Thursday, september 28, 2017

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


  • 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.


  • 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:

  • 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

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.