Letter to Delaware County Council about the 3rd Street Project

Jan 8, 2013 by

Since June 2011, Friends of Glen Providence Park has advocated for minimizing the destruction to Glen Providence Park from the 3rd Street Project construction.  This included raising public awareness and public officials’ awareness about the project, and meeting with Delaware County Council to explain the impact to the park that the project would have.  Now that Media Borough Council’s compromise design for the project has been challenged in court by Broomall’s Lake Country Club, and the case is back before Judge James F. Proud, we again reached out to County Council to explain our support for the compromise design.

What follows is the text of a letter sent yesterday to Tom McGarrigle, Chairman of Delaware County Council, with cc’s to Media Borough Council and Broomall’s Lake Country Club.  The bolding and links were added for this website.

 

Dear Mr. McGarrigle:

As representatives of the Friends of Glen Providence Park, we are writing to share our ideas on how Delaware County could play a positive role in helping the long-delayed Third Street Dam/Bridge project in Media to move forward. 

As you know, in 2011, Broomall’s Lake Country Club (BLCC), Delaware County, and Media Borough Council signed a stipulation that established shared responsibility between the parties for the Third Street Dam/Bridge in Media, PA.  The stipulation stated that Media Borough would be responsible for designing and constructing a replacement dam and roadway.  The stipulation also stated that, after reconstruction, Delaware County and Broomall’s Lake Country Club would be responsible for maintaining and operating the dam, while Media Borough would manage and maintain the roadway atop the dam.

When the engineer’s plans for the project were presented to the public for the first time in the summer of 2011, many residents in Media and surrounding communities expressed serious concerns about the environmental and recreational impact of the project on the County’s historic Glen Providence Park.  In fact, over 800 County residents, from Media Borough and many other municipalities, signed a petition favoring a pedestrian and bicycle-only greenway at Third Street.  Additionally, a Media Borough Council-sponsored public opinion survey of Media residents and business owners indicated strong support for removing the dam completely and creating a pedestrian and bicycle-only greenway.  Over 600 Media residents and/or business owners completed and returned the survey.

After more than a year of public discussion and debate regarding a complex and often divisive issue, Media Borough Council crafted a compromise decision that represented a way forward on the long-delayed Third Street Dam/Bridge project.  Although our organization favored dam removal and building a pedestrian-bicycle bridge, we decided to support the Borough Council’s compromise of replacing the dam and building a 28’-wide structure with a roadway that provided one lane for pedestrians and bicycles and one lane for automobiles with one-way traffic from Upper Providence into Media.  Emergency vehicles would have two-way access to serve both Media and Upper Providence.

While compromises can never satisfy everyone on every point, the Borough Council’s plan would:

1) replace a dam that is currently in dangerous disrepair;
2) preserve Broomall’s Lake for the benefit of Broomall’s Lake Country Club;
3) re-establish automotive vehicular traffic on Third Street from Upper Providence into Media;
4) provide two-way access for emergency automotive vehicles to ensure public safety in both communities;
5) create a safe passageway for pedestrians and individuals riding bicycles on Third Street;
6) limit environmental damage to Glen Providence Park by restricting the width of the dam and roadway and thereby reducing the acreage of the park that will be buried in landfill and impacted by construction; and
7) save taxpayer dollars by restricting the width of the dam and roadway.

After years of paralysis, the project was finally ready for action.

Unfortunately, one of the three signatories to the 2011 legal stipulation on the dam/bridge – Broomall’s Lake Country Club – decided to file a legal petition in the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas that has delayed the project yet again.  The Club is seeking a ruling from Judge James F. Proud to force Media Borough to construct two lanes for automobiles.  Although the authority of municipalities to regulate automobile traffic within their own communities is well-established, and despite the fact that the 2011 stipulation does not expressly require two lanes for automobiles, the Club has decided to pursue that path of litigation. The Club’s legal action is now the only factor delaying progress on this project.

We believe that Delaware County Council can be a positive force at this critical juncture by clearly expressing its support for the compromise crafted by Media Borough Council.  Delaware County Council has the opportunity to exert decisive leadership and to play a pivotal role in ending the logjam and moving the project forward.   We urge you to support the one-lane, one-way compromise.

Mr. Dylan Atkins, Upper Providence
Ms. Linda Healy, Media
Mr. Terry Rumsey, Media

For the Third Street Advocacy Committee of the Friends of Glen Providence Park

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11 Comments

  1. John

    Terry,

    Why do you continue to hold up the flawed CAC survey as legitimate? It allowed people to vote for a bridge that was not a real option and did not allow for cost consideration.
    Thanks,

    John Queeney
    Kirk Lane

    • Terry Rumsey

      John,

      I’d be glad to get together over a cup of coffee and discuss our differing views on the CAC survey and the entire CAC process. As you might guess, I believe that the CAC did engage in a legitimate solicitation of public opinion about what our community favored for the Third Street Project. I also think that the CAC report posted on the Media Borough Web site provides a comprehensive and accurate reflection of stakeholder views on the project.

      I hope you can take the time to meet with me.

      Thanks,

      Terry Rumsey

  2. John Queeny

    Terry,
     
    What would you like to discuss? I am asking you a question as to why cost consideration was not a factor and why a bridge option   was included on the survey when it is not feasible? How is that a legitimate solicitation of the public’s opinion? I have heard you many times and to be honest  I would rather not meet with you . In my opinion you represent the height of arrogance when you instructed people to “go spend an hour at night just listening to the park”. You are not the only one who is aware of the park and how lucky we are to live near it. You also selfishly campaigned for a barrier to keep people from crossing the dam . Who do you think you are to tell me that I can only cross into Media from my house when you see fit? How on earth is that being a good neighbor? What other connection between communities has a gate that one side controls?  The road was needed when it was originally built and is needed  more now since the population has gone up. I feel that you and a few of your FROG group members are hypocrites and only concerned with your little corner of the world. To be clear, that is exactly what I am concerned with as well but I am upfront about it.
    Please take the time to answer the questions regarding the survey and thank you for responding to my previous inquiry.

    John Queeney
    Kirk Lane

    • stephanie

      Hi John,

      We will go ahead and post your comment, but in the future, please maintain civility and remember that we are all neighbors. We are happy to discuss this respectfully.

      Thank you,

      Stephanie

      • Terry Rumsey

        John,

        First, I thought you might be interested in actually taking the time for us to engage in a civil and productive conversation during which we both had the opportunity to present – and to listen—to each other’s point of view. The CAC report was 33 pages with appendices, so there are multiple, complex issues at play. I happen to believe that dueling electronic posts tend to discourage authentic dialogue and contribute to community discord. However, you made it clear that you are not particularly interested in participating in a dialogue with me. That’s certainly your right.

        So, I will answer your comments and questions via electronic post, as you requested. This is a going to be a long post, but that’s another consequence of your preferred communication format.

        Let me begin with clarifying that I never instructed people in general to “go spend an hour at night just listening to the park.” I did address the seven members of Media Borough Council at a public meeting and suggested that they spend an hour on the closed Third Street roadway on a nice evening. I did this a few days before they were scheduled to vote to reestablish automobile traffic or to support a pedestrian-bicycle greenway on Third Street. I wanted them to experience the peace and tranquility of the current space and see how many hikers and bikers currently use Third Street to travel between Media and Upper Providence (and vice versa).

        As for advocating for closing Third Street to automobiles, I freely admit that I supported that option. For the record, so did 800 other people from Media and other communities who signed a petition calling on Council to establish a pedestrian-bicycle only greenway on Third Street. Communities often limit automobile access to roads for the benefit of hikers and bikers. For example, Philadelphia closes MLK Drive to automobiles on the weekend during the spring and summer months. Media Borough often closes State Street to automobiles, so pedestrians can enjoy various festivities. I believe that getting out our cars and walking enhances our neighbor-to-neighbor connections more than speeding by in an automobile. John, I never suggested building a Berlin Wall (or a gate) to keep people from entering our community, I simply proposed designating a time when pedestrians from both communities could enjoy a beautiful parkway without the air, noise, and speed pollution of automobiles. I get that you want to drive your car on Third Street whenever you feel like it, but it’s not a constitutional right. That’s been the crux of the whole debate, with hundreds of people on BOTH sides of the issue.

        I’m not exactly sure what you mean when you write that a bridge option was not feasible, which is why I suggested that we get together. However, I assume that you are referring to two options that were presented in the survey 1) Remove the existing dam and restore Broomall’s run to a flowing stream with a bridge suitable for motorized vehicle traffic including automobiles as well as bicycle and pedestrian traffic and 2) Remove the existing dam and restore Broomall’s run to a flowing stream with a bridge designed for bicycle and pedestrian traffic only, with potential access for emergency vehicles. In fact, both of those options were eligible for funding from PennDOT and we never received any information that suggested that it was technically impossible to remove the dam and then build a bridge. So, it WAS feasible. Obviously, it would have been more expensive to build a bridge for two-way automobile traffic rather than a bridge for pedestrian-bicycle traffic only and limited use by emergency vehicles – but both were feasible options.

        You are correct that cost estimates were not provided for any of the four options presented. If you read the CAC report, you know that the CAC members – including me – agreed with you. On page 33 of the report, Finding # 12 reads:

        “While the members of the CAC agree that any matter related to the existing legal stipulation was not a proper subject for public discourse during the CAC process, we think that it would have been helpful to present the public with factual information related to the potential costs of different options. The CAC believes that it was capable of fairly presenting this information. It should be noted that the CAC did not present any information regarding financial cost to the public due to the explicit instruction of Borough Council.”

        Presenting cost comparisons for the various options did present a daunting challenge. First, it would have required long and technical presentations that are not well-suited to encouraging wide-spread participation in a public opinion survey. No public opinion survey – be they conducted by Gallup or Pew Trusts – ever present respondents with all of the information and complexities of an issue. Council was seeking to learn people’s preferences for the Third Street project. Since PennDOT funding would have covered 80 percent of the cost of any of the four options, the cost differential was not a decisive factor for local taxpayers. I am guessing that you assume that removing the dam and building a bridge would be more expensive than replacing the dam, but that assumption is not a given. Until one factors in the size and design of any given option, it is futile to speculate about the final cost of potential options. For example, removing the dam and building a small pedestrian-bicycle bridge would potentially be the least expensive option.

        Also, the CAC solicited public opinion from multiple methodologies – not just through the mail survey. We sponsored a town meeting with open public comment and captured more detailed responses at that meeting from small group circles. Over 200 people attended the Town Meeting. We also interviewed a broad range of stakeholders – residents from every precinct in Media, residents from Upper Providence, business owners, and park users. Again, I suggest that you read the CAC report to review the results. While it’s easy find fault with any process, I do believe that the snap shot of public opinion captured in the CAC report is legitimate.

        In closing, I will admit that I wish that the Council could have sponsored a local referendum on this issue and we could have decided the matter in the voting booth. However, Pennsylvania law prohibits local municipalities from sponsoring ballot initiatives. So, we are left with imperfect measures of our community’s opinion and we are forced to rely on the decisions made by our elected officials and now by the decision of one man – Judge James Proud.

        Te

        • John

          Thanks for the speedy response. My opinion that the survey is too flawed to be used for anything still stands. A vehicular bridge would cost 8 times as much according to what was reported at one of the meetings held after the results were tallied. Having that as an option taints the entire process and essentially makes it a waste of time. That is what troubles me when I hear you state that it reflects what people want. If one of the options is far too much money that makes it unfeasible. As for the gate idea just because you are not building the Berlin Wall does not mean the idea isn’t a divisive suggestion. The design you included the gate on already had half the structure dedicated to pedestrian traffic so anyone would be able to peacefully cross at any time they wished. Maybe you don’t see it this way but when you tell someone that you know what is best for them it will cause tempers to flare. A good deal of people already think your intention is to simply keep cars from crossing so telling them Media will decide when a public road can be used only solidifies that line of thinking. I know that it did for me anyhow. If someone is not part of your group or wants a two way option that does not mean they are less forward thinking or love the park any less than you. I get that strong impression that you feel otherwise based on the meetings I have attended and watched on TV. Adding to my negative impression of your group is if the park is such a big deal now why was nothing done to prevent the homes from being build on Parks Edge Lane? Certainly having houses that turned GPP into someone’s own back yard does not add to the serenity and peacefulness of the experience. As for the dam we are talking about a road that was open at one time for a reason and that should be open now for the very same reasons. If brand new houses lining the perimeter of the park do not bother you why does the road being re-opened? When you said at the meeting that spending time at the bridge at night would somehow change minds it struck me as you telling all that you know best for the park and for them. That rubbed me the wrong way and couple it with an unnecessary barrier I felt like the lines were clearly being drawn. That is the reason I said I would rather not meet with you to discuss anything.
          With that being said I am very much aware of the good work for the park that has been spawned by the debate and as a result of your group. So for that I would be disingenuous if I said I was not grateful and glad the FROGS exist.
          I am not oblivious to the fact that I may have a sharp tongue/keyboard but making my feelings known in a communication like this is far less permanent than what I feel you have been trying to accomplish.
          I hope that the can stops being kicked down the road and that things move forward soon for everyone’s sake.

          Thanks for taking the time to read this.

          John Queeney
          Kirk Lane

  3. John

    Terry,

    What did you do to save the park when Parks Edge Lane was built? One of your own members has called the large houses “abominations” and I don’t see a way that you especially would disagree with that statement. If you did try and stop the construction you are a very consistent person and you have my respect. I am trying to understand all positions from the key players so Parks Edge Lane has always made me suspicios of what real motives are in play.

    • shannon

      John,

      Perhaps I can address your question. Park’s Edge Lane was never part of the park, it was and is private property and as such, Media Borough, Delaware County and others had little to no recourse when the owner of the land decided to sell it and a developer proposed residential housing within the zoning regs. (As far as I know there was no zoning variance necessary.) The previous owners, and the developer, chose not to donate that land to the park, which was their right.

      Pennsylvania is known as a “property-owners” state, because property owners have many rights and government and citizens have few options to overrule these rights.

      The park was donated in 1936 and many homes next to the park have since been built both in Media and Upper Providence. To single out Park’s Edge Lane just isn’t logical.

      I hope the point is clear: Park’s Edge Lane has nothing to do with Glen Providence Park. Never has. Because the Park’s Edge Lane development was always private property, municipal and citizen opinion really didn’t figure in to the picture.

      The situation at hand involves the destruction of an acre of public land in the park. Pennsylvania taxpayer dollars will fund the proposed $3.5 million dam, and as such, we all have a right to weigh in on the project. Public municipalities, PennDOT and the DEP are often required by law to hold public and online comment periods because it is vital for these large capital projects to have community support from the beginning.

      On Park’s Edge Lane and in the west of Media in general, you’ll find people — living harmoniously as neighbors — who do not agree on the 3rd Street issue. Some who live on the west side strongly favor a road for their traveling convenience, and some strongly favor preserving the park or minimizing traffic. I would say more favor the latter option, but there really is no Park’s Edge conspiracy — like your neighbors, everyone has minds of their own.

      Hope this helps clarify things.

      • shannon

        John,

        You just don’t seem to understand that the residents of Park’s Edge did not build those homes. A builder did. Just like your house, those homes were up for sale and people bought them. They just happened to be new homes.

        If you are saying that people can’t live on private property and care about a nearby park or open space, well I just don’t agree with you.

        Are you possibly self-serving, in wanting a quicker route into Media? I think it saves Kirk residents .2 miles? Can you justify destroying an acre of public park for your driving convenience?

        I think you and I can probably agree that people need homes and roads, and we also need to balance how much land we develop for human’s needs and desires, and leave some land alone. The tricky part is what is that balance?

        I think there is a very reasonable case to be made that public land, gifted in perpetuity, should only be destroyed in the rarest of cases, and public taxpayer dollars should only be used for public benefit, NOT to destroy an acre of public land for private (BLCC) benefit.

        If I had a personal pond on my property and it was in disrepair, do you think it would be ok for me to get your taxpayer dollars from the state to fix it? And to have Media Borough manage the design and reconstruction of my pond? That is what BLCC is asking for, and in exchange we lose an acre of the park. Also, they don’t want to own the structure (dam) that will preserve their lake. (And they haven’t even asked their members, like me, if we want the lake.)

        THOSE are the core issues with Third Street. Use of public land and use of taxpayer dollars.

        By the way, I do think it’s uncivil to call me funny, especially when I take the time to respond to you. For your information, not everyone who cares about the park are “people of means,” and there are certainly self-serving people with money on the other side of this issue.

        Stephanie could tell you about the different volunteer groups over the years that have done improvements on the park. It’s perfectly ok for events to motivate people to get more involved, it’s perfectly natural. Happens all the time.

        Shannon

  4. John

    Shannon,

    You are funny. I am asking Terry what he did to stop the construction of the houses that overlook the park. Not that anything much could be done since as long as people have the money they can make a place like GPP into their backyard if they want. It is just that he has so much passion now I figured he would have done something. Maybe even as simple as letting people know how they can minimize their foot print or at least have drawn some kind of attention to the newest homes pushing up against the park. That is why I asked Terry what he thinks. Do you think they have a negative effect on the park? While I do appreciate Shannon’s very well said response I am hoping to hear from the person I asked the original question.

  5. Terry Rumsey

    John,

    Sorry I didn’t respond sooner. I have been very busy with my business. First, we bought our home in Media in 2006 and Park’s Edge lane was already developed. Honestly, I probably would have been opposed to that development – as I was opposed to the more recent Toll Brother’s development across Kirk Lane from the park. I believe we need to conserve our remaining open space and those concerns should be weighed when private development is proposed. I really appreciate the efforts of groups like Natural Lands Trust that forge private-public partnerships to preserve our open space.

    However, as Shannon articulated so clearly in her previous post, Park’s Edge Lane (and the Toll Brother’s tract, too) was private property developed with private financing. This is NOT the case with the proposed replacement of Broomall’s Lake Dam. Dam replacement requires spending up to four million dollars of TAXPAYER’S dollars and will damage a section of a PUBLIC PARK and create an environmental and public safety threat to the park and park users for the next century. As a taxpayer and citizen, I strongly oppose the use of public funds to build a high hazard dam when the project has zero public benefit and damages a section of a public park. The rebuilt dam will not produce electricity, provide drinking water, or preserve a public recreation site. In fact, this taxpayer-funded project negatively impacts a PUBLIC park for the sole benefit of PRIVATE country club.

    In closing, I would also make the point that our neighbors living on Park’s Edge Lane and in the Toll Brother’s development have every right to express their opinion about the publicly-financed Broomall’s Lake Dam project. As citizens living near Glen Providence Park, many of them use the park and participate in efforts to keep this public treasure clean and green.

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