Yesterday’s council meeting was really deplorable. The unacceptable, unprofessional, abusive behavior of the Council President and the consultant from URDC was beyond the pale.
So, here’s a recap of the meeting:
First, there was a new agenda that changed the Comprehensive Plan from “public hearing” to “discussion”. There were citizens there who were prepared to give their comments, and now that “official” opportunity was taken from them. The council prez said they could speak during “Citizens to be Heard” (which is not “official” public input and does not have to be considered by Council).
The first citizen expressed disappointment about how D’town was portrayed in the Fox 29 “Jenny on the Block” segment. I heartily agree. It’s pretty embarrassing to see a segment highlighting Downingtown that features the mayor and a council member sitting at a bar having a beer with Jenny at 7:15 a.m. with the Main Street manager in the background.
The next resident expressed concern that the proposed Kardon Park development was included in the Comprehensive Plan and that the trees and greenery in the park are important to keep in order to maintain our air quality and flood control. I heartily agree! She was spot on about the value of the acres of mature trees and foliage in Kardon Park.
Next came a most interesting citizen. She is my friend and a co-litigant in the Kardon Park lawsuit. Well, apparently, the council prez caught her after a meeting one evening and questioned her to the point that she felt harassed. He asked her about issues that were off-limits — an anonymous complaint to the borough (that he asked if she had filed) and a question about the status of “her” (Friends of Kardon Park’s) attorney. He should be sanctioned, in my opinion.
I spoke last as a citizen, because I’m generally shut down when speaking as a council member. Bringing something up under “new business” (which is never an agenda item) is taboo. Last time I did that, the council prez about had an aneurism, he was so flustered. So, I asked about this new HB1602 sponsored by Becky Corbin. It doesn’t make sense. It’s rescinding part of Act 162 that they just got passed into law (thanks to Dinniman) and replaces it with the same darn thing! Now, what is the purpose of rescinding a law and replacing it with another law that does the same thing?? Okay, so there are a couple of changes — it provides a dollar amount for the appraisal of the 14 acres of Kardon Park in East Caln (way under value, if you ask me), and it gives more detail to the park (coff coff) “improvements”. Hey, they’re going to add boating docks and a par course to Kardon Park! Honest — it’s in there! Get out the yacht, kids. We’re going to cruise the Kardon Park ponds and hope the engine doesn’t get clogged with all the duck weed and algae. How ridiculous, and they want this to be enacted into law.
I wanted to know if Council knew about this, and several said they did not. The council prez wouldn’t say anything, since the bill has to do with Kardon Park, and I’m a litigant in a lawsuit against the borough. Sullins did say towards the end that HB1602 is related to the litigation. Why it’s necessary when there’s already a law in place, I don’t know.
The next citizen also expressed her disappointment in the Fox 29 segment (it really was awful).
Then there was the Conditional Use Hearing for River Station, which was uneventful.
Ah, and now we get to the interesting part — the Comprehensive Plan. There’s too much to type. Paul Driscoll is from URDC, and URDC is the consulting firm that put the Comprehensive Plan together. You can see it here http://www.downingtown.org/Documents/COMP%20PLAN%20DRAFT%20APR%202013.pdf.
What was so frustrating was how differently Mr. Driscoll treated my comments, Historical & Parks’ comments, citizens’ comments, and other council members’ comments. In a nutshell, he was extremely rude to me, to the citizen who spoke out in favor of Kardon Park, and even to the H&P representative, yet he was considerate and attentive to the comments of other council members.
I spoke about Kardon Park and suggested (just as I had suggested previously to the Planning Commission) that the Comp Plan show both possible outcomes for Kardon Park (housing development or pubic park). That way, in the event that we WIN (again), and it remains a PARK, there is a plan for its future, because there is a LOT Of work that needs to be done since the borough has willfully neglected it for years. If we had to go back to amend the Comp Plan, that would be expensive. It just makes sense to include all of the possible outcomes (or omit the housing option altogether, since it likely won’t happen).
I also spoke about the blatant error (re-writing history) in Map 3, and that very rude man interrupted me multiple times and was attempting to prevent me from commenting. Excuse me? You work for ME, remember?? I don’t give a fig how he feels about me personally, but he darn well better show respect for the public office that I hold, and he did NOT (with a resounding “NOT”). Shame on Paul Driscoll from URDC.
Councilor Winkler addressed the plan for Johnsontown Park. In one section, the Comp Plan says that it is being considered for the Boot Road extension, and in another it says that plans are not underway at this time. Which one is it? Nick suggested that the Boot Rd extension plan be removed, since it’s not moving forward at this time. Or, at the very least, specify a plan for the park itself in the event that the Boot Rd extension never happens. Mr. Driscoll repeatedly attempted to understand what Nick was saying, and the rest of Council also chimed in. I’m glad Councilor Winkler received support and assistance for his idea (even though it took FOREVER for them to finally figure out what he was saying (even though it really wasn’t difficult to understand at all).
I most definitely brought up the fact that Councilor Winkler was received well and his suggestions entertained, yet I was interrupted and treated rudely, and we were talking about the same type of situation — two parks with two proposed futures. One future is endorsed by the Planning Commission to the exclusion of any other options (Kardon Park) and the other is just a future project that may or may not happen (Boot Rd extension through Johnsontown Park).
I am so sick and tired of the preferential treatment that goes on here in the borough.
The H&P representative said that she’d like to see a plan to clear the mill race and get the water flowing in order to stave off flooding. Mr. Driscoll was rude, and he completely dismissed her saying that they didn’t want to get into “that level of engineering” or “details” in the Comprehensive Plan. Oh really?? Under Kerr Park, they have details such as fixing a fence and a park bench. Yes, I brought that up. They obviously DO get into the details in the Comp Plan, and clearing the mill race to restore the flow of water and help with storm water is hardly a “detail”! That natural storm water conveyance system impacts many people, and he called that a “detail”, but fixing a bench is not?? All he could say is that my comment was “noted”. Mmhmm. Riiight.
And let’s not forget about the incredible shrinking parks. Yes, Kardon Park has shrunk from 50 acres to 12 acres of water, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. Johnsontown Park used to be 24 acres, and now it’s only 13. What happened to the other 11 acres?? The H&P rep asked that, and she did not receive an answer, nor was she treated with respect.
Needless to say, I was extremely angry and frustrated with the juvenile, unacceptable behavior. Chip was his old self constantly interrupting and talking over people and generally being rude. Josh also did his fair share of interrupting, as usual. Andy Rau tried to speak and was talked over several times by the council prez. Way to go.
BUT, there is GOOD NEWS!!! The extension needed by the library was APPROVED!!! YAY! The library can now move forward with renovating and moving into the Micken building on Wallace Ave.
That’s it. Don’t expect anything else positive to come out of the borough for another cycle of the moon.
Yes, I realize this is an unbelievably long post. It was a long meeting. If I can figure out how to upload the recording (just the interesting parts), then you’ll be able to hear the tone, rudeness, and insolence for yourself. What fun!