I am in an Ardmore State of Mind...For a Change

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(Don't live in Lower Merion? That's okay. We won't hold it aginst you.)
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carla's picture
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Last seen: 6 weeks 2 days ago
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So Bonnie Cook and Cub Reporter Liz Wagner (who I think is tyerrific by the way with a great future ahead of her) have taken another look at Ardmore....and the garage...I like the article, and am not surprised nor particularly upset by the motley collection of philly.com idiot savants posting comments - not all of them are that way, but there are enough to make me wonder what they get out of it.

The people posting the comments don't get Armdore and love to insult SAC. I guess some of our fan favorites sent them? Man you thik after five years or so they would work up a new routine, LOL!

These people love to say we are all anti development. And we know we're not.

In every municipality there will always be debate over visioning. However that being said, in Lower Merion at times the inclusiveness is lacking. True community visioning process means quite simply that the community in totality is reflected in how said community grows.

Posted on Wed, Aug. 5, 2009
Planned Ardmore parking garage drives debate
By Liz Wagner and Bonnie L. Cook
Inquirer Staff Writers

If all goes as planned, a parking garage will rise late next year behind Scott Mahan's store in Ardmore.

For some merchants, the eight-level, $17.6 million structure is a welcome panacea to Ardmore's economic woes.

For others, such as Mahan, there is a reluctant acceptance of the structure, between Lancaster Avenue and the SEPTA tracks.

"I don't think an eight-story parking garage is the answer, but it's exciting to see something happen," Mahan said.

Lower Merion Township commissioners voted, 9-3, on July 1 to build the garage, the first phase of the $150 million Ardmore Transit Center. The project aims to jump-start the town, whose star has dimmed since the 1960s, when patrons began to spurn it for malls.

Included are a "mini-Main Street" between Lancaster Avenue and the R5 rail line with stores, a five-story apartment building, a new train station with an extended platform, and a walkway to Suburban Square....The township passed an ordinance allowing for such high-density development.

But some civic leaders say they think the project is so big that it will loom over downtown like Gulliver over Lilliput.

"The scale is quite out of place with everything around it," said Sharon B. Eckstein, president of the Save Ardmore Coalition, a civic group that has not taken a stand on the garage. "Residents do not support this kind of scale."

Matthew Koenig, a principal in JKR Partners and a project architect, said that there are other high-rises in Ardmore, such as the Times Building in Suburban Square, and that the garage would be hidden by existing stores.

"While it is a tall building and does have a certain mass, this is the right location," Koenig said. "It's not a major skyscraper, by any means."

Eckstein wondered whether the transit center would mesh with later plans for Ardmore.

"Where does it fit, and what's the plan?" she said. "Are we going to be reacting to plans for development or can we shape the vision for Ardmore?"

....To fit the garage behind Mahan's office-supply store, a $1 million addition to the Police Administration Building built in 2003 would be razed.

The addition contains holding cells for prisoners and evidence lockers. Both would be moved during construction and rebuilt later as part of the garage.

The state pledged $6 million for the garage; $5.8 million is coming from the Federal Transit Administration; $250,000 will come from Montgomery County.

Commissioner V. Scott Zelov has said money to rebuild the addition would not require any new outlay. Taxpayers are still paying off a bond underwriting the addition, Township Manager Douglas S. Cleland said.

Eckstein called razing the addition "wasteful."

"What message do you send to your children? We just built this new building, but we're knocking it down because we don't think much about the [planning] process?" she said.

Koenig said a building is created with "the highest and best use at the moment." But that can change in five years. "You reevaluate it," he said.

The garage would contain 501 parking places - 300 for commuters, leaving 201 spots for shoppers, township employees, and business owners.

See? Look just at the numbers for parking and ask yourself how this is about the community and the businesses.

We need a garage. But we need size and scale appropriate for a historic district and a main street oriented town. That is why 2 garages and better dispersed surface parking was desired. We still want that garage on Bernicker because it just makes sense even if it would block Cleland's view.

As a commenter said in our defense - four/five years ago we weren't fighting redevelopment we were fighting eminent domain for private gain. So let's just stop with the revisionist history, alrighty?

We were fighting poor government choices then, and still are today because we have too many personal agendas we're dealing with. And I also wonder who gets what out of this if this garage gets built? And if the township can't raise the money, why should the taxpayers pay? And once again I ask where is the report outlining dollar for dollar costs on all things Ardmore? Including all those consultants over the years?

And someone said to me today, that we should ask Lower Merion about subcontractors? Why? Some commissioner connection? Ok Lower Merion, who is being considered? Who has a potential conflict? Gee I hope it's not the same one with a conflict over trash who hasn't recused, right?

I think Lower Merion Township is a quasi rudderless ship. I also think it dangerous that it seems agendas seem to be making decisions if that makes sense? And we have a lack of comprehensive and master planning. We have a premier developer, why doesn’t Ardmore have a Master Plan? Bryn Mawr does. Ardmore does not. Ardmore has a plan specific to a particular redevelopment area, a problematic and thus far non functioning zoning overlay called MUST, and a bunch of extraneous development plans that are not necessarily complimentary but competing. Also, this year is the 30th anniversary of the last time Lower Merion did a Comprehensive Plan for the township. The Municipalities Planning Code implies we should be doing this every 10 years.

Why is there no plan for where the cars and traffic will go during construction? For all the years we have spoken about Ardmore redevelopment, not once has the township ever even presented ideas of where the cars and traffic will go.

Why is a garage being built first before a train station? How will the garage be priced? If there are no segregated areas for township vehicles and the public, will we not merely be recreating the same issues of competing for spaces that exist now? Do you know how frustrating it is to try to park at a meter, only to find the meters taken up by township vehicles who aren’t feeding them?

And what will residents and taxpayers be on the hook for dollar-wise if funding gaps are not bridged? And if taxpayers are paying for this one way or the other, shouldn’t the vision be collective not selective?

There is a segment of Ardmore that has not truly been informed of what will come and that is the small residential neighborhoods. They have not just businesses at stake in some cases, but commercial and residential properties as well.

And to wind up as someone said in e-mail recently:

Doug and some of the commissioners are trying mighty hard to evade the fact that demolishing the PSB annex 6 years after it was built is a reflection of a total failure of planning on their part. In 2003 the Township knew full well that it was going to promote the Ardmore Transit Center project, and that the space occupied by the PSB annex would be a prime area for redevelopment, so there is no excuse for the colossal waste that this fiasco represents.

But how far will we really get in Ardmore in this economy? And it's not like we're seeing movement on the Bryn Mawr Master Plan either...but hell, at least Bryn Mawr has one...

So you all that have something to say? Start going to the commissioners' meetings. Yes they are butt numbing experiences, but please, once in a while, just go. Even if you just go to watch Brcue Reed say "pejorative" 15 times a meeting. And speaking of old Bruce, how's his takeover of the Democrat Party going? Did he get one of his angels appointed to a prime Western puppet status for his doings? Or was there a revolt? And does he still want to redesign the planning commission?

Just askin'...kind of like you all should still be askin' about trash...because as I hear it, we're not getting the full story, are we? Is there grant money involved? Is this like a distraction to keep people off taxes?

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JohnN's picture
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Last seen: 5 years 7 weeks ago
Joined: 2007-11-10 :54
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Carla good post and typically good article by Bonnie. The oldest advice around is "follow the money". While there are several underlying positives associated with the the garage, the project is not about the community. Are taxpayers underwriting someones profit making enterprise?

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politeia's picture
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Joined: 2008-07-30 :00
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LOL. If you expand the comments section on the article link above one poster has determined I am not the "angry white man".

Darn! All that behind-the-scenes work by Lower Merion commissioners and their surrogates to discredit down the drain...

=================

Brotherhood of Thieves

~ As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence.

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