Updated: 5 hours 6 min ago
Well, at least I know I'm not losing my mind. At least not yet anyhow. I know that may come as a surprise to some readers. I was not the only one fascinated by the fighter jet that was buzzing the skies over Chester County at the same time a nasty storm was rolling in Monday night.I saw as I was just about home just before 7 p.m. It was one of the loudest sounds I've ever heard.I posted on Twitter and it immediately sparked similar Tweets.One reader emailed me overnight to assure me I was not hallucinating.But J. Massucci went one better. He actually got a photo of the jet framed against that foreboding sky.He said the jets was "flying very low and agile. Making multiple turns."He also mentioned something noticed by several other readers - a small plane that was also in the sky at the same time and he wondered if that was connected.Let's keep this conversation going and get to the bottom of the "Top Gun Mystery."If you have information to share on what that jet was doing in the skies of Chester County and where it may have come from, email me at email@example.com.
The Daily Numbers: 1st lady making a pitch for 1st woman president last night as Michelle Obama says of Hillary Clinton: “I’m with her.” 2 Delco veterans, Rocco Polidoro and Bob Dimond, who were part of color guard opening the Democratic National Convention yesterday.54 people slapped with citations during as thousands of protester descended on the city for the convention.600 people left without power yesterday in Ridley when power lines sagged during morning storm, then were entangled with a truck on South Avenue.3 utility poles that came down.108, yesterday’s heat index.96, official high recorded at the airport. That tires record set in 1999.95, expected high today, but with less humidity.29 people injured during collision between SEPTA bus and jeep in Yeadon.37,000 dollars for a feasibility, or $28,000 for wrestling mats. That’s 1 of the vexing fiscal questions hanging over the Interboro School Board.1 million dollars per license, what the state wants casinos to pony up to be able to serve alcohol between 2 and 6 a.m. Not many are jumping at chance.40 years in prison for Montco man guilty in the fatal stabbing of his wife 3 years ago.1 as in Day 1 for Eagles Training Camp.1 as in the No. 1 quarterback, where Sam Bradford is firmly entrenched.4-0 win for the Phillies over the Marlins.1 hit over 6 innings of shutout ball for Phils starter Jeremy Hellickson, who again dazzled the scouts as trade deadline looms.4 year deal for Flyers forward Brayden Schenn Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.All other sports now cease and desist. The Eagles are starting their training camp I Don’t Get It: The world in 140 characters. Michelle Obama is right. I don’t get it either. Today’s Upper: Kudos to Philly, which is once again in the national spotlight with the Democratic National Convention. Quote Box: “I’m with her.”- First Lady Michelle Obama, speaking about Hillary Clinton’s candidacy last night. 1st lady
I know exactly how Michelle Obama feels. The first lady electrified the crowd at the Democratic National Convention last night, concluding with a great line when it comes to this year's presidential sweepstakes:"I'm with her."It's a bit of history, what will happen tonight when Democrats make Hillary Clinton the first woman formally nominated to head a major party ticket for president.Unfortunately, that's not the line I'm talking about.Instead something else the first lady said that stuck in my head.She wisely did not refer to Donald Trump by name - something I wish more political partisans did - but clearly was referring to him when she mentioned the social media reality we all now dwell in.It's a Twitter world, and Donald Trump is adept at it.I know all about Twitter. It seems like I'm on it 24 hours a day.But the first lady cautioned that the issues facing the country "cannot be boiled down to 140 characters."Tell me about it. I've been trying to convince people of that for years.They tell me I'm a dinosaur. That the times - or is that the Times, this newspaper where I have toiled for more than three decades - has passed me by.I am a prolific Tweeter. I find it very useful in delivering breaking news quickly.But it is a dangerous thing as well. Too many people Tweet much too quickly - myself included - before all the information is available.There's an old saying in this business. Speed kills. That's why we spend as much time as we do checking facts and getting them right before going public with information.But it is a different world.It's a Twitter world.To many people, 140 characters is more than enough to detail the pressing issues we face.I just don't happen to be one of them.
I encountered something on the ride home last night I have never seen - or heard - before. And it has nothing to do with the fact that for the first time in 34 years, I was making the back end of the commute from Swarthmore (which is actually in Springfield) instead of Primos.But as I rolled along Route 352 and West Chester Pike it looked I was driving directly into Armageddon. You just knew that as hot and humid as it had been, the storms that followed would be epic.The sky grew increasingly dark as I kept driving, until it was nearly pitch black. That's when I realized I was still wearing my sunglasses. Taking them off only increased visibility a tad.That's when it happened. It was bad enough that it looked like the sky was going to open up and consume my car, I suddenly hear a dull roar that seemed to be getting closer. At first I thought it was thunder, but it kept getting louder. And louder. That's when I really started to think my time might be up, that maybe a meteorite or something was about to fall out of the sky and consume my car.Just as the roar seemed right on top of me, I realized what it was - at about the same time I saw what gave every indication of some kind of military fighter jet zipping across the Chester County sky. There was just enough light dispersed through the clouds to make it out. But there was no mistaking that flight pattern. Small planes don't make that kind of noise. And big passenger planes don't do the kind of maneuvers this jet was doing, executing sharp turns and flying on its side.Then, just as soon as it showed up and zipped back and fort across the sky a couple of times, it was gone.Where did it go? Where did it come from? The Dover Air Force Base maybe? But what was it doing this far north? I thought maybe it was connected to the security for the Democratic National Committee, but it was just that one jet seemingly doing maneuvers on its own.Anyone else see or hear that jet?Please don't tell me I was hallucinating.Maybe they're making a sequel to 'Top Gun' and didn't bother to tell anyone.
The Democrats are coming! The Democrats are coming. Actually, they're already here - and we have them covered.Stay with the Daily Times and DelcoTimes.com for breaking news out of the Democratic National Convention, including live daily updates.We'll have a live blog up and running each day as we track the historic gathering at the Wells Fargo Center in South Philly that will culminate Thursday night in Hillary Clinton accepting the party's nomination for president, thus becoming the first woman ever to head the ticket for a major party.We were in Philly yesterday, fanning out to cover the arrival of the delegates, as well as the first protests.Stay with us as we cover the Dems - and of course all the local angles you won't get anywhere else - all week.
Goodbye 19018; hello 19081. In other words, the Daily Times has a new home.We closed the doors on our longtime office on Mildred Avenue in the Primos section of Upper Darby Friday, and today we set up shop in Swarthmore.Yes, it was emotional.There were a lot of things going through my mind as I walked out of the office for the last time Friday, carting as many memories as I could fit into the trunk of a Honda Accord.After all, I have been walking through those doors for 34 years.It was a very strange week in Primos, kind of like seeing a little piece of your life taken apart brick by brick, or maybe filing cabinet by filing cabinet.Those of us who were there late Friday afternoon gathered on the front steps of the office one final time for a photo. It appears here with my blog.It's ironic that we would leave Primos for Swarthmore, and not just for the same numbers being involved in the zip codes.There is something else about these abodes that I have been telling people for years. Primos doesn't really exist.Now we've moved to a place that is not actually in Swarthmore.I explain it all in today's print column.Please feel free to stop in and say hello to us in our new digs. Right now they appear a bit sterile to be a newsroom. My guess is that will not last long.
This is going to be a very strange day at the Daily Times. Because it is going to be our last one - at least here in beautiful downtown Primos.We're moving to new digs in Swarthmore, actually it's in Springfield Township. I'll have more on that little oddity in my Monday column.In the meantime, we are busy packing and salvaging decades of memories from the place most of us have wistfully called "the miracle on Mildred Avenue."The Daily Times first arrived here in this little corner of Upper Darby Township back in 1976. I arrived here in 1982. I have been walking through the doors here for 34 years.I won't try to recount the memories here, the stories, and some of the in-house intrigue that this old place has housed. Let's just say that some of the things that happened in here - which did not make the newspaper - were as interesting as the stories that did.Among the many things we will miss will be our own personal Wawa - yes, I still hold a spot in my heart for those old stores that did not have gas pumps and all the other amenities. I have always enjoyed the fact that we could walk a block away to the Wawa, thus missing the most dangerous place to drive in Delco - a Wawa parking lot.Most of all I will miss all the people who have come through this building.They were, simply, the best, people who cared deeply about what they did and the product we delivered every day.Now it's on to Swarthmore.So long Primos. Thanks for the memories.For a place that doesn't really exist, you were a great "home."
Speaking of the archdiocese, they are back on the editorial page today. They seem to be the "silent partner" in this grand debate we're having in the county about open space.oday. The fact is the county does not own the Don Guanella tract. Neither does Marple Township, nor the activists such as Save Marple Greenspace, who want to preserve it, to make sure they don't pave paradise. It's owned by the archdiocese, and the last we heard, they have not wavered from their stated position - they want to find a buyer and maximize their financial opportunity. You can read the editorial here.
I always tell people I have "an" opinion. Not "the" opinion.That's the good thing about readers. They're not shy about telling us when they disagree.Take yesterday's editorial on Rep. Mark Rozzi and House Bill 1947. Rozzi is vowing to put language back in the bill that would allow victims from decades ago to file civil suits against their molesters and their employers.As you might expect, the Catholic Conference and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia are not big fans of that language. That's why they lobbied hard to have the language removed when the bill was taken up by the state Senate.They were successful.Rozzi is not amused, and vows to put the language back in the bill in the fall.The editorial focused on that - and the very delicate position that likely will put several Delaware County House members in, possibly voting on the bill at the same time they are running for re-election. The archdiocese has not been shy about reminding the faithful which legislators voted in favor of a bill that characterize as a "blatant attack on the church."But I received a letter of protest yesterday from Amy Hill, director of communications for the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, for something the editorial did not say.She took us to task for failing to point out the belief by many that the retroactive language included in Rozzi's version of the legislation is unconstitutional. In fact, Solicitor General Bruce Castor testified to just that at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee.She's right.But that was not what this editorial was about. Both the paper, our editorial page, and my own columns and blogs have mentioned the constitutional issues many times. I happen to agree with them. I'm not sure that language will ever pass constitutional muster.But this was more about the fact that Rozzi is not about to let this issue die off, and the position the Delco delegation likely will find themselves in the fall.In the meantime, you can expect to see Hill's letter on our op-ed page soon.If you can't wait that long, I'll include it here: Your editorial of July 21 failed to discuss the key reason the retroactive lawsuit language was removed from House Bill 1947 and it has nothing to do with the Catholic Church: It is unconstitutional. Don’t take my word for it. Look at the legal opinion submitted by the Office of Attorney General. You can read it online here. “House Bill 1947, if enacted into law in its current form and without amendment will, in our opinion, violate the Remedies Clause of the Pennsylvania Constitution,” wrote Solicitor General Bruce L. Castor Jr. Several legal experts and law professors echoed the opinion of the Office of Attorney General at a Senate hearing. Despite the various legal opinions that the bill was unconstitutional, you chose to focus on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s efforts to inform its parishioners how this legislation targets the Catholic Church and could result in the closing of parishes, schools and charities. You briefly mentioned that the Archbishop questioned the constitutionality of the bill, but omitted any mention of the testimony of legal experts. Whether you were unaware of the testimony or decided to leave it out, you did not give your readers a true picture of why the retroactive language was amended. No matter the final resolution with the legislation, the Catholic Church will honor its sincere commitment to the emotional and spiritual well-being of individuals who have been impact by the crime of childhood sexual abuse, no matter when it occurred. Sincerely,Amy HillDirector of CommunicationsPennsylvania Catholic Conference*
The Daily Numbers: 20 million dollars, how much County Council wants a new Open Space Task Force to find to buy open property, including possibly that Don Guanella tract. 47 million dollars, amount of the deal for the Don Guanella tract that fell through when developer Bruce Goodman could not get his plans approved.213 acres in question surrounding the old Don Guanella School in Darby Township.200 people who gathered at St. John Chrysostom Church in Nether Providence to promote anti-violence.30, age of Michael David Hardy, now in custody in an Upper Darby shooting in which he’s alleged to have fired 20 rounds at another man, hitting him 9 times.4,000 dollars in crack cocaine seized in arrest by police in Darby Township.7 months, age of tiny Hamza Ali, whose body was never found. His suspected killer Ummad Rushdi, is due in court for a hearing today.12 cars that had their tires slashed in Darby Borough.10 million dollars being donated to Villanova University to establish a center for contemporary global issues.3,000 dollars worth of coffee that officials believe a woman stole from Wawa stores across the region. She steals the packages of coffee, then takes it to another store and returns it for cash.62 billion dollar deal that will unite drug giants Dow and DuPont.3-1 edge in fundraising for Sen. Pat Toomey over his Democratic foe Katie McGinty.3.25 million raised by Toomey through June 30. He has $7.7 million on hand.2.9 million raised by McGinty. She has $2.4 million on hand.3,383 fatal opioid overdoses in Pa. last year. Yesterday the state OK’d new parameters for distributing and prescribing opioids.1 run on 5 hits over 8 innings for Phils starter Jeremy Hellickson.4-1 win for the Phils, snapping a 3-game losing streak.0-for-16 slump snapped by Tyler Goeddel, who had a homer and 3 RBI.26th save in 29 tries for Jeanmar GomezCall me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.No doubt all those scouts in attendance last night liked what they saw from Jeremy Hellickson, who likely will be trade bait up until the trade deadline next week. I Don’t Get It: Ted Cruz. So much for endorsing your nominee. Today’s Upper: Kudos to all those involved in the great debate over open space at yesterday’s Delco Council meeting. Quote Box: “It’s natural to want to be able to preserve that open space.”- County Councilman John McBlain, on push to preserve the 213-acre Don Guanella tract.
On our editorial page today, we noted that while the key language of House Bill 1947 - which would allow victims of child sexual abuse from decades ago to bring civil actions against their tormentors now and up until they turn 50 - may be gone, the man pushing the issue is not. Not by a long shot.State Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-126, of Berks County, held a rally on the steps of the Basilica SS. Peter & Paul in downtown Philly this week. He was there to deliver a message to Archbishop Charles Chaput and church leaders: He is not going away.In fact, Rozzi is vowing to put the crucial retroactivity language back into HB 1947 this fall when it comes up again in the house.House members rather stunningly backed the measure in a 190-15 vote, sending it to the Senate. That's when the archdiocese put on the full-court press. They unleashed the lobbyists in Harrisburg. Chaput sent a letter that was read or handed out at every Mass in every church in the archdiocese, blasting the legislation as a blatant attack on the church and urging the faithful to contact their senators to oppose it.Some state reps, including several here in Delco who backed the measure, felt some heat from their local parishes. State Rep. Nick Miccarelli, R-162, even found himself singled out in the church bulletin in his parish, St. Rose of Lima in Eddystone, with a gentle reminder to parishioners that he had voted in favor of the bill.The Senate passed the bill, which will also lift the statute of limitations on criminal charges in child abuse cases, but only for future cases. They stripped out Rozzi's language that would allow past victims of abuse a new opportunity to file against their accusers now, sometimes decades later.Rozzi's vow to revisit the issue in the fall will put state representatives in a tough spot.Remember, these guys run for office every two years. Every state rep will be on the ballot in November, meaning just about the same time they could be taking another vote on House Bill 1947.Don't expect the archdiocese to be silent on the issue.They've made their position clear.It will be interesting to see how many state reps continue to stand with Rozzi and the victims of abuse.The movie 'Spotlight' put the issue of child sexual abuse in the national headlines. House Bill 1947 will put our representatives in the 'spotlight' this fall. We'll be watching. So will the rest of the state.
I hope Phillies fans got a chance to take in - and appreciate - the effort put forth last night by starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson. They may not have many more chances.Hellickson dominated a pretty good Marlins lineup, allowing just one run on five hits over 8 solid innings in propelling the Phils to a 4-1 win, in the process snapping a three-game losing skid.But Hellickson is also very likely the No. 1 trade chip the Phils currently have.The right-hander is 29, and it's unlikely he will be around when this young nucleus of Phillies starts to really flex its muscles.The trade deadline is July 31. Hellickson could possibly squeeze in one more start before then.It's unlikely anything he does will be more impressive to scouts - several of whom were in attendance last night. It's very likely Hellickson will be added to a team making a stretch run.That does not mean what he has done this year for the Phillies should not be appreciated.Rob Parent was at the game last night and has Hellickson's reaction to his outing - as well as all the trade talk.
The Daily Numbers: 10 a.m., when those in favor of preserving the Don Guanella tract in Marple Township plan to pack the County Council meeting to push for a bond referendum on the November ballot. 10 page white paper issued by County Council on the issue of open space.17,000 acres of open space that has been preserved in the county, according to council.1,000 acres, how much the group Save Marple Greenspace says has actually be saved by the county, as opposed to private groups.4 percent tax hike on property owners every year for 20 years, what council claims a $100 million bond issue would cost.47 million dollars, what developer would have paid for the tract. That deal collapsed when Goodman could not get his plans approved.200 people who packed the Radnor Board of Commissioners meeting Monday night to blast comments made by top cop Bill Colarulo about groups such as Black Lives Matter in the wake of the killing of 5 police officers in Dallas.500,000 dollars, how much fed investigators say a Drexel Hill man who was a TV analyst for Philadelphia Union soccer games, took in kickbacks in his job for a pharmaceutical firm.19 percent raise and an $80,000 dollar settlement for the sister of Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who sued the office.6 percent boost coming in tolls on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in 2017.1.16 to $1.23 on the most common trip for E-ZPass customers.1.80 to $1.95 for cash customers.81, age of TV and movie producer Garry Marshall, responsible for “Happy Days” and “Pretty Lady.” He died this week.2 straight extra inning losses for Phils.3 straight losses after 2-1 setback in 10 innings to Marlins.10 hits total for Phils in this skid.430 foot homer to upper deck in left field for Tommy Joseph.1 run on 3 hits and 4 walks over 7 innings for Phils starter Vince Velasquez. Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.These Jekyll & Hyde Phillies are back to Mr. Hyde again. They’re not hitting, and wasting good starting pitching again. I Don’t Get It: I kind of figured Bill Colarulo was going to regret those remarks about Black Lives Matter. He does. Today’s Upper: Kudos to the group of Upper Darby students who will be presenting the “right stuff” at a NASA conference. Quote Box: “This is a false narrative.”- County Councilman John McBlain on those pushing a county bond issue to acquire open space including 213 acres on the Don Guanella tract in Marple.
Bill Colarulo is learning something I discovered a long time ago. The First Amendment is a wonderful thing ... some of the time.It gives us the freedom to speak our mind, even when we might regret it seconds after the words come out of our mouths.I get that feeling every day when I pick up the paper and see something I wish I had worded differently.I call it the wince factor. If I wince when I read or hear something, I figure that's a sign of trouble. And a sign that readers who don't necessarily share my sense of humor or general cynical outlook on this will be even more upset.I winced the second I read the comments Colarulo, top cop out in Radnor, gave to my old compatriot Bill Bender of the Philly Daily News in reaction to the horrific fatal shooting of five police officers in Dallas.Colarulo went off on groups such as Black Lives Matter, calling them "a violent, hateful organization that condones violence against police."Yep, I winced too.So apparently did a lot of Radnor residents. They packed the commissioners meeting Monday night to take umbrage at their police superintendent's comments.But Colarulo beat them to the punch, admitting he regretted the statement and making what he referred to as a "blanket statement." "I should have specified that I was talking about a small segment of hte Black Lives Matter movement that, truth be told, may have just hijacked that name or may not have been associated with the Black Lives Matter movement," Colarulo said.He, as well as the commissioners, got an earful from residents.You can read the full story here.
A fire in the underground parking garage shut down the county courthouse yesterday. Things might get pretty heated at today's County Council meeting as well.All of this stems from the push to preserve 213 acres of pristine open space that for decades was the home of the Don Guanella School off Sproul Road in Marple.Anyone who has spent any time on Route 320 knows it's one of the most heavily traveled routes in the county. There is not a lot of open space left in the center of the county. It's also undeniable that the thought of adding hundreds of new homes, along with retail establishments, restaurants and even a Wegmans, along with all the cars that go along with it, will not help that esthetic all that much.Nobody, except maybe Bruce Goodman, likes the idea of paving paradise.Goodman had a deal to buy the parcel from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for $47 million. But his efforts to build Cardinal Crossing hit several speedbumps, rejected both by the county planners and Marple commissioners. Goodman revised his plan, scaling back the density of the development, and adding open space and field for township youth athletic programs. He still got thumb's down. That's when the archdiocese pulled the plug on their deal. They now are vowing to put the tract back on the market and seek a new buyer. Local groups, such as Save Marple Greenspace, don't want that to happen. They're pushing County Council to place a referendum on the November ballot asking voters if they would support the county floating a bond to buy the tract.They held a rally outside the courthouse Monday and are expected to make their case to council at this morning's weekly meeting. They may not like what they hear.Council is not all that thrilled about the idea of a bond issue.This week they put out a 10-page white paper to dispel the notion that the county has lagged when it comes to acquiring and protecting open space.But make not mistake. This is going to come down to dollars and cents. Council maintains that a bond issue to buy the Don Guanella tract would translate to a 4 percent tax on property owners every year for 20 years. The activists dispute those figures.Another argument used to throw cold water on a bond issue to acquire open space is the belief that not everyone in the county would necessarily benefit from it. Again, there are arguments that can be made on both sides of this issue.Count Glenolden Council President Tom Danzi in the camp opposing a bond issue. He makes the case that many of the inner-ring suburbs in the eastern part of the county are already tapped out when it comes to taxes. His school district, Interboro, just hiked taxes and cut jobs in the budget they adopted a few weeks back."As a diverse community we range across the spectrum from young families who are just starting as new home owners to senior citizens who have lived and raised families in the same house over several decades ... To put it frankly, Glenolden residents simply cannot afford any additional taxes." Like I said, it should be an interesting day at the courthouse, and in county council's meeting.We'll be there to bring you the updates.
The Daily Numbers: 20,000 people without power in the Havertown-Upper Darby area at height of yesterday afternoon’s wild storms. 4,000 still without power this morning.60 mph wind gusts in the region.40-year-old silo at the Swiss Farms store on Eagle Road that was toppled by the wind.0 injuries recorded in the storm.213 acres of open space surround the home of the former Don Guanella School in Marple that continues to be at center of open space war in Delco.371 packets of heroin seized by police in Upper Darby during drug arrest.13 million dollar mortgage swindle in which a Newtown Square man now faces charges.20 rounds fired at a man during a shooting being investigated by Upper Darby police.3.6 percent jump in winnings by Pa.’s 12 casinos in the last fiscal year.3.2 billion dollars from slots and table games.2.3 percent jump in slots revenue8 percent jump in table games.1 dollar a pack tax hike for cigarettes goes into effect Aug. 1.55 cents an ounce more for snuff or loose tobacco.0 tax on cigars.4 a.m., when some Philly bars will be able to extend their last call for during the Democratic National Convention next week.2 hit ball over 6 innings for Aaron Nola, but he did not get a decision in Phils loss to Marlins.15 days off since his last start.0-4 record with 13.50 ERA in last 5 starts before All-Star break.2 run lead blown by Phils on way to losing 3-2 in 11 innings.0 for 19 skid for Cesar Hernandez. Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.New Eagles coach Doug Pederson sure seems insistent on dousing Carson Wentz Fever. He said yesterday it’s likely the rookie will not dress this year. I Don’t Get It: Scott Baio speaking at the Republican National Convention. I don’t get it. Today’s Upper: Kudos to state Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, who led protest yesterday at Archdiocese of Philadelphia yesterday in his push to open window for victims of sexual abuse to sue their molesters and the institutions that employed them. Quote Box: “This will benefit mature neighborhoods in the eastern and southern parts of the county.”- Ken Hemphill, from Save Marple Greenspace, on hoped for open space ballot question.
The Battle of Cardinal Crossing came to the Media Courthouse Monday. Actually, the Battle of Cardinal Crossing is over. It's not going to happen. Cardinal Crossing was what developer Bruce Goodman dubbed the sprawling development of townhouses, retail and office space - including a new Wegmans supermarket - that he envisioned for the 213 acres surrounding the old Don Guanella School on Sproul Road in Marple.That plan never got approval and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which owns the tract, one of the last big chunks of open space in the densely popular center of the county, pulled out of their agreement with Goodman and is now actively seeking other buyers.A group of environmental groups went to the courthouse steps yesterday to push their case for a referendum to be placed on the November ballot on whether the county should float a bond issue to acquire the tract, which includes pristine woods that have long been used by residents for hiking.You can read all about that press conference here.County Council has said they will consider the notion. Yesterday they also released a 10-page white paper on the issue.Since we did not get that into the paper today, I am including the entire text of the paper here.* OPEN SPACE PLANNING IN DELAWARE COUNTY A Statement by Delaware County Council on the Implementation of the 2015 Open Space, Recreation and Greenway PlanOne year after the adoption of the Open Space, Recreation and Greenway Plan by Delaware County Council, there exists public discussion about open space planning in our County. After celebrating the County’s acquisition of the 37.5 acre Little Flower parcel as the County’s 16th County Park, some residents have asked Delaware County to consider the acquisition of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s 200+ acre parcel on Sproul Road in Marple Township. Others have suggested that Delaware County consider an Open Space Tax Referendum for the authorization of County Debt in amounts of $100,000,000 to $125,000,000. This statement addresses those issues.* 1Open Space Planning in Delaware County: A Statement by Delaware County Council on the Implementation of the 2015 Open Space, Recreation and Greenway PlanThe narrative that Delaware County has done nothing to preserve open space is a false narrative.Through the cooperative efforts of Delaware County along with the federal, state, school districts and municipal governments, as well as private conservation efforts, Delaware County has almost 17,000 acres of preserved open space.The Open Space, Recreation and Greenway Plan is Delaware County’s Roadmap to Open Space Planning and Acquisition The open space network in Delaware County consists of almost 17,000 acres of protected land at the federal, state, county and municipal level. It also includes privately protected lands. It is important to consider all of these lands as part of the countywide open space network because they contribute to the character of the community while also providing environmental benefits. * 2Successive Councils of the Delaware County government have recognized the value of open space to our community. Numerous studies have indicated that there are significant benefits to protecting open space, as it has the power to attract business, promote tourism, elevate property values, and create a sense of place.Over the past 20 years, Delaware County Council has organized many efforts to plan for and acquire open space. In 1994, County Council commissioned the Delaware County Open Space Project Leadership Group to address the issues of regreening and open space preservation. That group recommended that the County borrow $100,000,000 for open space preservation. A referendum was placed on the ballot in 1996 and failed in a vote of the County’s electorate by a margin of 3-1.In 2000, County Council formed the Delaware County Growing Greener Committee to find alternate ways to support the preservation of open space. That committee led ultimately to the Revitalization Program and Open Space Fund. From 2004-2008, the County leveraged $1,700,000 of County funds in cooperation with local governments and conservancies, which resulted in the preservation of 272.5 acres at a total acquisition cost of $29,800,000.Over the past five years, Delaware County has engaged in several significant open space preservation projects. The County acquired approximately 41 acres in Middletown Township and preserved an additional six acres via a conservation easement. The acquisition of the site, referred to as Mineral Hill, was coordinated by the County in cooperation with and monies from Natural Lands Trust, Middletown Township, and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The acquisition is adjacent to two municipal parks, Memorial Park in Middletown Township and Louis Scott Park in Upper Providence Township. The combined area of these three parks is approximately 123 acres.Just this past month, Delaware County announced the acquisition of 37.5 acres in Darby Borough and Upper Darby Township, part of the Little Flower Manor parcel that has become the County’s 16th park. Again working with Natural Lands Trust, over $1,200,000 in grants from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources were secured. Delaware County contributed over $300,000 from its Act 13 Marcellus Shale Impact Fees fund to complete the purchase and has committed additional funds to improve our newest park.* 3At 84.5 acres, the acquisitions of the Mineral Hill and Little Flower properties represent the largest addition to the County’s park system since the acquisition of Rose Tree Park a half century ago. Delaware County is currently in various phases of several large trail network projects. Early this fall, construction will be completed on almost three miles of trails along the former Chester Creek Branch Railroad in Middletown Township. Phase 2 of that project would extend the trail a further 1.5 miles into Aston Township. Construction is ready to begin on parts of the Darby Creek Greenway trail on the one mile portion extending from the Swedish Cabin to Delaware County’s Kent Park, along the Darby Creek, in Upper Darby Township. For the past several years, Delaware County’s Planning Department worked to create the first comprehensive plan for open space in Delaware County since the 1970s. In response to public interest in open space, the County took a proactive approach in planning to identify needs and opportunities, as well as to address the challenges facing the County during the early third of the 21st century. The first major step in this process was the completion of the County’s comprehensive plan, Delaware County 2035, which was adopted in the fall of 2013.Delaware County 2035, a Comprehensive Policy Framework Plan, establishes an overall vision for the future of the County through the year 2035. It also sets policies for development, redevelopment, conservation, and economic initiatives. The Plan provides the County’s 49 municipalities with a framework for the strategic use of public resources to improve the quality of life for all its residents. In accordance with the Municipalities Planning Code (MPC), the plan “establishes objectives of the municipality concerning its future development, including, but not limited to, the location, character, and timing of future developments.”The Open Space Component Plan serves as a guide and resource for countywide, multi-municipal, and municipal open space planning efforts. It examines the policies and trends identified in the Delaware County 2035 Land Use Framework Plan with specific regard to open space, recreation, and greenway needs and opportunities specific to the County. * 4The Open Space Component Plan was the result of widespread public participation, which included surveys, stakeholder interviews, focus groups, input from a task force, and several public meetings. The public participation efforts conducted, in conjunction with the framework established in Delaware County 2035, informed the goals and objectives established throughout this plan. The document also benefited from the work of design and planning consultants contracted by Delaware County to examine open space needs and opportunities, particularly regarding the County Parks system.In order to integrate all of the information, analysis, and goals of this plan into a manageable format, the Open Space Plan was organized into four separate volumes: Volume I: Open Space and Recreation Plan. Volume I provides a complete review of municipal, county, state, and federal open space within Delaware County. It includes an inventory of existing open spaces and natural resources, analysis of open space and recreational needs and opportunities, and an overview of implementation methods for municipalities and the County to utilize. Volume II: Countywide Greenway Plan is Delaware County’s first ever countywide greenway plan. It identifies a countywide Primary Trail Network which connects recreational and cultural hubs via trails, as well as conservation greenways along stream corridors. Volume III: County Parks and Recreation Volume III specifically examines the Delaware County Parks and Recreation system, and includes long range site development drawings and accompanying narratives for several of the major County parks. Volume IV: Public Participation Volume IV is the accumulation of public participation materials from the planning process used for the development of the plan. This includes public presentation documents, public comments, meeting agendas and minutes/comments, stakeholder interview lists, and online survey results.Since the adoption of the Open Space, Recreation and Greenway Plan by the Delaware County Council in April 2015, the Council, its Planning Department and the Parks and Recreation Department have moved forward with the implementation of the Plan. As noted above, the Little Flower Manor acquisition and the Chester Creek Trail and Darby Creek Greenway projects have represented major acquisitions and projects benefitting the County’s open space, recreation and greenways.* 5County Council’s next step in following through on the action items and implementation of the Plan is to convene the Open Space Task Force. The Delaware County Open Space Task Force was first convened to guide the efforts behind the development of the Plan. The recommendation of the Plan is that due to the success of the group, the group should continue to meet to guide and provide support for implementation of the Plan.Delaware County Council will direct the Task Force to study and make recommendations to Council about open space preservation opportunities; recommended investment strategies and funding for open space; as well as recommended parameters for the County’s participation in open space preservation projects. It is desirable and good planning to have such recommendations in place to act as a guide to enable the most efficient use of any funding in order to best maximize value for open space preservation projects.Delaware County’s Open Space, Recreation and Greenway Plan makes further recommendations for investment to acquire open space. County Council has adopted this recommendation and will continue its efforts to identify funding to acquire open space. Council believes such funding should come from the proper balance between state and federal, local governments and private conservancy groups. We should continue to work with partners, such as the Natural Lands Trust, to find creative ways to fund and structure open space acquisitions. Projects such as Mineral Hill and Little Flower Manor, as well as the Chester Creek Trail and the Darby Creek Greenway, all involving various funding sources, should be a model.County Council recognizes that not every open space project can be funded solely with outside funding and have no impact on the County budget. When County funds are invested in open space projects, Council wants to ensure that its funds generate the “biggest bang for our buck”, such as the $1.7 Million Dollar investment made in open space projects from 2004-2008 which leveraged almost $30,000,000 in investment and netted over 230 acres of open space acquisitions.To this end, County Council would commit to establishing an Open Space Preservation Fund for future open space acquisitions and improvements in an amount up to $20,000,000 that could be diversely funded by not only County dollars but other federal and state grants along with private conservancy dollars. Delaware County can strategically borrow funds for identified open space acquisition projects that are recommended by its County departments and agencies and the Open Space Task Force.As a geographically small but dense county, Delaware County government maintains its commitment to open space planning and acquisition for the prosperity and health of our citizens now and for the generations to come.* 6“Just Float a Bond” – Details of Public Financing For Open SpaceSpurred on by outside special interest groups that may have a financial interest in a campaign for and participation in open space debt, some County residents have urged County Council to “just float a bond” to obtain funding for whatever open space may be desired at the moment. The special interest advocates have suggested that Council authorize a voter referendum to approve $100,000,000 to $125,000,000 in debt for open space, to be paid for by the imposition of a special open space tax added to real estate taxes. While County Council understands the desire for some residents of Broomall and its vicinity to do “whatever it takes” to preserve the Sproul Road property owned by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia because of the anticipated impacts of any development of that property, incurring $100,000,000 or $125,000,000 of County debt is not a balanced or reasonable solution to that problem and, cannot legally be accomplished in the manner recommended.Pennsylvania law provides the methods for municipal governments to acquire open space in the Open Space Lands Act, 32 P.S. §5001, et seq. The Open Space Lands Act provides that local government units may adopt an ordinance that would provide for a voter referendum on the question of imposing a specific rate of additional tax (known as an “open space tax”) on either real estate or earned income. The question that must be put on the ballot would be framed, “Do you favor the imposition of a (describe tax in millage or earned income tax rate) by (local government unit) to be used to (purpose)?” However, the Open Space Lands Act specifically precludes counties and county authorities from imposing these local tax options by voter referendum. See, 32 P.S. §5007.1. Therefore, this option is not available to the County of Delaware.The idea that the County of Delaware would simply borrow $100,000,000 or $125,000,000 under the Local Government Unit Debt Act for future open space acquisition needs is similarly not feasible or legal and, moreover, does not strike the proper balance between the desire to preserve open space and fiscal responsibility to the taxpayers of Delaware County.Borrowings under the Local Government Unit Debt Act must be for specific capital needs that are identified for the prospective bond purchasers. The funds that are borrowed pursuant to that Act must be used in a set amount of time as identified in the Act and the bond issuance. There is no legal or practical option for simply borrowing $100,000,000 and putting it in an “open space pot” for an unidentified open space purchase at some undetermined time. * 7Nor would it make sound financial sense to simply borrow $100,000,000 and start paying interest (even at historic low rates) until such funds were actually needed for open space acquisition.Borrowing $100,000,000 to $125,000,000 would increase the County’s overall debt by a whopping 31%-40% over the current County debt of approximately $320,000,000. Delaware County Council has well managed the County’s relatively low debt, as reflected in its excellent bond ratings by outside agencies such as Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s. Increasing the County’s debt by almost 40% would negatively affect the County’s bond ratings, making it more expensive to borrow funds not only for actual open space acquisition projects but for other capital needs such as regular upgrades to County facilities such as Fair Acres and the Courthouse and Government Center complex. Those increased borrowing costs would certainly mean increased costs to County taxpayers.Finally, the real estate tax implications may be the most important factor in any decision to borrow $100,000,000 to $125,000,000. Annual debt service on a borrowing of $100,000,000 would cause an impact of an almost 4% tax increase to every property owner in Delaware County, which would be paid every year for the next 20 years. Annual debt service on a borrowing of $125,000,000 would cause an impact of an almost 5% tax increase to every property owner in Delaware County, which would be paid every year for the next 20 years. While it is certain that many residents most directly affected by any development of the Sproul Road property in Marple Township would prioritize this tax increase and be willing to incur this extra expense, not all would or could afford to shoulder such a tax increase.At a recent County Council meeting, a school board director from the Interboro School District spoke articulately and passionately against greater tax burdens for the average resident, even knowing that his district would be forced to impose a tax increase for the next year. Local media has well documented the current impacts of school district tax increases. See, Delaware County Daily Times, http://www.delcotimes.com/general-news/20160717/almost-all-delco-school-districts-raising-taxes-for-2016-17. One of the special interest advocates for the pro-debt group described the additional tax burden as, “only the cost of a few beers a year”. This is both an inaccurate statement and one which is not reflective of the appropriate care to be taken and considered when deciding to increase the tax burden of Delaware County residents. * 8The Sproul Road Property in Marple Township.Since the Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced its intention to sell the 200+ acre parcel it owns on Sproul Road in Marple Township, there have been grassroots efforts to have some public entity acquire the property to prevent any development. Delaware County Council recognizes the value of preserving this open space in Marple Township and would join in with other local governments and private conservancy groups to identify ways to possibly preserve the property.According to news reports, until just recently this property was under agreement of sale with a potential developer. The developer was unsuccessful in requests to have Marple Township alter its zoning laws to allow for denser development and different uses than its zoning ordinance allows. The plans for zoning change came before the Delaware County Planning Commission for review and recommendation. These plans were returned to Marple Township with the recommendation to disapprove the developer’s proposed zoning changes. This process shows the importance of proper zoning and land development planning for the preservation of open space.Following news reports of the announcement of the termination of the agreement of sale with the developer, Delaware County Council contacted the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and requested a meeting to discuss the future plans for this property. The Archdiocese has agreed to meet with us and we anticipate that meeting occurring in the near future. To be clear though, in our communication with the Archdiocese thus far, County Council believes it is the intention of the Archdiocese to maximize its financial position with respect to the sale of the parcel.According to news reports, the sales price of the parcel may have been as much as $47,000,000. The Archdiocese has indicated that it will (or has) placed this property back on the sales market and will seek the most advantageous sales price it can achieve. It is simply not possible that Delaware County alone will become a bidder against very well financed commercial developers for the acquisition of this property.The acquisition for open space of very large and desirous parcels of land necessitates the involvement of many partners. For instance, in 2015 a 550-acre parcel in Monroe County was acquired with the involvement of the National Park Service, The Trust For Public Land, The Conservation Fund, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Open Space Planning in Delaware County* 9 Resources, the William Penn Foundation, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Open Space Institute. There, a property in Shawnee, Pennsylvania was acquired to be added to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area at a purchase price of $4,330,000. Any plan to explore the acquisition of all or part of the Sproul Road property would take similar creativity and planning efforts. In conclusion, Delaware County will continue to implement its roadmap for the planning and preservation of open space in our County through the use of the Open Space, Recreation and Greenway Plan. The Open Space Preservation Fund will be a valuable new tool to allow the County to seize on open space opportunities. The County will work with the current and any future owners of the Sproul Road property, along with other strategic partners, to identify any way to help preserve that property.
Mother Nature wreaked havoc on Delco late yesterday afternoon. And one of the victims was the iconic silo on the Swiss Farms store on Eagle Road in Havertown.A strong line of storms broke up our latest heat wave and pounded the Upper Darby-Haverford area. Right after the storm hit there wwere 20,000 people reported without power in the area, according to PECO. This morning that number is down to a little more than 4,000 this morning.Downed trees took down power lines and damaged homes and cars.But the most recognizable victim was the Swiss Farms silo, which had stood at the site on Eagle Road for 40 years. The firm's CEO is vowing to rebuilt it.You can get all the details on the storm here.
It is one of those topics that no one wants to talk about. And if you do what I do for a living, it contributes to 50 shades of gray sitting on top of your head and that constant gnawing in the pit of your stomach.All of which is my way of recommending - if you don't read anything else today - that you not miss the profile of Shipley School soccer star Austin Wylie.He seemed to have it all.But something was not right.Last week Wylie took his own life.His family and his close circle of friends at Shipley - where he stood out both on and off the soccer field - are still trying to pick up the pieces.Make sure you read Bruce Adams' profile here.
The Daily Numbers: 3 police officers gunned down in Baton Rouge yesterday. 3 other officers wounded, 1 critically.1 gunman who was killed in shootout with police.100 years of Boeing helicopters celebrated in Ridley Township.80 bags of heroin seized during drug arrest in Folcroft.3 million dollar renovation for the Media-Upper Providence Public Library.2 Delco school districts that are holding the line on taxes.13 other districts that are seeking increase in property taxes.10 million dollar bond issue that got the OK in Haverford.3 killed in a very violent weekend in Philly.1 as in Day One of the Republican Convention in Cleveland.1 hit for the Phils as they got blanked by Jacob deGrom and the Mets.2 of 3 taken by the New Yorkers over the weekend.30,894 at Citizens Bank Park for the game. 2-2 draw for the Union against the New York Red Bulls.87, age of former Eagles head coach Marion Campbell, who died over the weekend. RIP, Swamp Fox. Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Probably not the way the Phils wanted to kick off the 2nd half of the season, dropping 2 of 3 to the Mets. How much longer until Eagles Training Camp? I Don’t Get It: Three more police officers killed by a crazed gunman. I don’t get it. Today’s Upper: Kudos to Boeing, marking 100 years as one of the great icons of Delaware County business. Quote Box: “We’re really proud to have people who are second and third generation Boeing employees.”- Boeing VP David Koopersmith