Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Council reverses $1 sale of Second Avenue

Many Phoenixville area readers of The Phoenix, and those who regularly visit this blog may recall the vote by Phoenixville Borough Council in April to sell Second Avenue for $1 to accomodate a proposed library expansion.

Here is a portion of the April 2009 Council meeting minutes addressing the vote to sell taxpayer owned property, Second Avenue, for $1.*


Consider Approval of Vacating Second Avenue and Sale of the Underlying Borough Owned Property to the Library Foundation for $1.00 Contingent Upon Meeting All Land Development, Zoning Conditions, and Approval by the Planning Commission (Approved in Committee by a Vote of 3 to 0)

Mr. Handwerk made a motion that Borough Council approve the vacation of the portion of Second Avenue east of Main Street and west of Park Alley and 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, seconded by Mr. Speck, and approved by a vote of 5 to 2.

Voting YES – Ciruelos, Gill, Handwerk, Speck, and Wagner
Voting NO- Kirkner and Senley

Councilmember Ken Buckwalter was absent.


I've posted the original motion and vote results to refresh the reader's memory as to how each Council member voted.

This evening I received a telephone call from Councilman Ken Buckwalter alerting me to a new thread on his blog which he posted following the monthly Council meeting tonight.

Not only is the news itself a source of relief to those who publically stood in opposition to the former library proposal, it is also interesting to note that one week prior to the November 3, 2009 election, Council finally broke from it's normally predictable 5-3 vote on library matters and voted unanimously to approve reversing the motion to sell Second Avenue for $1.

Simply remarkable.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Second Avenue Taken Back by Borough

After vacating a portion of Second Avenue and selling that portion to the Phoenixville Area School District for $1.00 for the library expansion project last April, Borough Council reversed that motion this evening thus taking back Second Avenue for Borough use.

The motion was made by Councilman Kendrick Buckwalter and seconded by Council Mike Handwerk and passed 7-0.

The action this evening was taken after the Library Foundation hand delivered a letter to Council President yesterday advising “the Phoenixville Public Library Foundation Board has voted today to withdraw its Expansion Proposal at this time, and to pursue strengthing (sic) the Library's endowment. This decision was made after serious consideration of current economic conditions and the budgetary concerns facing the Phoenixville Public Library.”

I wish to publically thank Mayor Leo Scoda, Councilmen Richard Kirkner, Ken Buckwalter, and Jeff Senley for their consistant support and dedication during the two-plus years of involvement with the former library expansion project.

*Please note: A link is provided on this blog to the borough's website, and Council meeting minutes are available at the site for your perusal. I encourage everyone to read through the minutes prior to Election Day to examine the history of your Council member's position on this issue and many others.


Anonymous said...

We can now breathe easy and believe that the "little guy" can win.

We have fought the good fight with the law on our side.

The Library says the backed out because of money.
I know it is because we had the balls to stand up to them and fight.

Well done everyone involved!

Anonymous said...

I am personally delighted with Borough Council's action last night.

Sadly, though, Council's vote reflects very little in the way of a newfound wealth of common sense or consideration of the real needs of this community. The vote is a reflection of political and financial circumstances, and nothing more. The library knows it can't raise the funds, and Mr. Wagner wants to be reelected.

Furthermore, my delight is mixed with anger and disgust. Many individuals invested time, money, and emotional energy opposing this moronic "concept" proposal. Needlessly so. This proposal should have been dismissed outright when it was first presented.

On Borough Council, Mr. Wagner and Mr. Handwerk led the charge. Let's hope the former is dismissed on Tuesday, and the latter in two years' time.

Mr. Buckwalter, though he introduced the motion last night, was not present for the meeting in April. His letter to Council is on record, however, and his letter spoke in favor of closing 2nd Avenue.

Both Mr. Ciruelos, Mr. Speck, and Mr. Gill have consistently supported closing 2nd Avenue.

In my mind, only Mr. Senley and Mr. Kirkner deserve our respect and gratitude for consistently, intelligently and publicly opposing the library's "concept" proposal. They have done so not only in Council Chambers, but before the PASD School Board and in other venues.

And so, the odyssey ends as quietly as it began. I believe we must nonetheless continue to be vigilant and prepared - it happened once, and it may very well happen again.

Anonymous said...

The only person who backed this plan and is running for re-election is Wagner.

Ciruelos and Gill are done. Handwerk and Speck have two more years.

Make sure you let Wagner know you don't appreciate his representation and cast your vote for Marc Reber for Middle Ward Councilman.

Anonymous said...

Amazing what happens around election time.Wagner is nothing more than an opportunist and has been all the while.Don't just look at his presidency, remember that he led the mob with the former president to get Digirolomo the Manager's job.

I am not saying that all these members haven't done any good for the Boro but lately the 5-3 contingency of Democrats have turned this so called democracy into a monarchy where Henry was King.

Remember we will be watching the polls next week to see who is working for you.( library, Holy Ghost )

Anonymous said...

It wasn't until the Library Foundation was faced with a lawyer opposing them, that they backed down. The library people and their lawyer knew what they were doing was illegal spot zoning, it was so blatent. So did Council. Any citizen who read the Zoning Ordinance could see it. They probably figured that this would be like all the other projects that, although illegal, went through anyway. As long as there is no legal pushback, they have smooth sailing if Council is with them. Ha ha to them, never underestimate your opponents. Nice October surprise. Well done all! It is finally over.

Karen said...

I urge everyone to watch TPN's broadcast of the October 27, 2009 Phoenixville Borough Council meeting.

For those interested in the vote to rescind the April approval by Council to vacate Second Avenue and sell it for $1, please note the normally scheduled time in the evenings is 6 p.m., local cable station 22.

Approximately 7:10 - 7:15 p.m., the discussion begins on the motion by Ken Buckwalter, seconded a nano-second later by Michael Handwerk, who, by the way, was the maker of the original motion to sell Second Avenue for $1.

Ken Buckwalter makes his presentation, Rich Kirkner adds his voice to the discussion as does the Mayor, Leo Scoda, in an attempt to bring the motion to a vote.

Suddenly, Carlos Ciruelos opines that he would have liked to hear personally from library board members, while Mike Speck states he wants an opinion on the proceedings from the attorney.

Rich Kirkner explains the letter from the library foundation clearly states their intention to withdraw the proposal.

After a bit more discussion, Carlos states he will have to support Buckwalter's motion.

Was that an apology to the library board, Carlos??

Even at the very end of this very controversial, critically-flawed-from-the-very-beginning, incredibly asinine plan, I believe I witnessed reluctance to accept the inevitable from people elected TO SERVE THE PUBLIC.

I simply cannot stress strongly enough the absolute NEED for us to scrutinize candidates for local office.

Each of us must ask clear and tough questions of the candidates in order to learn their knowledge of the duties of elected officials, their intentions on how they will use their voting powers while in office, and their motiviations for running for office.

The neighborhoods surrounding the library and everyone else who would have been affected and impacted by the former proposal by the library board have dodged a bullet.

On November 3, 2009, please, make certain the person you cast your vote for has openly professed that the best interest of the residents of Phoenixville is their first obligation!

Please, watch the October 27, 2009 Phoenixville Borough Council meeting on TPN, cable channel 22.

Anonymous said...

Interesting happenings just a week before the election.

Just remember, the library did NOT abandon the plan, only postponed it until finances permit them to go on.

Anonymous said...

They abandoned THIS plan and the next time out of towners try to close a street in the Boro they should think twice.

A new council and school board should deter any plan that is not reasonable for the neighborhood.

Once again, the only people getting rich around here are the Lawyers , Architects and Engineers.

Now on to Holy Ghost another backassward proposal.

Anonymous said...

To all of the Anonymous',

My name is Bob Tigro and I ask for your vote. I have the budgetary and negotiation experience necessary to help stop these years of double digit increases to our taxes. The last 3 years under my opponents watch we have gotten 46% tax increase. During my time on Council (2001-5) I never voted for an increase larger than 6.8%. These tough economic times are calling for hard decisions to be made and the leadership to listen to the constituency. I was the first of only two to be recognized by the Pennsylvania Association of Boroughs to qualify as a Certified Borough Official. I have attended the conferences, usually taking my personal vacation time to do so, to earn this certification. I have brought this experience back to the Borough and put it to good use. Some of the items are: Non-competitive Grants for Recycling, Temporary Speed Humps installed around our parks and different ways that our allotment of the Liquid Fuels funds can be used, just to name a few.

These tough times and tough decisions call for straight and honest conversations on the best way to serve the residents of this Borough. Those who remember my last tenure on Council know that I am that candidate. I need your vote so that I can represent you and bring back open honest government, balanced budgets and fiscal responsibility to all.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call my cell phone 610-633-3486. If you get my voice mail, I will call you back within no more than 4 hours. That is a promise.


Anonymous said...

Karen, it's time you speak honestly on the subject of the library. I've been disappointed by having several neighbors describe your harrassing techniques, and their discomfort around the atmosphere you've fostered. It's time for that to end, now.

This library concept is a closed chapter. It generated passion and valid points on both sides. I decided to support a plan to expand on the current site; I still believe it would have been good for our neighborhood and financially and socially good for the library and community. The fundamental issue of how to build a library for the next century is still upon us - will you support it, or sink it? The choice is yours, but it's everyone's responsibility to be honest.

Finally, I'm proud to have served for 4 wonderful years - with the same guiding principle that I said during my campaign - to listen and communicate clear choices, always in the interest of moving our town FORWARD. Listening, keeping an open mind, and then having the backbone to stand for something isn't a weakness, Karen. It's a strength. As a former member, you should be familiar with the idea that choices have consequences. That means some folks will be pleased, while others may not. But again, honesty is the key - have you been honest?

I wish all the candidates the best this election season - they each represent important parts of this great town. Regardless of their views, they have a vision for Phoenixville - and their success will be measured by how they can unite different ideas honestly and deliver on creating a better town for all of us.

As always, my door is open if you would like to discuss. Thank you.

- Carlos Ciruelos

Anonymous said...

And...Carlos.....the vast majority of us are delighted you'll be gone. Now you'll have to preach to the mirror, acting smarter and better than anyone else when you are neither. Your comment "As always, my door is open if you would like to discuss" is actually laughable. When the last time you returned a call or answered an email of a constituent. Have a great life but please stay out of ours. Your legacy will be none of the things you seem to think. It will be a big zero. Thanks for nothing.

Karen said...

You want me to speak honestly, Carlos, on the subject of the library?

I must have "spoken" in my writing on this blog thousands of words regarding the former library concept plan. Each of those words were, and still are being written honestly, Carlos.

Frankly, it puzzles me why you would request honesty when from the very first meeting at the library I and the neighbors have been nothing but honest and very public with opinions.

The former library concept plan was critically flawed from the beginning. Before anyone even heard all the concerns of the public, and everyone heard many negative comments regarding the plan at that first meeting, it was disheartening to see some public officials already indicating support.

An offensive ploy is sometimes utilized to suggest negative actions made by an opponent against anonymous participants. It is also a technique used to shift the attention away from the subject at hand. Carlos, everyone in our group, neighbors across Phoenixville, joined their efforts with those of us on Second Avenue because they recognized the potential negative effects of the former library plan. No one was harrassed or forced to form an opinion. Your comment is heresay, and may be dangerously close to slandering me.

Thank God, this proposal is a closed chapter. You, Carlos, have a right to your own opinion, as do we all. However, have the concerns, the valid flaws in the plan, and needs of your constituents been deemed as weighty as the very apparent requirements of a growing insitution which we allow to exist in a small neighborhood? This is an institution which already negatively impacts the residents on a daily basis by creating parking problems and traffic hazards. Perhaps the next Council will address needed remediation for this continually growing problem.

You ask if I, personally, will support the "issue of how to build a library".

From the very first meeting, Carlos, I stated I would much rather be helping to raise funds FOR the library than work against the former concept plan. This was stated to Adam Deveney, Tom Carnevale, and Sue Meadows, both publically, in front of others, and privately. My position of wanting to work for and towards a plan which harms no one is well known, Carlos.

I am available, and will be available to work on a new plan for the library, as will many of our neighbors who have also offered their help, Carlos.

Please let me know if I have not made myself clear.

"Standing for something", Carlos, is daunting, at the very least. It means taking oneself outside the very comfortable box of normal day-to-day living, having the backbone to expose one's thoughts and opinions to the public, and then being able to bear the brunt of public criticism when confronted with the weight of the resulting pressures from those with differing opinions especially those from governmental agencies invested with the ability to vote and control the outcome.

Yes, Carlos, our neighbors, friends, and I are very familiar with "the idea that choices have conseqences".

I want to thank you for taking the time to discuss this issue publically on the blog, and I wish for you the very best of what life has to offer in the future.

Anonymous said...

Carlos Ciruelos did not ask the same questions of the library planners that he did of the middle school planners. The concerns for both projects were similar, large buildings in residential areas.

I would then believe he had the minimal qualifications of a thoughtful representative. His mind, along with the rest of his gang, was made up long before there was public input.
Contrary to what he states, he did not listen, he did not have an open mind. He certainly did not know his own Borough's laws and zoning ordinances, and seemed only interested in hearing himself speak.

Attempting to impugn Karen's character is so like him. He should remember that he is still her representative, until his replacement takes office, and should act accordingly.

He does not even do pedantic well. Just comes across like a scold. So unbecoming. Go quietly, please.

Anonymous said...

What a supercilious, overweening, bag of hubris. He listens to no one, but is a know-it-all. He serves no one but his own vanity. Does not even know what the function of a Council member is. And he certainly should not be lecturing a constituent. That is not part of his job.

For Carlos' benefit, here is the little known Kepler's 4th Law of Planetary Motion: The world does not revolve around you, you know.

Weneedachange said...

Carlos, good riddance.Holding meetings at your house with the majority of members being behind the library issue is not open and transparent.Then saying you invited all the surrounding neighbors is a flat out lie.

I am a neighbor and did not recieve any notice of your so called coffee klatch.

To come on here and chastise Karen is exactly the way you represented your ward and even when spoken to by me your facial expression changes because you act like your opinion is all that matters.

I would hope that in your job you do not treat your fellow workers with the same demeanor as you did your constituents.It is a little condescending and dose not make for a well liked manager.

For the sake of the neighborhood and to keep the peace I will withhold my name which I know looks cowardly but there is already to much animosity going on at this end of the block.

Anonymous said...

This proves more than ever why Dave Gautreau should be our next East Ward council member. Not only does Dave have a good head on his shoulders but he returned an email to me this past week minutes after I sent him one regarding library plan. Carlos, I hope as a going away present the hospital puts in those security camera on heli-pad 5 floors up, you never know who might be sneaking around up there. I do hope you and your family well and all the hard work you do for Jaycees, but seriously Borough Council never was "your cup of tea" and unfortunately our ward suffered because of it.

Anonymous said...

Isn't "cowardly" one of the main premises of blogging?

Anonymous said...

As a nonresident of Phoenixville borough, it was obvious from the get go that this plan was for the financial benefit of a small few. When people got wind of the illegal spot zoning to the spending of more money for expansion in tough times, this plan lacked all the things necessary to bring a community together. It shows just how out of touch the library board, some on the PASD school board and some on borough council really are.