For those who don’t know, petitions will be due in a month setting the stage for the 2013 Lansdale election in which five Council seats will be contested in addition to the mayor’s seat. As I had mentioned in my first entry in this blog, my purpose in writing has been to get the public more involved and aware of the governing process. At the time of this writing, I am unsure whether or not I will run again for the position of mayor, but regardless, I will offer my vision for Lansdale including a few observations I have made in the past four and a half years with a sprinkling of criticism and a peppering of praise. In order to make reading this a little easier, I will break these observations up into “microblogs” that I will publish once a week or so. For my microblog number one, The Borough Prior to 2010 is the theme.
The Borough Prior to 2010
A common tactic for incoming elected officials is to demonize their predecessors. This is only natural since an election is a competition– like sport– where there is a winner and a loser. However, in sport there is also an ethic of sportsmanship. In fact, it is the American way. While this Council and administration have done some very, good things—which I will eventually come to—there has also been a collective amnesia regarding some of the accomplishments that actually occurred in the few short years prior to 2010.
When my wife, Szilvia, and I moved back into the Borough in 2003 after a long absence, Lansdale was looking a little rough. There was the dilapidated Turbo Building at the intersection of West Main Street and Valley Forge Road and the empty Drug Emporium building at the entrance to Lansdale on South Broad Street. These and other eyesores in town were in desperate need of rehabilitation. Fast forward to 2008: there was redevelopment of the West End Gateway to town including the Turbo Lofts and Walgreens (we even have a Starbucks now!), the redevelopment of the Pavilion Shopping Center and the entirely new Station Square complex and Homewood Suites Hotel to name two other big projects. There was also the re-purposing of the Santerians building into very nice apartments called the Silk Factory and the transformation of the softball fields on East Hancock Street into that lovely Stonycreek Park that many enjoy. And to top it all off, there was the completion of the White’s Road Rotary Centennial Bandshell in 2005. Not bad for five years! I also know that Lansdale certainly appreciates its new sidewalks and street trees along Main and Broad Streets which were part of a Federal grant given by our Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz to Council in 2004. What I would like to remind the public and our Council and administration is that not once was the previous Council or administration thanked or acknowledged publicly during the dedication of the Streetscape Project that cold morning back in January 2011. These have been important steps in the revitalization of Lansdale which have served as a catalyst to where we are today (Hell, I didn’t even have a hand in those!). To dismiss these achievements is irresponsible. (And like I said, there will also be praise for this Council and administration.)
My advice for the future: give praise when appropriate; it makes for a more harmonious community.
Here are a few before and after photos:
BEFORE: Santerian’s Building (note boarded up windows)
AFTER: The Silk Factory Apartments
BEFORE: Main Street Looking West along old Turbo Building
AFTER: Pizza Hut, Saigon on Main, Starbucks, others
BEFORE: Gary’s Drug Emporium, Town and County Bowling, The Patio Cafe
AFTER: The Pavilion with numerous shops and new store fronts
BEFORE: The old Ford Philco Plant
AFTER: Station Square apartments and Shops, Homewood Suites Hotel
Main Street Looking East with the new trees and sidewalks (no before photo here either)
The lovely Stony Creek Park (unfortunately, I could not find any before photos of the softball fields)
The White’s Road Rotary Centennial Bandshell built in 2005