Saturday, August 4, 2012

Kardon Park Yet Again

Downingtown Does does such a nice job breaking this down for you all I am not going to even try and do a better job.  However I ask those on BOTH sides of the issue to please be respectful in your responses and PLEASE come up with different arguments than the same ones that have been overused in the last few years.


The ongoing saga of the controversial Kardon Park redevelopment project has taken a new twist. On Fri, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania ordered the Chester County Court of Common Pleas to “vacate” and “remand” their earlier decision denying the Borough of Downingtown from selling Kardon Park to a private developer.

You may be asking yourself, what does that mean? In layman’s terms, the higher court ordered the lower court to go back and reconsider their earlier decision. Specifically, Chesco’s Orphans Court needs to go back over their original decision with new guidance given to them from PA’s Commonwealth Court. To better get an understanding of what got us to this point, let’s take a look on how we got here.
Court Gives Kardon Park a Second Chance/Downingtown Does

19 comments:

  1. I’m for parks, whether it’s Kardon, Johnsontown, Marsh Creek or any park. Forward-thinking people came before us and put that open space aside for the future, knowing that developers can and will snap up any piece of land they can. These are supposed to be small green areas that are safe from development. People shouldn’t be able to come along later and change that to make a buck. Parks are here for all the people, and they should be protected. I feel that there are too many other problems in Downingtown that need to be addressed, and the arguments for this development fall flat with me. They say taxes go down with more development, but did you see your taxes go down with Main Street Village? Nope. Did MSV fill up all the storefronts in town? Nope. Granted, MSV was an improvement to that area, but it didn’t do what they are saying the KP development will. They talk about remediating the contamination, but it will still be there. Instead of being contained and stable, however, it will now have water and sewer lines running through it. One water main break, and those contaminants, which have never been a problem, would be let loose. Who would pay for that clean up? Who could be hurt?

    Instead of so much energy and expenditure trying to do what they probably can’t do, why not address the problems they can actually help? A huge problem in Downingtown is parking. If you want more shoppers here, find a way to get more parking. The other problem is that the roads here cannot accommodate the traffic we have even now. The train bridge on Brandywine Avenue is a bottleneck. The alternate is taking the Chestnut Street bridge (when it’s open), but that leads traffic through a residential neighborhood. Every other road coming into town in the afternoon is completely congested. Adding 700 or so cars to the mix would only turn people off to coming here. It would actually hurt business. Why fight traffic in Downingtown to go out to eat when you can easily get on the bypass and go elsewhere? How about those awful eyesores, the falling down buildings on Brandywine Ave that greet visitors to Downingtown? Not exactly a welcoming sight. Why is the borough wasting time and resources on the KP debacle when they should be concentrating on the bigger problems that probably can be fixed with creativity and out-of-the-box thinking? To me, it’s a lazy man’s way of fixing problems, and it won’t work. It’s been sold as the savior of the town, the answer to all our hopes and dreams. Once the money is made and spent, the park is gone, and nothing else has changed except worse traffic, less parking, and no help to businesses, I think everyone will realize what we were sold. Fools gold.

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  2. Obviously "LL" still can't read instructions.

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  3. Seems to me the arguments are the same as always, and the judge will have to look at the same evidence, so what is the point of the remand? Either she screwed up the first time, big time, and will have to say so, or she will come to a different conclusion after the same arguments. Nothing has changed on the ground.

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  4. The arguments are not exactly the same with the exact same evidence if you will. If you read it completely what Dowiningtown Does posted as their story the higher court did instruct the lower court on some key issues.

    I agree with the above poster in the fact that there are quite a few other things in D'town that need to be done other than fight over Kardon Park anymore. However the "eyesore" is actually going to be rehabbed if the train station and the SEPTA people can get their act together. As for the congestion on the roads, so are we to create more roads? If then we would have to take away property such as Kardon Park to accomodate larger thoroughfares and or to create more parking. The big issue is that money is not being used by the borough the way it should be. Our debt service is so incredibly high and that is what is killing us not the fact that a bunch of people on council and Friends of Kardon Park are no longer working for any kind of betterment, but playing who can file the most motions and who's lawyer is bigger.

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  5. As I read the Court's decision the two issues are about the eminent domain code and the Project 70 funding. The eminent domain code would only apply if the parcels had been abandoned for the use they were condemned for originally. Judge Platt addressed that in her decision when she determined the park was dedicated to public use,and the Borough did not prove that either they had abandoned that use (which is quite obvious) or that they had a valid reason to do so (impracticability), since the park has passive park clearance from DEP and does not require remediation to continue that use. So even though she may not have addressed it specifically, she addressed it indirectly. How the Court missed that is mystifying. There is no evidence of abandonment, which is necessary for the eminent domain code to allow the sale.

    As far as the Project 70 issue, the Commonwealth Court seems to be implying that releasing deed restrictions nullifies the restrictions on selling parks under either the DDPA or the public trust doctrine. But they cite a case where the litigant was only suing the Senate and Governor Rendell for passing the legislation, not, apparently the city for selling the land in question under other restrictions. The Court's implied position seems highly unlikely, since the DDPA only allows the sale if there is demonstrable impracticability, which Platt did not discern from the Borough's arguments, and the public trust doctrine does not involve such a qualifier.

    The Borough argued in the original case that the DDPA did not apply. If they were right, then the public trust doctrine would apply, which is what the Friends and Kim Mfg. argued. So the only question Platt would have to address is does the release of deed restrictions trump restrictions on selling parkland...either in the DDPA if it does apply, or the PTD if it does not.

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  6. Here is the thing....none of us are the judges nor the lawyers in this case and Monday morning quarterbacking does not an expert make. I am honestly tired of this whole thing. As a citizen I am asking that both Councilwoman Feldman AND the rest of Borough council drop the whole issue period. This is no longer about whether it's a park or if council had the right to sell land in the borough it has all become personal and THAT is the shame in all of this. Many issues which should have been negated or revisited after more info was produced, simply passed or were voted down because Ann Feldman felt one way or another. It is no longer a structure based on priniciples above personalities. I do not agree with Ann on this whole issue and there are times when I squirm in my seat waiting for her to get to her point, but if you actually take the time to listen to what she is trying to say there are many times that she is trying to save the residents money that is being spent without cause.

    I feel that everyone needs to go back to the drawing board and ask if this is really worth it because the residents are going to be the ones who suffer greatly because it is no longer a matter of business, but personal.

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  7. Oh yes. It is very personal. You got that right, Elaine B. If they could only see themselves from the point of view of the audience. Between the bitter distain and exaggerated eye rolling of Brenda Brinton, the smirking and giggling of Alex Rakoff, Cara DeStephano and Josh Maxwell who also contorts his face and furrows his brow cynically every time Ann Feldman opens her mouth, the way Gazzero berates and scolds Feldman like she’s a little child, and Feldman’s fraught attempts to gain the respect none of them will ever have for her, it’s an ugly circus to behold. It’s like watching middle or high school kids, only that’s kind of an insult to the kids. Hopefully they will all make up in time for prom. I hear Mommy & Daddy are going to rent a limo so no one will have to drive!

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  8. It should be pointed out that while taxpayers' money is being squandered trying to wrest control of their park from them, the River Station properties...where the redevelopment should be taking place, since there is nothing to lose there but blight....are all listed for tax sales.

    I don't see the fundamentals as personal. There are very important principles at stake here about the preservation of public land set aside for parks, conservation, and open space. That is what makes this a fight worth fighting and winning for those interested in quality of life issues, and not handing the entire planet over to unscrupulous developers whose primary interest is lining their pockets at the expense of everyone else.

    It is only 'personal' because those who are more interested in winning than doing what is right have a majority on council. It is a juvenile mentality.

    Damn shame, if you ask me. Does Ann Feldman get "personal' with them on other issues not related to the park? Seems to me on most issues she sides with the majority, and as Elaine points out, saving the taxpayers money.

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  9. It is just despicable what that woman has done to the very fiber of our borough. I honestly do not know how she lives with herself but even more concerning is how her actions have must have affected her family life.

    One cannot help but wonder what her husband thinks about this entire nightmare that she alone has created for our entire borough. The fact that some lawyer has bent over backward to provide FREE legal council and vigilant representation for YEARS now, is very disturbing to say the least. Not to mention her children.
    I cannot imagine how embarrassing and humiliating it must be for them to know that their mother is the reason for so much discord in a community. One would think she would be busy enough taking care of 3 kids, a husband, an elderly mother, her job and herself. SOMETHING has to give, no question about that.
    The word "Obsessive disorder" comes to mind.

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  10. You take yourself and your project way too seriously. The "fiber of the borough" is just fine. Those who love this town understand that it will succeed whether that park is developed or not, and we don't give a rat's ass what a councilperson's personal life is like. Funny that you would throw around the term "obsessive disorder." You're here on a blog trying to assassinate someone's character. That you would sink so far into the slime as to infer that something inappropriate is going on with her lawyer is what's despicable. That lawyer has a history of protecting parks. Maybe some people do things for reasons more important than money. It's a concept too many people these days don't seem to understand.

    While you're playing amateur psychologist, why don't you look up psychological projection. Have a nice day.

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  11. Did it ever occur to the previous poster that a lot of people including Ann Feldman's family are damned proud of her for taking a stand against the powerful and monied interests who would bulldoze everything in their path for a buck, doing so almost single handedly, and for the most part, winning?

    How in the name of God is standing up to save a public park from development despicable? And how did Ann Feldman cause any of this problem? Didn't the Borough attempt to sell the park before she got involved?

    Did it ever occur to this non-thinker that if these decisions stand, all parks and public lands in the entire state are at risk from corrupt politicians and greedy developers?

    They make movies and write books about people like this. As for her lawyer, he is doing this as a matter of principle. Kudos for him, for sacrificing income to do the right thing.

    Do you think the other side's lawyers are working because they believe in yet another crappy development, one based on a lie on top of it, or do you think they are doing it for the money? Yet again, as always, it's about the money.

    It's always about the money.

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  12. Wow. I thought slimeball politics was mostly at the national level. Bringing nasty speculations about someone's marriage and children into this discussion is beyond ugly. What a disgusting human being.

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  13. The Judge is on the take from other developers.

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  14. OK if the votriole does not stop right now I WILL delete all comments. It is out of hand when someone goes after a persons family specifically. First of all I will say this I DO NOT agree with Councilwoman Feldman on the Kardon Park issue, but here is the thing I WILL work with her for the betterment of the community and I would hope that people could put the issues aside to stop the personal attacks. There are certainly foibles amoung many if not all of the council members and their attitudes and how they conduct themselves at various times and in council meetings. Do I think that Ann is effective on council due to the view held by many of the council members? No I don't, but if you shut your mouths and open your ears long enough there are times that she makes sense and even other council members would agree with the concept if it weren't being put forth by her and that is a darn shame. Ann does not speak well off the cuff and it takes a long time to get to the point she is making, but there are times that if everyone would put their egos aside just long enough to REALLY listen I am sure you would agree.

    I would think that those of you on here that were so nasty would first be ashamed of yourselves and then secondly would be more concerned with the fact that council has been and STILL is spending money that we just don't have. Has anyone really looked at what is going to happen with the Chestnut Street Bridge? How about some of the other un-necessary items that have been aquired? You all do realize that taxes will have to go up this year....do you know why? Because we had a council that spent much more than we had and simple things like repaving a basketball court will be a huge undertaking because there simply is no money. Our debt service is extremely high and you are being buttheads about something that is going back to court and won't be decided for quite awhile? Where are your priorities? Certainly not on the betterment of the borough from your comments.

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  15. The eminent code argument simply does not apply to Kardon Park. Only two parcels of the park addressed by the court were obtained by eminent domain. (The other was stipulated out of the litigation) One of those parcels contains the main entrance, the signage, the parking lot, the memorial and the southern end of the Lions Trail. Hundreds of people use that parcel every day, indicating neither abandonment or impracticability.

    The other parcel is immediately to the west, next to the rail bed, and is entirely wooded, and very narrow. A careful examination of the land development plan map indicates this site is about 40% wetlands, including several ponds and streams. Even if the court were to find this could be sold under the eminent domain code (despite Platt's ruling that it is part of a contiguous whole that is the park, and has not been abandoned, it would require mitigating all of those wetlands elsewhere in the park. If the other parcels could not be sold, it would be impossible to do so. The developer would have to buy land elsewhere and create equivalent wetlands to compenste for those lost there.

    No developer in her right mind would go to such trouble to build on a five acre tract with both wetlands and sub-surface contamination. It would be quite impracticable and horrendously expensive and cost prohibitive.

    This is almost certainly the reason neither the developers or the Borough made the eminent code argument in Orphans Court.

    As for the Project 70 issue, this may be instructive:

    http://blogs.law.widener.edu/envirolawcenter/files/2010/03/PA_Citizens_Guide_to_project_70.pdf

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  16. Generally speaking, people resort to personal 'ad hominem' attacks when their other arguments have little or no validity, and they have nothing else of value to say in an argument or debate.

    Just sayin'....

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  17. It has happened. The Kardon Park fight in Downingtown has spilled over into state politics.

    HB 2224 passed the House 197-0 and is scheduled to be voted on in the Senate shortly.

    If it passes, every park in Pennsylvania is potentially at risk of being sold for short term financial benefit.

    Kardon, Kerr, Johnsontown. Think of a park, and it likely will be at risk if this bill passes.

    Now you gotta wonder why a Representative, Bryan Cutler, in Lancaster County proposes a bill, cites a "borough trying to sell a brownfield" [no mention of it being a dedicated park]in his memorandum, and tries to undermine long-standing existing law that protects all parks throughout the state.

    I smell a rat. One that lives in, or has a land deal in Downingtown.

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  18. Appears the few remaining stragglers that make up the now defunct Save Kardon Park crew are the only ones who can't see (or won't) admit to what everyone else has known for years, the majority of the land is a contaminated, stagnant and vacant dump. A useless piece of property that has so much more potential to provide a clean, safe, beautiful environment for all of Downingtown to enjoy, to live and to play, while providing fiscal benefits to keep our town growing and thriving into the future.

    We all love our parks, but we want safe parks to enjoy.
    Parks like Kerr, Johnsontown, Sunnybrook and Bell Tavern and only a zealot would say those and others like them are at risk of being destroyed. I guess some people think if they incite enough fear in others, they can use that intimidation tactic to accomplish their own personal agendas. How's that been working out for ya, Ann?

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  19. "I guess some people think if they incite enough fear in others, they can use that intimidation tactic to accomplish their own personal agendas."

    Couldn't agree more. That's exactly the tactic the developers and proponents of the housing development in the park use. For all their fear mongering, they still can't point to a single case where someone was hurt by using that park for over 30 years. Oh, and pay no attention to that clearance the DEP gave the land for park use. Instead, look at the tires in the woods and be afraid. Be very afraid.

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