Thursday, August 8, 2013

Hubris Abounded and Disrespect Dished Out

I don't think I have ever been more disappointed and discouraged than I was last night at Borough Council's meeting.  I was waiting to sit there for more testimony and questions that could wait for the conditional use hearing, but thankfully that record was closed and the meeting continued.  However the rudeness, hubris and ignorance that abounded afterwards was of epic proportions.

The Comprehensive Plan was next on the agenda and a gentleman from the Urban Research and Development Corporation was there named Paul and I am certainly remiss in not hearing his last name.  This gentleman had about as much finesse as a bull in a china shop and was rude on all fronts.  In fact at one point he had to tell him self to take a chill.

The Comprehensive Plan is a document that is primarily used for the obtaining of grants and other such things for the borough.  It is also to be a guide for which we continue to move forward with projects etc.  Mr. Sullins at one point said, "Who really reads the Comprehensive Plan?"  My question then is why did we even pay over $17,000 for something that is not going to be utilized as it properly should?  The planning commission in conjunction with the borough just cost the taxpayers money for a document that is not really going to be used according to the borough manager.

Back in February there was a public meeting where comments and issues were addressed by the constructors of the document and the planning commission and we the public should have expected that NONE to very few recommendations made by anyone were going to be added or subtracted due to the attitude of those present from the planning commission and the creators of the document that night.

The Downingtown Historic and Parks Commission, after much study of the Comprehensive Plan of 1994 and the Open Space Plan of 1993 along side with the current draft of the Comprehensive Plan submitted their additions and suggestions in writing to both the Urban Research and Development Corporation and the planning commission.  The H&P is an arm of the Borough and as such should carry as much weight in their suggestions and recommendations, however that is not the case.  During the meeting last evening when a representative from Historic and Parks asked to be recognized and proceeded to ask Paul why the recommendations to the Comprehensive Plan were not added, he nastily asked Tamara if these were different concerns than were submitted before.  When Tamara said no and that not only were these the same ones, but these were also the ones that had been submitted to council with a formal letter (which Mr. Sullins told council that they were not the same that were in the letter that was drafted and he purposely did not use the title of or the arm of the borough that the suggestions came from, so that they would seem less important.).  He told Tamara that all recommendations were brought before the planning commission and they were given a yay or nay.   Which is fine however, the very fact that one arm of the borough other than council over riding the recommendations of the very entity that is tasked with preserving the parks and historical buildings in the borough is hubris and is not their responsibility within the codes of this borough.  Just as the Historic and Parks Commission makes recommendations to the Council so does the Planning Commission.  While there are many educated individuals on the Planning Commission there are just as many on the Historic and Parks who have done their homework, compared maps and are truly concerned with the esoteric and infrastructure of the borough and to hold fast to the historical balance and flavor of this town.

One of the more serious issues that H&P had with the Comprehensive Plan is that from the 1993 Open Space Plan to this plan there are 11.1 acres missing from Johnsontown Park.  Councilor DeStephano suggested that mistakes can be made for which we can concede however, not an 11.1 acre mistake.  No one could explain how a park went from 25 acres to 13.9.  Another concern which was voiced was the fact that no contingency plan was written if a project or court case would go the way that the borough hoped it would not.  Councilor Winkler brought this very thing up in part.  But what was most ignorant on the part of this Paul gentleman was that if a man was speaking to him he used a tone that was slightly less obnoxious and repugnant and was more amenable to their suggestions than if a woman was speaking other than Council DeStephano because she is on the Planning Commission.

To blatantly ignore recommendations from a corresponding arm of the borough is presumptuous and downright disrespectful to those who volunteer their time just as others on various committees and commission do.

But the fun did not stop there.  A business in Downingtown took it upon themselves to paint the outside of their building without ascertaining from neither codes nor the Historic and Parks Commission, since the building is in the Historic Overlay whether they first could do what they wished and secondly if the color that was chosen was historically correct and corresponded with the rest of the historic overlay.  Council decided that was not important and over rode both Tom Yuhas and the Historic and Parks without any consideration and Chip Gazzerro was completely and utterly rude and disrespectful in how he spoke to Councilor Feldman when she attempted as H&P liaison to explain the intent of H&P in this matter.

It is becoming more and more clear that council needs an influx of new blood.  People who don't have an agenda who are not on the planning commission and will fall in lock step with them, but ignore other arms of the borough.  A wish is that the mayor who is supposed to be the face of this town to actually stand up for those who have no voice or little input because they are considered to be beneath consideration instead of rocking back on his chair and laughing and respect given for ALL who give their time and talents to the borough. 



  1. I cannot believe there are no comments to counter your claims! On the other hand, from what I’ve heard about the meeting, you are correct about Driscoll (Paul) and Chip Gazzerro.
    Hubris is a great word to describe them and others who were either elected or appointed. (the name Henning comes to mind)

    Sullins actually SAID this? "Who really reads the Comprehensive Plan?" He is usually much better at keeping that deep voice of confidence and knowledge and lying at the same time than spouting off at the mouth like that. That statement is a HUGE red flag or mark against him. How will we know when he’s pretending to be honest and lying for the benefit of previous council members, DMSA officials or developers?

    You wrote, “…all recommendations were brought before the planning commission and they were given a yay or nay. Which is fine…” Do you really think that was FINE? Excuse me for saying this, but it is FAR from being FINE and any time. The Planning Comm. is supposed to make recommendations to Council. Of course, it seems to me that Henning and Gazzerro are sharing the same seat with Pig Napoleon.

    You are right about Johnsontown Park. Who changed the acreage on the website and when? When was Kardon Park changed from 50 acres to 12? I thought that Kerr Park was closer to 48 acres than what’s listed in the website.

    Um….DeStephano is a…LADY??? Oops…

    I agree that new council members are necessary, but it’s important to consider who has an agenda already in place that is to benefit the pockets of others rather than the residents of the Borough.

    BTW….No, I was not at the meeting.

  2. The extremely rude “gentleman” from URDC is Paul Driscoll. The bottom line is that the Comprehensive Plan is not well done,and I guess he took it personally. It is rife with factual errors throughout, as well as grammatical errors, and it lacks professionalism in its tone. Bias towards certain projects, groups, and people is very apparent. Goals are such things as, "Continue the excellent level of service..." That is NOT a goal. That is self-promotion. Maybe the level of service HAS been excellent, but what ACTIONS were taken to achieve that level of excellence? It must be duplicatable well into the future, and that isn't possible without a GOAL and a PLAN. The 1994 Comprehensive Plan was written by the Planning Commission (volunteers -- it's part of their charter) with help from the Chester County Planning Commission. If the taxpayers paid anything, I'm going to bet it wasn't much, and that 1994 document is excellent. The 1993 Open Space and Recreation Plan was written entirely by a special committee of volunteers, and it's just as good as the 1994 Comp Plan. We just spent a small fortune on something that isn't nearly as good as the 1993/1994 plans that were done by volunteers. Personally, I want Mr. Driscoll and URDC to go back and do it again, or give us a refund.

    There should never have been an issue about providing Council with the recommendations from H&P. It was the PC's job to incorporate those recommendations into the Comp Plan and NOT to take that decision away from Council. The PC and H&P are on equal footing, and the PC does not have authority over any other commission. The balance in this borough is very skewed.

    Council voted to advertise with the intent to adopt the defective Comp Plan. It was 3-3, and our mayor broke the tie in favor of Cara, Alex, and Chip. No surprise there. In my opinion, they had to do that in preparation for the September 17 and 18 court dates to re-argue Kardon Park. Sullins said that the Comp Plan isn't used, but you wait...I'll bet that the borough will rely heavily on the information in this inaccurate plan, if it will help them achieve their nefarious objectives -- whether it's Kardon Park now or in the future with Johnsontown Park/Boot Road extension, the skate park, filling in First Lake, etc. But, you never know, I could be wrong.

    I'm thinking that Amanis' new exterior color is the direction the PC, Main Street, and most of the current Council want to go. Hey, why should Coatesville have all the bright colors in their downtown area and we don't, right?

    Council president Chip Gazerro should be sanctioned for his rudeness and bullying behavior. Apparently, he learned well from the previous council presidents. He is out of control.

    As for new council members...yes, we need to elect officials AND appoint a new Administration that serves the citizens first and foremost. The job of a an elected official is to listen to the people to determine what THEY want for THEIR community and then do his/her best to implement it! The officials’ jobs aren’t to cram what THEY think is best down the citizen's throats! Yet, that's precisely what has been happening for years. I feel like we, the taxpayers, are in the way of their agenda for what THEY perceive as “progress”, and that is so very wrong.

    Ask the candidates in your area where they stand on the controversial issues (i.e., River Station, Boot Rd extension/Johnsontownn Park, train station, Kardon Park, First Lake, skate park, Amtrak rail yard, spending priorities), what groups they belong to (i.e. Main Street, IDEAL, Friends of Kardon Park, Johnsontown Community Group), how they spend their free time (with family, volunteering, drinking/partying, gossiping), and who their friends are.

  3. It's DeStefano. If you are going to blather on about someone, the least you can do is spell their name right.

  4. Sorry Cara didn't mean to spell your name wrong