Thursday, April 16, 2009

Phoenixville Library - PASD School Board meeting tonight!

The PASD School Board meeting will be held tonight at 7 p.m..

Entrance to the high school is from the back of the building, and I've been told the meeting will be held in the auditorium.

PASD and the taxpayers of Phoenixville borough are the rightful owners of the library, and the initial permission was granted by the school board to explore the concept plan for expansion of the library.

PASD school board members have many questions to answer on this proposal.

Please make every effort to attend this meeting.


Anonymous said...

This is the time to ask the School Board point blank if they have voted to refuse to fund the library if it moves. The library people have repeated from the start that that is the main reason they cannot move. They stated that the School District will not fund them if the library is elsewhere. So ask the School Board when the vote happened, and who voted for or against funding.

Anonymous said...

It's not the school board that decides whether it receives Carnegie Status. That is where the funding will be lost. How many times does this have to be explained?

And didn't councils of past abandon enough buildings that are now empty lots to make us all sick? This would be just one more building left to deteriorate into ashes because some people are afraid of progress.

Anonymous said...

Carnegie Status and the dollars the school board receives by virtue of whatever that status means needs only to be explained once, with a listing of those funds in dollar amounts for the last 5 years and projected for the next 5 years, along with a the percentage of total income and operating expenses from the library budget. If you've got the numbers, post them here.

andy said...

If the school board says it will fund the library no matter where it is located, then the funding reason for keeping the library in that building is moot.
Why is it that it's ok to try to overturn the terms of the deed to Reeves Park; but the terms of the funding for a public library are considered hands-off. The only thing it says is that it must be funded if it is in that building. If it moves to another building, the School District is not required to fund it. But I seriously doubt that a School Board would vote to refuse to fund a library at another location. Just ask them. Have them vote on it. Your argument is invalid.

Solofloyd said...

anonymous 10:18 am,

If you think the public outcry about vacating 100 ft. of 2nd Ave. is loud just wait and hear how loud it is if the library is moved.

Anonymous said...

"And didn't councils of past abandon enough buildings that are now empty lots to make us all sick?"....I'm a native and I have no idea what buildings were abandoned by past councils that are now empty lots. Please name a few because I'm sure baffled by your comment.

Anonymous said...

Why not start a fundraising effort to purchase the property adjacent to and north of the Library for the purpose of expanding the existing building in a better direction?

Karen said...

Correction offered by a poster.

"The PASD and the taxpayers of Schuylkill and East Vincent as well Phoenixville are the rightful owners of the library system. The PASD library system is not a specific library building. The PASD library system was in place before there was any building at 2nd and Main."


Anonymous, regarding your last sentence.

I believe the double home second down from the back of the library predates the library in it's 1902construction date.

Anonymous said...

Karen, no one ever posted anything about who owns the Library "system". The money would be lost as a result of leaving the Carnegie Building. Those were the stipulations. Stop putting your spin on other persons comments. Does it ever stop?

Anonymous said...

Go Library!

Anonymous said...

The school board is last on record as having given the OK to pursue a concept. To date, as they have in the past, the whole school board has been too trusting is specific committees and other boards. The library committee and the library board have given certain authorities to agents who have not done well by the PASD school board and taxpayers. As another poster has pointed out, the planning process leading to this concept has been deeply flawed, paternalistic, small-minded and archaic. I am sure the Chester County inter-library loan could unearth a book on municipal planning process with a publication date after 1970. Fortunately as well as most urgently, this concept phase can be readdressed, enlisting the wider public and those stakeholders with tangible immediate interests. There is an huge underlying support for library services among a geographically as well as demographically diverse tri-municipality. There is no need for the taxpayers to have yet another disaster at the hands of people their elected representatives have unwittingly trusted. No one - especially the people on the school board - needs another KES.

Anonymous said...

Can someone please Show me the Carnegie money!. Years and dollar amounts please.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you ask the School Board what the funding status of the library is? They own it. The meeting is tonight. Just ask them instead of arguing among yourselves.

Karen said...

Anonymous 4:25, the building as well as the ground it sits on is owned by PAHS school district.

Which means the taxpayers own it.

Administration and school board members are representatives of the people who elected them. They are also to be reminded that they are public servants, just as borough council members are.

I respectfully suggest that you pass by my blog if my commentary offends you. You may also choose to start your own blog.

Lastly, the reporting and discussions on every single aspect of the library concept plan turned proposal will continue until the abomination to the public is resolved.

Karen said...

Anonymous 4:40 p.m., my understanding is that Carnegie donated $20,000 along with building plans to Phoenixville.

To my knowledge that was the total amount.

The school district, in an agreement or charter with Carnegie, agreed to support the library. I have heard various amounts in the 6 figure range which given to the library annually.

If anyone else has more accurate or exact figure information, please post it.

Anonymous said...

Karen, please do not confuse things here. In 1901 Carnegie did pay $20,000 to cover the construction costs of a building. Part of those terms for that gift was that the school board tax the people to cover the maintenance. Any monies coming in to cover library maintenance were from the taxpayer, not from Carnegie or any foundation. In fact, some rulings in other states at the time said these maintenance terms were illegal - that a one time gift is a one time gift and you can't force a municipality to levee taxes just because you want them to.
The cost of supporting any structure has fallen and continues to fall on the school board and their millage assessment for that purpose. If they chose not to tax us for that, there is no external funding stream dependent on the Carnegie name which will be lost. (If that was the case, then why have so many of these 100 year old structures been abandoned or re-purposed?) Of course I could be wrong, but given the loud but unsubstantiated claims to something contrary, I'd bet I'm probably not. Whatever the case is, there are books which show the truth irregardless of what you, I or others might speculate. Makes you wonder why the library is not very forthcoming about its finances. I'm sure the school board officials have been looking at finances more closely than in the past given their recent history. They can ask the library board and the head of the library.

Karen said...

Thanks, Anonymous 5:00 p.m., for adding to the answer!

I suspect that we will someday know the complete answer to many questions as this process unfolds.

The answers should be public information as public monies are involved.

Mr. Ellsworth Toohey said...

Here were the basic demands for the Carnegie money

Nearly all of Carnegie's libraries were built according to "The Carnegie Formula", which required a kind of matching from the town that received the donation. It must:

* demonstrate the need for a public library;
* provide the building site; and
* annually provide ten percent of the cost of the library's construction to support its operation.

PASD would be able to back out of the funding if it so wished. Highly unlikely. Oh yeah, the library isn't moving and the residents aren't budging about closing 2nd ave so everyone sit in a room and hash this out. Or, settle it in a pool full of pudding. I want to see Karen and Adam Devaney to wrestle for it. My money is on you Karen.

Anonymous said...

Karen, For those of us who could not get to the meeting, what happened last night?

Karen said...

Please remember, Anonymous 9:41 p.m., the following is from a sometimes faulty memory and I did not take notes.

Public participation at the school board meeting did not open until near the end of the meeting, probably around 8:30.

Rich Kirkner spoke first and the essence of his remarks to the board were in the context of liability to the school district and individual school board members regarding any potential lawsuits. He stated the current library plan does not meet zoning requirements. He also said he would be willing to speak with school board members.

Rich's wife spoke against the inclusion of a coffee and book shop in the plans, while I basically reiterated my message to Council on Tuesday evening. Bill Martin spoke to the faults in the proposal, etc.

I think it went well, and we were all told that the May 7th meeting of the Building and Grounds committee is where the expansion plan will be "completely" vetted.

How long that would take is impossible to determine due to all the identified issues, and those yet to be discovered.

No one spoke from the library board.

The school board meeting is televised on local cable channel 28but you'll have to call the school district and ask for the times.

Phoenixville Borough Council meeting was on this evening at 6 p.m., on local cable channel 22. I don't know the dates or times for repeat showings.

Skip Lawrence was in attendance, so we may see an article in the Phoenix.

Hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

Now you're making arguments against the coffee shop portion of the library? When will you people stop with the dopey arguments? Come on. A library is no different than any other venue and needs to provide some basic amenities to its customers. We're going from the kids safety, to the clock, to traffic, to parking, to the joggers and now the cafe portion of the library. You've got to be kidding!

Karen said...

Anonymous 11:04 p.m., most people are not aware of the fact that towns are seperated into districts, and zoning laws determine what uses are allowed within a particular district.

For example, the Second Avenue and Main Street area is zoned Neighborhood Conservation or Preservation District.

There are many exclusions in the zoning law for this particular district, for example, no restaurants, or cofee shops. No commercial enterprises, either.

If the zoning board were to create spot zoning for this concept plan, it would not be legal.

In addition, a building expansion the size such as what the library is requesting approval for must provide an additional 80 to 88 (can't remember exactly) parking spaces. NOT shared parking in a neighborhood which is already sharing limited parking with over 217,000 visitors per year.

Additionally, according to zoning law, an applicant cannot CREATE a problem, i.e. parking problems, which this library proposal does and then ask for relief from it.

Each of the issues you mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg on this proposal.

The discussions on each new revelation will cause even more discussions, waste taxpayer dollars spinning wheels on a plan that does not comply with basic laws and I suspect this may drag on for years if the plan is not DOA.

Any of the above statements made by me stand to be corrected because, as I mentioned before, I am working from memory and I've been off Council for a number of years.

Of course, anyone can research the laws for themselves.

Bill said...

Backyard Fence Blogmistress:
As I remember the points I made at the PASB meeting: In 2002 a published call came out in the form of a letter to the editor which solicited public input about a wide range of issues concerning the purpose, goals, as well as the physical placement of the library. In 2006, a Phoenixville architect and a few other consultants were hired with no request of wide public input as was made 4 years earlier. What was labeled as a "concept" - putting the library in the middle of Second Avenue up to and into Reeves Park - was greenlighted by our School Board (who as we know thanks to Middle Ward Phoenixville Council Candidate Henry Wagner and military pensioner Jean Krack tax us residents of Schuylkill Township, East Pikeland Township and Phoenxville residents at a very high rate - including millage which amounts to close to a half million dollars for the library) on the same day they greenlighted the plan to place developing children next to a toxic dump for some thousands of hours of their young lives at a cost of about 2 million dollars not including legal fees.
I questioned how a "concept" became a reality and quoted popular cultural icons' words about the concept of a "concept". Those quoted included John Lennon and Robin Williams as men who looked at a "concept" in the terms of "pain" and "reality".
I pointed out that if you've read books or attended any workshops on topics such as negotiation, team-building or planning you would have come across the idea that the best way to counter negative NIMBYism is to make sure all stakeholders are empowered and respected at the earliest stages and throughout any process. I think I made the effort to mention all municipalities.
I haven't followed the school board much but it seems that they at least seem to be more in touch with reality and can both admit when they have done something wrong and see a slick sales job. Like a lot of other Americans, they have been wronged at the hands the few they entrusted to look out for their interest and guide them as to the best course. Maybe it is because they also have taken on a responsibility for the young and innocent, who have yet to learn how to be good at office politics or maybe its because they already have pissed away $2 million dollars listening to board and "respected community leaders" or real people who look into the eyes of children and have to be straight - dealing with reality and pain more than concepts.
I reminded the board of the famous quote from Winston Churchill, born in the same year as Reeves Park was dedicated, of his famous quote which goes something like “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else.”

Ed Naratil said...

And for those that care to peruse the Borough Code on line you can find it at:

Pay attention to the Zoning for NCR-2.

Ed Naratil said...

And if you're willing to wait you'll be able to read the minutes in a month or two at the School Boards web page:

You'll also find the scheduled dates for meetings on this page.