Lower Merion: Shabby Chic Municipality?
A few years ago, the corruption which had seeped into every nook and cranny of Radnor Township almost destroyed that municipality. A change in township manager and commissioners has helped Radnor turn a corner.
I wish the same could be said for Lower Merion. As Lower Merion continues to sink lower and lower, officials and the Democratic Majority continue to hope Lower Merion will trade on a reputation earned decades ago which has nothing to do with reality today. First Class Where? Will Lower Merion sink even lower? Is Lower Merion just a shabby chic municipality and I don't mean that in a flattering way? Is Lower Merion actually more shabby than chic?
As I packed to leave Lower Merion, I had sad moments for the friends I was leaving, and the vast array of memories from having lived in one place for so long. But as I drove all over to do things like return my Comcast boxes and take things to the dump, it was quite clear that all that glitters is not gold. In a sense, I began to feel relief because Lower Merion is so not what it used to be. No municipality is perfect, but Lower Merion is so dysfunctional I think it just stresses residents out (as well as practically taxing them to death.)
The commissioners from certain eastern areas of the township love to wax poetic about how fabulous the township is and as I drove on the roads in their wards, saw run down house after run down house and even empty houses I wondered what municipality they were talking about. What I saw was what only could be described as faded glory and roads so bad they should be embarrassed. I could not believe how bad the road surfaces were once you hit Wynnewood and east. One would think Lower Merion was actually very poor given the conditions of the roads and lack of mowing of township owned lands like parks.
Neighborhood after neighborhood throughout Lower Merion have streets where multiple houses are for sale. And it's not just the spring market. There are too many. People are getting out because they have realized the fairy tale of the Magic Kingdom isn't all it is cracked up to be
Lower Merion is looking dumpy. And there the ruling majority sits wanting to layer on as many development plans and zoning districts as possible. They continue to raise the township manageer's salary as the residents continue to struggle.
And oh yes, crime. Civic associations are sending out newsletters asking people to be more aware, get dogs and one even said if residents didn't like dogs they should get "Beware of Dogs" signs. Residents in Lower Merion are increasingly afraid of a rise in violent crimes and freaky scary burglaries which occur when residents are home. Leaving Lower Merion (and I was not in the most Eastern end) reduced my car insurance alone by hundreds of dollars. Is that just because of the close proximity to Philadelphia or is it something else?
There are many fine individuals who work for Lower Merion Township, do not misunderstand me, but can it be said it smells rotton at the top? The cheerleaders are working hard to ensure that Cleland continues to live the high life on the backs of Lower Merion residents. Take for example this ditty making the rounds:
Nice try but you can't compare Radnor to Lower Merion. And if Radnor was the size of Lower Merion I doubt very much the salary would be $540K. Radnor is actually functioning again. And they have a manager who is not only friendly and accessible, but he gives a crap about his township...and he lives there, modestly.
And let's talk about Cleland's predecessor. That was the manager who literally just disappeared one day. Why? Why did David C. Latshaw just all but vanish? Why did the public never hear why? There were whispers, but what really happened?
Doug Cleland is not accessible to the public, and why should it be so difficult to connect with a township manager? Cleland isn't God, he works for the taxpayers, yet in Lower Merion it is so bass ackwards it is like the taxpayers work for the township and him.
Residents have stopped coming first in Lower Merion. The irony is the ruling majority claimed they would do that many moons ago if they came to power. But instead, they have just sucked Lower Merion lower. And is the township at the end of the day actually being run from the outside in? After all with Mark Taylor as the King of Lower Merion Democrats what else can you expect?
The only thing "First Class" about Lower Merion these days are the taxes...as in First Class Expensive. And what of the services? Are people really getting what they need?
For more than 30 years I called Lower Merion home. But the Lower Merion I left is but a shadow of the Lower Merion I grew up with.
And oh yes, maybe all should read Rosemary C. McDonough's column:
Published: Tuesday, May 01, 2012