Thursday, October 8, 2009

Phoenixville Library - the "new" preliminary plan only gets worse

Ahh, more subterfuge.

A packet was delivered anonymously and found at my door on Tuesday afternoon.

According to the information inside, the Planning Commission review requested by the Phoenixville library board is for a subdivision and land development plan, and a zoning ammendment.

The "new proposal" on the "preliminary" plan is for a still-monstrous sized addition to the Phoenixville Library and brings with it more problems.

Interesting details in what this "new preliminary plan" proposes, and I will do my best to describe the engineering drawing entitled "Fire Truck Turning Analysis".

The library board is requesting a change in the traffic direction of Park Alley, currently one-way north, to one-way south.

Apparently, in an attempt to address the long-standing issue of the ability of emergency vehicles to respond to the closed area of Second Avenue, the neighborhood of First Avenue and Main Street would bear the brunt of incoming traffic flow.

I'm not an experienced planner nor am I very familiar with engineering drawings, but as I see it, possibly the southeast and definitely the width of the southwest corner of Park Alley will need to be shaved to accomodate a fire truck making a right turn onto the alley from First Avenue.

All the current parking spaces, approximately 12-14 alongside the library and Reeves Park, would be eliminated due to the enormous size of the addition.

Proposed in the new plan is the placement of a "parking permitted beyond this point" sign near the steps into Reeves Park, at the site of the Sesquicentennial Pavilion.

Apparently, fire apparatus (40.25' by 8.33') completing a easterly turn from Park Alley onto Second Avenue, would succeed in the radius required only if the additional parking spaces on the south side of Second Avenue are eliminated.

Total loss of available parking to the neighborhood on Second Avenue is probably close to 20 spaces.

The proposed addition appears to have a claustrophobic, 2' rear yard setback from the curb of Park Alley. The zoning regulations on setback in the borough, if I recall correctly, may be either 21' or 25' under normal development conditions.

The resulting change to Second Avenue would create one-way traffic heading east from Park Alley towards Starr Street. The diagram I have cuts off before B Street. I am therefore unable to determine if Second Avenue at B remains two-way to Starr.

The library board is also requesting a zoning ammendment. Currently, the library and neighborhood is zoned NCR 2, Neighborhood Conservation Residential, which basically is interpreted exactly as it is stated.

The library board requests the zoning for the library to be changed to PFZ, Park Facility Zone. PFZ is allowed for areas owned by governmental agencies, such as Reeves Park which is owned by the borough, or, in reality, by the taxpayers.

The library is owned by the Phoenixville Area School District (again, by you and me). However, a change in zoning to PFZ may be very problematic as the PASD school board members are currently examining the district's status as owners of the library. Should the school district divest itself of ownership of the library, the zoning change could become a moot issue or result in requiring yet another change.

On a side note, I certainly hope the library board doesn't assume the borough would purchase and maintain the library. I further hope that no one on this current Council has represented to anyone that the taxpayers of Phoenixville would willingly finance the hefty burden of the library.

A few questions.

Shouldn't an additional condition to this controversial plan include one that requires every single penny of the projected $6,500,000 costs for the expansion be actually in a local bank prior to the library board's hardhats and shovels photo op?

Shouldn't all the legal issues, including the legality of vacating Second Avenue and selling for $1 the half of the street belonging to Reeves Park, be addressed before another single vote is taken?

Shouldn't Phoenixville Borough Council assume the responsibility the Reeves deed invested in the governmental body and act as charged in the deed as the protectors and defenders of the Reeves Park property?

The Planning Commission meeting is October 08, 2009, 7 p.m., at Phoenixville Borough Hall.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is utterly rediculous.If they think that a fire truck will be able to make the turn at First and Park they must have their heads buried in a book.Why punish the residents of First Ave by eliminating possibly 4 parking spaces on the corners of First and Park?

If this proposal even makes it out of Planning Commission to Council all of the PC should be thrown out.Then remove council.

This thing was a sham from the start and only gets worse.Where is the love for the residents of 2nd Ave like the love for the residents of City Line Ave?

If council ok's an Amendment of the NCR 2 to PFZ Wagners time is up in November.The reading of resignations one month after and the changing of ordinances to allow this type of building all over town calls for a serious change of council to get back on track.With two members as lame ducks they shouldn't vote at all.Leave a major decision up to a new council instead of putting a major change to the middle of town and then walk away for good without any accountability.

I HOPE SECOND AVE RESIDENTS HAVE A GOOD LAWYER.I was told to tell Karen to call any major Law Firm in Phila.Most all have lawyers that will take a case free for the publicity.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Does anyone with any amount of common sense believe that people will obey the "no parking zone" restrictions. They already park with their cars extending into and blocking Park Alley. So they will come to the library and see a wide open space and rationalize "I'll only be a minute" and dump the vehicle right there. Come on, get realistic. It simply will not work.

Anonymous said...

Karen. You forgot $2 million to furnish this pos.

Anonymous said...

If you saw the plans, you would see that this is not going to be a P.O.S. It will be a beautiful building that will benefit everyone in the community.

Anonymous said...

I would estimate that they would need to keep the entire street clear from Main to Park Alley to allow the room necessary to swing that firetruck around the corner. Along with taking some property to widen the alley at the corner. This is not pretty. Building wagging the dog.

Karen said...

The drawing of the new library expansion can be found here:

http://www.4shared.com/file/137635910/385bee0f/Library_presentation_-_October_2009.html

Anonymous said...

Can you give me a real statistic about how many emergency vehicles have accessed the discussed area in the last five years? No? Then your argument is hollow. Libraries are beautiful, important institutions. You should be glad that you live so close to one that wants to expand to hold even more knowledge! Your fight speaks of wanting to avoid inconvenience, nothing more. If you wanted the best for this town, you'd be supporting the library. Dare you to publish this!

Anonymous said...

On the Library web site a large number of patrons are from Chester Springs and Mont Clare.Maybe they should charge the people outside of the PASD a fee since these are the ones clogging up the parking spaces.To the poster who said that cars are parked on the corner halfway into Park Alley I agree. I have waited minutes for an older gentleman in a green Saturn parked on that corner on the north side of 2nd ave his car facing East. When he came out he looked at me like I did something wrong. This is just not a good idea of expansion for this neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10/8 6:22pm:

The absence of past emergencies has nothing to do with the possibility of future ones. Even if there has never been an emergency vehicle on that street, it doesn't mean that there won't be an emergency tomorrow. Talk about hollow arguments.

By the way, if this plan doesn't get the approval of the Fire Marshall, I think it'd be kaput.

Karen said...

Anonymous 6:22 p.m., real statistic(s)?

We had a fire at our home, years ago, and I had no sooner placed the telephone back on it's cradle when the police were at my door. SECONDS later the fire apparatus started to arrive. This was in the early hours of the morning. Our 3 children were very young at the time, and my husband was at work. To this day, I am grateful for the quick response, dedication, compassion, and gentleness of the firemen.

This neighborhood has also needed the ambulance on at least several occasions, and just as with the firemen, the EMT's were incredible with their medical care and extremely swift to respond.

You childishly dare me to post this nonsense?

One life, hanging in balance, one child faced with more risk is valuable beyond compare to a monstrous, out-of-place building, my friend.

Anonymous said...

How do you think emergency vehicles get to other places that are on dead end streets? They go around and approach it from the only end they have access to. This technically isn't even going to be a dead end, so they will have easier access than if it were. Quit trying to think of excuses when they make no logical sense.

Anonymous said...

Oct 9, 10:46 am. Why don't you stick all 19 pages of this concept up your A$$.

Thank God they keep calling it a concept because it will never come to fruition.

I wonder if the good Doctor in Cape May knows where his donation is being spent.I don't think lawyer fees are how he planned on it being used.

When I contact him and let him know since I was a patient of his maybe he will withhold the money.

Ed Naratil said...

Emergency vehicles do NOT have to obey 'one-way' signs. So the ladder engine could enter either street depending on where it's needed. And it could be backed the same street.

But blocking 2nd Avenue could have a detrimental affect on an engine from Station 67 arriving to the scene on time since it would have to use a round-about way of getting to that area of 2nd Avenue.

And remember too, the ambulances come from Station 67. They too would require additional time to respond to the unit block of 2nd Ave.

This plan, no matter which way you turn it, still stinks!

Rob said...

It is sad people make all these excuses for why not to improve the library.

The Borough was not created to benefit the people of one block. It is time to be part of the wider community and stop being so self centered.

Karen said...

Hello, Rob.

Allow me to help expand your view of this horrendous situation.

What IS sad is that should this project go to completion, the children who visit the three playgrounds, two Churches, and two schools on Third Avenue may be placed at greater risk for injury or death due to increased traffic on currently infrequently used Third Avenue.

Also sad is the fact that this out-of-place monstrosity will change the quality of life in all the neigbhorhoods surrounding the library, impact the emergency response, and destroy the entire area for blocks in all directions by gridlocking it with traffic and parking problems which will never be resolved.

Yes, Rob, it IS sad.

Allow me also to say to you the very same statements I spoke while on Council, and still repeat today.

There would not be a Phoenixville if it weren't for the residents who live here.

WE are lifeblood of this community.

WE choose to allow institutions to exist in OUR midst, not the other way around. If anyone or anything is self-centered, it definitely is not those who have identified critical flaws.

To that end, the fight over the abomination of the current library concept plan will continue to be fought to preserve and protect the community's safety and quality of life.

Anonymous said...

Rob,

It's becoming tiresome to have to respond repeatedly to those who suggest that if one is opposed to the current "concept" plan, one is opposed to improving the library.

We are not opposed to improving the library. We are opposed to planting a building in the middle of 2nd Avenue, violating the integrity of Reeves Park, creating parking problems for the residents, closing a major thoroughfare and rerouting 2nd Avenue traffic to other streets. And we are opposed to having this project jammed down our throats in the name of "progress," "the greater good," and "the interests of the community as a whole."

The supporters of the current "concept" proposal have been presented with several alternative sites that would accommodate both the interests of the library and the concerns of the community. The supporters of the current "concept" proposal refuse to consider any plan other than closing 2nd Avenue. Their basic attitude is, "That won't work because that's not what we want to do."

A building in the middle of 2nd Avenue, regardless of its purpose, does not serve the greater good of the community. A community which needlessly imposes its will on a small neighborhood of that same community, bringing irreparable harm to the neighborhood, is not serving the greater good of the community. What right have you to decide the sacrifices we'll make in the interest of the common good.

Stop it, unless you're willing to be next.