Welcome to the Coatesville Dems Blog

Public Corruption in Chester County, PA

I believe an unlikely mix of alleged drug trafficking related politicos and alleged white nationalist related politicos united to elect the infamous “Bloc of Four” in the abysmal voter turnout election of 2005. During their four year term the drug business was good again and white nationalists used Coatesville as an example on white supremacist websites like “Stormfront”. Strong community organization and support from law enforcement, in particular Chester County District Attorney Joseph W. Carroll has begun to turn our community around. The Chester County drug trafficking that I believe centers on Coatesville continues and I believe we still have public officials in place that profit from the drug sales. But the people here are amazing and continue to work against the odds to make Coatesville a good place to live.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What could have been

Olive Garden, wings restaurant, gym on the menu at East Caln center
Thursday, August 26, 2010
By GRETCHEN METZ, Staff Writer
EAST CALN — Quarry Crossings is under way, soon to be home to a new Olive Garden restaurant, Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar and an LA Fitness gym, with more space available for a bank and a coffee shop.
The 14-acre property on Quarry Road at Lancaster Avenue is owned and is being developed by Downingtown Quarry Associates LP, a division of Penguin Real Estate Investors LP of Sadsbury." Daily Local NewsDoes “Penguin Real Estate Investors LP of Sadsbury” sound familiar?  That’s because Mr. Robert D. McNeil, President and CEO made an offer to the City of Coatesville RDA to buy the “Flats” or former G.O. Carlson Steel Company property from the RDA for $1.3 Million cash.
When the RDA was mulling over Mr. McNeil’s offer and decided to go for it, former City of Coatesville RDA Solicitor and City of Coatesville Solicitor Andrew Lehr, Esq. allegedly said, “You can’t do that!”

Mr. Lehr’s reason for allegedly saying, “You can’t do that!” was that he and former Coatesville City Manager Harry Walker were “in negotiations with a power plant operator for that property.



From the City of Coatesville Redevelopment Authority RDA meeting of February 19, 2008:



Coatesville RDA Joe DiSciullo, “I will say this, as far as the negotiations with the power company; I WAS STUNNED TO FIND OUT THAT THE CITY SOLICITOR AND MR. WALKER HAD BEEN TALKING TO THE POWER COMPANY AND MR. O’DONNELL WAS NOT INVITED TO TAKE PART.  THAT WAS EYE OPENING TO ME!”


Mr. Ed Simpson, “I will take that up with Council because as far as I’m concerned I don’t think the City,


Mr. Andrew Lehr, “That’s not factual.”


Mr. Simpson, “I don’t think that the City”


Mr. DiSciullo, “EXCUSE ME MR. LEHR; IT IS FACTUAL BECAUSE YOU SAID IT. I GOT IT RIGHT FROM YOU.”


Mr. Harry Walker, “I never talked to anybody from any power company, in my office.”


Mr. Joe DiSciullo, “MR. LEHR TOLD ME, TOLD ME, THAT YOU AND HE HAD SERIOUS DISCUSSIONS WITH THE POWER COMPANY.”


Allegedly Andrew Lehr blurted out “we can’t do that” when the RDA wanted to proceed with Robert McNeil and Penguin Industries offer to buy the Flats. Lehr allegedly told the RDA in executive session that Walker and he were in serious negotiations with the power plant executives and that revealing it in public would be a breach of confidence. I believe that those negotiations were blatantly illegal and that Lehr and Walker had no authority to make a deal in secret with RDA property.


Mr. Walker is correct in stating that he did not talk to power company officials in his City of Coatesville office. The alleged discussions with power companies allegedly took place at a Tavern in Southern Chester County.


I believe the real money that would come from a power plant here in the City of Coatesville would not come from any kind of taxes.  An “Olive Garden restaurant, Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar and an LA Fitness gym” would have brought more tax monies into the City and created many more jobs than a power plant. And the power plant would have made Coatesville unattractive to any business other than possibly the crack cocaine business.


I believe the real money in a power company is in the electric power that would be sold by way of Exelon’s lines. A power authority possibly called the Coatesville Power Authority would need to be formed in order to transmit the power over Exelon’s lines. That money would filter thorough the fingers of local individuals assigned to the “Coatesville Power Authority”.


I think that Mr. McNeil’s proposal could have worked for the City of Coatesville. 


I think that Mr. McNeil’s proposal was stifled, not examined and not given a chance by the Walker Administration.  


I also believe that Andrew Lehr, Harry Walker and other Chester County residents were talking to power plant owners long before the “Bloc of Four” even ran for election.


The RDA usually has one or two people outside of interested parties in attendance. the February 19, 2008 meeting was standing room only. Don Pulver and several developers interested in the City of Coatesville were in attendance.  The entire discussion session is here:




PENGUIN REAL ESTATE INVESTORS, LP

“Coatesville is getting things done, something is happening”-Ross Weiss

Attorney Ross Weiss represented Oliver, Tyrone, Pulver for the Marriot Hotel and Office building subdivision plan at a special meeting of the Coatesville City Council on Monday, August 30, The Coatesville City Council unanimously passed the subdivision plan and traffic light plan. Mr. Marking was the only City Councilperson absent.

Parts of the meeting are transcribed below. The entire recording is at the bottom of this post:

The subdivision plan is to separate the two structures into separate lots. Investors have noted that they may not want to invest in both the hotel and office buildings. One investor group may only want to invest in hotel and another in just the office buildings. That is the reason for the subdivision.

Mr. Eggleston, “Where does the Marriott stand on this?

Mr. Weiss, “The Marriot is in this project, they participate in our group work sessions that we have on a weekly basis. We’ll be on the phone at one o’clock tomorrow and the Marriott is in the deal.”

Mr. Eggleston, “On a scale of one to ten, ten being the greatest; what would you say the chances are that the Marriott may decide they want to back out of this deal?”

Mr. Don Pulver, “About zero, we have a franchise agreement with them. They won’t be backing out."

Mr. Eggleston, “Zero is good!”…

There was a discussion involving the location of the easement to open space land that the City intends to use as recreational space.  The open space is across the West Branch of the Brandywine and a bridge would be needed for access. Coatesville City Council President Ed Simpson had questions concerning the location of the easement across the property into the open space land. Mr. Simpson believes that the bridge as presented would be more costly to the City than the original location.

Mr. Weiss, “In the land development approval from April of this year, there’s a condition… on the second page that says that Don, the developer will grant a fifty foot wide access easement.  And that access easement is on the plan. And when the plan was approved there was a condition that we had to enter into a written easement document. We’ve submitted the document and John (Carnes) has raised some issues as has Ted (Reed) as to what is now on paper. And we all have heard the expression, ‘the devils in the details’.  Well now we’re up to the details part.

We submitted a document and John and Ted have commented on it. They’ve raised some issues which I think are valid. But again, nothing we can’t work out. So we have to resolve that easement problem.  But you will have a fifty foot wide easement at a certain location and I know that as important as that easement is for you to be able to get access to the Brandywine Creek; If and when you are able to build the bridge over the creek to get to the open space and the wetland on the other side.  You’re also going to want to see the rest of the property developed. So that was the reason for there being language in that condition that it could be relocated.”

Mr. Simpson, “My concern is where you are proposing it now, it’s very cost prohibitive to build a bridge where you guys have it now.  The further north you go it’s a little bit easier.”

Mr. Ross, “But the further north you go it interferes with building more buildings… I’m trying to focus on getting something built and that’s the hotel but from Don’s perspective a developer and his vision, which he has implemented so many times. He knows what he can see happening there going forward so that we have to have a balance.  I believe we can work out the language so that you’ll be comfortable so that you will have access.

Mr. Simpson, “Granted, we might have access but is it cost prohibitive for us to build a bridge where we have access. My biggest concern is where the access is right now, the difference in the grades from one side to the other is significant.”

Mr. Ross, “But I’m sure you would recognize the importance of getting the hotel and not jeopardizing it. Because one thing that’s important to the hotel and the office building investors; the value of their property is not determined by just what they build on their property but also what’s built on the rest of the property. 

What Don’s worried about is that he doesn’t create a problem with the investors and the ultimate occupants of those buildings because we didn’t think several steps ahead. You’re thinking several steps ahead with access to the creek. We’re taking several steps ahead with how to develop the balance of the property. 

But Don has made that easement available, it hasn’t been compensated in any way and again I can’t see that we won’t be able to work this out. But we agreed in April where that easement would be and there’s language that you and Don agreed to as how it could be relocated and we have to get that language into that easement agreement.  I don’t want to make excuses but the person who wrote the easement agreement who works with us was not as aware of what we agreed to in the resolution. So we have to have to go back and fix it"…

Mr. Eggleston, “How soon can we make them aware and get that fixed?”

Mr. Weiss, “We’re going to meet with John tomorrow…We’re doing the best we can to get this hotel and office building built when nothing is being built anywhere. Coatesville is going to have a hotel. We just have to try to do everything we can to make it happen.”

Mr. Eggleston, “You said nothing is being built anywhere. I’m sure you’re referring to this general area, right?”

Mr. Weiss, “I’m a municipal solicitor just like John (Carnes) and I represent townships. I represent a couple of townships in Montgomery County.  And I looked in my little book where I keep all my matters listed. And three years ago I had twenty and two years ago I had fifteen and this year I have one project. One project and I’m in August and there’s only one project in the whole municipality! I’m doing two projects here for you; the Walgreen’s which is, it’s going to be in the ground in December and this project.
People say to me what are you going to Coatesville for? Because Coatesville getting things done. Something is happening. Unlike some of these municipalities that I work in, nothing’s happening, nothing.”


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Special City Council Meeting-Marriott Hotel and Traffic Light on Route 82

From the City of Coatesville Calendar:

Monday 08/30/2010
City Council Meeting
Time: 7:00pm
Location: City Council Chambers
The City Council of the City of Coatesville will be holding a Special Meeting regarding the consideration of a subdivision of land for Oliver, Tyrone, Pulver/Marriott Hotel and consider Resolution to approve the proposed Traffic Light on Route 82 South of Route 30 bypass to serve the Marriott Hotel and such other matters that are properly brought before Council. The meeting will be held on Monday, August 30, 2010 commencing at 7:00 p.m. in Council Chambers, City Hall, One City Hall Place, Coatesville, PA 19320.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Transparency-Accountability- Quality of Life -A Strategic Plan for the City of Coatesville, Chester County, PA: 2010

Posted by Picasa



A presentation of “A Strategic Plan for the City of Coatesville” by Tom Comitta of Thomas Comitta Associates, Inc at the Coatesville City Council Meeting Monday, August 23, 2010.
Mr. Comitta:
“I had promised Council on the occasion of the July 22nd (session) that I would put all of the ideas that were expressed on one page. Mrs. Jones kind of smiled at me, wondering if I could actually put it all on one page and I was sweating it out a little bit.  And then though what I’d like to do, even though Ted Reed (Coatesville City Manager) had mentioned, clearly what I just handed out is like the baby steps of what we were talking about.  The fun part of doing the one page, which in the larger packet follows the cover memo, is:
We tried to put on one page all of the ideas that were expressed over about an eight or nine hour set of sessions.  Essentially ‘together we could make the difference’ was the winning selection for what we thought the whole strategic planning initiative was all about.  As captioned beneath the Council photos, ‘A Strategic Plan for the City of Coatesville’.
Around the perimeter we did what Ted had called ‘catch phrases’.  It was Council’s intent at the beginning of this year to bring transparency to the table and you’ve done well at that. 
During the strategic planning sessions Council was not bashful and kept on pressing in the discussion, a whirlwind discussion, about accountability and at the end of that session we tried to drill down and try to say, ‘Well, what does that mean?’ And at the end of the day what we kept coming into like, ‘Is there anything  else that we forgot?’, ‘quality of life’ emerged as being an important topic. So the transparency, accountability, quality of life kind of repeats itself because we’re trying to say, ‘We really mean it!” type of idea.
But in order to make it short and sweet what we did is, we selected from the second round of questions those items that ‘won the contest’ so to speak on what we collectively thought were the Cities strengths, what opportunities we thought were out there that deserved careful attention, the places that we considered the strongest places and then down toward the bottom, certain weak places. We admitted that there were various impediments, that there were weaknesses that we need to overcome.  But at the end of the day we kind of felt that there were top initiatives that that are listed there, the center on the right and then a group of outreach initiatives that needed to get tapped and pursued. 
So, the idea of placing the stars in effective alignment based on the list of the ten that are highlighted in red was just kind of like a to do list to say, once we get clarity and clearness on the path forward how do we basically spread the word. And, so the notion was that City Council would engage in more detailed discussions with City staff and then as listed, their County adjoining municipalities and so forth…
In most creative problem solving initiatives as you know, you don’t get into critical evaluation. You don’t say ‘That’s a bad idea’. Or my idea is better than yours. So we just write down all of the ideas. The first meeting, but then went back the second meeting and said, ‘Well, which ones really deserve more attention and more weight.  And the strength of those, that highlighted set of summary pages that led to the grand summary the colored page in yellow.
What Council should now do over the next few months, with the City Manager and staff is to affirm that’s what’s listed here is really what you said and how you said it and, perhaps with the kind of emphasis that you intended.  
The fun part for me was that I was just serving as the facilitator, listening to what you said.  If I couldn’t understand a point, I would ask you to clarify. And then, it kind of went around and around each time to see if we were all pretty much on the same page.
And I think the most refreshing part of the whole two evening sessions was that we all left ‘happy campers’ on both meetings.  And, I said to you at the end of the June 22 session, that compared to many other city councils with whom I’ve worked since 1981 it was the most fun, to actually get into the discussion where you were very unified and congealed in a lot of the things that you had to say. As a matter of fact, in many cases where one person had a particularly strong view, someone else said, ‘Well how about, such and so?’ and then the Council colleagues said, ‘Well maybe you’re right.” And it was very refreshing to see how that discussion took place.
So as you mentioned, It’s kind of a baby step, but what’s important, I believe, is that because life is so complex in order to have it on one page; it just kind of puts it right out there and gives you a chance now to actually then say well on that one page, what’s most important..  Realizing on the top initiatives we did sort of, re-re-re-prioritize them to say that these initiatives can help inform the 2011 budget. We brought about an idea of having City Council Committees to kind of bolster the energy and focus on certain key areas.  That there would need to be some type of capital improvement strategy.  That from our discussions there were some amendments to the Zoning Ordinance that we could identify.  That the five year financial plant needed to be reviewed studied and refined.  That really we all agreed that the train station was an important cog in the wheel. That there would be certain land development amendments that would be on our radar screen. And that hopefully in 2011 or 12 when the County Commissioners renew the funding for the “Vision Partnership Program’ an opportunity to amend and update the City Revitalization Plan.
So, It’s an exhaustive list and it may well take several years before you could all accomplish these items but at least we have a ‘wish list’ and a ‘to do list’ that can now be prioritized.
City Council President, Ed Simpson; “I don’t have a question but I would like to make a comment that I think the time that we spent with Mr. Comitta, I personally thought was very enjoyable, well spent. I wasn’t bored or frustrated. Just to let everyone know that, as a moderator Mr. Comitta was probably one of the better moderators I’ve ever been around.  He kept everybody involved, ideas flowing the whole time and I want to thank you for it. It was time well spent, very good.” 



Monday, August 23, 2010

FIESTA LATINA DE COATESVILLE

 
Posted by Picasa


 
Posted by Picasa

I believe that huge wealthy oil corporations should at least pay some tiny portion of the taxes they are supposed to be paying

and not leave “little people” and small business supporting all infrastructure in the United States.


Commonwealth corporate taxes for giant corporations are a not very funny joke. Even at the Federal level giant corporations pay little or no taxes. According to the Government Accountability Office “two out of every three United States corporations paid no federal income taxes from 1998 through 2005.”

 

Part of the reason “little people” pay most of the taxes in the USA is that huge corporations pay close to zero taxes in the USA. I think they should pay some of the taxes and not jump through the tax loopholes with billions of unpaid taxes in their pockets. 


Rendell, aide urge transportation funding boost is the title to an article in today’s Daily Local News. That transportation funding could have a direct effect here in Coatesville. I believe that the primary obstacle to strengthening our crumbling transportation infrastructure is a corrupt and dysfunctional political structure in our state legislature and by not voting for taxes on oil companies the legislators are responding to the big money corporations put in their pockets and ignoring their constituents.

 

Paul Krugman wrote about the US Congress and Senate when he wrote “it’s about a dysfunctional and corrupt political culturein Today’s New York Times but I believe and even more dysfunctional and corrupt political culture now exists in our Pennsylvania Commonwealth Legislative bodies. 


Our only recourse as “small people” is to vote those legislators out of office.

 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Coatesville City Council Meeting on Monday August 23, 2010

Presentations
1. Thomas Comitta - Council Strategic Planning Sessions
2. Stacy Bjorhus – Financial Report


Items for Discussion
1. Discuss City Hall Electric Conservation
2. Update from Intergovernmental Cooperation Agreement
3. Discuss Benner School Parking
4. Discuss Zoning Revisions.
5. Discuss Curfew Ordinance
6. Discuss Keeping of Poultry
7. Discuss City Flag


8. Discuss Utilitech, Inc, Utility Cost Study
9. Council Members Request for Discussion

Regular Action
1. Receive and Consider First Reading an Ordinance amending Section 218-54 of the City of Coatesville Parking Code to provide the Regulation of the Third Avenue and Diamond Street Parking Lot.
2. Receive and Consider First Suburbs Project Membership
3. Receive and Consider appointment to the Authorities, Boards, Commission and Committees
4. Receive and Consider House Bill
5. Receive and consider Special Council Meeting

http://www.coatesville.org/minutes/ccagenda/2010/100823%20Regular.pdf

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Robert Gibbs of Gibbs Planning Group speaking in Coatesville at the “Plan the Keystone” Coatesville Train Station meeting


At the Olivet Methodist Church, Coatesville, PA. , August 19, 2010.
What follows is a lightly edited transcription of Robert Gibbs presentation.  
The full recording can be heard below.
 “I’m an economist, my assignment is to forecast how many types of new stores and what types of stores are realistic to bring into the study area. I work in a lot of communities where people do master plans and people get around a table and say we’d like to have a restaurant, we’d like to have, this and we’d like to have that and the planners plan it. And then the real estate community can’t do it because it’s just not supportable by the economics. So, I feel very pleased to part of this community because they wanted to know that first before they did the planning…
We have done a very exhaustive study which will be a public document, which is the kind of document we do for the private sector.  A lot of our clients are retailers and restaurants. They hire me to scout out locations so that they can open new stores.  And a lot of my clients are shopping center developers with whom I‘ve built new shopping centers. They buy real estate based on what I tell them to do. And if I’m wrong they don’t hire me again.
Our process is to define a trade area, or a catchment area, which is to define where people are coming from to shop here, or they could come from. In Coatesville it’s a very classic roughly 5 mile radius. We think that people that live within that 5 mile radius should account for about 60% of your potential sales.
We then define what’s known as the secondary or total potential trade area, which is that bright green and your market extends about 15 miles out. Beyond that I think it’s very unlikely that people will drive much further than that on a regular basis to come to Coatesville.
Within that 15 mile radius there are 57,000 people, earning a median household income of $58,000 per year.  Those are very significant numbers because one of the most basic site selection criteria shopping center retailers use, restaurants, clothing stores use is known as the 50, 50, 50 rule…
They like to see 50,000 people, earning $50,000 per year and they like to be on a highway with 50,000 cars per day. If you have 2 of those 3, most retailers will consider your site a suitable site.  Your city has all 3, which is highly unusual.
You also have the advantage of being a hole in a donut.  Coatesville is surrounded by a lot of shopping centers and a lot of retailers. And this is unusual; you are surrounded by really beautiful towns…
So you have these beautiful towns and shopping centers around you but very few retailers are coming to your downtown. Which I love, because that means you have a captive market, the people that live within the 5 mile radius are driving further than normal. And there’s a new term in our industry called a retail desert. You are technically a retail desert. Because the people live here; everybody that I saw is wearing shoes, you look pretty well fed, so you are out eating and shopping. That’s significant in Coatesville especially because almost 30% of people that live here have 1 car or less in their household, so they don’t have easy access to transportation. A lot of people said they have no cars-bus riders.
There are also a lot of very vibrant and very interesting stores downtown.  Many of the store’s owners they we met told me if they could they would expand but for one reason or another they can’t. But the market potential is here for them to expand.
You are not really working as a shopping district. You are a collection of individual destination shops, purpose driven shops. People drive to the florist or they drive to this or that, but very few people drive here park and then walk around for an afternoon to go shopping. In fact I think almost nobody does here. That’s unfortunate but that’s fixable. because you have the urbanism, you have a historic town that is a very walkable town.
We are trying now to imitate you in parks. Exton Town Center for instance, is trying to imitate you… People drive there they park their car and they walk around for an hour and a half and they’re in “Coatesville”.
You actually have all the hard parts. You have the demographics, you have the market void, the potential and you have the historic walkable town that we can’t recreate.  As much as we try were not able to recreate it.
You also have some fairly good demographics. For example the median household income is $58,000 in our study in your 5 mile radius. That’s higher than the American median household average income of $54,000 and you’re even higher than the State of Pennsylvania’s which is $52,000. So even though a lot of people when I came here, they said, ‘Bob, this is one place where you are not going to get much support for business.  It’s a fairly modest income’ and there are a lot of people here with modest incomes. But as collective group you have very strong incomes.
We’ve found that today, there is an opportunity for you to capture $17.6 Million in additional retail sales in Coatesville. By the way, the people that live within that radius are spending are spending $900 Million a year shopping… They’re almost spending a $1 Billion a year. We think you could very conservatively capture $17 Million a year... And after double checking the figures myself, I think you could actually do three times that. I think we are being very conservative. I think you could do much better than that.
By 2015 we think you could capture almost $47-$48 Million a year and it wouldn’t surprise me to see $100 Million of the potential retail sales.
What that means is today there is room for 68,000 square feet of new retail in Coatesville, which would more than double what you have, would actually triple what you have.  That would equal 30 or 40 new stores. That would grow to 256,000 in about 5 years.  Which you could technically, very conservatively support 60 to 80 stores. I’m not telling you to grow by that much. I’m just saying the market is there should you choose it and should a bunch of things happen, which I’ll talk about later.
What kinds of retail would work here?
We think very much neighborhood service type retailers, cafes, delis, restaurants. There is a very strong demand for a hardware store here. You could actually support 2 hardware stores here. Home and garden supplies are very strong…
You will be able to support 6 to 8 new restaurants by 2015. Today you can support 5 new restaurants. And I’ve been to all of your restaurants. Not to take anything away from them. They are all nice restaurants. I’ve eaten in every one of them, I think. But there’s room for more. There’s room for them to expand or for more new restaurants to come here.
The next question I get asked is; well if you’re such a genius and there’s room for more retail, why isn’t it here? It doesn’t just go where there is demand.  It’s a very precise system.  For example, the site selection vice president for Chili’s restaurant doesn’t drive around all day in every small town in Pennsylvania and look for a “for rent” sign and then call and see if he can do a deal and bring Chili’s here.  They go though their friends, they go through brokers…
What might happen is; the president of a book store will be told by Wall Street that if you want your bookstore stock price to stay high you have to open 100 new stores and he’ll say, ‘yes, that’s exactly what I was planning to do anyway. Thank you very much and he’ll call up his president and say, ‘you have to open 100 new stores within 2 years otherwise you’re fired. He’ll say, ‘that’s exactly what I was thinking to do, thank you very much.  And he’ll call up his friendly broker, CB Richard Ellis, Cushman & Wakefield, whomever and say you better open 5 stores in Pennsylvania. Can you get me 5 sites that work? And he’ll say yes and then that deal happens.
I have a hunch, I can’t prove it, but I have a hunch that the brokers in this area are red lining parts of Coatesville. They may be saying you would rather be on I-76. You would rather be on the 30 bypass way.  Which isn’t unusual because they know the property owners, they can do the deal with 2 phone calls and an email  and they don’t have to get out and work that hard and so for a lot of reasons, that happens…
We think you can support another pharmacy…  You’re going to get a Walgreens  soon, which is very positive. I’m very excited about that and I want to see Rite Aid expand.  There’s room for 2 pharmacies here.
In my opinion, Coatesville has all the very hard elements.
You have a highway with a lot of traffic on it, which is a positive…  One of the long time business owners said the downtown started to decline when the bypass opened, which happens all over the country.  But you still have Lincoln Highway with a lot of traffic. You’ve renovated you’re streetscape.  There is a very nice streetscape with new sidewalks new streetlights and all state of the art. And they kept on street parking.  We have to have on street parking for on street retail. And they have parking meters, which you don’t need right now but when you get more retail you will need.  You have some extremely beautiful buildings.  A project being built, what is it?”
Coatesville City Manager Ted Reed, “Riverwalk”.  
Bob Gibbs, “On the flats site on the northwest corner of 82 and Lincoln Highway they’re building a play fountain for children… It’s actually under construction.  And Walgreens is coming here very soon…
What do you have to do, to have this retail?
First of all you have to decide that want it. In a lot of communities they don’t want retail…
You have to have 4 things happening…almost at the same time in order to have the retail:
1.      1-You have to have the market demand, which I very strongly believe you do.
2.      2-You have to have suitable properties. You have to have properties in which the rents reasonable, which the landlord is willing to rent for the right amount of time.  Usually they like 5 year leases, with 5 year options. You have to have properties that are bonded, that meet the building codes that have the right amount of electricity, the right amount of heating and cooling in which the roofs don’t leak. You have to have buildings that are very suitable.
3.      3- You have to have the experienced leasing team. As I said earlier, it’s very unlikely that any good tenants will just stop here and do a deal on their own. You have to get a third party and the County has a County agency. The Chester County Economic Development Council is helping you with that. Or you can assemble your own business requiting team if you would like.
4.       4- And, you have to have effective government.  I believe you have a very effective government right now…

 You have a very strong market demand. You are right in the above average part of what people are looking for. This is the growth part of the segment, the pay less shoes, the dollar store, and the family restaurants that are affordable and casual dining restaurants. This is what’s growing.
Nobody is building luxury high end stuff anymore. For example Abercrombie and Fitch announced yesterday that they are closing 160 stores in the United States.  It’s just too expensive. And so you’re demographic is right in the sweet spot.
You have to have suitable locations and there are certainly a lot of vacancies on Lincoln Highway and in Coatesville. I don’t know whether they are suitable. I don’t know if the landlord will rent for 5 years with a 5 year option. I don’t know if the landlord will bring up the building to code or whether they will say, ‘yea, sure; you can pay me a lot of money for rent but it’s yours.  You fix everything on your own dime.  I just don’t know. But if you have that you have the market for it.
JC Penney’s is now called JCP and they’re coming back to urban locations. They like the cities again. 
You have to have an experienced leasing team. This is expensive but it’s essential.”  Mr. Gibbs shows a photo. “This is the national show in Las Vegas. It’s through the International Council of Shopping Centers.  There are shows here locally. They know each other. They all carry around big rolodexes or big BlackBerrys. And they know how to make things happen. I think they probably don’t know about your market.  The buildings that are available here are probably not even on their radar screen. And if somebody wants to come to Coatesville and open a new store they probably have no idea that you even exist. 
It’s actually hard to get to. When I went to look at the Wall Mart yesterday to the west of you, when I was coming back there’s a giant sign which says COATESVILLE, which makes you go on the bypass. I always ignore signs because it didn’t feel right and I took business 30 instead. But everybody leaving Wall Mart that wants to go to Coatesville is actually directed to the bypass with sends them around your downtown…
If you do get a retailer here, they make very unfair snap judgments. They see a broken window or if they see litter on the sidewalk, they will say no; take me to the next town.  I take retailers around to cities. Unfortunately you are surrounded by some of picturesque downtowns in the United States. Almost everyone is ‘postcard’.  So even though your downtown looks fine, it’s better than most, way better than most; compared to the other cities around you you’re not.  So I can imagine you going through all these steps and then having a retailer come here and after he goes through all these other towns say, ‘Well, I’d rather not come here.”
Mr. Gibbs showed photos of a study of Niagara Falls in Canada, Niagara on the Lake and Niagara Falls.
“They both are in the same market area. They both have the same demographics. I was hired by a client who bought all of Niagara Falls, who bought the whole city. Shopping center developers can’t build shopping centers anymore, because nobody likes to go to them, so they’re buying cities. That’s the new thing. They are buying whole cities and making them very attractive. But Niagara on the Lake has rents that are 5 times higher than the rents on the left (Niagara Falls). And a lot of that has to do with the city government. You can see the difference in the sign ordinance for example and the flowers. All of these little things that that collectively say this is where you want to open your store and they do very well in sales…
Question, “Are you aware that merchants support the flowers?”  Mr. Gibbs, “Yes, and you have the Weed and Seed program. Which I know a little bit about and I understand you have meetings where you clean the sidewalks and you are really taking care of your community, which is unusually good. And it’s very encouraging to hear that.
So  that’s where we are at right now; you have the market demand, you have the physical character and we believe that should you want to expand the retail opportunities here that it’s technically possible.”
The results of the Plan the Keystone Charrette will be on the website. It’s a part of the continuing development of the Coatesville Train Station and the Keystone Rail Corridor.

This was recorded by me at the meeting on August 19, 2010. That recording was transcribed by me and may not accurately reflect what Mr. Gibbs said. For hard facts and numbers, I suggest that you see Mr. Gibbs report. It will be published on the “Plan the Keystone” website.  James J. Pitcherella





From the Gibbs Planning Group Homepage: 
“GPG is considered one of the foremost urban retail planning consultancies in America. For more than two decades, GPG's expertise in commercial development and sustainable town planning has been sought by some of the most respected mayors, highly regarded architects, and successful real-estate developers in the country.

A recognized leader in the real estate industry, GPG pioneered the development of sustainable and community-oriented principles of Traditional Town Planning and Smart Growth as an antidote to the sprawl of suburbia. Responsible planning, however, is more than assembling coherent urban villages or walkable neighborhoods. GPG believes that sustainable development and vibrant community life are only possible with a vital commercial life, and that new and old towns alike need intelligent strategies for their survival. Since its inception, GPG has been active in developing innovative yet practical methods for applying modern trends in commercial development to more than 300 town centers and historic districts here and abroad.

GPG's retail planning excellence lies in advising public and private sector clients on the psychology of commerce - the practical science of analyzing and adjusting all elements known to affect a shopper's mood in the marketplace. GPG is renowned for applying fundamental retail and merchandising principles for reviving retail in moribund downtowns and for instilling robust commerce in new town centers.


“The Gibbs plan has been the bible for Charleston's latest planning redevelopment efforts along King Street and in our Historic Market Square." 
-Mayor Joseph Riley, Charleston

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Visiting with the SWEEP program in Allentown, PA


Coatesville City Manager Ted Reed told the Coatesville City Council that he and Daimler Molina were going to Allentown to find out what they could about Allentown’s rapid ticketing program for codes offenses. It’s for codes violations that can be viewed on the outside of properties such as trash violations and weed violations.


What was not mentioned is that Weed and Seed director Allen Smith and Robert Davis allegedly went along with Mr. Reed and Mr. Molina. Allen Smith, our Weed and Seed Coordinator, has a legitimate reason to be at the meeting. What reason does former Judge Davis have to be there?


It was not Mr. Davis’s first inquiry into Allentown’s rapid ticketing program. He allegedly showed up unannounced in an Allentown Magisterial Judge’s courtroom asking about the rapid ticketing program. He allegedly was told to go and ask in Philly about the rapid ticketing program.
Magisterial Judges are employees of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Magisterial Courts and Common Pleas Courts are separate organizations in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.


Mr. Davis had reached the mandatory retirement age for Pennsylvania Magistrate Judges on Dec. 30, 2008. “But Chester County President Judge Paula Francisco Ott appointed him a senior judge, which means that although he can't be re-elected to a district judge seat, he can be appointed to any judge seat in Pennsylvania.” (Daily Local News.)


The “Senor Judge” title allegedly bequeathed on Judge Davis by then Chester County President Judge Ott didn’t exactly stick. Judge Hines was sworn in on October 16, 2009, before he officially won the election. I believe that one reason for the early swearing in was that Mr. Davis did not put the required amount of time in to be a Senior Judge. And, another reason is that the authority over Magisterial Judges comes from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The authority to appoint a senior magistrate judges rests entirely with the Commonwealth Supreme Court.


Why did Judge Davis continue for several months as a “Senior” Judge? Why wasn’t a qualified senior judge or judges appointed to fill out Judge Davis’s term?


There is more in the details of this story. It seems that someone allegedly representing himself as Judge Davis from Coatesville is the person that allegedly set up the meeting with Coatesville City Manager Ted Reed, Codes Director Daimler Molina and Weed, Seed Coordinator Allen Smith and himself in Allentown with Ann Saurman Director of Allentown’s SWEEP “Solid Waste Education and Enforcement Program).


Part of that program is the rapid ticketing for codes offenses that the City of Coatesville is proposing. Coatesville would need to have an administrator for Coatesville’s version of SWEEP that is now being discussed at City Hall. Was “Judge” Davis attempting to create a position for himself as the administrator of Coatesville’s rapid ticketing program?


There is that quote from “The Little Red Book of (CCRC Area 14) Chairman Richard Legree”, “If no one knows it’s a law, the law ain’t broken”.


Hmmm, I wonder; is the Judicial Conduct Board of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania looking into all of this?


See:
Daily Local News-S. Coatesville's Hines to run for district judge


And:

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Coatesville Train Station planning begins in Coatesville


This is an unedited (except for noise removal) recording of the introduction of the Planning Workshop for Coatesville Train Station on Monday evening at the Coatesville City Hall.
The first voice you hear is Chester County Commissioner Kathy Cozzone.
The meeting was 1hour and 16 minutes long. 





The first workshop/Charrette will be held today 1 p.m. to 6:30p.m. at the Olivet Methodist Church, 3rd Avenue and Chestnut St. in Coatesville.  There is a parking lot across the street on Chestnut Street.
The actual plans for the train station will be conceived at the workshops. Coatesville residents are encouraged to attend the workshops and express their concepts for the Train Station and nearby area.
Full schedule:
·    Tuesday, August 17th Olivet Methodist Church; 1 p.m. to 6:30 p. m. public workshop
·    Wednesday, August 18th Olivet Methodist Church 9a.m. to 3 p.m. public workshop
·    Thursday, August 19th Olivet Methodist Church 9 a.m. to noon- public workshop; 
6  p.m. finial public presentation
Also see:
Daily Local News

Extremists and Coatesville

Here in Coatesville we were forced to explore the nuances of the extreme right because they were so very deeply involved in the political climate in Coatesville.
I believe that former and possibly current John Birch Society members bombarded Coatesville voters with false information prior to the 2005 Elections and that they were mostly responsible for the election of the “Bloc of Four” Coatesville City Council members in 2005.  
In most areas of the USA extremist right wing candidates are unpopular and can’t win if the voter turnout is large and reflects the will of the majority of voters. A tactic of extremist right wing politicos is to run their candidates in local off year elections where a low voter turnout is expected. 

Off year election voter turnout is usually very low in Coatesville.  But  the voter turnout in 2005 was extremely low in Coatesville and the candidates promoted by the extreme right won the elections. I believe the extremists got what they wanted. The next four years brought some of the darkest times in the history of Coatesville.
The extreme right is no longer very active in Coatesville politics. But since the election of a black president they have become very active in Chester County politics. Whether the extreme right gains momentum in Chester County government depends mostly on voter turnout.
If voter turnout is low the extreme right in Chester County will make political gains.

The political extreme right and their many conspiracy theories, most of which involve a Jewish international cabal of some sort, is something have lived with for a long time in Chester County.
The extremist right wing terrorists that extremist political groups and extremist religious groups may spawn are another thing that we have had and I believe still exist in Chester County.
Two KKK/Skinhead bomb makers from Parkesburg are now doing time for teaching pipe bomb making and plotting to blow up the Peach Bottom Power Plant:

“During the trial, Hull was described as devising plans to bomb abortion clinics, police departments and the Peach Bottom nuclear power plant.”
Agents also recorded a KKK cross-burning ceremony.
"Bullets, bombs, bloodshed and the Bible. That’s the only way we’re gonna to win this," he preached before the ceremony. "Anybody who goes down to their death fighting for this great cause, it’s a one-way trip to heaven."

Read more at Daily Local News:
Published: Friday, February 25, 2005

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Birth of a U.S. Wind Power Manufacturing Industry

This is what it's all about. Stop throwing tax money away at the dying oil, gas and coal industries. Stop supporting oil industries in foreign countries. Support American wind power industry and American jobs. 

 “The wind industry’s parts could be great for the U.S. economy as a whole — and especially the U.S. job market”

Friday, August 13, 2010

Why do I write about domestic terrorists on a Chester County blog?

It’s because I believe there are some of them still around here.  And they could be adding members to their groups.

"Intelligence Report: Movement at Root of Recent Police Murders Growing"

About Republican Terence Farrell’s fundraiser in Coatesville and Fern Kaufman's campaign

The newspapers and are lit up with articles and editorials about the Chester County Republican Committee’s successful attempt to block black (Democratic) voters in the Lower Oxford (56% turnout in Lower Oxford-80% Countywide average). It was an attempt to prevent the election of Democrat Tom Houghton, he won anyway.

For what I think are very good reasons GOP Chester County Commissioner Terence Farrell is alleged to be extremely unpopular among black voters. Republican Terence Farrell ran for Chester County Commissioner in 2007.  Patsy Ray was the President of the Coatesville City Council back then. Ms. Ray ran for election as a Democrat and I believe is still registered as a Democrat. In 2007 Republican Terence Farrell had a fundraiser at the Masonic Hall in Coatesville. So called "Democrat" Patsy Ray allegedly was the MC for Republican Terence Farrell’s fundraiser. In Chester County politics someone like Patsy Ray is called a "decoy".

Real Democrat Fern Kaufman is running against Republican Tim Hennessey in Coatesville. I expect shenanigans in Hennessey's district. They may have already begun.

For instance who is paying for Hennessey’s Office Manager Lisa Johnson’s team of very expensive attorneys in Johnson’s trial for allegedly manufacturing and distributing crack cocaine?


More recently there is the flap over a sign for Fern Kaufman’s campaign headquarters at 5th Avenue and Lincoln Highway in Coatesville.  Sign wars are a staple in Chester County politics. I think more serious stuff will be a part of this election. That's because I think this election has a link to the "pharmaceutical" business in Coatesville. 

Hmmm. I wonder if accused crack dealer Lisa Johnson is going to be the judge of elections in Coatesville's Fifth Ward this November like she was in the spring Primary Elections of this year. 


Hennessey's Office Manager Lisa Johnson was arraigned in January of 2010. Her original trial date was April 19, 2010. Ms. Lisa Johnson was the Judge of Elections in Coatesville's Fifth Ward in the  Primary Election that was held on May 18, 2010. Johnson's crack trial date was continued several times and now there is a pre-trial discovery hearing on September 1, 2010. 


I expect that the trial date will be continued until after November 2, 2010.


Patsy Ray allegedly goes to lunch with her friends Lisa Johnson and Linda Lavender frequently at State Representative Tim Hennessey's office in Coatesville. (Ms. Johnson may still be employed as Hennessey's Office Manager.) That's the connection between former Coatesville City Council President Rev. Patsy Ray and State Rep. Hennessey. 


You can listen to Rev. Ray say that she goes to Rep. Tim Hennessey's office here:


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Every so often a chunk of rock falls from one of the AMTRAK bridges in Coatesville onto the road below.


There are probably earlier references to AMTRAK’s falling bridges but I remember that City Councilperson Marty Eggleston commented on the chunks of stone falling from the bridges at several Coatesville City Council meetings. The quote below is from the minutes of the Coatesville City Council meeting of Monday November 13, 2007:
“Mr. Eggleston asked if the $1.3 million dollar grant money for the train station includes the bridge. Mr. Walker replied no. He stated he has met with Amtrak regarding the bridge. Mr. Eggleston voiced his concern on more traffic in the bridge. The bridge is falling apart and pieces are landing on the road below. Mr. Walker announced that Amtrak and Penndot do not have the money to maintain. He stated he replied to them that it is unacceptable. He stated the need for political power to put it in their budget to help get the dilapidated bridges fixed. Mr. Eggleston stated it is a safety issue because it is the gateway to the downtown area. It needs to be a priority. Mr. Walker explained that people need to continue to contact the state representatives.”
 Minutes Coatesville City Council Meeting Monday, November 13, 2007

So far no one has been injured by the falling rock.


My neighbor and hard working Coatesville resident Brian Pietropaolo thoughtfully drew up a letter to send to Mr. Dennis Fencil Division Engineer, Mid-Atlantic Division informing him “of the visual and structural condition of several bridges located in the City of Coatesville, PA.”


It’s here:

AMTRAK Generic.docx


For more information See Matt Baker’s blog post about the letter:

Letters to Amtrak – Need your help!

 I would also suggest sending a copies of the letter to:

Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr.
2000 Market Street, Suite 1870
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Senator Arlen Specter
600 Arch Street
Suite 9400
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Congressman Jim Gerlach
111 East Uwchlan Avenue 
Exton, PA 19341

I would also suggest sending an email copy of the letter to the Southeastern Pennsylvania First Suburbs Project
SEPA First Suburbs Project 
P.O. Box 1246 
Lansdowne, PA 19050 
Email: firstsuburbsproject@gmai.com
Phone: 267-977-9654