Lansdale Primary Election 2013

Lansdale’s primary election is a week away and with it a bit of reflection is helpful. Looking back at the past five years a lot of good things have happened in Lansdale. Since 2009 the following new events have added to Lansdale’s already busy calendar:

  • The Lansdale Farmers’ Market began in 2009 providing residents and visitors alike with with fresh fruits, vegetables and other items as well as a community gathering place.
  • First Fridays began under the North Penn Community Network in 2009 and then was taken over by Discover Lansdale in 2011. This event provides a nice surge of people into downtown once a month.
  • Lansdale’s first ever Oktoberfest began in 2009 raising over $15,000 for the Lansdale Library.
  • The hugely successful Lansdale Craft Beer Festival began in 2010 raising over $45,000 for local charities.
  • Molly Maguires Saint Paddy’s Day One Miler benefiting Manna on Main Street.
  • Founders’ Day began in 2011.
And since 2009, the following businesses have also come into town making Lansdale a destination once again, thus helping existing businesses thrive:
 
  • Molly Maguires Irish Pub and Restaurant opened their second location in Lansdale in 2010 after they helped revitalize Phoenixville in 2005.
  • Montella’s Sports Bar opened in 2010 after a full renovation of the historic Sir Philip Fox Hotel.
  • Virago Bakery opened in 2010 ushering in Lansdale’s first all natural,  gluten free and vegan bakery.
  • Water: Elemental Arts and Crafts opened in the Dresher Arcade in 2011 marking Lansdale’s first quality art gallery.
  • Round Guys Brewery, Lansdale’s first and only brewery, opened in 2012.
  • Tabora Cafe opened their second location next to Railroad Plaza welcoming SEPTA passengers in 2012.
  • Shell Fish Sue, Lansdale’s first seafood restaurant, opened in 2012.
The common thread through all these new events and businesses opening in Lansdale is that they are all the result of GRASSROOTS ingenuity and small business toil which have made a REAL and TANGIBLE improvement in Lansdale. This is what residents and visitors refer to when they say Lansdale is turning a corner or that Lansdale is the next Phoenixville or Ambler.
 
Unfortunately, some members of Council, our Administration and members of the Economic Development Committee have instead embraced a centralized, top-down approach that has included a hurried hiring of a business consultant, Delta Development, for $40,000.  Mr. Dunigan, Mr. Strahm and Ms. Fuller all said that not hiring this consultant would “hold up” development in Lansdale or result in “analysis paralysis”. In fact, this consultant has arranged only one or two meetings in the past year with the result of NO new businesses in town and NO reports to the Economic Development Committee.
 
Additional emphasis and money has been placed and spent on branding and wayfinding. Does anyone go to Ambler, Phoenixville or Doylestown because of their brand? No. The Administration also says we need to spend $4 million on the Borough Hall building because if “we don’t invest in ourselves, no one else will”. Does anyone go to Ambler, Phoenixville or Doylestown for their Borough Halls? No. Yet another example of a top-down, centralized approach that only expands bureaucracy.
 
Lastly, the current administration and some Council members feel that if we hire enough consultants and spend another $4 million on the Arts Center it will be a success. With any successful arts venue, the demand always comes first from the arts organizations ORGANICALLY. Then as the arts organization gains the respect and trust of its patrons, a home is found. The Administration’s approach is backwards. As I have said in the past, the current discussion focuses on the building and not on the arts, where it should be for success.
 
This is why I support Lansdale Borough Council candidates who also realize that Lansdale’s REAL success has not been from a centralized, top-down “spend our way” to revitalization, but rather a GRASSROOTS,  COMMON SENSE approach that enables a true, long-lasting, sustainable rebirth to occur.

Up to Arrison's party 047

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2 responses to “Lansdale Primary Election 2013

  1. Richard Strahm

    Andy – I, too, like seeing the growth and vitality that Lansdale has seen in the past few years. But I’m going to have to admit that I’m a bit confused by your logic. On the one hand, you laud First Fridays and Founders Day — but them slam me and Mary Fuller. You do know that Mary and I, along with the Discover Lansdale board and committee members are the ones behind those events that bring thousands of visitors to our borough and help boost the revenues of our local businesses.

    Mary, Dan and myself see the benefits of BOTH grassroots efforts AND borough sponsored initiatives to make our town prosper.

    I’m also surprised that you are against the investment in an upgraded municipal complex. As mayor, you are charged with the oversight of the police department. In fact, your office is located there, so I’m sure you see first hand how dilapidated, cramped and ill-suited that former library is for our police force. It seems to me that you’re saying that our police force should be content to work in sub-standard conditions. I’m not sure what grassroots efforts would help there. Prudent investment in our community, be it our streets, utilities or facilities, is necessary and essential.

    Richard Strahm

    • Richard,

      Yes, I do laud those events, and I give credit where credit is due; I always have. But I am also critical (yes, one can give praise and criticism at the same time) of the rushed approval for the hiring of Delta last year for the purpose of advising the Borough on our business improvement district. As I’m sure you remember, you and I argued over the decision to hire them without an RFP. And what did they do in a year? Nothing. Not even a report to the EDC. Yes, I am critical of this (and I’d hardly call it slamming you).

      We’ll have to agree to disagree on the topic of the Borough Hall complex. I believe that the Police Station needs upgrading; I have never disputed that. However, I simply don’t believe we need a new Borough Hall.

      Furthermore, no one denies investing in sewers, electric and roads. The Borough has done that for 141 years without any lapses resulting in catastrophes or major mishaps, and I’m sure it will continue to do so. What concerns me is that under the rubric of “Economic Development”, a lot of money is to be spent on questionable projects such as the arts center. Lansdale’s current turnaround is attributable to many factors, but one of its main catalysts has been the addition of shops and restaurants that I have recruited without the aid of consultants. When I was chairman of the Economic Development Committee,we actively went after the businesses themselves. Even the agendas of the meetings were the businesses contacted, the businesses who responded and the businesses that were given tours of Lansdale. Not rocket science, but practical. Hell, we even convinced a pub, the Chip Shop, from Brooklyn to come to Lansdale for a tour. Unfortunately, the Administration removed me from the chairmanship of the EDC and the direction of the meetings started to focus on branding, wayfinding, etc. In short, the EDC went from doing something that actually showed businesses the Borough and resulted in them coming to town– like Round Guys Brewery– to things that required us to spend money on consultants with questionable effectiveness.

      Now it’s election time and I will support those candidates whose philosophies are more in line with my own, and the voters will in turn vote for the candidates whose philosophies are more in line with theirs. That’s what elections are all about.

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