Monday, October 31, 2011

Definitely a Contender

An article in the Local News section of the paper today highlighted the three candidates that are vying for the two seats that will be available in the November election for Downingtown Borough Council on the East side.  I know each of the candidates and they all have their strong points, but I feel one of the candidates has been given less of a chance to have his voice heard and has had less “press coverage” than the other two.

Matt Zaun while a very quiet young man, and is also a very dedicated and caring individual.  When I first met Matt I had no idea that he was on the Historic and Parks Commission for Downingtown until we encountered him helping out at the Log House Craft Fair the first year we participated.   It’s not widely known that Matt has assisted in building homes internationally, has helped feed the homeless and will truly hear what you have to say.  I have often wondered why that is and now, having worked with him on various projects and really getting to know him and his lovely wife I have found that these things are not known because Matt is not willing to blow his own horn for accolades.  It has been said that the gentle shall inherit the earth and if that is so, then Matt is the go to guy.

When I read about the other candidates for the seats on the East side of D’town, the main topic is revitalization.  Matt has been pushed aside and given an “also ran” status because his ideas do not rely on revitalization that really would be difficult to accomplish, but smart growth which will help fill store fronts on Lancaster Ave. and give the small businesses in town that have managed to stick things out a helping hand.  Matt wants to set up a business committee that will help the small businesses in town with issues that only come with being a small business owner, which in turn will make it more attractive to have a store front in Downingtown on Lancaster Ave rather than the Main Line or somewhere else. 

I have had occasion to speak with Matt about things in Downingtown and what he sees as the best assets and what can be improved.   When a resident has that opportunity to speak with Matt he/she gets the feeling that he really is listening instead of thinking up the next campaign point that he/she is going to bring up.  One gets the feeling that even if he disagrees he will find a way to come to a compromise that works for both of you and if not he will tell you why it doesn’t work instead of ignoring the idea all together or simply saying, “No.”  This innate ability may have been cultivated by his and his wife Courtney’s involvement in their church Cornerstone in West Chester.    It’s not a usual occurrence to see the dedication and deep caring that Matt possesses and I believe it will serve him well as a Downingtown Borough Council member.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Good Neighbor Community

As long as I have lived in Downingtown I have always heard the mantra "Good Neighbor Community" and while so many great things go on in the borough sometimes the most rotten of attitudes reside among the "good neighbors".   So many times I have heard instances of residents calling the Codes Department, or the Police or any other official before even going to the neighbor themselves and possibly resolving the issue or getting an explanation for the situation.  Sometimes even when the "whistle blowers" have been given the information that is necessary to prevent a call to a borough official it will be ignored.  If you are having a difficulty with a neighbor wouldn't it be much more productive to ask them what the problem is and maybe you are in a position to help them resolve the issue or time is needed to correct it.

Growing up I remember a time when neighbors watched out for each other.  If I had done something that was not behavior that I was supposed to display I got told about it by the lady whose house I was in front of and by the time I got home my mom knew about it.  We knew our neighbors names even if we didn't socialize or we could wave and knew the greeting would be returned.  Granted it is a much different world today and neighborhood watches are a necessity, but those watches should be working to encourage people to be good neighbors, reminding them to turn on porch lights if activity is in the area, watching houses of families on vacation, making sure that the elderly have their sidewalks shoveled and simply knowing when someone doesn't belong in the area.  There should not be an atmosphere of "search and destroy" many violations can we find, or how many suspicious characters can we bother the police to come out and check, how many neighbors can we alienate because we did not bother to check the facts before calling in the officials.

My challenge to you as a Downingtown resident.  Find out the names of four of your neighbors.  They do not have to live right next door.  If you already know that many expand your horizons and discover four more.  Downingtown can be so much more if we work together and actually live up to the "Good Neighbor" motto.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Park It

Parking issues in Downingtown are nothing new.   A parking in lieu of fee for businesses along Lancaster Ave is exorbitant and prevents many smaller businesses from coming into the borough and filling up the storefronts.  Parking lots in many areas are metered and residents even have to have parking permits on some streets because of the train station, yet here we spend money on things like streetscapes when a parking structure is sorely needed.  Recently parking permits for the residents on East Church Street was brought before council and the issue of the overflow seemed to be the sticking point which still has not been addressed by council even though that was what delayed the ordinance change.  Now Jack Law and Chief McGowan have been working to make one side of Keene Lane no parking because when there is a happening at the Bethel AME church on Prospect or visitors to other residents or even parties on other streets Keene is parked up on both sides making it extremely difficult for the residents of both Keen and Talucci Drive to maneuver in and out of the small development and an emergency vehicle would find it almost impossible to pass through.  It was brought before council tonight and yet again overflow parking seemed to be the issue with council members.  I understand that residents live on narrow streets back in this development and it is something that we have gotten used to, but to be more concerned about overflow parking than the safety of the residents of these streets which encompasses approximately 30 homes makes me wonder if council is actually concerned about representing the needs of the residents above the needs of revenue.  When did the needs of visitors and non-residents become more important than those of us who live here?