Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Top issues, problems, and opportunities?

Anonymous said...
Karen,What do you see as the top issues, problems and opportunities facing Phoenixville, and what do you plan on doing to address them?- A Caring Phoenixville Resident


Karen said...

I suspect, A Caring Phoenixville Resident, that this particular question will be revisited in one thread or another right up to election day.

Where to begin?

At first glance, poster, many times I see a forest, rather than individual trees.

The Borough's issues and problems are manifold, seemingly complex, and needlessly confusing.

Governing and administrating a community our size can be achieved without being in a constantly disordered state.

The first way to change the perception, as well as the reality, is to change the governing body. Some change was forced in May's Primary Election.

November's General Election may prove the citizenry of Phoenixville want strong and stable leadership, unfettered by political boundaries, willing to work openly and together for the common good of our community.

Specifically to your question, our financial status worries me. As it goes in a small town, there are already rumors of a sizeable tax increase along with another hike in trash fees.

The fact that we may be digging deeper into our pockets just to maintain the status quo is a huge concern of mine and should be of concern to every taxpayer.

In the coming months the budget for 2008 will advance from scraps of paper to a full document presentation to Council. Hopefully to be reviewed line item by line item, with careful consideration given to each department and the overall needs of our town, the budget MUST be based on reality not supposition or a toss of the Magic 8 ball. I will follow the process, but I suspect that we won't see a hard copy of the budget until after the November elections.

The revitalization of the Borough begins with the downtown area, and I'm thrilled to see the changes made as a result of the careful groundwork laid during my first two terms on Council.

Much, much more needs to be done.

From the completion of the Streetscapes project to the development of the former Iron Company property, the successful future of our town can only be guaranteed by hard work, the right developers with OUR concerns in hand, and a willingness for all parties involved to achieve the goal.

We have one chance to do this right.

We will live with the results for the rest of our lives and into other generations.

Why would we not want the best?

On another upcoming thread, I will present my ideas on the redevelopment of the former Phoenix Steel Company.

It grows late, and although I've touched on only a few items, more will follow on this thread.

I want to conclude by stating that many, many opportunities await us if only we allow commonsense to guide us. Our representatives need to know when to remove the ego from a situation, let the id stand aside, and just do what they are elected to do.


THAT I promise to do.

Anonymous said...

Dear Karen,

Thank you for having this website and giving up an opportunity to have a voice. Where do you stand on the issue of the redevelopment of the steel property?

Thank you,
Concerned Phoenixville Resident.

Anonymous said...

Hello Karen. Can you please tell your readers what you plan to do about the trash fiasco? Will you look into privatizing the trash collection? Thanks.

Karen said...

Hello! Thank YOU for visiting my website, and for this most important question.

We have all been living with the redevelopment of the former Phoenix Iron Company property ever since the closing of the plant. Most observers were cautiously optimistic, and others completely enthralled when we learned that Delta Group/PPG purchased the property. I admit to a brief period of time wherein I was among those anticipating the redevelopment exactly as presented during many Council meetings, charrettes, and meetings with the principals. The intense period in which we worked created hope that Phoenixville would actually become the redefined, rehabilitated vision we all saw on posterboard.

Rather quickly, dire warnings of “smoke and mirrors” surfaced in conversations, and the prophecies have been proven true as we now mark one decade with only what I consider a grossly misplaced white elephant standing on a small corner of the Phoenix Steel site. Also comes the news that Dunn & Bradstreet (provider of international and US business credit information and credit reports), after 29 alerts on Delta Organization since 2004, now predicts business failure in12 months.

That being said, as I respond to your question as to where I stand on the redevelopment, please remember I am not a planner, an engineer, designer, or an architect. I have very defined opinions on what Phoenixville NEEDS. I am certain that many people are acutely aware of the success of other areas of our country which have utilized the natural beauty of waterfront property, and incorporated it into their redevelopment schemes.

Copied here is a portion of a letter I sent to The Phoenix October 11, 2005, which describes my vision for the Phoenix Steel site.


Years ago, I mentioned Riverwalk, San Antonio, Texas on Council floor, and I believe this is the perfect time to revisit the idea. I'm hoping everyone who is interested will do an internet search on the extraordianary development of Riverwalk, in Texas, and learn more.

I've provided one internet link, so please keep in mind as you view this, the French Creek which runs through the property. What I'm thinking of would not, of course, be the size or scope of the San Antonio waterway, but scaled to fit the property.


Imagine, if you will, instead of office buildings and even more townhomes, a lively and lovely setting for small businesses along the creek, jazz or blues festivals, boat rides, seasonal events, creek-side cafes with outdoor seating, well landscaped greenery, perhaps a small waterfall, twinkle lights in the shrubbery. Picture families enjoying shopping, strolling the waterway, or having a meal under the lights from overhead trees with their twinkling mirror images reflecting in a warm glow from the gently bubbling water.

If you can see what I see, wouldn't this be a beautiful alternative to rather mundane usage for the property?

Think of all the individual businesses that such a project would entice to the area. The steel site WOULD become the jewel of northern Chester County.

With access to the Schuylkill River, and a trail coming from the east, the Melchiorre park area and the shopping center would be the western border, resulting in a completely contiguous, new area for development along the creek, and a wonderful compliment to the main downtown area.

Rather than continuing to be a division between the north and south sides of the borough, French Creek would truly be a celebratory destination center for the heart of our town.

It's not too late for a different approach to the former steel site redevelopment.

We, as a community, have one chance to redevelop this parcel of ground, why not make it something we can all appreciate, enjoy, and get really excited about??

* End letter

As you may have noticed, I did not address the entire of the steel site. Developers need to realize a return on their investment. However, the last thing Phoenixville needs is more housing. We do NOT need more homes. At this point in time, since the housing market is in a flux, new townhomes, or condos may not be a viable development opportunity. Good for us at this point in time. Many have said office complexes would bring jobs and daytime shoppers to the area. Since this is distinctly in the area of research, and the financial market drives opportunity, I am completely open to suggestions and proposals from a qualified developer. Due to the current problems with the steel site, I suspect we will be discussing redevelopment for quite some time to come.

I hope you have a clearer picture of my thoughts, Anonymous.

Thank you, again, for your question.

Karen said...

Thank you, Anonymous 12:27 a.m., for another visit to the trash collection issue.

In a previous post on March 19, 2007 I responded to a similar question at this location:


Karen said...
Jeff's question:

If you had a chance to influence the trash siutation, which plan would you choose and why?


Jeff, I did have the opportunity to influence Council during my tenure in the 1990's, and the outcome at that time resulted in the borough contracting with a commercial hauler.

Allow me to explain.

At the time Council had a rather informal discussion regarding a municipal hauling program versus commercial hauling. I volunteered to do a survey of municipalities as comparable as possible to Phoenixville.

Taking into consideration the population of Phoenixville at the time, the number of public concerns which used the borough's program, much information regarding the amount of trash generated, tipping fees, projecte costs for gasoline, cost of vehicles, maintenance, employee salaries and benefits, etc., and the same input from the municipalities I contacted, I complied enough of information to give the results of my report to Council.

I am not a paid consultant, nor was I anything but a concerned citizen who happened to hold a Council seat, wanting the best possible service for our residents at the lowest price.

What I remember from my report is that the first year was basically a wash. All the costs associated with purchasing the vehicles, fuel, hiring new employees with full benefits, and all the other cost criteria I mentioned above, when compared with the cost of a commercial hauler, basically broke even.

After the first year is where the survey revealed increasing, rising costs.

No one could predict the outrageous inflation of fuel, but one could, with some certainty, figure non-uniformed employees raise in pay and benefits, maintenance on the vehicles, tipping fees, amount of trash collected, and so on.

After some discussion, Council nixed the idea for Phoenixville to collect it's own trash.

It was a no-brainer!

Now, in retrospect, the survey and resulting report appears to have been prophetic.

We, as a municipal government, should not be in the business of hauling waste.

The business belongs in the hands of the professionals who work in the industry.

Thank you for your question, Jeff.

March 19, 2007 11:57:00 PM EDT


And, several more threads, here:



Responding to your question, Anonymous, if I am successful in winning the East Ward Council seat, I plan to personally request every file associated with the decisions and the resulting in-house trash removal. I will invite participation by new Council members and encourage the incumbents to edify us on points which may be unclear.

This I will do on my own time.

Investigation BEFORE the issue is bought to Council floor.

I will disect the information at hand, and TRY to ascertain how Council arrived at their decision.

Once I have the information I/we would need to make a qualified judgement, I plan to seek a resolution based on fact.

I am hopeful that other Council members will participate and cooperate in all phases.

Emotionally, I would like to say heads may roll over what appears to the public to be fiscal irresponsiblity.

Intellectually, I know the proof of exactly what happened, who did what, who didn't do what, and why should be at my fingertips once I am elected.

Once done, the residents of Phoenixville can expect a complete report. Publically.

Let's just say the trash "situation" isn't over yet.

Thank you for your question, Anonymous.

Anonymous said...

I would like to see a forum for all the candidates.

Karen said...

Anonymous, 2:42, I would, too.

Holding a public candidate's debate forum apparently was discussed and then dropped.

I don't know the official reason why.

However poor an alternative, we do have this campaign blog with which to communicate, and anyone interested in my campaign can also telephone me with their questions.

Thank you, for your comments.