Monday, August 17, 2009

Phoenixville Public Library - An affront to the neighborhood

Even before I had my morning cup of coffee, I had a visitor at my door.

An arm shot out pointing west towards the library.

"That $%&@#! library has a surveyor working at the corner!!", a usually calm and self-collected Phoenixville resident gestured and exclaimed.

"They're thumbing their noses at the town by thinking they're going to put that p___ of s___ across the road!"

The words jolted me just a bit less than the coffee would have so fully awake by then, I grabbed my camera and took off to capture pictures of the first physical affront to the senses of the neighbors surrounding the library at the corner of Second Avenue and Main Street.

And, there they were. Two young gentlemen doing their job in the midst of a busy intersection, in the midst of a raging controversy.

Phoenixville Libary board members*, Susan Meadows, Lee Deveney, Joseph Koury, Philip Howse, Joshua Gould, Karen Coldwell, James Mackey, Betty Thierry, Deanna Kalmbach, Fred Parry, Mona Sabia, Rebekah Ray, Phoenixville Borough Council President Henry Wagner, and Council members Carlos Ciruelos, Dave Gill, Michael Handwerk, and Michael Speck, along with the majority vote of School Board members Josh Gould, President Cassiday, Parris, Slawecki, and Wickstrom have decided a monstrous, white elephant expansion to the library can be built across Second Avenue essentially changing forever the safety and quality of life of the surrounding neighborhoods.

*(member names taken from the Library website)


Anonymous said...

Karen. Did you ask them what they're doing. Maybe it's for a 5 story Section 8 housing development on land they don't own??????

Just curious what the surveyors said.

Anonymous said...

I saw them as well and asked what they were doing. I was told apparantly they are building an addition. Made me sick!

Karen said...

I did ask, Anonymous 6:33 p.m.

The young man confirmed it was for the expansion to the library.

Anonymous said...

Well interestly enough, the treasurer of HG was smart enough to get his survey first, fall 2005 in order to get the ball rolling on the HUD project.

Per the minute of the meeting, "We paid $7000.00 + for a survey a the home owner on Star Street claims his shed is not on our property"

This was when many became concerned as who in their right mind would pay for a survey for that reason. President J Richard Phifer, felt it was necessary and note he is the one with longgggg history with Clemm. Final note: Same survey used for Evans project.


Anonymous said...

This is an affront to the Planning and Zoning Boards.How can this possibly be happening from a conceptual plan.I wonder how many residents from City Line Ave use the LIE-BRARY.Why don't they come out and support the neighbors of Second Ave.
After talking to someone closely associated with the Lie-brary Foundation I was told that this is just a waste of their money because they will not be able to raise the funds and there are timelines on these commissions for permits and start dates.
The arrogance of the these people to blatantly disreguard the neighbors wishes is horrible.
If the PASD can tweak a plan to accomadate the residents of City Line Ave than surely the Lie-brary board can come up with a better plan then closing a major thoroughfare.
Say BYE-BYE HENRY to your seat in November for backing this project.We will be watching to see who is helping your campaign and working the polls.

Anonymous said...

Who is paying for this? And as a recipient of state and federal funding, isn't the library required to put all of these things out for bid? Did they?

Anonymous said...

What ever happened to the meeting with Dinnemin.I called his office over five weeks ago and spoke to Don in his office.He lived on Washington Ave a few years ago.Said Andy will get back to me.Haven't heard a thing from either of them.Say BYE-BYE to him also when he is up for re election.

Karen said...

Anonymous 11:10 p.m., Andy most definitely has a broader perspective and deeper understanding of the ramifications of the current library proposal.

Don was in attendance, also.

You might want to try contacting him again, Anonymous. Andy was very receptive during our meeting with him.

Ed Naratil said...

Two and a half months until election.

Make notes on your calendars. This is the time to vote people OUT of office on both Council and School Board.

Pay attention to how they have voted and future votes, especially on the controversial, or perhaps even unlawful projects.

e-mail addresses for School Board members can be found here.

And it's interesting that the e-mail addresses for the Mayor and Council members have been removed from the Borough web site.

Are they in hiding? How do we now contact our Council persons? Well, at least they still publish their addresses and phone numbers. They can be found here.

Anonymous said...

It is good to see progress occurring in town.

Phoenixville needed an expanded hospital. Residents on Griffen and Gay put up a fight. The hospital won the battle. Now there is a better hospital (but also a big, ugly parking garage) in the neighborhood. Residents on Griffen and Gay have adjusted. Progress happened. People in town can walk to the hospital. Life is good.

Phoenixville needs a bigger library. Residents on 2nd Ave. will put up a fight. The library will eventually win the battle, but at a higher cost to all of us. Then there will be a better library (but also more of an affect on 2nd Ave.). Residents on 2nd Ave. will adjust. Progress will happen. People in town will be able to walk to the library. Life will be good.

Phoenixville needs a new middle school. Residents on City Line will put up a fight. The district will eventually win the battle, but at a higher cost to all of us. Then there will be a better school (but also more of an affect on City Line). Residents on City Line will adjust. Progress will happen. Life will be good.

Anonymous said...

And of course, as a result of all of the above, homeowner's taxes will increase considerably.

Will YOU still be able to afford to live in the Phoenixville Area School District?

I'm thinking of moving to Carbon or Schuylkill County.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 7:46 am, it's so sad to hear that you feel we are all victims of circumstance. I travel across the country and marvel at the number of small, quaint towns that have worked very hard to examine exactly what type of "progress" truly is needed for the good of all. Take a look at university libraries. How much information is now available in an electronic format? Open space is a right not just a priviledge. Once it is gone, you can't bring it back.

The Chicken Cacciatore Project said...

The Borough Council Members email addresses can be accessed by clicking the small envelope next to each member's name on the Borough website.

Karen said...

Thank you, Ed, for mentioning the upcoming elections.

The residents of Phoenixville are angry.

Very angry.

In future articles prior to the election we will examine, among other items, the hot button issues in our community along with the votes by incumbent candidates currently seated on council and school board.

Council President Henry Wagner and School Board member Josh Gould will be featured extensively.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say that once open space is gone, you CAN bring it back. Just look in Michigan where the towns are relocating people who live in areas where there are only a couple of people still in their homes in order to save on expenses. They are then knocking down the homes in these towns to revert them back into forest area.

Anonymous said...

anonymous August 18, 2009 8:42:00 AM EDT,

hmmm, i wasn't aware that asphalt was open space?

Anonymous said...

That intersection looks very busy in those pictures. The impact on traffic will be terrible with all those cars already backed up at the intersection. Oh wait there weren't any cars stopped there. I guess there isn't as much traffic to be diverted during the day as people think there is. Now we have the pictures to prove it.

Anonymous said...

In the May PASD primaries, all candidates voiced their displeasure with the lie-berry plan except for Josh Gould.

If you hate this plan, DON'T VOTE FOR JOSH GOULD.

After the election, looks like a guaranteed majority against this assinine plan. Maybe their first motion will be to kill the whole mess. Any takers?

Karen said...

Anonymous 10:23 a.m., for your information it took me about 20 minutes to a half-hour to take those pictures WITHOUT any cars blocking the shot.

I also had to wait while some gawkers watching me take the pictures moved out of the frame.

Karen said...

Oh, and the young men from the surveying company are back today.

They dug a small hole on our property and my neighbor's checking for property corners.

My husband politely told them not to come on our property again.

Ed Naratil said...

Sorry for the error. I didn't have my bifocals on and was not looking for pictures. Thanks, Richard, for the correction. e-mail addresses of Borough Councilpersons are available on that web page.

Joe Rooney said...

I use the Exton library and it is I believe 4,400 square feet with about 75 main lot parking spaces. In the middle of a summer day one must park in a nearly filled overflow lot. The Chester County Library system has proven to itself and the public that big library's draw big crowds, that is why the Library is adjacent to the Exton mall--to keep the large amount of traffic off of residential side streets and the parking in large lots. Were are people going to park to use the Phoenixville library? In neighborhoods? Shame on the person that that's says a resident should have to adjust to that. Regarding the hospital: residents of Griffin St. put up a fight and the hospital conceeded on their origional plan to build up to the street line and create a buffer zone for green space. If library plans go through it will become a great building that no one will have the patience to try to get into because of the parking nightmare. On Spet. 30 the library board must submit final proposal for a 450k state grant. Keep an eye out for this public information.

Anonymous said...

Without blocking the shot? All the pictures are taken from where cars would be illegally parked if they were in your shot. You should have called the police to have them ticketed if they were parked there. I can't stand when they park illegally so close to the corners. If the cops did there jobs, instead of sitting in parking lots talking, maybe it wouldn't happen.

Anonymous said...

One thing the pictures did show is that almost every legal parking spot was already taken. I am curious to know if the library was open at the time the photos were taken. Doesn't speak well for the library planners idea to just park on the other streets. They looked pretty parked up already.

Karen said...

Joe, I'm not familiar with the grant you are referencing. Do you mean there is another grant other than the one the library just received? Please let me know, asap.


Karen said...

Anonymous 11:40 a.m., not only were there illegally parked vehicles, there were few times when there were no cars doing a California stop at the stop signs.

I also wanted to try and photograph the lines painted on the streets in addition to catching the positions of the surveyors.

Anonymous said...

The "grant" the library just received was not a grant as in "cash", It is a reimbursement for very specific construction costs. Excluded from this are legal fees, administrative costs, etc. They got a big check but no real money. In order to even receive the reimbusement, they must apply for and be awarded the grant. All they have right now is a promise for help in writing the application, whose deadline is 3 months after the award letter. I think the check was all for show, they need to spend their own money before they get reimbursed for it.

Karen said...

Anonymous 12:23 p.m., they say one picture is worth a thousand words.

I'll photograph and post pictures of what the Second Avenue residents see at various times almost every single day.

Second Avenue already is a parking lot for the library.

With the current stats of over 216,000 visits annually those library patrons patrons display human characteristics. They want to park as close to the building as possible.

The only problem is this is a RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOOD!

Imagine coming home with a car full of groceries, it's raining, and a resident has to circle the block, over and over until a parking spot becomes available half-way down the street.

If they build that monstrosity the residents will never find parking spaces.

Karen said...

Oops! The above comment was meant for Anonymous 11:40 a.m.

This one is in response to Anonmous 12:23 p.m.

The pictures were taken yesteday morning and yes, the library had opened by then.

What the people on the 200 block of Second Avenue don't yet realize is that should this expansion take place, they are facing the same parking problems the 100 block experiences.

It's going to be a rude awakening for ALL the neighborhoods surrounding the library because increases in library patrons due to the expansion, additional books, etc., and new programs will add ANOTHER 200,000 visits to our small neighborhoods in a very short time.


Anonymous said...

Parking will improve for residents behind the library (other side of b street?) because patrons will have to drive around to get to that side of the building, then have to walk around the building to come in the front entrance. If everyone wants to park as close as possible, this would not be where they are parking. If anyone would be affected, it would be those who live on the other side of Main Street along 2nd Avenue. As far as this goes, these are the people who come to the meetings who are in favor of the expansion. People need to find something else to b____ about. There's plenty other larger issues happening in todays world than the library expansion.

Karen said...

Let's assume, Anonymous 1:40 p.m., based on your confident analysis, that you hold a doctorate in psychology, and you're an expert on human behavior, and you are emminently qualified to draw your conclusion.

I would still tell you you're full of it.

I would also tell you that I suspect you are a dyed-in-the-wool library-expansion-at-all-costs supporter who probably parks right on Second Avenue each and every visit.

Let's look at some human behavior. For example, for years, and years, I requested that the library director ask his employees to park on Main Street to help relieve the parking situation.

Last check, they STILL park on Second Avenue!

If a library patron comes from the east side of town, it would be very convenient to just park on Second Avenue and walk down the sidewalk in the park which will end up in front of the library.

If a library patron from elsewhere can't find a spot on the 200 block of Second Avenue, or on Main Street, or on Third Avenue or on First Avenue, or on Washington Avenue, they'll do what WE do.

They will circle the blocks, including Second Avenue until they DO find a spot.

We are talking about HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of visits annually to the library.

Sorry, Anonymous, your theory is flawed, and if this building is built, it will be too late to protect our children from the risks associated with the change in traffic flow on Third Avenue and elsewhere and too late to stop the damage to the quality of life in all the neighborhoods surrounding this asinine concept plan.

Anonymous said...

Why not petition the Boro NOW to put up NO PARKING signs in the alley behind your house which coincidentally is behind Cereulos' house because that is where the cars will end up.See if Carlos will vote yes for this idea.I must be a genius.

Anonymous said...

Oh...get over it already. Education is a good thing. The library is a good thing. Do you think there is one neighborhood in this town that doesn't have to put up with sh** of one kind or another for the good of the town? The fact that your's was relatively peaceful for a long time is no reason to think you're something special in this town. Stop your whining.

Anonymous said...

Why does the Phoenixville Library expansion have to affect the current building?

Chester Springs library is quaint and not needing expansion because of the Henrietta Hanken, Same goes for Chester County;s other sites being branches the county uses with their commutes to work or home.

In Phoenixville, another branch could be at the Christian College site, Daily Republican Bldg, or a site local to Phoenixville WITHOUT channging the building we have..

If you go inside, it is never croweded. Why expand. The issue is the parking. Why waste money on this spot. Allow this spot to remain as is for who uses it and then add another on another side of town. The expansion into Reeves Road, affecting Starr Street and other Ave. traffic IS NOT PROGRESS. Get your heads out of your butt already. Think out of the box.

Anonymous said...

To: August 18, 2009 6:51:00 PM're kidding right?....just trying to get a rise out of everyone....right? Because if you're not you are very sick. For you to suggest that this neighborhood hasn't had to put up with the existing Library is insane. Have you ever heard the squealing, very loud air conditioner on it roof? Have you even tried to park in front of any of the residences along 2nd Ave when the Library is in full swing? Have you ever even seen the playgrounds, churches and school on Third which will be subject to significantly higher traffic if Second is closed? And because other neighborhoods have to "put up with sh**" then you have decided this one isn't carrying it's fair share??? Feel free to volunteer your own neighborhood. These folks have every right to defend theirs from this asinine plan.

Karen said...

Anonymous 10:02 p.m., thanks for the clarification for 6:51 p.m.

I doubt your post will result in understanding because I suspect the poster is a library board member who has apparently forgotten she said almost the exact same words the last time we spoke.

Anonymous said...

i agree with anonymous August 18, 2009 6:51:00 PM EDT.

all the neighborhoods inside the borough have to put up with traffic and parking issues. yes, the hospital did end up leaving a bit of open space between the parking garage and griffen but that doesn't change the fact that traffic and parking have heavily increased in the neighborhood due to the hospital expansion. funny how 2nd ave. residents care so much about increased parking and traffic and their neighborhood but don't care a lick about other neighborhoods.

Anonymous said...

Karen...just being curious, not nasty...let's say the library plan goes through and it gets built. What will you do? Do you think you will move or stay and work with the traffic problem? I'd also like to see some statistics of those who moved based only on the hospital expansion. The reason I ask because I keep reading that people will just up and move if this goes through and I wonder if they ever follow through with that. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

2.5 million for a new middle school.

6.5 million for an addition to a small library.

What is wrong with this picture?

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure why Karen didn't post my recent comment. There was no bad language or even negativity. It was just a simple observation, but I guess pointing out NIMBYism is enough to get censored?

Traffic and parking problems due the hospital expansion are dealt with by Griffen and Gay residents on a daily basis. It has made a huge difference in the amount and speed of traffic on these roads. I'm not aware of anyone moving because of it though.

So this neighborhood deals with a major construction site for years, increased lighting at night, traffic, parking, etc. Where is the concern from the folks on 2nd Ave. who care so much about such changes?

Anonymous said...

Karen, In response to your 2:24 post, I want to let you know I am a library expansion supporter, not die hard, at all costs, but I believe that there is a need for expansion and this is the most feasible way of doing it. Because of many reasons already explained, the library has little choice in moving to another location or having a 2nd location. I also would like to say that I usually walk to the library because I only live 10 blocks away. However, on the occasions I do drive, I have no problem finding a spot to park on Main St., or 2nd Avenue, either side of Main St. In response to your comment about parking with groceries, I just have to say that I park at my house about a block and a half away and have to walk the rest of the way home every time. I have no problem with this as I park on the street where everyone has a right to park. It just so happens that when I come home, the street is already lined with cars. Yeah it stinks sometimes (when unloading groceries or it's raining), but I deal with it. In an ideal world everyone could park right in front of their house, but lets face it, we don't live in an ideal world and we probably never will.

Karen said...

Anonymous 7:26 a.m., what will we do if the expansion is built?

Our plan, when we purchased this house, was to create a loving home for our children close to our Church, St. Ann's, our children's school, Holy Family, allow them to play in our beautiful park, utilize the library, buy penny candy at Freda's, and enjoy the same amenities with our grandchildren until the funeral director hauled us out, feet first.

That hasn't changed.

What has changed since we moved here in 1978 is that the library has evolved from a once sleepy small town amenity to an neighborhood overwhelming constant source of irritation through the years. It has outgrown the area.

Around the late '80's, early 90's we started to notice a change, the situation has grown worse, and the library administration's own statistics now show well over 216,000 visits yearly.

This neighborhood simply cannot sustain that kind of growth.

Imagine putting 216,000 visitors on your home's street. What would that do to your neigbhorhood?

In short, we're staying.

This abomination, this "concept plan", has turned into a physical monster with the potential to destroy the relative safety and quality of life in all the neighborhoods surrounding the library.

What would you do if you saw someone invading your home, your neighborhood?

We plan to stay and fight these few people who apparently have lost their conscience proved by their actions, defied logic in the face of fact, lost all respect for the community within which they exist, and have lost all human decency and compassion for those who have long been the library's good neighbors.

Our homes, our neighborhoods are being attacked and invaded.

We'll fight.

Regards the hospital neighborhoods, I don't have any information.

Karen said...

Anonymous 9:35 a.m., if you're speaking about the 7:15 a.m. post it's up on the board.

No posts have been rejected or remain unpublished on this thread.

Karen said...

The library DOES have other options, Anonymous 9:52 a.m., many, in fact.

They have been posted to this blog over and over and over.

Your focus continues to be parking but please remember this plan is only partially about the parking situation, granted though, it's the most visible one.

We have many safety concerns which cannot be remediated with this plan. We have emergency service concerns which will not change. We have quality of life issues which cannot and never can be resolved.

Several of the neighbors have lived here for decades. When you've lived in your home that long, you'll understand the comfort, security, and pride one has in their individual way of life and their expectations for the continuation of those most basic human emotions when it comes to the place they call home.

I, too, was once like you, healthy, young, and strong. 10 blocks or 6 miles of walking was nothing.

Time changes things, Anonymous.

Support this project, Anonymous, but know that this non-sensible, horrid project, a move against the community, leaves nothing but a taste of ashes.

Anonymous said...


Why not address the effects of hospital expansion? Gay and Lincoln are probably some of the most walked streets by kids because of the middle and high schools. Traffic and parking have increased a considerable amount in that neighborhood. The opening of the garage itself hasn't changed the increase in cars parking in the neighborhood which also creates traffic. It seems that you only care about safety in your own neighborhood. Is that something that changes over time too?

Anonymous said...

Maybe since there will be a huge parking problem once the library is expanded maybe some people will WALK more (better for you and the environment). And as someone who was hit by a car at the intersection of 2nd and Main with my children in the car (hit and run by the way) I'm glad to see that a dangerous intersection located right near the park/library/schools will be closed. People are moving to Phoenixville for the changes that are being made...that means more income for the town.

Karen said...

This thread, Anonymous 10:39 a.m., is about the library.

You may not be aware that hijacking a thread on blogs to another subject is considered rude behavior.

You are welcome to post to the past "Open thread" on which any topic may be discussed or wait until another open thread is available.

Oh, and since you may be a relative newcomer to the borough, and do not know of my life-long involvement regarding my care and concern for my home town of Phoenixville, please use the search engine and refer to my resume`. Please note that it does not contain all my work through the years.

I've spent my life helping the people and the community.

Now, it is time to help our neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

Aug. 19 9:33am:
Where did you get your Middle School number from.It's more like 60 MILLION not 2.5 you should not post without doing a little homework.Maybe at the 6.5 million dollar addition to the LIE-BRARY.

Anonymous said...

Karen, why don't you answer the question posed to you? Where was your opposing stance at when the hospital wanted to change the community in much the same way as the library? This is just relating the library issue to another previous related issue. PLEASE answer the question.

Anonymous said...

The cost of the school was stated in the article by Dennis Wright. I was using it as a comparison to the overblown cost of the library addition. You can get a whole school for millions less than an addition to the library.

Anonymous said...

And you don't need to be so rude about it...

Karen said...

Excuse me, Anonymous 3:59 p.m.?

I did answer you.

You were referred to another thread which hosts any topic you choose.

You were also politely given the opportunity to wait until another open thread is posted.

Your persistance as well as your choice of words and topic, along with your other posts to this thread has made me suspect your identity.

Think of this blog as my living room.

You are attempting to change the direction of the "conversation" in my living room for your own purposes.

Bullying and rudeness will not work here.

Anonymous said...

For the school, the $2.5 million was for the repairs. The school is at least 50 million. Try the pasd blog for figures

Anonymous said...

Only in your dreams can you get a whole school for less than the 6.5 million it will cost the Library.I hope that you are a taxpayer because next year when our taxes go thru the roof with the school, boro and state I can't wait to see these blogs blow up with all the hate and disdain for your elected officials.Just saying I told you so .8/19/09.

Karen said...

Anonymous 9:41 p.m., I will publish your very accurate points if you could resubmit a new post without the person's name included and without the colorfully descriptive phrase on mental processing.

Anonymous said...

I am wondering when the library came before the Planning Board for final approval. I guess I must have missed that. I thought one of Council's conditions, was that the library had to have approval from the Planning Board and everyone else involved, before going ahead.

If this is so - what is going on?

Anonymous said...

8/19@3:59 pm
In defense of Karen,The hospital is the largest employer in town.To lose it would have been disastorous to the tax base since it is a public entity now.
I understand why expansion happened and don't agree with the parking garage as far as the neighbors are concerned,but they only added 6 or 7 beds and a new emergency room.State of the art I hope.
When a certain member of the library board compares the two expansions,there is no comparison because the library might employ 10people and pays no taxes.
I heard that this will be rescinded in a few months when a new SB takes over.
Theres no way to push this thing thru before December and then it can still be delayed in Planning and Zoning with continuances.
If they want to close the road then pay fair market value for it or show so compassion for the neighbors or go back to the drawing board.
One of the lawyers in there firm told me that they will have a hard time raising the money anyway.