Friday, September 18, 2009

You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear - Phoenixville Library Final Site Plan of Library Expansion

The following letter and PDF file was sent to me earlier this afternoon.

Below my comments and the email is the address for the PDF file, a drawing which illustrates the new final site plan for the proposed library expansion.

You will note by the date that it was received by Phoenixville Borough Council President Henry Wagner Friday September 11, 2009, then finally sent to the rest of Council early Thursday morning, September 17, 2009.

Although delayed receipt of important information to Council members from the Council President is an internal problem, it is the second recent example of Wagner not forwarding critical information in a timely manner. In August, Adam Deveney's resignation from the Parking Authority was not received by all Council members until weeks later. This is a situation only Council can rectify. Wagner's apparent lack of attention to this important detail should be a matter for concern, discussion, and remediation on Council floor by all Council members.

Addressing Adam's letter to Wagner, I am appalled that the "Library Project Team" limited their response to the overwhelming number of public concerns regarding the current expansion plan to only one, the integrity of the Reeves Park square.

Moving the building out of the park, off a borough sidewalk, and adding "grassy areas" is simply not THE priority community concern in view of the safety, emergency response, parking, and quality of life issues.

Minimizing and ignoring the numerous, valid, neighborhood concerns by elevating and attempting to alleviate those which have no affect on the risks to our children associated with changed traffic patterns, the parking problem itself, and all the other publically presented factors which could destroy the neighborhoods around the library is nothing more, in my opinion, than an old bone thrown to the public and, is tantamount to an obscene gesture in the direction of the neighborhoods.

Lastly, Adam declares in his letter to Wagner that he, "..wanted you (Wagner) to have an advance copy of just the final site plan."

At every meeting between the neighbors and members of the library board, we were told we would be notified when or if changes were to be made to the original expansion plan.

For all the public to view, the receipt of this information, via email from a protected source, is the latest, and yet another example of exactly how the neighbors and the public are informed of changes in a massive development which has the potential to create risk, change lives, and destroy neighborhoods.

They can't even keep promises.

How can we trust them?


Sent: Thu 9/17/2009 12:20 AM
To: Carlos Ciruelos; David Gill; Jeffrey Senley; Kendrick Buckwalter; Michael Handwerk; Michael Speck; Richard Kirkner
Cc: Jean Krack; Andrew Rau
Subject: FW: IMPORTANT: Final Site Plan of Library Expansion

See below…


Sent: Friday, September 11, 2009 12:30 PM
To: Henry Wagner; Henry Wagner
Cc: Deveney, Adam

Subject: IMPORTANT: Final Site Plan of Library Expansion


Attached is the final site plan to be submitted to the Borough Planning Commission. The Library Project Team has listened to the majority of the community and their concern about the integrity of the Reeves Park "Square".

We have pulled back over 13 feet from the boundary line of the park for our final building footprint. What does this mean:

Our site plan now ends at the curb line of the park.

We will maintain the "square" around the park for folks to enjoy.

We physically stop at the curb line neither infringe on grass area of the park nor the sidewalk. In fact our design adds to the grassy are between the sidewalk and the street.

Grassy areas have been added to the back of the building also which was one concern of the neighbors.

In making these changes the Library square footage has had to be reduced by 5,000 square feet. We are hoping to make up some of this loss in the design.

I wanted you to have an advance copy of just the final site plan. Please feel free to share this with members of council as you see fit.

Thank you for your support!



Anonymous said...

What happened to the generous parking on Main Street? Seems to have gone the way of the mythical Phoenix.

Karen said...

I'm tempted to suggest that perhaps they finally understand that diagonal parking is one of the most dangerous, but could it be more likely the change is just a design correction?

A new development that size requires between 80 and 90 NEW parking spaces.

See any?

Anonymous said...

The only thing this new plan does is make it easier for patrons to access the library entrance, after they have circled the block behind it looking for a spot to park their vehicles. Just adds more to the congestion. Cul-de-sac my foot.

Jeff Senley said...

Parking is still a major concern with this plan, clearly.

This is why said plan will never make it through Zoning, as it is a self-created hardship.

This really isn't hard to understand.

What everyone needs to be careful of is Council making an "overlay district" that essentially would pertain to the library tax parcel.

This would be the way that the Library would not have to go through the Zoning Hearing Board on this issue.

This practice is generally considered a flavor of "spot zoning" (illegal), and would be frowned upon by the Regional Planning Commission from what I have been told.

Anonymous said...

It appears that the library falls withing the Borough's Historic District. Aren't there restrictions on making such a dramatic structural change to the original library? The addition will essentially block the current library from view except from directly in front, and destroy the entire south facade. Why have an Historic designation if it means nothing in practice? For a town so into its history, seems like very poor judgment.

Ed Naratil said...

Anon 9/19 9:59AM

The Library is NOT in the Historic District.

A map of the area can be seen here - take a look

Karen said...

Thanks for that info, Ed.

Even I had forgotten the area selected for the historic district.

I still don't understand how those boundaries were decided.

Anonymous said...

According to the Phoenixville Zoning Map, available from the Borough website, the library is not within the HARB zone, but it is within the National Register of Historic Places zone. The National Register zone is larger than the Historic Architecture Review Zone.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 9.20 12:00

if you have a map or web address for the National Registor histerical area please post it.

Anonymous said...

Phoenixville Borough Zoning Map from the Borough web site:

Anonymous said...

Hmmm- I find no maps on that page.

Anonymous said...

Click on Zoning Map. It is a pdf file.

Anonymous said...

But that means nothing. From their own web page:
"What are the restrictions, rules, regulations for historic property owners?
From the federal perspective (the National Register of Historic Places is part of the National Park Service), a property owner can do whatever they want with their property as long as there are no federal monies attached to the property.

Anonymous said...

Your Property Rights

* National Register listing places no obligations on private property owners. There are no restrictions on the use, treatment, transfer, or disposition of private property.
* National Register listing does not lead to public acquisition or require public access.
* A property will not be listed if, for individual properties, the owner objects, or for districts, a majority of property owners object.
* National Register listing does not automatically invoke local historic district zoning or local landmark designation.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the library is working hard to appease those who oppose the plan while trying to keep all the great benefits for those who support the plan. Kudos to the library! Let's get this done sooner rather than later!

My family loves taking a walk to the library and then stopping at Reeves Park. Parking isn't an issue when you walk!

Anonymous said...

The bigger the library, the larger the draw. The bigger the draw, the more cars (I don't know who's walking from Schuylkill TWP.) Maybe expansion should be put on the back burner since the library is loosing nearly 100k and is looking at limiting its hours.

Anonymous said...

According to the Library's own records, they do receive federal $$.

Anonymous said...

The vast majority of people visiting the library live too far away to walk. Yes, everyone would agree that walking is good. Unfortunately, the distances involved preclude walking for most people.