The Gladwyne Civic unanimously passed this resolution on April 1, 2009 to encourage open meetings in Lower Merion Township and adhering to the Sunshine Law.
WHEREAS, public participation, public scrutiny, open meetings and government transparency are essential to our representative democracy; and
WHEREAS, the legislature of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has stated: “the right of the public to be present at all meetings…is vital to the enhancement and proper functioning of the democratic process and that secrecy in public affairs undermines the faith of the public in government and the publics effectiveness in fulfilling its role in a democratic society”; and
WHEREAS, Lower Merion Township Commissioners are holding closed meetings, including but not limited to, Ad Hoc Budget Committee meetings and Ad Hoc Capital Improvement Plan Committee meetings; and
WHEREAS, Lower Merion Township Commissioners meet regularly to “receive reports from staff” which information would be helpful to the public as well; and
WHEREAS, the Board of Commissioners’ solicitor has stated that certain meetings are not required to be public, but that the Board may choose to make those meetings public in their discretion;
NOW THEREFORE, the Board of Directors of the Gladwyne Civic Association hereby resolves: Whether or not they may legally keep such meetings closed to the public, we respectfully call upon the Lower Merion Commissioners to open all of their meetings (Board, Committee, Ad Hoc, staff reports) to the public, except when their discussions involve issues meant to be exempted from the Sunshine Law (employment or termination of a specific individual; collective bargaining negotiations; purchase or lease of real estate; litigation).
RESOLVED, this First day of April, 2009, by the BOARD OF DIRECTORS of GLADWYNE CIVIC ASSOCIATION.
The Gladwyne Civic unanimously passed the resolution on March 25, 2008 on the proposed River Trail in Gladwyne. An explanation for this Resolution is below (resolution underneath explanation).
Lower Merion is made up of a diversity of communities that are important components to the overall character of the Township and is, in fact, defined by these unique, individual communities. No matter how a specific community derives its identity, each community is different and important and its attributes must be safeguarded and enhanced. Safeguarding each diverse and distinct part of Lower Merion is vital to retaining the overall attractiveness of Lower Merion.
Gladwynes defining attribute is its low-density, residential character that defines its quality of life. Gladwyne Civic Association (GCA) seeks to preserve and enhance this unique residential character and quality of life. GCA acknowledges Lower Merion Townships role in creating Gladwynes uniqueness and supports and encourages the Township in its efforts to preserve and enhance the special residential quality of life in Gladwyne. Gladwynes distinctiveness also derives from its expanses of public land private open spaces. Linked by public roads, all Lower Merion residents can enjoy hundreds of acres of existing, publicly accessible open space in Gladwyne. This open space adds to the quality of life for all of Lower Merion and GCA acknowledges the public and private efforts that established this open space. From Rolling Hill Park, to Riverbend Environmental Education Center, all Lower Merion residents can enjoy the public open space amenities that are currently located in Gladwyne.
Many of the recommendations in Lower Merion Townships 2006 Open Space Plan are proposed to occur in the community of Gladwyne. The GCA was not a part of the steering committee, which created the Open Space Plan. We have, however, through representatives, participated in the discussions of the Emerald Necklace and River Trail Committees that seek to implement many aspects of the 2006 Open Space Plan. After much thought and discussion, the GCA has come to conclusions regarding the Open Space Plans proposals and proposed implementations being considered by the Emerald Necklace and River Trail Committees.
OPEN SPACE OPPORTUNITIES: The GCA believe that, given the hundreds of acres of permanently preserved open space that already exist in Gladwyne, public resources should be used to acquire open space in other parts of the Township. The new park at Linwood and Athens is an excellent example of extending open space opportunities to other equally valuable communities in Lower Merion. The proposed Cynwyd Trail on an already existing and abandoned railway line, which is universally desired by the Cynwyd community, is another example. The public acquisition of trail easements on the property of Riverbend Environmental Education Center, whose mission includes the provision of public access to its 28 acres in Gladwyne, is yet another example.
PROPOSED OPEN SPACE LINKAGES: GCA believes that the Open Space Plans proposal to link public open spaces in Gladwyne by a series of public trails which could be used for recreation and will increase access (Open Space Plan, page 92) is not compatible with Gladwynes unique residential quality of life and will, in fact, disrupt and undermine it. Further, the Plans proposal to turn the private, informal, limited access pathways that are currently used only by private permission, into rights of way, open to the general public, would also be damaging to the residential quality of life (Bridlewild has since asked the Township to take its private trails off of any Township plan or map). Existing public open spaces in Gladwyne are readily accessible by public roads and the infrastructure of these parks should be improved and maintained so that more Lower Merion residents can enjoy them (better parking, internal park trail signage, invasive vine cutting and protecting wildlife/plants). PROPOSED RIVER TRAIL: The GCA believes that the construction of a higher density recreational trail along the Gladwyne corridor from Belmont Avenue to Conshohocken that is continuous and multi-use (Open Space Plan, page 92), is not compatible with Lower Merion Townships and Gladwynes unique residential quality of life and will, in fact, disrupt and undermine it. The proposed linkages and the proposed continuous and/or multi-use river trail cross an important line by making residential Gladwyne a destination for regional recreation.
Therefore, we, the Directors of the GCA, urge Lower Merion Township to assist in preserving and enhancing the residential quality of life that makes Gladwyne a special place to live and not to pursue the construction of the River Trail along Gladwyne.
March 2008 Gladwyne Civic Association Resolution:
WHEREAS, on March 5, 2008, the Parks and Recreation Committee of the Lower Merion Township Board of Commissioners received an update from the Parks and Recreation Director concerning the Schuylkill River West Trail Feasibility Study.
WHEREAS, Gladwynes two Commissioners, Mark Taylor (Ward 1) and Jenny Brown (Ward 2), both raised concerns about the desirability of a continuous, multiuse trail in Lower Merion from Four Falls in Conshohocken to Belmont Avenue (Sections 1, 2 and 3 of the proposed trail as described in the Open Space Plan at pages 94-96); and WHEREAS, Commissioners Brown and Taylor also raised concerns about user safety related to these sections of the proposed trail; and
WHEREAS, Commissioners Brown and Taylor raised concerns about siting a trail in such proximity to the Schuylkill Expressway and the active Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks; and
WHEREAS, Commissioners Brown and Taylor both stated that the Board of Commissioners has not approved a continuous, multiuse trail in this area, nor has the Board given any indication that it is likely to approve a multi-use trail in these proposed sections;
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Directors of the Gladwyne Civic Association, having studied these sections of the proposed trail that:
1. Gladwyne Civic Association adopts and supports the above stated concerns and comments of Gladwynes two commissioners who spoke on March 5, 2008.
2. Gladwyne Civic Association has health, safety and welfare concerns relating to Section 1 (Four Falls in Conshohocken to Waverly Road) of the proposed trail, as it would be very close to both the Schuylkill Expressway and active railroad tracks and would be sited on an extremely steep slope.
3. Gladwyne Civic Association has health and safety concerns relating to Section 2 (River Rd. from Waverly Road to Flat Rock Park) of the proposed trail, as it would not only be very close to the Schuylkill Expressway and active railroad tracks, but would also be in close proximity to River Road which is a narrow and busy road, with chronic and documented vehicular speeding problems.
4. Gladwyne Civic Association is concerned about construction costs as well as ongoing maintenance costs and ongoing costs of providing security for users of the proposed trail in Sections 1, 2 and 3.
5. Gladwyne Civic Association is concerned about duplicating an amenity that already exists, and urges planners to incorporate the existing continuous multiuse trail on the side of the Schuylkill River opposite but parallel to Sections 1, 2 and 3 of the proposed trail. The existing multi-use trail is not burdened by proximity to the Schuylkill Expressway and is accessible at the Fayette Street and Green Lane Bridges with an additional linkage planned via the R6 Cynwyd trail.
6. Gladwyne Civic Association is concerned about the advocacy for this proposed trail, especially by the consultant who was hired by the Township to perform an independent feasibility study for such a trail, when in fact the consultants study has yet to be presented to the Board of Commissioners and the Board of Commissioners has yet to decide whether it wants to implement such a trail.
This resolution is adopted this 25th day of March, 2008.