Letters to the Editor

New views of Springfield Square’s stores and parking lot  from Riverview Road below Baltimore Pike. Photo by Bill Menke

New views of Springfield Square’s stores and parking lot from Riverview Road below Baltimore Pike. Photo by Bill Menke

Fool me once; fool me twice…

To the Editor:

Since moving to Swarthmore in the late 1970s, I have been aware that the deBotton family and National Realty Corporation have desired to migrate commercial uses over the Springfield border into Swarthmore. The first attempt was purchasing the 545 Riverview Road residence (wrongly listed on Zillow.com as in Springfield), and removing almost all the vegetation on the site. After neighbors complained of the apparent commercialization of the site, the deBotton family and National Realty Corporation purchased the adjacent property (541 Riverview). Early attempts to create the 60-foot buffer, as agreed by both Springfield and Swarthmore, included a tall berm and planting emphasizing evergreen species, with which I was involved.

Later, the deBotton family took the cause of forcing Swarthmore to accommodate commercial along this edge and Baltimore Pike to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, a case which deBotton and National Realty Corporation lost. They have not given up, but instead appear to have redirected their efforts.

Recent redesign of parts of the southern and western buffer with expanded parking and underground water recharge caused a new buffer planting, with which we assisted. Recently, however, major trees and buffer have been removed, opening the view at Baltimore Pike (as shown in the adjacent photo I took recently). In an apparent attempt to open more views into Springfield Square, with the added bonus of making a residence less desirable to either purchase or rent, the vegetation between 541’s rear facade and Springfield Square has been removed, opening a view to the Olive Garden, Fed Ex, and its parking area, in violation of the 1985 agreement.

Numerous neighbors spoke in opposition to these acts and others at the Borough Council meeting on November 14th, and additional exhibits have been forwarded to the Borough and Council representatives. Let’s see that these continued attempts to make Swarthmore residential properties commercial are halted, and the buffer, at the very least, restored.

William Menke

The joy of Charlie’s Hardware Store

To the Editor:

One of the joys of living in a small town is shopping in village stores that are built on a human scale and where shopkeepers treat me like a real person. I am grateful for the Co-op and the new Inn and Community Store as well as the many fine restaurants, specialty stores and services in the Ville. But today I am reminded of the particular role played by Swarthmore True Value Hardware Store (aka “Charlie’s Hardware”) in sustaining the well-being of the homes and workplaces of many of us.

While my father is an engineer and a contractor, I did not inherit his skill sets. As a consequence, I rely on the local hardware store, not only for supplies, but also for its “social capital,” that is, the store’s network of staff and customers who share their know-how and expertise with technologically-challenged residents such as me.

At Charlie’s store, I have had windows, screens, and lamps repaired; received expert advice on how to maintain the lawnmower and leaf blower I bought at the store; and purchased the just-right bird seed, grass seed, mulch, kitchen tile cleaner, pet stains cleaner, and humane mouse trap I needed. From housewares and paint to electrical supplies and awesome, well-made garden tools, Charlie’s Hardware is professional, friendly, and forgiving of customers, such as me, whose occasional lapses (leaving the weedwacker in the rain) and limited vocabulary (I am still confused about the difference between a throttle and a choke) might make them a bit of a spectacle in a big box hardware store.

More times than not, I have showed off to my wife and children my household and landscaping skills — clean floors, painted rooms, manicured hedges, functioning windows — knowing full well that without Charlie and his staff I would be a lost soul in my home and yard. Very competitively priced in a welcoming atmosphere, Swarthmore True Value Hardware Store is one of the town’s many treasures.

Mark Wallace

Update on the ‘Yale Avenue Speedway’

To the Editor:

The November Swarthmore Public Safety meeting drew more than 30 people. The first hour consisted of a great deal of public comment on the initial traffic calming methods used on Yale Avenue. Almost every member of the public who spoke agreed that this initial traffic calming method — the speed monitors on opposite sides of Yale — had not significantly reduced speeding.

David Creagan, chair of the Swarthmore Public Safety committee, said that one speed measurement had already been taken and a second one would be taken shortly after Thanksgiving. If that second one also proves that the traffic had not calmed significantly, he said, the committee would consider taking the next step.

One attendee suggested going directly to speed bumps and/or humps. There are speed humps on Jefferson Street in Media, which are inexpensive and work very well. There are funds available for these or any other choices.

Police Chief Brian Craig said that police were not available to monitor any of these intersections on a regular basis. This summary will be discussed at the January Swarthmore Borough Council meeting along with the January Swarthmore Public Safety meeting.

Bob Small

Grieving and moving forward

To the Editor:

Since our unexpected electoral outcome this month, many in Swarthmore and beyond are processing the loss of more than a national election. We see a vision of compassion, fairness, protecting our environment and seeking peace being repudiated by others locally and across the nation.

This week there are many who are grieving privately, not sure how to face this new day. I write to let you know that you are not alone, and that we can and must maintain hope, so that when ready, we can again move forward.

There are also folks in Swarthmore and beyond who have offered to help bridge this transition from loss to hope. If you or a friend would like to know more, please contact me at swatchair@gmail.com. Thank you.

Colleen Guiney

Here to grow

To the Editor:

I appreciate the recent thoughts in The Swarthmorean about the “echo chamber.” As a transplant, I am one who struggles with the gift and the challenge of living in a bubble and moving, back and forth, out of the bubble into the world beyond.

I have learned through experience it can be painful to stretch one’s mind, to examine one’s beliefs against those of others, to consciously decide to accept a part of the larger truth, hence the greater good, that has not been one’s particular truth. Yet, as my good doctor from Maryland would say, “We’re not here to be happy or to live an easy life. We’re here to grow.”

That said, I recently read an article in one of the national publications that offers food for thought. The piece, by Frederick M. Hess and Chester Finn Jr., originated in the U.S. News and World Report. Read it here: on.wsj.com/2fym2q3.

Carmen Bruce

‘Not driven by reason…’

To the Editor:

Larry Drew suggests I study the psychology of rational analysis with regard to those protesting the election of Donald Trump (The Swarthmorean, Nov. 18). But the psychologies of both the left and the right are not driven by reason, but by emotion.

In a sense there is no “psychology of rational analysis.” Psychology arises primarily and more powerfully from the reptilian midbrain which is programmed for short range survival; and the devil take the generations of the more distant future.

John Brodsky
Swarthmore, for www.tomkins.org

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