Saturday, March 28, 2009

Parking Authority sets goals for borough

The can of worms is open.

As the President of the former Parking Authority which held it's last meeting and disbanded in 1984 (if my recollection is correct), my signature may not be needed on a document to release the Prospect Street parking lot, but I do have a question and a few comments for discussion.

As the Phoenix newspaper article indicates, the former Parking Authority still owns the Prospect Street lot. Reasearch on that issue may be needed because I don't recall how the original authority raised the money in order to purchase it. The information may prove to be important to the new Parking Authority as it proceeds to acquire property in other areas of the borough.

I question, why would we allow an independent entity, formed by Council decree, to "assume ownership" (implying gifting?) of a valuable parcel of Phoenixville Borough taxpayer owned property?

The Parking Authority is an entity deliberately separated from Phoenixville Borough government and should be treated as such. It is neither an agent of the borough, nor a department of the borough.

Phoenixville Borough is under NO OBLIGATION to set the Parking Authority up in business.

The Parking Authority, "assuming ownership" of Phoenixville taxpayer owned property, would remove valuable assets from the coffers of the borough.

The borough simply cannot afford to give away taxpayer owned real estate.

If a purchase is intended, rather than appraise the Prospect Street lot for a sale, Council should persue a lease for the property to the Parking Authority.

Each of the other lots in town are owned by the borough and all of them, as prime real estate in the downtown area, are worth a considerable amount of money. They should never be sold to the authority.

Taxpayer monies have maintained all the lots for years and rather than a continued direct cost to taxpayers, they may finally become a source of revenue for the borough IF each lease is drafted to the benefit of the taxpayers in Phoenixville.

Not many municipalities have an opportunity to raise much needed funds to offset the constant increases in taxes. Phoenixville borough is now in the enviable position of having a captive parking authority very interested in borough/taxpayer owned property.

Lease the property in question, with well defined, incremental increases as the authority grows prosperous. Parking authorities in other municipalities have blazed a researchable trail to viability. With some work, Phoenixville's PA may, also.

Council has much work to do on this issue, hopefully fully aware it is time to return to the taxpayer the benefits of owning a valuable asset the Parking Authority really wants.


Parking Authority sets goals for borough

Friday, March 27, 2009 8:28 AM EDT

By G.E. Lawrence

PHOENIXVILLE — It was an initial proposal, a draft plan, that the Parking Authority brought to Borough Council Tuesday evening. It was meant for discussion purposes, and will go through another iteration from Borough staff before it shows up again on Council's agenda.

But that draft revealed something of the Authority's vision of its job, and of the trajectory of a strategy to resolve the chronic problems of parking downtown and throughout the Borough.

Among the steps in the Authority's "preferred way of proceeding," according to an Authority memorandum to Council:

The Authority would assume ownership of the Prospect Street public parking lot, a lot still owned by a predecessor Phoenixville Parking Authority that was formally disbanded in 2008. That lot would be "used to secure a collateralized loan" to cover Authority costs.

The Authority would lease other public lots from the Borough, and assume responsibility for their improvements, maintenance and administration, including cleaning, snow removal, re-striping, re-signing, landscaping and lighting improvements.

Lot spaces would be metered. To accommodate residents now using public lots for long-term parking, "a resident lot with a low-cost monthly permit" would be so designated.

Downtown street spaces would not be metered but two-hour limits policed. "The strategy is designed to move cars from one place to another as often as possible, which will create available spaces in the downtown area where parking is at a premium."

Public hearings "on a street by street basis" would be held to "develop a plan for the streets surrounding the business district."

The Authority would continue to work on plans for developing and financing a downtown parking garage.

The recommended scenario would "get the Authority up and running at no budget cost to the Borough."

The key to the plan, the memorandum argued, is "the disposition of the existing lots" and the Authority's ability to secure a loan with the Prospect lot as collateral. "There needs to be an understanding of the underlying costs to the Authority concerning the real estate before it can develop a reasonable budget for operations. Budgets, personnel and policy decisions will be dictated by the disposition of the lots. The costs and benefits will both be affected by how the control of the lots is transferred and leased."

As the planned neighborhood meetings indicated, the strategy focuses on the downtown area, but keeps in mind the Authority's larger responsibility. "The charge given to the Parking Authority was the entire Borough," the memorandum reads. "The group will work from the center of the Borough out to exercise its charge."

Council gave Borough staff its own charge: to collaborate with the Authority in reviewing the proposal and on developing recommendations for Council action, beginning with Council's April meetings.


Anonymous said...

Why is it that this Borough is so intent on letting people who don't even live in this town, dictate what we should and should not do here (the Parking Authority Chairman and the "director" of the parking authority from Schuylkill Twp and Downingtown respectively). And one is also telling us how to expand the Library and close Second Ave. Hey Adam, go back to the township where you live and give them your input and leave us alone. Barry, feel free to folllow him out.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the first poster. I wonder if Adam Deveney would love his library project as much if it were being plopped on the road next to his house. That goes for anyone who thinks this is such a hot idea. Would you want your acces to the intersection blocked?

It is a direct conflict of interest for him, as an official appointed by the Borough (whether paid or not) to be involved with any type of issue like this library project, because it involves a contract. It is an express violation of the Borough Code. He should remove himself from one of the two jobs preferably both. I don't understand why they are allowing it. But then again, they renewed the contract of that other vulgar dude, and gave him a raise as well. So it seems Phoenixville Borough Council does not even abide by its own code. Lovely.

Anonymous said...

Karen, Can you fill us in on how the Parking Authority is structured? Who are they accountable to? Do the members get paid, and if so, is it through parking revenues? I am unclear as to how the whole thing works, and what power has been given to them. What is the potential for graft? How much power do they have over Borough-owned and private property? This situation concerns me. Thanks for your help.

Karen said...

Thanks to a link provided by Councilman Ken Buckwalter's website to the Borough Code, Anonymous 11:11 A.M., the ordinance regarding the Phoenixville Parking Authority is available to the public.

In addition to the names, addresses, and term of office for each individual, the Articles of Incorporation are available along with the purpose and powers of the authority.

The link to the online version of the Borough Code will be found here:

The Parking Authority begins on page 15.

Anonymous said...

Karen, can you fill us in on why a parking authority was OK when you were on the board, but now that you're not, all of a sudden it's something not needed in town. Funny how those things work, huh?

Wifey says hi!

Karen said...

Certainly, Anonymous 1:29 p.m.

I believe I was appointed to the previous Parking Authority around 1978, and was immediately installed as Treasurer.

The Parking Authority at that time was regulated by an ordinance which consisted of only a few paragraphs in the Borough Code.

Our directives came from Borough Council, and the primary goal was to review the parking situation as it was in those years and report to Council our findings.

The findings resulted in the eventual removal of meters on the streets of the downtown area, and the redesign of Prospect Street lot. We implemented a then state-of-the-art parking fee collection board for the lot.

After completing the required goals, the Parking Authority was not given any further directives by Council, and after discussion among the members, I, as President, requested that Council disband the authority.

The authority was not utilized and the Council at that time had no further use for one.

A much simpler time back then, Anonymous. People preferred to not spin wheels needlessly.

Please give "wifey" my regards.

Karen said...

Addendum to my previous post.

I was also appointed Secretary upon my appointment to the former Parking Authority.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, also give Napolean my regards.

Anonymous said...

You want Mrs. Johns to give Napolean your regards? What is it with you Chris and other anonymous bloggers with your snide remarks on the blogs?

Mrs. Johns answered your questions very professionlly and with respect. How dare you anonymously try to insult her. Instead of posting how you ignorant you are be grateful this town has Mrs. Johns who brings subjects and her opinions right out front for all to see.

Go post some more Chris anonymous we know you for who you are.

Anonymous said...

I'm not Chris, Mr Equally Anonymous. I was just poking fun a little bit. I'm sorry if you don't have a sense of humor about it. I'm sure Karen does (she knows it comes with the territory). I thought my question was equally valid. I did say thank you and I thought her answer was insightful but still does not satisfy my thought that there is an agenda. Why is it not a fair question that someone who was once a parking authority member now seems to be anti-authority. And just for the record, I have no opinion on wether we need a parking authority or not, just as long as they do the right thing and help us solve our parking issues. Isn't that the goal?

(3rd Ave resident - hence the "wifey" comment)

Karen said...

Hello, Peter.

My intention was to let the remark pass about Napolean pass without note because the issues in our small town seem to grow larger as they come to the forefront, and I want to try to keep the threads focused on content rather than allow them to degrade to nonsense.

You ask if there is "an agenda". Do you mean the authority or are you asking if I have an agenda?

This blog, my blog, is for discussion and informational purposes. Should my views or those of others make readers think, alter their opinion, or suddenly change the course of events unfolding around the world, good. If all remains the same, so be it. It will be what it will be.

Insofar as my opinion as a former Parking Authority member, etc., times were different in the late 1970's and the early 1980's. The PA was structured as a borough commission, it was not an independent entity as is the new Parking Authority, and many applicable laws have changed with the years.

Pete, for months prior to the adoption of the ordinance creating the new PA, it was common knowledge that it was to be used as a vehicle to build a parking garage downtown.

All well and good.

The downtown has been in need of relief for a number of years, and the new business created a demand for more parking. I sincerely hope that the businesses will weather the storm of the current economic situation because we NEED them to sustain a healthy business district. We cannot forget they pay taxes, too.

On the other hand, while I was on Council, and in the intervening years since, I was and still am being made aware by residents of the lack of attention given to the neighborhoods of Phoenixville.

We have the bling, which is all well and good, too, but we also need Council and the boards and commissions to remember that there would not be a Phoenixville if it were not for the residents.

The residents vote, and Council should not need to be reminded of that fact. There are many residents who feel we have to live with the decisions of people who vote for special interests, leaving the residents to live with the results whether we like them or not.

Three big issues are working their way through Council at this time.

Holy Ghost Church.

The Phoenixville Library expansion plan.

The Parking Authority.

David vs Goliath issues with pros and cons on both sides.

People just don't want to feel like David anymore.

They want to know their concerns are heard, and that their issues are just as valid a reason for a vote against as the promoters reasons are for completion of their project.

As a Council member, one must have the patience of Job and the wisdom of Solomon. They must remember always to balance the scales on each issue only after every argument is heard. They must also remember that constituents are neighbors, friends, and residents who pay their taxes year after year, sometimes for generations.

In my humble opinion, Pete, the Parking Authority should be working, concurrently, on problems which exist in many of our neighborhoods. In the north side, in the middle ward, the library area, and other spots around town where parking is insufficient.

Secondly, the Parking Authority should not look to Council or the taxpayers to fund their start-up.

Not another project on the backs of taxpayers.

Back to your remarks, I'm not anti anything.

I always told my children, if you're going to do a job, do it right. I offer the same adage to Council and appointed officials.

If we don't look over the shoulders of those who are seated in positions which affect our daily lives, we are not fullfilling the responsibilities as the guardians of the legacy we wish to leave our children and grandchildren in Phoenixville.

I encourage the involvement of residents by publically questioning plans, decisions, or votes of our elected or appointed officials because the considerations result in advancing public awareness, and the residents then truly become part of the process and part of the future.

Hopefully someday I will be able to tell my grandchildren the names of all those who helped prepare a better future in Phoenixville for them.

Anyone can join in, Pete, in shaping that future.

The next generation would want us to do nothing less.

Anonymous said...

But, Karen, you have an apparent hostility towards the NEW parking authority and its role. From what I understand, nothing has been done by the NEW parking authority, so how can we make any judgements. I read in the paper where the authority said they will hold block to block meetings with member of the community. How, Karen, is that not inclusive of the surrounding community? Again, Karen, I have no opinion of the NEW authority, other than I hope they can get things done. I also support the library expansion, and to ME, Karen, it seems like you may have an agenda against Adam Deveney and his role in the library expansion. I am expressing my opinion of how your opposition of an organization that hasn't even touched their toes in the water. Your criticism, Karen, seems to be slightly ahead of any warranted criticism. So, Karen, on the outside it looks like you have an agenda. Now, like I said, I thought you gave an efficient answer to the question the first time I asked it. But then you feel this need to further explain yourself further. I can only assume that your not sure of what is going on with the current authority, but you do know that Adam Deveney sits on the board. That is what it seems like to me and a lot of other people in the community, Karen. Actual, now that I read your hostility, that seems to be the case.

Karen said...

Seems no one sleeps in this town.

What you term hostility, Anonymous, others term passion for the truth.

To each their own.

If you truly knew me, you would not continue the exchange of quarrelsome posts nor would you have a need to have your newest set of questions answered. You would already know the depth of my committment to Phoenixville and it's residents.

Unless, of course, it is you who has a private agenda, especially evident in view your attempts to bait and taunt me, while hiding behind anonynimity.

I will state publically, Pete, Peter, Equally Anonymous, Sue, Mary, Alfred, Deborah, Anonymous or whatever name you choose, that I have no agenda with regards to Adam Devaney. I barely know him.

Any institution involved in this borough, conducting business which affects our residents, is the people's business.

If I feel an issue facing our community warrants the posting of a thread on that particular issue, I will do so, and I will continue to persue the issue until it's completion or resolution.

Phoenixville is not a third world country engaged in restricting our freedom of speech. Demonstrating that fact, I have published your posts.

If the above facts disturb you, I respectfully suggest that you not read my blog.

Which brings me to this point.

I question YOUR motiviations, your alliances, and your allegiances due to YOUR hostility towards me, Anonymous.

I wonder what is YOUR agenda is.

Karen said...

Reproduced with the permission of Richard Breuer, blog owner, The Chicken Cacciatore Project.

Monday, March 30, 2009
Parking Authority's Proposal
The following is a letter that I sent today to the Members of Phoenixville's Borough Council.

March 30, 2009

Dear Council Members:

I write with regard to the proposal presented to Council on behalf of the Phoenixville Parking Authority at last Tuesday’s meeting.

In my view, the proposal is totally lacking in necessary specifics. At the same time the proposal advocates what amounts to not only a carte blanche financial guarantee from the Borough, but also a scheme to hide the current costs, keeping them off the Borough’s financial statements and outside of the Borough’s control. Acceptance of this proposal by Council would be the height of irresponsibility.

The financial guarantee is accomplished by the artifice of having the Borough transfer ownership of the Prospect Street lot to the Authority, so that the Authority can collateralize (mortgage) that property. (Note that this is the only lot which the Authority wishes to own. It is satisfied to lease the rest.) Although the proposed transfer and collateralization is not stated as being a Borough guarantee of the Authority’s debt, it is a guarantee in its effect.

The only source of repayment of the proposed loan (or any other debt or expense of the Authority) is the Authority’s revenues. The Authority has not said how much of a loan it is seeking, what repayment terms it anticipates, or how the loan funds will be used. It has not presented any estimate of revenues or expenses, or any explanatory narrative of how the estimates were constructed. Thus, there is no way to evaluate whether the Authority will be able to repay whatever it may borrow against the Prospect Street lot. Further, once the lot is transferred to the Authority, the Borough has no control over the loan transaction, just as it has no control over the Authority’s other financial affairs.

If the Authority is unable to repay the loan, the Borough will be faced with the alternative of repaying the loan (to maintain public ownership) or allowing the creditor to foreclose on the lot and sell it. The Borough may in effect be forced to repurchase its own parking lot. Since the loan transaction is not within the Borough’s control, this is actually worse for the Borough than an ordinary loan guarantee. In an ordinary guarantee, the Borough would have to specifically enact the guarantee and would thus have the opportunity to exercise control over the risk to taxpayer funds.

The lack of any financial estimates underlying any of the proposal is profoundly distressing. The Authority proposes to assume operating responsibility for the lots, but says nothing about what it thinks the costs will be or what revenues it expects to be able to achieve to cover those costs. Amazingly, the Authority proposes that it will develop its budgets only after the “disposition of the existing lots is ascertained.” That is just the wrong sequence for any sort of a business plan.

(As an aside, the Authority proposes to carry out many of its lot maintenance responsibilities by contracting with the Borough. This is little more than a bureaucratic soixante-neuf: ugly and devoid of redeeming social value.)

Another example of the superficiality of the proposal is the reference to establishing a two-hour nonmetered zone on Bridge Street, enforced by chalking tires. One needs to go no further than West Chester to discover that there are actually handheld electronic devices that allow a parking enforcement officer to record the plate number of parked vehicles in such nonmetered zones, along with the time, so that enforcement can be done in an accurate and trackable manner.

I am frankly at a loss to understand how the Authority, whose members I understand to be persons with business experience, could forward this proposal. Council should demand that the Authority propose meaningful specifics before Council undertakes any review, much less any action, on an Authority proposal. The purpose of the Authority was, after all, to get parking matters into the hands of people with the expertise (hah!) and time to work out the details.