Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Phoenixville Library - Only in Wonderland

Alice said,

"If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?"

Lewis Carroll would have related to tonight's Council meeting.

Phoenixville Borough Council approved vacating a portion of Second Avenue with Council Members Richard Kirkner and Jeffrey Senley voting against the motion. Councilman Buckwalter was absent.

Council followed the White Rabbit.

Despite the efforts of Kirkner, Senley, and Mayor Leo Scoda who each spoke compellingly to zoning problems, unresolved questions about the plan, and public safety concerns, in addition to a last minute motion to table the issue by Senley, Council took the vote.

Alice said,

"It would be so nice if something made sense for a change."

Second Avenue and all the neighborhoods surrounding the library, as well as the community is now on a trip down Alice's rabbit hole.

The Cat said,

"We're all mad here."

The Council chambers were filled to capacity with standing room only comprised of borough residents and people from the townships speaking both for and against the current proposal.

Alice said,

"I think I should understand that better, if I had it written down: but I can't quite follow it as you say it."

As I left the meeting close to 11 p.m., Council had retired to an executive session on the issue, so both you and I shall have to check the Phoenix's Skip Lawrence article tomorrow for further information.

Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?

The Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.

Alice: I don't much care where.

The Cat: Then it doesn't much matter which way you go.

Alice: …so long as I get somewhere.

The Cat: Oh, you're sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.

Follow this blog as we dash with the Mad Hatter through the as yet unwritten chapters in the story book, Adventures in Phoenixville's Wonderland.

26 comments:

doug said...

It is a great day for the residents of Phoenixville. To add to the beauty and appeal of the town is a wonderful thing. I'm sure that if Mr. Reeves was alive today and really cared about Phoenixville and its residents as much as it is said he did, he would be all for this great idea to combine two terrific ideas together (a park and a library). As stated at the meeting last night, the park has much more history than the library and I'd be willing to bet that if Mr. Reeves knew a library would be built next to the park and there would be a chance for it to tie in with the park he would fully support the idea. The fact that the deed may be worded a certain way that many people confuse it or can interpret it different ways could be because the park was deeded before the library was built. Anyway, I'm glad council could see through the many naysayers to see what a great idea this concept is for the community at large. Thank you to all council members who voted for this idea and shame on those that didn't (especially Mr. Senley who represents a majority of the residents who I know are for the idea b/c they are my neighbors).

Karen said...

I'd be a little cautious, doug, about speaking for Mr. Reeves.

I've learned that at least one decendant of the Reeves family lives and works in Phoenixville.

Anonymous said...

It's not a great day for the residents of Phoenixville. It won't be added beauty nor appeal to the town. Council didn't see through anything when they already had their minds made up. The two men who voted to send it to council are councilpeople, so last night was a complete waste of time. The decision was made even before the meeting began. It had to make them feel even more smug to sit there and listen to everyone, only to have the vote already made. Utterly pathetic and pure BS. Taking the cheap and easy way out of things instead of exploring all options.

Anonymous said...

All options had already been explored. Three other options offered, a satellite location, expansion in another direction, or a whole new library in another location. Option 1 a satellite location. Won't work b/c of the loss of funding for satellite location. Unless those who want a satellite location are willing to fund it, scratch that idea. It also just doesn't make sense to have one library in two locations. When the hospital expanded did they do a satelite location. Have the ER or whatever the expansion comprises in a seperate location and leave the hospital alone. Doesn't make sense to have some services in one place and some in another when you are serving the same people at both locations. Option 2 expansion in another direction. These options have been explored in the past with the library attempting to buy adjacent buildings, but owners not willing to sell. If those in favor of this option are able to get the owners to sell their properties for what they are worth (at this time probably not much), I'd be all for expanding in those directions. Probably won't happen. Option 3 relocate to larger location. Again funding would be lost b/c of vacating the current location, not to mention another Carnegie library dissappearing. For a town that is steeped so much in history, to have a historic building basically disappear (would no longer be a Carnegie library) would be a travesty. As I have said these options have been explored and the library is left with this being the only viable option available.

doug said...

I am not speaking for Mr. Reeves at all. I am just hypothesizing that he would look at a community building (the library) as being a positive for the community (much as his park is). To combine the two I would think would make him happy. Considering he can't voice his opinions to anyone, I don't think his decendants know what he would want anymore than I do.

Anonymous said...

Baltimore Public Library, Boston Public Library, Library of Congress, Ben Franklin's library company, the Sorbonne, Oxford, Library of Alexandria, Library in Babylonia. I think Reeves knew what a library was. Perhaps posters should find out what a library is and read a history book now and then.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:31 I'm not sure I understand what you are talking about. I'm sure he knew what a library was. What does that have to do with anything. The Phoenixville Library was not built at the time of his death so he was not aware of this particular library when the park was deeded. Please clarify the point you are trying to make.

Anonymous said...

They keep repeating that funding would be lost if they moved. That is not true. The School Board has never taken that issue up. The Library has never requested it to be taken up by the School Board. Ask the School Board when they were asked about it by the Library Board.
This is not yet over.

Anonymous said...

To: April 15, 2009 10:28:00 AM EDT......"When the hospital expanded did they do a satelite location. Have the ER or whatever the expansion comprises in a seperate location and leave the hospital alone. Doesn't make sense to have some services in one place and some in another when you are serving the same people at both locations."......for your information, the hospital has several satellite locations and a huge one is in Limerick. Go to Nutt Road and try to get an MRI. Won't happen. You'll bre redirected to Limerick. Your argument has no basis in fact. It's done all the time. I hope something like this screws up your neighborhood just like the hospital and library are doing to these folks.

Anonymous said...

To equate a hospital and a library is an invalid comparison. There are any number of options now available for research,information gathering and reading. It's a good thing to have for the social aspects of story hour, etc., but not a necessity anymore. Most children read because their parents read, and appreciate the value of it.

With a hospital, central location of those services makes sense. Regarding library branches, they are the way of making services available to the entire community, not just those who drive. Most towns came to this realization years ago, and many have accommodated its citizens with branches within walking distance.

This is a fight about a development project that is too big for the neighborhood it is being forced on. It is not about reading.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Phoenixville Hospital has two satellite locations: one in the mall where Giant is and one in Limerick. Doesn't seem to be hurting their revenues one bit.

Solofloyd said...

This is classic NIMBYism. Don't be scared of change folks. This will be a wonderful addition to our town.

Anonymous said...

How would a decendant of Mr Reeves, that is still living in the area matter? Doug expressed his opinion and again, any opinions that differ from the host need to be corrected by the host. Why is that?

The majority spoke in favor of the library expansion.

Anonymous said...

Here's the link to story on nbc 10. No video, just text.

http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/Neighborhood-Fights-Library-Expansion.html

Anonymous said...

To anon 11:53. I am not saying that satelites don't exist. What I am saying is that it still makes the most sense to build onto what is currently there. I would think that this is the reason the hospital decided to build the addition rather than find another building to house what the addition is housing. It would be great for the library to do the same and build the addition and then also have satelite locations. Let's help fund those satelite locations and make this dream a reality.

Karen said...

Thanks, Anonymous 1:15 p.m., for the link to the NBC story.

Here is the text and the public comments:

Neighborhood Fights Library Expansion
By TAMARA VOSTOK

Updated 8:50 AM EDT, Tue, Apr 14, 2009


Philadelphians cried, protested and fought Mayor Michael Nutter’s budget proposal to shut down 11 libraries. And now in Chester County, residents are fighting and protesting, too--against the expansion of their local library.


Philadelphians cried, protested and fought last December against Mayor Michael Nutter’s budget proposal to shut down 11 libraries. And now in Chester County, residents are fighting and protesting, too--against the expansion of their local library (And this is a bad thing?).

The Phoenixville library has run out of room and plans call for closing a section of 2nd Avenue in order to build a $6.5 million expansion on that portion of the road, authorities said.

But closing the street would divert too much traffic into neighborhoods, according to residents.

"When you increase traffic you increase risk! And the last thing we want is the lives of our children endangered!" one resident said.

The expansion would include room for computer services and childrens' services, John Kelley, Executive Director of the Phoenixville Library said.

The Phoenixville Borough Council will take up the library expansion plans at Tuesday’s council meeting at 7p.m.

*******

Comments (22)

Tuesday, Apr 14 at 7:17 Phoenixville Library has had so many fundraisers and now they are getting greedy and want to take 2nd Ave away. This is a crazy idea and I think the Library should find another place that is big enough so they do not have to take part of 2nd Ave away. How will this affect the Dogwood Fair? Hoiw will this affect the brand new expensive clock on that corner ? Phoenixville Borough Council needs to say NO!Phoenixville Library has had so many fundraisers and now they are getting greedy and want to take 2nd Ave away. This is a crazy idea and I think the Library should find another place that is big enough so they do not have to take part of 2nd Ave away. How will this affect the Dogwood Fair? Hoiw will this affect the brand new expensive clock on that corner ? Phoenixville Borough Council needs to say NO!

Tuesday, Apr 14 at 7:46 AM Why do we need to expand the library? Do kids today even know how to read a book, or do they just text their friends all day? Kids are just letting their minds waste away, the same way they will let a new and improved library waste away. Why shuld my taxes go up just to give these ungrateful ids a place to skateboard or talk about Rihanna??? In this bad economy, why don't they do something ground breaking like lower our taxes and give us a financial break.

Tuesday, Apr 14 at 7:59 AM
why not just have an annex library,, there are plenty of spaces available to utilize.why not just have an annex library,, there are plenty of spaces available to utilize.


Tuesday, Apr 14 at 9:28 AM Won't affect the fair at all. The clock is still going to be where it currently is.Won't affect the fair at all. The clock is still going to be where it currently is.

Tuesday, Apr 14 at 9:43 AM Perhaps I may be a little too new to the area (after all I've only been in Phoenixville for 6 years), but it seems to me that there's not that much traffic on Second Avenue to divert. My children know what a library is, where it is and what's it's used for. Our library needs and deserves to have more. I'm not sure I understand the problem? Seems to me change is a bad thing when it comes to Phoenixville residentsPerhaps I may be a little too new to the area (after all I've only been in Phoenixville for 6 years), but it seems to me that there's not that much traffic on Second Avenue to divert. My children know what a library is, where it is and what's it's used for. Our library needs and deserves to have more. I'm not sure I understand the problem? Seems to me change is a bad thing when it comes to Phoenixville residents.

Tuesday, Apr 14 at 10:04 AM Change is not a bad thing in Phoenixville if it is the right kind of change. Expanding the library across Second Avenue is not the right kind of change. Taking away the sidewalk on that portion of Reeves Park will stop all the people who walk and jog around the park; the traffic (and yes, there is alot of traffic on Second Avenue) will be diverted up to Third Avenue (right where the playground is); Borough Council is responsible to keep the integrity of Reeves Park intact and they should take their job seriously. The library can find other ways to expand. Just who are all the experts who deem this expansion necessary?? No one who lives in the vicinity of the library, I bet.

Tuesday, Apr 14 at 11:22 AM I go to the library once a week and always see a lot of kids at the library, Cooper have you ever been in the library? Also, I'm sure you aren't complaining about revitalized Bridge st and the money (and traffic) that's brining in for the town. Maybe if they were able to expand and offer more programs for kids it would make a difference. I would rather see them expand the library instead of opening yet another bar. Oh and they are kids after all, what do are they supposed to not be been AND heard?

Tuesday, Apr 14 at 11:22 AM people in philly have nothing else to do but complain, bit--, argue with people, hate each other, about closing fire, libraries, pools, then when they want to expand to handle more kids for education, the philly people are still complaining, i lost my job here, so im moving back to seattle, this city isnt brotherlove, with the people who live here..people in philly have nothing else to do but complain, bit--, argue with people, hate each other, about closing fire, libraries, pools, then when they want to expand to handle more kids for education, the philly people are still complaining, i lost my job here, so im moving back to seattle, this city isnt brotherlove, with the people who live here.

Tuesday, Apr 14 at 11:39 I don't live in Phoenixville or Philly, but I would like to know where $6.5 million comes from to expand the library. Taxpayers maybe? And I'm sure property taxes will go up! And in todays economy, there must be better ways to spend $6.5 million dollars. Nothing against libraries etc. but in todays economy, every little bit of cutback helps. I have seen expansion on the Marple Newtown High School and the price tag will scare you to death! But, who cares, they just raise my taxes, but by employer is cutting my pay due to lack of business! So, one outweighs the other!

Tuesday, Apr 14 at 12:16 PM It is the people in phoenixville that are upset not the people who live in PhiladelphiaIt is the people in phoenixville that are upset not the people who live in Philadelphia

Tuesday, Apr 14 at 1:12 PM With the ever present expansions and upgrades going on in the 'ville right now, I think it's a fantastic idea. Having moved to Phoenixville from Malvern, I can tell you all, this place needs a little culture! I cannot wait for all of the old rubbish to be evacuated and the upgrades to be finished! Then house values will go up, then one day I can sell and perhaps one day get back to the Main Line! (What was I thinking?)With the ever present expansions and upgrades going on in the 'ville right now, I think it's a fantastic idea. Having moved to Phoenixville from Malvern, I can tell you all, this place needs a little culture! I cannot wait for all of the old rubbish to be evacuated and the upgrades to be finished! Then house values will go up, then one day I can sell and perhaps one day get back to the Main Line! (What was I thinking?)

Tuesday, Apr 14 at 2:02 PM what is wrong with this picture people. i agree with Phoenixville lover, i also go to my neighborhood library and see how the kid interact in the library.what is wrong with this picture people. i agree with Phoenixville lover, i also go to my neighborhood library and see how the kid interact in the library.


Tuesday, Apr 14 at 2:25 PM Waste of Money !!! Our Government is a bunch of idiots.Waste of Money !!! Our Government is a bunch of idiots.

Tuesday, Apr 14 at 3:29 PM I am a little confused about 2nd street. Is a section of 2nd street going to be closed permittaly for the expansion of the library or just until the library is completed? Two entirely different things. Because if is only going to be closed temporally I don't see a problem.I am a little confused about 2nd street. Is a section of 2nd street going to be closed permittaly for the expansion of the library or just until the library is completed? Two entirely different things. Because if is only going to be closed temporally I don't see a problem.


Tuesday, Apr 14 at 3:44 PM The library doesn't even have acceptance of the project from the school board yet (the owner of the library property). The library is also trying to cover its tracks that they passed up an opportunity to buy neighboring property very cheap a few years ago. Now they want to close off a street in the middle of a downtown grid layout at a main street intersection? Looks like the good ol' boys club in Phoenixville is alive and well.

Tuesday, Apr 14 at 4:55 PM Weez dontsneedz no libraries or bookz....like chris rock sez books is like criptonite to Nick Gerz.Weez dontsneedz no libraries or bookz....like chris rock sez books is like criptonite to Nick Gerz.

2nd Ave Resident Tuesday, Apr 14 at 9:07 PM There are speed bumps at Reeves Park children's playground on 3rd Street, so children's safety is not the issue. Joggers and walkers have all of Phoenixville to utilize. The entire town has sidewalks and Phoenixville is 4 miles from Valley Forge Park. The answer for traffic would be for the borough to change 2nd, 3rd and 4th streets to oneway streets starting from Lincoln Street for 2nd and 3rd Ave and Quick Street for 4th Ave. This would prevent non residents and box trucks from using these roads for bypass to Rte. 29. The intersection at Rte. 23 and Gay Street would need the same attention that the intersection at Starr Street and Rte. 23 recently received. A turning lane and a left turn signal would be helpful for traffic gridlock. That intersection is a mess and needs to be fixed. Phoenixville is becoming the laughing stock of local and world news. First we want to put kids in danger by building an elementary school near a toxic land fill, and now we want to protect kids by canceling the library expansion. ...

Today at 7:13 AM This short article gives the impression that the idiots in Phoenixville don't support the library expansion. That isn't the case. They don't support this proposal for the library expansion. If the library came up with another idea, rather than their take it or leave it approach, they may get a little more support. However, I don't think community support matters. It appears that this is going to go forward, regardless of the impact on the community.

Today at 7:29 AM not in my backyard....all the same everywhere.......Whaaaaa I don't want anything to change or be the slightest bit inconvenient.....PVille is a dump anyway....fuggettittaboutit....not in my backyard....all the same everywhere.......Whaaaaa I don't want anything to change or be the slightest bit inconvenient.....PVille is a dump anyway....fuggettittaboutit....
of course

Today at 10:10 AM hey marianne, that tax will be nothing compared to the tax all of us will be hit with by 2011, its already happening on cigarettes, beer, anything that the feds can tax, will go up non stop to pay for all these bail outs, which shouldnt have happened, these companies are bankrupt, will go out of business, but feds are wasting tax payers money for a bail out that will not workhey marianne, that tax will be nothing compared to the tax all of us will be hit with by 2011, its already happening on cigarettes, beer, anything that the feds can tax, will go up non stop to pay for all these bail outs, which shouldnt have happened, these companies are bankrupt, will go out of business, but feds are wasting tax payers money for a bail out that will not work
common sense

Today at 11:31 AM Common sense should prevail here.No one is against the expansion of the library.What people are opposed to is the vacating of Second Ave.This proposal defies all logic and is against every zoning regulation set forth .The Pennslyvania Municipal Planning code sets forth guidelines to be followed for a reason.This proposal will be shot down inZHB and then challenged in Cester CO.Court.This Boro is 1.6 Million dollars in the hole as is and I would be hell bent to allow this council to spend taxpayer dollars defending a lawsuit by it's own residents supporting a special interest group like the PHX public library when it is known that the majority of this board does not even live in the Boro.Changing the ordinance to allow this type of building is essentially spot zoning and is illegal.Just what type of legal advice is the Boro getting from it's council when Andy Rau the attorney for the boro is allowing this to happen.He and his law firm Turner,Burke ,unruh and Frees should be fired for letting this travesty to happen.

Today at 11:51 AM Common sense should prevail here. No one is against the expansion of the library.What people are opposed to is the vacating of Second Ave.This proposal defies all logic and is against every zoning regulation set forth.The Pennslyvania Municipal Planning Code sets forth guidelines for a reason.This proposal will be shot down at ZHB and then challenged in Chester Co. Court. This Boro is 1.6 million dollars in the hole as is and I would be hell bent to allow this council to to spend taxpayer monies defending a lawsuit by it's own residents supporting a special ineterest group like the PHX. Public Library when it is a aknown fact that the majority of the board does not even live in the Boro.Changing the ordinance to to allow this type of building is essentially spot zoning which is illegal.Just what type of advice is the Boro getting from it's attorneys to allow this to happen.This law firm should be fired.

Anonymous said...

When Reeves was alive the library existed as an institution. Around the turn of the century some folks from the school board committee petitioned Carnegie to participate in his "philanthropic" offer to build libraries with has name on it. Carnegie coughed up about $20,000 to build the Georgian influenced building with the stipulation that the School Board needed to supply (as in 'pay for') the lot, the books and otherwise outfit the library. There were also terms attached in that the library would tax the people at a rate of not more than one mill to make sure that the library was maintained (Note that Andy did not provide any money for anything other than the building). The school board considered (in open public forum) pros and cons about a couple of properties and finally bought the Coffin property at 2nd and Main for $3800 to place one of AC's designs. When Reeves the first died, the Reeves family was probably wealthier than the techno-telegraphic-nerd soon to be mega robber baron Carnegie. If Reeves wanted a library there he certainly could have built one. So the park was about the statue of the beloved old man and another memorial for all those killed in the recently concluded civil war. The park is about the park. It is was and always has been a sacred place to the wealthy family who ruled the town and the common men who died in the civil war. Reeves was as clear as was Carnegie when each laid down the terms for their particular contribution to the life of the community. And, by the way, Carnegie took a bunch of business away from the East Side Reeves crew in railroads and bridge making. I seriously doubt Mr. Reeves would in any way want a library (especially one named for Carnegie), coffee shop and bookstore to come anywhere near this lovely sanctuary and remembrance place for dear old Dad and the Civil War dead. If you care to speculate as have I, that is fine. There is just too much uninformed speculation and flaky wonderful world rhetoric and way too little attempting to help the public make informed, rational decisions. But I'd be a little cautious about speaking for Mr. Reeves.

Anonymous said...

There could not be two more different men than Reeves and Carnegie. Reeves was a kind man, loved by his employees so much that they wanted to honor his memory. His behaviour toward his employees is the reason the park exists today. Carnegie was what is termed a "complicated" man. He had to try to buy his way into people's good graces and possibly heaven after he gave his tacit approval to have employees killed at Homestead steel mill. (anything to accomplish the goal) That is the obvious difference between them. Yes, he got his way. He succeeded. He paid for libraries. But the way he treated many people especially the working class, was abominable, and he is not looked upon kindly by many because of that.

Anonymous said...

Oh god, this whole blog is full of hot air.

Anonymous said...

What is this cr@p about the Homestead slaughter of workers? You'd think that Molly Maquires were a band of people with a history of procuring fairer employment rules and fighting against the exploitation of workers. For crying out loud. Get with progress. Remember Carnegie as the simple saint who provided a place for our children to learn and Molly Maguires as a place for overpriced beer and lousy food. Remember a library is a slogan not a place to actually read and learn something. See you and my council representatives on the "Jaywalking" segment of the Tonight Show, where people really know their stuff. It's great day for America, everybody!

Karen said...

Please, Anonymous 11:37 p.m., remember that Phoenixville is an old union steel town and while Andrew Carnegie's gift of monies towards the building of a library was appreciated, his name was anathema in some circles.

I can still remember the physical reactions of harrumphs and snorts at the mention of his name from the older folks, many whom worked in the iron company or knew someone who did.

They were all brothers to those who worked for Carnegie.

Stories of unsafe and unsanitary working conditions in his mills, 12hour work days, with no breaks, along with charges of union busting and unethical business practices and more, which were repeated so often I understood immediately when I was told by one oldster he thought Carnegie finally realized his mortality and was "trying to buy his way into Heaven."

Research Carnegie and learn why even his business partner, Henry Clay Frick vowed to only "meet you in hell, Carnegie".

Anonymous said...

So basically what is being said about Carnegie is that he was the typical business man?

Anonymous said...

Don't let time smooth out the rough edges. Carnegie was just as much a business man as any other wealthy person. He stepped on his fair share of people to get where he was. And stepping on people doesn't imply he was a bad person, but sometimes unpopular decisions have to be made in the name of progress, just like the library expanding. Lets move on shall we.

Karen said...

"...stepping on people doesn't imply he was a bad person, but sometimes unpopular decisions have to be made in the name of progress, just like the library expanding. Lets move on shall we."

The stepping on people segment of your statement is quite applicable and I can relate to that comment.

I doubt the current library board would appreciate your parallel between Carnegie practices and the proposed expansion but you've called a spade a spade, Anonymous 12:03 p.m.

We can't rewrite history, Anon, because sweeping loathesome practices under a carpet doesn't make them go away.

Anonymous said...

Carnegie and others used the Pinkertons as a kind of domestic Blackwater of their day. Innocents as well as workers attempting to establish or execute collective bargaining rights of radical practices like being able to have more than one day vacation per year were murdered by these domestic, sanctioned terror groups as private "security companies". Pinkerton/Blackwater was particularly successful in using a corrupt legal system to sanction the murder of several of the Molly Maguires. Carnegie tried to keep a layer of plausible deniability between himself and operations (see the reference by Karen to Frick). He was by no means the typical main street American business man - unless you think Dick Cheney or the fictional Jon Voit character on 24 this season are typical businessmen.
Oh, Reeves - that guy whose statue is in the park - died right before an already successful Carnegie opened his first western Pa steel mill which used the then revolutionary Bessemer process he saw in Europe. Once Carnegie got into steel manufacturing and bridge building, competitors like the Reeves family where doomed to a comfortable living but secondary status in industries they had been key players in while young AC was in his early career.

Anonymous said...

Karen, I'm not saying it will be swept under the carpet, but rather (and you know this) that time tends to smooth the rough edges. And as I stated that "stepping on a few people" wasn't meant in the literal sense and doesn't imply a bad thing. It just means that it will not be popular to some people (as will most though decisions). But not being popular to some people doesn't mean the decision shouldn't be made and move on, because it should. It is obvious from the contentious debates that this is not an easy decision and some people will be left feeling "stepped on" and unhappy. But a decision needs to be made and within a timely manner. I feel the decision to expand the library as proposed is thoughtful and respectful to the neighbors, Reeves Park, 2nd Ave residents, the communtiy, and to the library.