that initiative is not liked when it is not passed by "the people". We did not expect to be given anything on a silver platter, nor did any resident expect to be talked to in a tone of voice that had more respect for the wall than the resident, nor did we expect a firestorm to be started because we were following the channels that we were told to follow and then were blocked at at every turn.

    As for the treatment of Ann, I stand on my opinion. Do I like the fact that she was voted onto council because she did not want Kardon Park developed? Not in the least. Do I think she is wrong on that issue and several others? YES. Do I think even a crazy squirrel finds a nut once in awhile....heck yeah. But I am appalled at the unprofessional attitudes taken in public (I really don't care what is said in private)towards her and anyone who is not willing to tow the line of the "Old Guard". But that is not what any of you will latch will be more of the same old same old and pointing fingers when those who are guilty of the very behavior I pointed out will be the ones screaming the loudest.

  9. First let me start by saying I think it is great that you have found a way to communicate publicly with your blog and have your voice be heard. Also, the fact that you have taken such an active role in the betterment of the community…. Awesome job indeed.

    In reference to “charging of member” for JCG, I don’t think “hardship” was ever mentioned. It was just a statement regarding structure, and possible a thought that it was not nor would have to be open to the public. Now, that is not what might have been intended, however that is certainly the end result. Movie Nights, National Night Out, all great ideas, and I am sure well appreciated by the community the “Membership Fee” can then be looked at as maybe a donations! I personally would donate for those activities, It was not a bashing by any means.

    In reference to the Permit Parking on E. Church St. … How many residents are on E. Church St? How many are renters? How many of those residences have taken an active roll in the KOZ or the community prior to wanting their own private parking space? Let just agree to disagree on this issue. I do not believe that permit parking is necessary on E. Church St. Why is it such a issue? Why is it needed? I DO think it will come at the expense of all borough residence and will cause a FIRESTORM! Most of the permit parking in Downingtown, is due to the immediate impact the train station patrons caused the community on both sides of the track within the last 15 yrs.

  10. Johnsontown Community Group is not a public entity. We are here for the residents of Johnsontown. We invite many members of the commuity to our meetings, but if they do not live in J'town then they do not vote on an issue that is pending in our community, if that is what you mean by open to the public. But we do advertise our meetings.

    As for East Church Street it is apparent that you have not been on said street if you had to ask why they need the parking. There are many residents who are getting up there in age and once in awhile need to go to the store for a sandwich after say 9PM...just as a for instance. Now they had a parking space on the street when they left, but now someone has come along who may not live there and has taken their spot. Now what is the resident supposed to do? They have no recourse.....they can do nothing. They are not asking for a spot directly in front of their house...they are simply asking for 16 parking permits to be given to the residents and there will be 16 spaces allocated for the residents. The overflow...that can be left to the Parking Committee or whomever else wishes to take on that task. Plenty of the residents on East Church Street have taken part in the KOZ. In fact one of our board members was quite active in the evolution of the KOZ designation in that area. I don't see a firestorm other than that which is being made by those who have either never been on, lived near or lived on East Church Street. I ask who else is it going to effect in the Borough of Dowingtown negatively? Another question is when has Johnsontown ever been noticed before the evolution of JCG? Oh yes the KOZ is in parts of J'town, but let's be honest....what business is going to move on the particular streets that it effects in J'town? How about helping out the other people in J'town with the upkeep on their houses? Most of the homes that are in the KOZ are rental properties which by law must be kept up anyway and yet they get a tax tell me how that is fair? Yow want to know how bad parking is in J'town? How about when the Bethel AME Church is holding a funeral and it takes 20 minutes to drive from Talucci to Prospect and then another 15 to get to Bradford. Or when the Frog Leg Dinner is going on, or ever been down here on a snowy day? Parking permits in J'town are only for between 8AM and Noon M-F after that it's a free for all. Come visit East Church Street and you tell those residents what you have said here...why not see what they think?

  11. I too thought it might have sounded like a frivolity, until I heard what was happening from the residents who actually live and rent there. One of which was an elderly lady who lives on that street had to run out at 9PM at night to get something (RX, milk) came back 15 minutes later and her spot had been taken. She had to park over in the spots by the train station and walk 2 ½ blocks back home.

    To paint the picture for you properly the street in question is a dead end street. There is no thru traffic EVER. Most people would do not even know how to get to it, and most have never even set foot on it. I have.

    You have to want to actually visit someone who lives on this street to go there. NO ONE ever passes through unless they are very lost. This will not be a burden to borough residents. We are not talking about the street that runs by St. Anthony’s lodge, just to be clear.

    The only FIRESTORM that has happened or could happen is one that is created or fabricated by people who do not understand the situation "on the ground". It is a very easy solution to see when you have actually been there and have spoken to the residents. Again I have done both. It seems the only thing making this hard or a "firestorm" is bureaucracy.

    The residents of E church street have a real need for permit parking. How would you feel if it was your elderly parent that had to walk that far? How would you feel if you left to go get something at the store and came back only to find someone had parked up your driveway? And now you had to park down the street and walk 2 blocks home?

    You ask to agree to disagree and turn around with several questions to implicate that you have a valid point in your favor???


  12. Ok Tony I get it... ! To be honest those where real questions I had..... and your answered some of them very nicely. How many people acturally live there? If only 16 people need permits, where are all the other people/cars coming from around 9:00 at night that this is becoming a issue? I do know E. Church St. very well.

    HERE IS THE FIRESTORM!! There are elderly residents on Jefferson Ave, that cannot find a place to park after 5:00 p.m on their street and have to walk a block and 1/2 as well in the cold dark hours. ... I will definately be push, for Jefferson Ave, Mary St, Highland Ave, Washington Ave, etc, to all get permit parking as well!

  13. Point taken....however those streets that you mentioned can be gotten to more than one way and they are quite long streets where parking is available all along it. Now on East Church Street it's a dead end period. There is no more and it goes into a grass and concrete trail into the park. There are 16 spaces that are needed for said many would be needed for the ones you mention? If you live on say Church Street here in Johnsontown then sometimes you have to walk to your house because there is no space in front of your residence, but guess what you can still park on the street where you live!

    The only firestorm is the one being created by those who want revitalization and forward thinking in D'town, but only if it fits into their little mold of such things.

  14. Thanks to all who worked on this issue for the residents of E. Church Street. Your efforts are much appreciated! EB you are proof that people good are are still willing to help out a neighbor... you will be rewarded!

  15. Thanks to all who worked on this issue for the residents of E. Church Street. Your efforts are much appreciated! EB you are proof that people are good and are still willing to help out a neighbor... you will be rewarded!