2017-2018 MEETING/EVENT DATES

regular Meetings are Held at Penn Valley Elementary School

301 Righters Mill Road

7:00-8:00 pm

UPCOMING EVENT - FALL SOCIAL

Sunday, October 15, 2017, 2pm. SPECIAL EVENT - Walk with us!  Join us for an easy stroll through the beautiful West Laurel Hill Cemetery to the new Pencoyd Bridge. Take in a view of the Schuylkill River before walking back to our cars/bicycles together. Bring the whole family and your neighbors! Meet at the Cynwyd Trail Parking lot at 175 E. Levering Mill Road, Bala Cynwyd PA 19004 (at the end of E. Levering Mill Rd after crossing Belmont Avenue).  Look forward to seeing you.

Next meeting...

Thursday, November 30, 2017 - Meeting

Thursday, January 25, 2018 - Meeting

Thursday, March 15, 2018 - Meeting

Thursday, May 31, 2018 - Meeting

past MEETINGs and MINUTES

Thursday, September 28, 2017, 7-8pm

Deer Culling Suspension - Michelle Detwiler

This is the second year that the Pennsylvania Gaming Commission has refused a culling permit to LMTS because the Township does not allow sport hunting within it’s boundaries. Commissioner Dan Bernheim feels confident that the cull will resume next year.  Deer are highly overpopulated in the Township contributing to car accidents, overgrazing of native and understory plants (creating ecological imbalance and stormwater runoff), Lyme disease risk and ornamental landscape damage.

School District Facilities Update - Jen Kelly

PVCA has been attending recent school board meetings and would like to help keep the community informed.  Whether you have kids in the district or not there are potential implications as homeowners, taxpayers, residents and parents.

Enrollment Growth

Stats:

  • 1990 LMSD enrolled approximately 5,200 students.

  • September 2017, enrollment approaching 8,600 students.

  • Montgomery County Planning Commission and Sundance Associates submitted demographic studies to the District in the fall of 2016. Both studies reported that enrollment will exceed 9,300 students by 2026

Current State of Existing Facilities

According to the Lower Merion School District 2017 Building Capacity Update (Gilbert Architects) May 2017, the following trends were noted:

  • Elementary schools at or exceeding optimum capacity

  • Middle schools are currently within an acceptable capacity range however enrollment will grow as large elementary classes move up

  • The high schools are currently pushing the limits of acceptable capacity range, but as the middle school population moves into the high schools, the optimum capacities will be exceeded.

  • The athletic fields and bus fleet are also nearing capacity.

School board has outlined 8 possible strategies:

  • Build onto existing elementary schools and maintain current feeder patterns.

  • Build a seventh elementary school to accommodate 500 students on the District owned St. Justin’s property.

  • Build an additional middle school for approximately 1,000 students and reconfigure grades at middle level 5-8 and elementary level K-4.

  • Expand capacity at Bala Cynwyd Middle School and Welsh Valley Middle School and reconfigure grades at middle level to 5-8 and elementary K-4.

  • Redistrict elementary attendance areas to shift students from schools with greatest capacity concerns or site restrictions (currently Penn Wynne) to sites with greater capacity and site flexibility, which would likely require construction at five schools.

  • Expand middle school capacity at Bala Cynwyd Middle School and Welsh Valley Middle School and maintain current grade configuration.

  • Build a new Kindergarten Center on the District owned St. Justin’s property and shift kindergarten students from elementary schools to the new Center.

  • Build temporary and/or permanent classroom addition at Harriton High School.

Discussion

  • Commissioners Dan Bernheim and Josh Grimes were in attendance and discussed the existence of an intergovernmental meeting to facilitate communication b/t commissioners and school board

  • Commissioner Bernheim also mentioned he spoke just this week with Robin Lynch to get updates on the issues

  • Commissioner Grimes encouraged community members to reach out with questions especially as rumors swirl around the internet

  • Ben Driscoll from the school board was also present and reiterated that there are pros and cons of all of the various options; noted that expansion (new school) requires considerable amount of land especially for a middle school and considerable investment.  It was noted that the school board is still considering the Islamic Center as a potential site

  • Community member suggested St. Justin’s seems too small for an elementary school

  • Community member asked about the old Narberth school.  Mr. Driscoll acknowledged that the location is great but stated that while the school board may have rights to reclaim the building it is not up to current standards (ADA) and would require consider investment/renovation; another community member expressed concern about evicting MELC given the importance of early childhood education; it was also noted that it is a rather small school.  

  • Community member suggested possible rental of empty Catholic schools

  • Multiple community members expressed dismay that schools had been sold when the population dipped years ago

  • Community members reiterated the importance of a flexible adaptable solution now so that facilities can flex with the enrollment needs and not repeat the errors of the past

  • Several community members with professional knowledge of changing demographics in our region expressed doubt that enrollment would level off or dip again mentioning that forces at play in the Philadelphia region would suggest otherwise

Next Steps:

  • Next Facilities community workshop is on October 16th at 7:00 pm in the administration boardroom; those who cannot attend in person can direct comments to the school board via email at:  communitycomments@lmsd.org

  • School board candidates debate on Thursday, October 26, 2017 at 7pm at the Welsh Valley Middle School, 325 Tower Lane E, Narberth PA 19072.  Sponsored by the Interschool Council and the League of Women Voters.

  • Penn Valley Civic would also like to hear feedback from residents on these issues and is actively looking for more volunteers to focus on these issues/meetings.  Contact us at pennvalleycivic@gmail.com

Greening of Montgomery Avenue project - Michelle Detwiler

The Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC) of Lower Merion consists of 7 volunteer residents who provide recommendations to the Board of Commissioners concerning natural resources and improving the environment in Lower Merion.  PVCA president Michelle Detwiler attended a recent EAC meeting and learned that EAC member Sara Schuh is working on a potential project to improve the look of Montgomery Avenue between Old Gulph and Levering Mill.  BOC president and commissioner Dan Bernheim said that he and Chris Leswing (head of Building and Planning) have recently spoken with Narberth representatives who are interesting in cooperating on the project.  Michelle will put Sara in touch with Dan to coordinate efforts.

Lawn Chemicals and Stream Water Health

Resident Ellen Briggs expressed concern about the contributions of lawn chemicals to the health of our local streams.  At the last PVCA meeting, we learned from the Lower Merion Conservancy that road salt is the number one pollutant in our streams.  Lawn chemicals including fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides are a close second.  These readily runoff with stormwater and pollute drinking water and local ecosystems.  Michelle Detwiler asked commissioners Dan Bernheim and Josh Grimes if it might be possible to include incentives to homeowners with chemical free lawns in the new stormwater management plan (MS-4) being considered by the BOC.  For tips on using less lawn chemicals, see this article from Rodale’s Organic Life.  Converting lawn to shrubs and perennial beds or rain gardens is one way to help absorb rainwater and prevent runoff.  Also consider using shredded leaves (this can be done with a lawn mover) as natural mulch under shrubs and trees instead of trying to grow grass in these areas.

Street Trees

Resident Jerry Aronson expressed concern about the fact that street trees being removed by homeowners in Penn Valley are not be replanted at the same rate.  The character of our area is defined by our tree-lined streets (particularly deciduous).  Some areas are starting to have a nonuniform look due to openings in street tree canopies.  Sue Aronson asked for a list of recommended trees for our area.  Click here for a list of native tree recommendations.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017, 7-8pm - Watershed 101!  Learn a little about waterways in Penn Valley. 

Maurine McGeehan, Executive Director and Chelsea Heck, Director of Education for the Lower Merion Conservancy discussed the important ecological principles of our waterways and the regional work of the Conservancy to improve the health of the Delaware River Basin. Our waterways have been impacted by human use since the settling of Philadelphia.  Come learn about the fascinating history of Philadelphia drinking water and how Lower Merion residents still play a major role in Philadelphia's water management today! 

(Have water problems on your property?  Contact the Conservancy's Stream Smart House Call program which works with individual homeowners to make changes on their properties that can also support the health of local creeks! www.streamsmarthousecalls.org)

After a presentation by the Lower Merion Conservancy, we spent 1.5 hours discussing potential development of Lot 6 Old Gulph Rd.  The developer (Vaughn Smith) and lawyer (Dan Coval) presented their plans to approximately 15 residents.  Commissioner Dan Bernheim and School Board representative Ben Driscoll were also in attendance.  We had a civilized but frank discussion pleading that they consider leaving the lot undeveloped for all of the reasons that we have outlined in our letters to the Township.  Peter Grove read his Mainline Times Op-ed piece, and PV resident John Newhall read his letter to the Township.  

Residents were particularly disheartened by the idea of altering the historic view shed (and one of the ecological hearts of Lower Merion) and by the plan to put a driveway at an already dangerous and challenged intersection (Old Gulph Rd and Mill Creek Rd).  West Mill Creek representatives lamented developing so close to a flood plain and the already impaired Mill Creek stream (as presented the Lower Merion Conservancy).  Residents share the worry about continued development through subdivision and the resulting pressure on an over-burdened school system and our roadways, particularly in absence of adequate pedestrian/cycling infrastructure in our area.

Most residents would like to see Lot 6 undeveloped.  That said, we requested that the developer provide renderings of what the landscaping might look like in their current plans, particularly driving west on Old Gulph Road.  We also requested that more native plantings (trees with perennial underplantings) be incorporated into the preservation area, particularly to minimize the view of back of the homes from Old Gulph Rd.  One resident asked about the credentials/experience of the landscape architect to incorporate environmentally sensitive landscape design with sustainable plantings, and we did not receive an adequate answer on that.

Monday, March 13, 2017, 7-8pm - Meet U.S. Representative Dwight Evans at the Merion Tribute House.  

BOC President and our Commissioner, Dan Bernheim has arranged for Lower Merion Township residents to meet with newly elected Representative, Dwight Evans and his staff on Monday, March 13, 7-8pm.  Evans represents the 2nd District of PA.  View a map of the 2nd District here.  Please consider carpooling as the Merion Tribute House (625 Hazelhurst Ave, Merion Station, PA 19066) will have limited parking.  

Stay afterward from 8-9pm for the Federation of Civic Associations meeting if you'd like to learn more about the upcoming noise ordinance being considered by the Township.  The new noise ordinance will also be discussed at the March 22 meeting of the Board of Commissioners.  It will likely be the last public discussion before adoption.  Everyone is welcome to attend.  The current draft of the ordinance can be found here.

January 31, 2017 - Pedestrian Safety Committee meeting

Attendance: 11

Michelle Detwiler (president), Jen Kelly (treasurer), Danielle Chacko (secretary), Suzanne Zeleznik, Kris Prendergast, Yaz Rosner, Albert Yan, Grace Ong Yan, Joan Trachtenberg, Kay Sude, Jonathan Rodriguez

1. Township Public Works Committee Pre-Meeting Discussion about Petition for Street Lamps on Righters Mill Rd

Jen Kelly gave an update on the progress being made by the PVCA Pedestrian Safety Committee. This included a petition to Public Works by residents of Righters Mill Rd to add street lamps on Righters Mill Road between Centennial and Woodbine.  Board President and Commissioner Dan Bernheim was instrumental in bringing the petition to residents.  See his letter to neighbors here.

This was in response to the hit and run death that occurred in December 2016. A Righters Mill resident secured permission signatures from over 75% of residents on the strip to approve the inclusion of 7 streetlights. These lights will cost $2,000 and will be placed on every other utility pole in the designated block area.  Only one neighbor has expressed concern about light pollution these lamps might cause to their residence. This concern will hopefully be addressed by adjusting the light placement away from their residence, if possible.  

In addition to the Righters Mill block, members also discussed the need for more street lamps on other darkened streets in Penn Valley to help avoid future accidents. At a minimum, city and school bus stops need to be well lit for the safety of everyone, particularly our children.  To get approval for new street lights, 75% of residents must sign a petition in support.

Michelle Detwiler will write up comments from today’s meeting on behalf of the PVCA and present them to the Public Works Committee.  Read her comments here.  The final vote and approval of the lights will be addressed at the Public Works Meeting on Feb 1, 2017.  Some residents of Righters Mill Rd will also attend this meeting to speak in support of new lamps for this otherwise dark road.

2. Funding for Pedestrian Safety for Kids

So far, $300 in donations has been collected from the community to help fund the purchase of reflective gear for children attending local public schools.  Thank you to these generous donors!  To raise awareness about the importance of wearing reflective materials at night, PVCA has plans to invite local police officers to Penn Valley Elementary during lunchtime to talk about walking/cycling safety.  Some of the ‘pedestrian safety’ donations will likely be used to distribute highly reflective adhesive dots to the 4th and 5th graders for use on backpacks and/or coats etc.  Funds collected are not enough to purchase items for every student or school so the following suggestions were discussed:

1. Contact the high schools to help promote and support the idea. The ‘BuildOn’ projects may be a way for the students to participate.  

2. Add ‘dot’ reflectors to the Move-Up day package for Middle Schoolers

3. Ask the high school football and basketball players to come to the lower schools to promote wearing reflective strips as part of their service day.

Kay Sude will follow up with LMHS and BuildOn.

3. HomeOwners Can Also Help Promote Pedestrian Safety

It was discussed that all neighbors living in Penn Valley should be more responsible about cutting back their shrubs and trees and clear areas for better vehicular and pedestrian sightlines.

Residents should also report any darkened lights, unsafe road conditions, speeders, or any unsafe issues on the Lower Merion Township App called  “Report It”.  This will call attention to any unsafe issues that need to be addressed.

4. Concerns about Speeding on Moreno Rd and Penn Valley Rd

Rotating speed detectors were discussed as a possible addition to Moreno Rd to help slow down fast drivers. According to long-time residents, both of these roads have become in recent years major cut through streets for many people.  Fast drivers have made it unsafe for neighborhood children to play, for pedestrians to walk their dogs and for some homeowners to even park on the street.  Speed bumps were also brought up as an option.  Pros and cons of all solutions were discussed and will be fleshed out more in the next meeting.  In the meantime people are urged to use the “Report It” app to help the Township keep account of all the issue types.

5. Gas Odors on Righters Mill

Residents have noticed the smell of natural gas along the length of Righters Mill Road for quite some time.  While PECO has been called out many times to address the situation, no corrective action has been taken to date.  We suspect that old gas lines need replacing.  Kris Prendergast will follow up with Don Cannon of Public Works.  We have heard that gas lines have been replaced in other areas of Lower Merion and would like to know the status for our area.

The next PVCA meeting will be held on February 22, 2017 at the PV Elementary School at 7pm.

November 30, 2016 - Civic Meeting, Presentation on West Mill Creek Park

Attendance: 15

Michelle Detwiler (president), Jen Kelly (treasurer), Danielle Chacko (secretary), Commissioner Josh Grimes, Peter Groves, Peter and Ellen Briggs, Sue and Jerry Aronson, Kent Walker, Bob Monroe, John Baker, Linda Pitt, Steve Filippone and Jan Wechsler

1. Federation of Civics Meeting Update

Josh Grimes and Michelle Detwiler discussed upcoming revisions to the LM noise ordinance. The Board of Commissioners will meet in January 2017 to discuss the matter further.  Interested residents are encouraged to attend and voice their opinions.

2. PVCA Community Picnic/Concert Recap in October 2016

Danielle Chacko gave an update on a successful first annual Penn Valley Picnic. On a lovely sunny fall day, roughly 50 people joined together as a community to enjoy live music by the band Wheelhouse.  Neighbors came with picnic baskets, and ice cream was provided by Village Treats. Our younger citizens joined in on the fun and set up tables selling homemade crafts and Cub Scout popcorn. We hope this event continues to grow in size for years to come.  

3. Historic Sign Refurbishment Update

Jen Kelly discussed the progress being made on restoring our historic William Penn Quaker Penn Valley signs.  Twelve signs have been found.  A group of residents has cleaned many.  PVCA will buy new white, aluminum powder-coated backings to replace the deteriorating plastic backings, and the Township will install them.

As part of the discussion, the topic of our historic green and yellow street signs came up. Many signs need fresh paint and some are unstable and need more reinforcement.  It was said that Township Public Works is handling all signs and is undertaking a rolling maintenance plan to manage all street signs through the next year.

In addition, we learned that the Township has over 300 missing signs. One tough intersection missing a sign is HagysFord/RightersMill.  It was asked that if we see signs missing, please take a picture and upload it to the Township’s “Report It” app.

4. West Mill Creek Park Presentation/Slideshow

Ellen Briggs and Michelle Detwiler took the group through a picture presentation and question and answer section about the beautiful Mill Creek Dog Park and new Wildlife Garden.  They discussed the projects that were completed to make this park a lovely and safe place to visit. New signs, fencing, seating area, clear walking path and lots of plantings and landscaping made this dog park a wonderful place for neighbors to enjoy. Please note that dogs need a permit if they will be allowed off the leash.  View the slideshow here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B2EQctdFU8YnR2Z6cmJ3XzZvQ0k

5.  Development of 6 Old Gulph Road

Peter Grove (former Bridlewild Trail Master and 2016 LMTS Lifetime Achievement Award recipient for environmental efforts within the Township) discussed the growing concern of preserving the Mill Creek Area from further housing development, particularly at this location (Lot 6 Old Gulph Road) across from West Mill Creek park. It was suggested forming a group of concerned citizens together with the Lower Merion Conservancy, PVCA, Lower Merion Township and other neighboring Civic Associations to work on finding a solution to preserving this historic area/green space.  Michelle Detwiler will send out a volunteer list to help Peter as he continues to spearhead this cause and research the Mill Creek Historic Preservation Agreement of 1941 which protects this area from development and tree removal.  Concerned residents are encouraged to attend the Planning Commission meeting on Monday, January 9th at 7pm to voice opinions on the project.  Info about the meeting is here: http://www.lowermerion.org/Home/Components/Calendar/Event/6552/51?npage=2

A link to Peter Grove’s letter to the Township is here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1vwxleTu0-SyDlvrIACJoTF2EZsCOhm1KXnoUSAYU8Zw/edit?usp=sharing

6.  Kent Walker and Bob Monroe expressed a request for a new front gate for the Township Transfer Station.  They live across from the property and feel that the look and functionality could be greatly improved. 

7.  Next PVCA meeting will be held on Wednesday, February 22, 2017 at Penn Valley Elementary School.

September 21, 2016 - Officers/Civic Meeting

Attendance: 5

Michelle Detwiler (president), Jen Kelly (treasurer), David Blumenthal, and Sue and Jerry Aronson

1. Community Clean-up

David expressed concerns about litter at the Gladwyne exit ramp at Hollow Road.  Members discussed the idea of a community clean-up day.  Planning would require a conversation with the Township.

2. Pedestrian Safety

Michelle gave a brief review of recent pedestrian safety improvements including road striping along Hagys Ford Road.  Jerry Aronson expressed interest in continuing pedestrian safety efforts through possible give-aways at the upcoming picnic.  (This was later tabled due to cost concerns but would remain a viable option at future gatherings).  He also expressed an interest in raising public awareness about potholes and trip hazards.  Michelle agreed to post about Walk to School Day on the civic FB page.

3. Treasurer’s Report

Jen reported that we have received 42 donations from the fall newsletter solicitation.

4. October Picnic planning

Members discussed communications options including postings on the new PVCA website, FB, PVE and Welsh Valley newsletters, Next Door on Old Gulph, personal invitations to commissioners and Ped Safety Working Group, and email list.  Plans were made to create flyers and yard signs and distribute these throughout Penn Valley, including at large institutions.  Volunteer sign-up sheets would be made available at the picnic including opportunities to help with the traffic triangle gardens, social media communications, PV signage clean-up, and block captains.  Note: A PVCA officer’s meeting was subsequently held 9/27/2016 to flesh out all details of the picnic planning including set-up, outreach, ice cream give-away, decorations, invitations, and overall budget.  All officers, Michelle Detwiler, Danielle Chacko and Jen Kelly were in attendance.

5.  Added value of the PVCA

It was agreed that the PVCA could be a source of news and information concerning important local issues (taxes, school enrollment etc.).  Discussion of possible quarterly news blurbs to members.

6.  Ideas for future discussion

Communications strategy to include Narberth and social media and a potential community walk (with environmental education stations) to be held at West Mill Creek Park.

June 12, 2016 - Civic Meeting - Lower Merion Historical Society Presentation

Ted Goldsborough created a delightful opportunity for Penn Valley residents to learn more about area history.  Over 25 neighbors packed the conference room of the lovely Lower Merion Historical Society to hear about the history of the Fairview Union Sunday School and stories about Percival Roberts, Jr., owner of the 539 acre estate of Penshurst Farm.  Thanks for your efforts and enthusiasm, Ted!

March 7, 2016 - Civic Meeting - Proposed boathouse

Julia Barol made a presentation on the proposal for a boathouse at Flat Rock Park. The presentation is posted below for your review. Residents with links to the Lower Merion and Harriton High School crew teams expressed concern about childrens' safety in the current environment as well as the tenuous nature of current lease agreements as reasons necessitating a local boathouse in Lower Merion. They also reiterated their support for continuing the tradition of crew at the public high schools and the benefits rowing has provided their children. The proposed boathouse would provide bays for the public high schools as well as a bay for community use. A contingent of River Road residents raised concerns regarding potential traffic flows, congestion/noise on the river, funding and size/scope of the project. Commissioners Dan Bernheim and Josh Grimes were in attendance. Further information can be found at: www.LMCboathouse.org

October 21, 2015 - Civic Meeting

Approximately 50 people attended the 10/21/15 meeting of the Penn Valley Civic Association, including Josh Grimes, running for Ward 2 Commissioner of Penn Valley and Gladwyne, Ward 1 Commissioner, Dan Bernheim, school board candidate David Federman, ex Commissoner Mark Taylor, LMSD Director of Operatons, Pat Guinanne and LMSD Director of Transportation, Dennis Witt and LMPD Traffic Safety Unit Commander, Robert Ruggiero.

Chris Leswing of Lower Merion Township presented on "How Does Penn Valley fit into the Comprehensive Plan."
He briefly discussed the vision, principles and goals and objectives of the Township's long range comprehensive plan.

The vision for the township has not changed for the last one hundred or so years. The primary vision is for Lower Merion to be "A Great Place to Live."

A major goal of the plan is to "maintain and retrofit the built environment for modern realities." Leswing explained that fixing auto-centered communities of years past by installing sidewalks and traffic calming measures, and addressing storm water management are two examples.

A Complete Streets approach breaks down the traditional separation between planning and designing for drivers, public transit, walkers and cyclists. And safety is the first principle.

Some Penn Valley specific initiatives include downgrading Hagys Ford Rd from a secondary road to a tertiary road - designed to be more of a local road than a thoroughfare. A tertiary road would complement the neighborhood rather than cater to drivers trying to get somewhere quickly.

Leswing noted that Penn Valley is right on the border of a Lower Merion sidewalk network and that there is reason to have hope for connection.

The strategy: Plan will hopefully be adopted by the Lower Merion Township Board of Commissioners on 10/28/15.
Commissioners develop a list of priorities. (Sidewalks were in the list of top 5 priorities from Lower Merion residents)

The Penn Valley Civic and its committees will help to develop a map of where sidewalks are necessary and where specific safety concerns are.
The challenges are that there is not enough existing roadway along the entire corridor to accommodate cars, pedestrians and bicyclists. Some will be on residential property. And funding. Township may be able to pay for improvements or match funds or help to determine how to find funding.

Leswing said that we are moving in the right direction. Making Penn Valley a walkable community would be in line with what constitutes a great place to live in 2015. 

There will be lane striping happening in the next year which will help facilitate some traffic calming measures in the near future. This will include cross walks. 

Officer Ruggiero, Lower Merion's Traffic Safety Unit Commander was once again in attendance. He cautioned against cross walks that might give pedestrians a false sense of security and suggested being careful in selecting sections for cross walks. He indicated a willingness to work with Penn Valley on immediate and long term safety concerns. 

 

NEWS

Fall picnic a success!

Thanks to everyone who attended our 1st annual Fall Picnic and Concert in the Park on October 16, 2016!  Over 50 residents convened on the soccer field of Penn Valley Elementary School for conversation, free ice cream (thank you Village Treats of Narberth!) and live music by rocking and classy Mainline band, Wheelhouse.



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