Save Ardmore Coalition Files Lawsuit To Stop Misappropriation of PA RACP Funds

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dmuth's picture
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 8/12/15

SAVE ARDMORE COALITION FILES LAWSUIT TO STOP MISAPPROPRIATION OF PA RACP FUNDS

Ardmore, PA: On August 10, 2015, the Save Ardmore Coalition filed a lawsuit in PA Commonwealth Court against Governor Wolf, Montgomery County Redevelopment Authority and Lower Merion Township seeking declaratory and injunctive relief to stop the misappropriation of millions of dollars of public funds intended for the rehabilitation and redevelopment of the Ardmore Train Station. The lawsuit states that rather than use Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) funds for their intended purpose, the Montgomery County Redevelopment Authority is redirecting $10.5 million to Dranoff Properties, Inc. and One Ardmore Associates, L.P. to build a mixed used development and parking garage on the Lower Merion Township owned Cricket Parking Lot that is neither adjacent to the Ardmore Train Station nor has any association with it.

The Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program is administered by the PA Office of the Budget, which provides grants of public funds for improvement projects. The petition goes on to describe the history of RACP funding of this project, which began in 2008 when $ 15 million in RACP funding was awarded to be used only for the acquisition, infrastructure, rehabilitation, construction and other costs related to the redevelopment of the Ardmore Train Station, including the abatement of hazardous material. The funding was approved by the state legislature and authorized by then Governor Rendell. In 2009, Dranoff Properties entered into a development agreement with Lower Merion Township to undertake this project, which included a mixed use development on Township property, which abutted the Ardmore Train Station. By 2013, after several amendments to the agreement, the Ardmore Train Station project was abandoned and replaced with plans to construct a mixed used eight-story apartment building on the Cricket Parking Lot.

The petition goes on to state that in 2013, Lower Merion Township and the Redevelopment Authority proposed that $12 million be utilized for the Cricket Lot Project rather than the Ardmore Train Station. However, in December 2013, the PA Office of the Budget rescinded the RACP funding for the Cricket Lot Project because residential development was outside the scope of the approved 2008 RACP funding. Then in late August 2014, the Office of the Budget reversed its decision and allowed $10.5 million of public funds designated for the Ardmore Train Station to be used for the construction of a mixed use project and parking garage on the site of the Cricket Parking Lot, which is located far from the Ardmore Train Station, on the other side of Lancaster Avenue.

Save Ardmore Coalition asserts in the lawsuit that this use of RACP funds is a misappropriation of public funds for improper and inappropriate private use and that this misappropriation of RACP funds will undermine the genuine redevelopment of the Ardmore Train Station, as well as the proper redevelopment of Ardmore, while depriving residents of continued use of the Cricket Parking Lot.

Philip Browndeis, President of Save Ardmore Coalition, stated that "we testified many times before the Lower Merion Township Board of Commissioners and we were mocked. We brought petitions signed by residents only to see them disregarded. The RACP funds were meant for the redevelopment of the Ardmore Train Station. There is no recourse left for us but to go to court to stop the misuse of RACP funds."

About Save Ardmore Coalition: The Save Ardmore Coalition is a grassroots organization dedicated to the revitalization of Ardmore's business district based on community input, consensus building, sound and comprehensive planning and the preservation of our architectural heritage. Accordingly, we support the creation of a comprehensive plan for Lower Merion Township and a full town plan for Ardmore. We are a 501(c)(4) non-profit civic action organization. Follow us on Facebook at

https://facebook.com/SaveArdmoreCoalition

For more information: Contact Save Ardmore Coalition President Philip Browndeis at 267.250.2121 or email him at comments@saveardmorecoalition.org.

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" In the suit, the group asks the court to find that the grant funds were awarded to be used for redevelopment of the Ardmore Train Station, but have been redirected to the Cricket Lot project, at some distance from and not associated with improvements to the train station." http://mainlinemedianews.com/articles/2015/08/13/main_line_times/news/doc55cc9394d0697684377381.txt#comment-2204071774

The project is a 110 luxury apartment house with retail and for profit parking; how is that a 'transit oriented project"?  Isn’t it obvious to anyone looking at the site and the plans that the Democratically Controlled Lower Merion Board of Commissioners has misdirected the state taxpayer funds? Is there evidence to the contrary? 

The Lower Merion Board of Commissioners are forcing taxpayers to finance  multi-millionaire private developer's private project. This is not a public purpose and it is a disgrace that the Democratically controlled Board of Lower Merion Commissioners, along with fake Republicans Scott Zelov and Phil Rozensweig, have misused our money to enrich a multimillionaire corporate crony (a Democratic party mega donor).

Lower Merion is in decline as commercial vacancies and the decline in housing prices attest. Williams and Sonoma failed as have every high end restaurant. Coulter Ave (across from Ruby's) is vacant and Macy's, a suburban square anchor, is vacating. Upper Merion is growing and Lower Merion is failing while Democratic donors are enriched with our own money. This subsidized luxury apartment house, which is unrelated to transit development, tells prospective investors that they need to be politically connected to make a profit in Lower Merion. It becomes more important to satisfy the Commissioners than consumers.

Government is NOT a venture capitalist; venture capitalists are venture capitalists. If this high rise luxury apartment in the middle of Ardmore were commercially viable, private investors would invest for private profit. The private developer and the Lower Merion Board of Commissioners have said, correctly, that this project could not proceed without a 20% subvention. If it was such a good project, taxpayers would not be  forced to finance it. Private investors would invest if this were a good investment. This is Cronyism masquerading as economic development; a fraud on the taxpayers by our own government.

 

 

 

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