A thank you to the Borough Council of West Chester

letter by Catherine Quillman, Daily Local News, 1/8/14

As we enter the new year, I always think it’s a good time to continue the season of gratitude.

With that in mind, I would like to thank an important part of our local government whose members rarely get a “shout-out” or public acknowledgement of their hard work. I am speaking of the Borough Council of my hometown of West Chester.

In recent months, council (which includes the mayor) has faced development pressures that have demanded the weighing of many factors — economic, quality of life, and sensitivity to West Chester’s historic and small-town character, to name a few considerations.

Judging from my study of the loss of what historian Jane Dorchester calls “pieces of the (historic) fabric,” the gaps seen today in West Chester’s streetscapes have come about because of certain development trends. In the 1950s and 1960s, it was municipal parking lots and banks, and now it appears to be condos and hotels.

Even for the casual observer, nothing compares to the present open-minded council and the shooting gallery of issues that seemingly pop up at every turn. What has stood out for me is council’s willingness to be flexible: to adapt and to accommodate when a crisis arose.

As an early promoter of the “Save the Barclay Grounds,” I find no need to put quote marks around the word crisis. This summer, my fellow volunteers were not exaggerating when we distributed fliers announcing that the towering specimen trees on the Barclay Grounds would be “clear cut” if residents did not join our cause and stop a proposed development.

I found it commendable that the council not only held a special meeting on Dec. 4 about the issue, they notified residents through the robo-call system normally reserved for community events or leaf removals….

read more at Daily Local News


Saving the Barclay Grounds c/o Andy Dinniman

Senator Dinniman is holding a Town Hall meeting Friday Sept. 6 @ NOON at his office, One North Church Street, West Chester, PA 19380, specifically concerning the future of the Barclay Grounds. Please attend if possible, and please pass this along to your friends and neighbors ASAP as this is super short notice.

The more constituents that attend, the stronger our position will be.

More info from Senator Dinniman’s office: 610.692.2112. More info from Barclay neighbors and others trying to preserve this resource: http://www.savethebarclaygrounds.org/.

Saving the Barclay – a West Chester Tradition
Senator to Hold Friday Meeting to Explore Solutions

By Andy Dinniman

Guest Columnist

Saving the Barclay Grounds is worth every bit of energy and determination we can muster.

The Barclay Grounds is not only on the National Register of Historic Places, the property embodies West Chester’s soul, its essence of open spaces and historic places.

The Barclay Grounds has been threatened four times since the late 1960’s, but each time borough residents and friends have stood up to its destruction. Once, a resident even stood in front of a bulldozer and reportedly said, “Over my dead body.”

Thanks to their actions, the Barclay Grounds and its magnificent collection of 100-foot specimen trees remain standing, just as they have for more than 150 years.

Now it is our turn to protect this property. I understand there are no easy solutions and that the West Chester Borough Council has legal parameters to follow in the land-development process, and that the deadline for final development approval is a short three weeks away. That is why I am hosting a public brainstorming session on Friday (Sept. 6) from noon to 1 p.m. at my office at One North Church Street.

Some initial thoughts that I want to explore:

· Can Borough Council ask to delay its decision even if it may not be able to ultimately block the development? A delay provides more time to find alternatives.

· Can the developers voluntarily delay their plans in response to the concerns of borough residents? Remember that the developers expressed a desire to swap the Barclay Grounds for Parking Lot #10 on Chestnut Street.

· If such an exchange took place, are there other excellent locations for the farmers market? While everyone loves the market and an excellent location needs to be maintained, is there another great location such as Borough Parking Lot #7 one block to the west?

· If such an exchange took place, are there ways the borough can make up its lost parking revenue? For example, could Chester County support this open-space initiative not through a grant but by letting the borough charge a fee for the use of the Justice Center Parking Garage on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights?

These are questions that can only be answered by borough officials and the developers involved. I represent the 28 municipalities that make up the 19th Senatorial District, but I don’t vote on what happens within any of them, including the Borough of West Chester.

What I can do is bring everyone together and try to save the Barclay Grounds before the clock runs out. Please join me on Friday at noon in my district office so we can continue this conversation and help save a part of West Chester that means so much to so many.