Saturday, April 18, 2009

Phoenixville Library - What's Next? Lengthy debate ahead for Library expansion project


Lengthy debate ahead for Library expansion project

Saturday, April 18, 2009

By G.E. Lawrence

PHOENIXVILLE —There was a Council vote Tuesday evening on the vacation of a portion of a Borough street to accommodate a proposed expansion of the Phoenixville Public Library. But what are that vote's consequences? What, in short, does it mean?

You can measure its meaning in lengths.

There are 162 linear feet from the eastern edge of the South Main Street right-of-way to the western edge of Park Alley's: that's the length of the subject of that vote, that portion of Second Avenue proposed to be vacated.

There is, second, a length of 30 feet from the center line of Second Avenue running due south to a parallel line, the edge of Reeves Park: that length here becomes a width, and determines the area of land on which the Library proposes its expansion.

Those are the meets and bounds, the geometry, of this distinctively political issue. But as political, the issue has been less about geometry than about the geography on its edges, about fuzzier lines between private interest and public, between competing visions of a future geography within those geometric constraints, about just what the "place" in "pride of place" there should look like.

Political conundrums are often resolved, and can sometimes only be resolved, by resort to length.

There were the multiple lengthy opportunities, extended long beyond original timing plans, for public debate on the floor of the Planning Commission, the Community Development Committee and Borough Council. Lengthy, unfettered opportunities, too, for debate among public officials on that floor.

In the end, even the final language of the official resolution was unexpectedly lengthy.

As revised and entered as a formal motion by Mike Handwerk (D-Middle), the original simple motion to vacate that rectangle and offer it for sale to the Phoenixville Area School District for the sum of $1 was extended by conditions:

"…contingent upon meeting of all land development, zoning conditions, and approval of the plan as necessary by the Planning Commission, Zoning Hearing Board, and Borough Council and the approval by the Phoenixville Area School District for the purchase of that land. These conditionally approved actions concerning the Library Foundation expansion project, and related to the School District property referenced, shall be subject to all required procedural actions to complete the items initiated herein."

The short form might have simply read: "…once final approval is received for the project," because its force was to say this and only this: "If you've got an approved project, you've got the land."

The conditions only confirmed the very factual reality of the project, that the decision in principle to agree to vacate the rectangle was only a first hurdle of a legally required and politically beneficial series of them, for the project to be vetted at each progressive stage. The lengthy addendum to the original motion was a civics lesson.

Tuesday's vote gave Library planners only the right to move a conceptual plan into something more. Had the vote been otherwise, even the attempt at "something more" would have been useless.

And, as the extended language of the motion confirmed, the proposal remains just that. Normal procedures apply, the motion reiterates: the Library Foundation must travel the length of the land development process with the Planning Commission and Council, must meet all planning and design constraints, must resolve potential difficulties with those constraints, if any, before the Zoning Hearing Board.

Left unsaid, of course, were the conditions internal to the project itself that must be met: more precise plan documents, detailed architectural plans and a successful fundraising campaign to meet the project's estimated $6 million price tag.

Tuesday's vote, that is to say, meant only that a necessary condition for the proposal to move forward was met. Now and only now comes the hard — and, politically, the lengthiest — part.

As if to underline the case, within 48 hours of Council's vote the debate was renewed, in another venue: the floor of the Board of School Directors of the Phoenixville Area School District. Should that Board consider accepting the offer of that rectangle for $1? Comments in public participation were lengthy. So, undoubtedly, will be the meeting of that Board's Buildings and Grounds Committee meeting May 7, where the issues of the conceptual plan will once again be debated.


Karen said...

I've already received a request to post the entire motion.

The entire motion made by Council to vacate Second Avenue is as follows:

"Borough Council approves the vacation of the portion of Second Avenue east of Main Street and west of Park Ally and the sale of the underlying Borough owned property to the Phoenixville Area School District, for $1.00 contingent upon meeting of all land development, zoning conditions, and approval of the plan as necessary by the Planning Commission, Zoning Hearing Board, and Borough Council and the approval by the Phoenixville Area School District for the purchase of that land. These conditionally approved actions concerning the Library Foundation expansion project, and related to the School District property referenced, shall be subject to all required procedural actions to complete the items initiated herein."

Ed Naratil said...

Posted at Karen's request -

The library will need a lot of variances to Borough Code. It is in a NCR-2 zone and some of the code applicable to it can be found on pages 27-405 and 27-406 of the Borough Code book codified in 2008. Here is one paragraph. Check the parking requirements:

7. Library or Museum. A library or museum which is open to the public or is connected with a permitted educational use, and is not conducted as a private gainful business.

A. Area and Dimensional Standards.

(1) Minimum Lot Area: two acres.

(2) Minimum Lot Width: 100 feet.

(3) Minimum Front Yard: 30 feet.

(4) Minimum Side Yard: 15 feet; 30 feet for corner side yards.

(5) Minimum Rear Yard: 30 feet.

(6) Maximum Impervious Surface: 50%.

B. The buffer requirements of Part 30 of this Chapter shall be met.

C. Parking: one space per five seats or, where no seats are provided, one space per 250 square feet of total floor area. Parking areas shall be adequately screened when situated within 50 feet of land zoned for or in residential use.

Borough Codes and Ordinances can be viewd at:

Anonymous said...

Posted earlier to the Phoenix:" A good explanation of what is going on. However, the right of way proposed to be built on is 60 feet, not 30 feet. Both the library and the park deeds state that their property lines are measured 30 feet from the center of Second Avenue. If a right of way is vacated and the deeds written in that way, then each abutting property owner gets half. However in this case, the Library wants not only their half of the vacated right of way, but also the park's half of the right of way. The portion that will be contested is the portion that would revert to park ownership if the street is vacated by the Borough. The Borough is bound by its obligation to the original grantors of Reeves Park to the citizens of Phoenixville, to protect it and keep it clear of buildings and certainly from giving away or selling any part of Reeves Park."

Thanks Karen, for posting the entire motion. They don't have that in the Phoenix, why not?

Karen said...

Thank you, Ed.

Clearly, even if the current plan is abandoned and a new proposal drafted, the library must provide parking for an expansion.

On the other hand, Council CAN waive requirements to a developer, but at the expense of the neighborhood residents and taxpayers of Phoenixville.

Karen said...

Thank you, Anonymous 10:18 a.m., for further info.

I don't know why the entire motion was not posted, but it is necessary for the public to vet as much information as we can in order to understand what promises to be a very lengthy and cumbersome process.

Anonymous said...

Maybe there's a conspiracy going on? Maybe the newspaper was the second shooter on the grassy knowle. Maybe the newspaper was in the booth when Lincoln was shot.

What is wrong with you people? Its always some conspiracy going on and Henry Wagner has some agenda, and Barry Cassidy is stealing money, and the library has another agenda. What is it? What's the problem? Were you all abandoned as children and need attention that bad? Get over it already, the library will expand because it needs to expand and the majority of the people, including the borough council, want it to expand. You people are relics of the past when Phoenixville was conspiring against itself and when people were embarrassed to say they were from Phoenixville. Now that has changed and but some people haven't.

Anonymous said...

Actually with the library fiasco, the blue light poles, the ferris wheel, the foundry, the brick sidewalks, the school buying a 'superfond' site, and other shenanigans I'm still ashamed to admit I live in Phoenixville.

Karen said...

As a multi-generational, life-long resident of Phoenixville, Anonymous 10:57 a.m., I've chosen to respond to your comments. I've seen them posted elsewhere, and it's time for a response.

A simple question does not make for a conspiracy. This blog is open to discussion within parameters I define. The question you alude to was a valid one yet you personally choose to chide the poster with inane remarks.

Insofar as the "majority" of Council or the public supporting the current plan, I respectfully submit you have absolutely no documentation to support that statement.

Council's vote Tuesday evening was in no way indicative of the vote which will be taken during final plan approval after the entire issue is fully and completely vetted by the Planning Commission, the Zoning Hearing Board, Chester County Planning, and other entities.

No one has a crystal ball withing which to scry as to exactly how the process will unfold.

Some of the relics in this community are the icons with which we are all familiar, the two in discussion currently, Reeves Park and the library. Seperate icons, Anonymous, and thankfully, our forefathers left detailed deeds and other information protecting the individuality of both.

There are those among us who desire to follow the letter of deeds and the law. There are those among us who are and will continue to draw public attention to the danger of harm to our icons and to the intent of those who gifted these icons to the people of Phoenixville.

A long time ago, I and others realized the necessity of choosing between becoming a part of a problem or becoming part of the solution to a problem.

Personally, I have always made my self available to become part of the solution.

The current library expansion plan is a problem.

What is your solution?

Anonymous said...

Karen, funny thing is, I haven't posted any comments about SOME of the people that live in Phoenixville that seem to be relics of the past. But I did post it this time because its true, there are people in town that don't want it to progress forward as proven by their comments and actions.

And maybe you didn't see the writing on the wall but borough council was in a majority vote to expand the library and it will happen on the final vote. In regards to the public opinion, one only needs to sit in front of the library and watch the amount of people using the library that would totally enjoy the library even more if it had more adequate facilities and accommodations. Karen, your arguments get more and more desperate and diverse. Arguing anything from "the childrens safety", to people walking the sidewalks, to the clock, to property rights, and now to "icons" of Phoenixville. No one is disrespecting the founders and forefathers of Phoenixville by helping it to move into the future and to remain relevant and purposeful. I would argue that you are disrespecting them by wanting the library not to expand, or to move and abandon another precious building in our town as has been done in the past. Helping our forefathers vision to remain relevant into the future, is in no way disrespecting their wishes. I believe they would be proud.

Anonymous said...

Also Karen, my/our solution is to remain relevant in the future of the town. Proposing to leave/abandon buildings to accommodate the wants of only a few is not how we move forward. The library has proposed a solution to this issue of "relevance".

Now Karen, what is your solution?

Karen said...

Those SOME of the people, Anonymous 1:22 p.m., are defined by you as relics whom I prefer to call preservationists. N'er the twain shall meet?

I sincerely doubt that anyone YOU define in that manner would allow you to put words in their mouths, Anon, and you certainly don't speak for me, either, when you speak to progress in our town.

Sadly, and I have to point this out, you are among those who are not familiar with the process of vetting an issue such as this in regards to the law.

Any development MUST comply with the law or variances on a narrow range can be granted. Again, there are parameters which MUST be met before any development is allowed. BY LAW.

The vote on final approval is a long way off, Anonymous, and there are many, many, many legal hurdles to overcome before one spade is put to the ground.

Regarding the number of patrons to the library you are making our point. The library HAS OUTGROWN the building. The library HAS over 217,000 visits per year, and the neighborhoods surrounding the library bear the brunt of it's success. No one will argue that point, Anonymous.

They need to expand if they want to provide services above and beyond what is currently provided. The current plan is NOT the right plan to benefit the community or the neigborhoods surrounding the library.

The plan needs to be scuttled and a new one developed. The building will not be abandoned no matter what happens, Anonymous.

Because those who gifted Phoenixville with the icons of Reeves Park and the library left us detailed instructions by deed and charter, we do not have to speculate as to their wishes or their "pride".

We already know in their own words.

Karen said...

Anonymous 1:38 p.m., your solution "is to remain relevant to the future of the town"?

You being you as a person or are you a library board member speaking as a representative of the proposal?

Not one person who is in opposition to the current plan and wants the library to expand wants the building to be vacated.

Please refer to the search engine on the home page of my blog where you will find my suggestions as well as those of many others regarding a solution.

The current plan is wrong for the community.

Finding the right solution rests with the library board in conjunction with input from the public.

Anonymous said...

Only in your opinion Karen. Only in your opinion.

Karen said...

Anonymous 2:49 p.m., did you avail yourself of a search of the archives?

Did you read Councilman Richard Kirkner's letter regarding the zoning issues?

Did you read Ed's post on the Borough Code requirements for library parking?

Did you read and research the the link to Borough Codes and Ordinances in the link provided by Ed?

Here is a good starting point from which to learn if the foregoing comments are mine alone.

Anonymous said...

Plagiarized from Mr. Ellsworth Toohey's Blog:

Section 910.2. Zoning Hearing Board’s Functions; Variances. (a) The board shall hear requests for variances where it is alleged that the provisions of the zoning ordinance inflict unnecessary hardship upon the applicant. The board may by rule prescribe the form of application and may require preliminary application to the zoning officer. The board may grant a variance, provided that all of the following findings are made where relevant in a given case: (1) That there are unique physical circumstances or conditions, including irregularity, narrowness, or shallowness of lot size or shape, or exceptional topographical or other physical conditions peculiar to the particular property and that the unnecessary hardship is due to such conditions and not the circumstances or conditions generally created by the provisions of the zoning ordinance in the neighborhood or district in which the property is located. (2) That because of such physical circumstances or conditions, there is no possibility that the property can be developed in strict conformity with the provisions of the zoning ordinance and that the authorization of a variance is therefore necessary to enable the reasonable use of the property. (3) That such unnecessary hardship has not been created by the appellant. (4) That the variance, if authorized, will not alter the essential character of the neighborhood or district in which the property is located, nor substantially or permanently impair the appropriate use or development of adjacent property, nor be detrimental to the public welfare. (5) That the variance, if authorized, will represent the minimum variance that will afford relief and will represent the least modification possible of the regulation in issue. (b) In granting any variance, the board may attach such reasonable conditions and safeguards as it may deem necessary to implement the purposes of this act and the zoning ordinance.

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 decided on their current expansion did they do a satelite location? Having 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.

If you or anyone else can think of any other options than these three, which have all been considered and would not work, please post them on your blog and send them to the library's planning commission. The way I see it though, this is the only option left unless we want them to try eminent domain and force the neighbors to sell their houses.

Anonymous said...

Owner of adjacent property would not sell because library would not meet their price. Why buy it if you can get it for $1?

The School Distric has never, I repeat never, voted on funding the library if they move to another location.

They have presented this as the only option, and it is not.

Anonymous said...

The whole side of the current structure will be obliterated with this plan. For those interested in preserving an historic structure, that seems antithetical. The expansion is what you will see, like a big bloated growth off the side of the original structure.

Anonymous said...

As far as I was aware, the house next to the library was looked at, but the owners wanted way more than the property was worth (I don't know anyone who would pay more than a property is worth. That's what got us into the financial mess in the first place.) I believe when the twin across the alley from the library was looked at, they offered more than the asking price, but was then sold for less than what was asked to another party. It seems to me that if this indeed was the case, the neighbors want to do whatever they can to not let the library expand.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the twin, what I heard was that, a number of years ago, the library director approached one of the owners and took it upon himself to offer to buy it, for offices and storage for the library, not an addition to the current structure. When the School District found out about it, they refused to ok it, and the deal did not go through.

Anonymous said...

Agreeing to the library expansion to save the historic nature of the building is not antithetical to preservation. The plans to expand include the present library structure and build on its popular style (unlike the present edition). The new expansion will only enhance the already beautiful facade of the present building. One only needs to look at the drawings to see this, that they are respectful and mindful of the past.

Anonymous said...

What they want is not preservation of the structure, it is a rehab, plain and simple. Preservationists do not destroy.

Anonymous said...

If given the two options; continue through with the expansion concept, or have the library not be able to fully service the community, which would you choose? I think this is the question that needs to be answered b/c the reality is that this is the only plan to increase the library size to accomodate all the needs of the community. Whether or not they have considered alternatives, or alternatives exist, doesn't matter. They have decided that this is the only way to accomodate the needs of the community, so we must decide what is better. Is it better to have the needs met and expand, or have our library and its resources lacking b/c we perceive there to be a problem with parking, taking over a corner of a very large street, 'destroying the layout of the park', etc. etc. To me, all of these worries are things that we can deal with. We can walk a little farther to get to our car from our houses, or vice versa. We can go around the block to get to where we need to go. The library won't go into the park, so that isn't a problem. We can take extra steps if we need to in order to keep our children safe on the playgrounds (they are fenced in already). The one thing we wouldn't be able to get around is servicing the community. Where would all the people who don't have internet access at home go in order to access it (they already have to wait in line forever at the library). Where would our children who are too young for school go to learn to read and enjoy storytimes (the room already gets filled to capacity). There are many reasons that the community needs a larger library and if this is the only possible solution that has been deemed doable by the library, then I say do it. I'm sure that they haven't chosen to infringe on the street or the neighborhood residents, but are only offering this solution b/c there are no others.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:18am - obviously you know as much about rehab as Ellsworth (nothing). The expansion is very respectful to the current look of the building and its not at all a rehab.

And the future viability of the library is at stake here and all some people can think about is their own agenda's. Its horrible to watch people squabble over a beautifully done plan and try and tear it apart. Any architect would tell you this is a respectful job to the current library, the residents (current and future), and the town itself. Towns grow but some people don't.

Anonymous said...

I would suggest you review any text on historic preservation. Preservation does not include covering over the entire side of the structure you are supposedly preserving, to accommodate an addition. Additions, "respectful" or not, turn the building into a rehab, not a preservation.

Anonymous said...

Preservation includes working into new construction any previous buildings of importance. The plans for the new library are thoughtful of the older building while still keeping a strong eye into the future. That is one of the key practices in architectural preservation of a building that needs to grow by 2/3, which is a very difficult challenge. I suggest you take a look a some preservations of buildings of similar sizes and growth needs.

Anonymous said...

PRESERVATION is defined as the act or process of applying measures necessary to sustain the existing form, integrity, and materials of an historic property. Work, including preliminary measures to protect and stabilize the property, generally focuses upon the ongoing maintenance and repair of historic materials and features rather than extensive replacement and new construction. New exterior additions are not within the scope of this treatment; however, the limited and sensitive upgrading of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems and other code-required work to make properties functional is appropriate within a preservation project.

REHABILITATION-the act or process of returning a property to a state of utility through repair or alteration which makes possible an efficient contemporary use while preserving those portions or features of the property which are significant to its historical, architectural and cultural values. [Current definition of this treatment standard, as revised in The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.

They keep saying it's a preservation, but it sure sounds like a rehab to me. Preservation does not include new construction.

Anonymous said...

How does that fit the definition of Rehabilitation?

And aren't we just mincing words. What's the difference. As far as the library is concerned, they are both good for the library.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:58. What dictionary did you get your definitions from? I've never seen a word defined to such great length as the word "preservation" was defined. Please let me know as this dictionary would come in handy in the future b/c most of the time I only find short definitions of only a few words. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

The library falls within the Historic District of Phoenixville, on the National Register of Historic Places. It should be considered only for preservation or restoration, not rehabilitation. This project would be considered a rehab.

Anonymous said...

Oh, that comes from the definition of: "As Long As It Fits My Definition For My Purposes" Dictionary (the unabridged version). Yeah, have you ever noticed how people skew a definition to fit their assertions or view points. Boy, was that the classic example or what? All that I know is that it seems to me by the sketches presented to council and to the people that they did their best to preserve (hmm, interesting word) the look and style of the original library, and to preserve (there's that word again) the quality of the park. If anything I think it enhances the look, giving the park a front face that is architecturally beautiful and in keeping with the feel and style of the borough.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 11:20, If you do not know what the different definitions are in the context of the care of historic structures, then please refrain from your childish comments. It merely reflects your own lack of knowledge in these matters, and adds nothing to the discussion.

Anonymous said...

I'd still like to know what dictionary the definitions came from.

Anonymous said...

Again, this is another person, who knows zero about architecture, but continues to comment against the very respectful job by the Eustice's. If you want to comment that the library needs to move, or use a satellite, well, that's fine. But don't sit here and say that the presented architectural plans are a rehabilitation. Its obvious this person knows nothing about architecture. Stick to the facts and if you have a better plan, well then, by all means please present it to the board.


Karen said...

JO, Anonymous 9:44 p.m., we have all had to live with the Taco Bell addition which defaced, in my humble opinion, the original library.

Architecturally sensitive or not, rehab or preservation, the current proposal is flawed for all the reasons previously posted to this board BEGINNING with the public safety issue.

While the drawings are beautiful, the building itself is out of scale, out of character, and completely wrong for the neighborhood.

The building's monstrous size alone is intimidating and deserves at least several acres to be appreciated. Somewhere with ample parking, of course.

Due to the borough's zoning laws, some updated around 1989 when the Taco Bell addition was built, the current proposal does not comply with our laws.

Thank you for suggesting that better plans be presented to the board because for an expansion to gain approval that is exactly what needs to happen.

The library board (AND the public) should be working on an entirely new plan.

Anonymous said...

Still waiting for the name of that dictionary

Anonymous said...

To: April 24, 2009 3:41:00 PM EDT
What makes you think the definitions came from a dictionary?
You obviously have a computer.....feel free to google the terms or look them up on Wikipedia. Why do you feel entiled to have anything handed to you. If you're expecting some type of Webster edition information it's unlikely to happen. Try being a little self sufficient. The commenter doesn't owe you anything.

Anonymous said...

Uh oh, looks like the case of the purloined answer...

Anonymous 11:13 provided a link at the beginning of the comment. Just copy and paste it in your browser.

Karen said...

Text found on page 445 of Preservation of Historic Architecture - The U.S. Government's Guidelines for Preserving Homes.

From removing graffiti in Manhattan to rebuilding a hops barn in Oregon, the National Park Service-a part of the Department of the Interior-has faced just about every problem an old structure can encounter. Here for the first time is a collection of their hardwon know-how and official guidelines, written by the top experts in their respective fields of preservation.

Forty-two fully illustrated chapters include:

-- cleaning and waterproof coating for historic masonry
-- repointing mortar joints
-- maintaining historic adobe buildings
-- the dangers of abrasive cleaning
-- repairing historic wooden windows
-- rehabilitating historic storefronts
-- repairing wooden shingles
-- preserving barns
-- repairing stucco
-- using substitute materials on historic building exteriors
-- mothballing historic buildings
-- understanding architectural cast iron

There's even a chapter on repairing vintage signs. Each subject is treated with the utmost care and discusses the safest and most historically accurate repairs. Perhaps just as important as the valuable advice on how to undertake various projects, the guides also give invaluable advice on what not to do-based on years of preservation experience-that can save a homeowner thousands of dollars, hours, and perhaps a priceless piece of architecture. For the student or the professional restorer, THE PRESERVATION OF HISTORIC ARCHITECTURE is the official government text on saving old buildings.

More details
The preservation of historic architecture:
the U.S. government's official guidelines for preserving historic homes
By Department of Interior, United States. Office of Archeology and Historic Preservation. Technical Preservation Services Division
Edition: illustrated
Published by Globe Pequot, 2004
ISBN 1592281265, 9781592281268
532 pages

Anonymous said...

Oh, thanks Karen, so it does fit the definition of preservation. Its funny how these things work out for the best. Now we can all move on and agree that the library needs to expand and stay on its current property (no move, no satellite), and progress into the future. Yaaaaaayyyy!

Anonymous said...

From the Wikipedia definition of "historic preservation":

Historic preservation or heritage conservation is a professional endeavour that seeks to preserve, conserve and protect buildings, objects, landscapes or other artefacts of historic importance. Other names for the discipline include "urban conservation," "landscape preservation," "built environment conservation," "built heritage conservation," "object conservation," and "immovable object conservation."

Hmm, the library plans seem to fit the definition to me.

Karen said...

Take from that information what you will, Anonymous 11:42 p.m.

I was meerly trying to be helpful to the poster who was requesting the source of the text presented earlier on the thread.

How one can assume that identification of the source another poster used and turn it into approval on the critically flawed library plan is a big leap, but, hey, whatever floats your boat.

This tome is not in the hands of an average resident, and hardly bedtime reading material.

I'm rather curious as to who posted it.

Now, if you really want some interesting reading material, please read the zoning laws posted in the most recent thread on the home page.

Under the conditions set forth by LAW, the current proposal cannot win approval.

Spot zoning is illegal.

Anonymous said...

Interesting reading at the aforementioned site for 'treatment of historic properties'.

I suggest the Borough Council, School Board, Library Board, and others who are involved or concerned with the expansion of the library download a copy and peruse it along with copies of the Borough Code and Zoning Hearing Board rules.

All of which ARE available on the internet. You know how to use Google or Ask, don't you?

Anonymous said...

I would suggest to anyone who thinks that this addition to the Library is a "preservaton" to please contact the National Park Service at the link listed below.

The library is within the borders of the Historic District of Phoenixville. The historic district is on the National Register of Historic Places,which designation was granted by the Dept. of Interior/National Park Service. They issue guidelines for historic sites. Those guidelines include definitions. The definitions are available at the site previously posted:

(just copy and paste into your browser)

On the site, you can click on the word "preserving" and find out the definition of preservation of an historic structure . Nowhere is an addition to an historic stucture considered to be part of a preservation effort. It is not considered preservation when you add new construction to it.

You can click on any of the words and find out what they mean.

And then maybe you can contact them to find out for yourself whether this new construction falls within the definition of historic preservation.

Would anyone be supportive of an addition onto Washington's Headquarters or Independence Hall so they could add a lounge and a coffe shop? Or maybe a deck on the Betsy Ross House? They could use more space there too. Of course not. So if the planners are so concerned about "preserving and protecting" the library building itself, why would they come up with this idea, that destroys an entire side of the library?

The only part of the library that is of concern to the planners is the original reading room. The exterior on Second Avenue will be covered over. It will be gone from view. The entire streetscape will be changed. Even the reading room itself will not be preserved because they will be removing part of it to access the addition. The light in there will be gone as well. They will be destroying the very thing they say they want to save.

The library was a beautiful structure, and with each generation, more of it is being destroyed. First, the dome; then the Taco Bell destroying the back; now this, obliterating the whole side.

You cannot preserve an historic structure by destroying parts of it. I would think that the people of Phoenixville would like to preserve their old buildings. It has many fine historic structures.

But please stop the nonsense about this expansion being a preservation effort. Call it what you will, but it is not a preservation.

Anonymous said...

Let's not call it "preservation". Let's call it "KEEPING" an original Carnegie Library operating as a Carnegie Library. Currently more space is needed in order for the library to function the way it needs to in keeping up with the demand. The only way to do this and "KEEP" the Carnegie Library functioning is to expand on it. Other options would essentially not keep the Carnegie Library open.

Anonymous said...

If anyone thinks that the School Board would not fund a different location if the library were to move they are insane. If the SB is truly into doing what is right for the children of this school district it WILL fund it.Originally the funding was $2000 and now it is in the neighborhood of $1 Million. Put it in the old Schuylkill School and make everyone happy.