Letters to the Editor

Batter up!

To the Editor:

For many years, we have enjoyed Sunday evenings in a great small-town American way by getting together with a great group of people for a couple hours of casual, recreational softball, and frequently, sitting around in the summer evening afterwards for talk and friendship. This has been a Swarthmore tradition since at least the 1930s, and we hope you’ll be part of it this summer. The Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, when we open the season, is only a few weeks away, and so we’d like to invite all Swarthmorean readers and their friends and family of teenage years or older to come out and play.

We play every Sunday evening from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend, beginning about 5:15 p.m. or so, on the college fields behind the Presbyterian Church on Harvard Avenue. We end about 8 p.m. or when it’s too dark to see. It’s easy and casual: you can come when you want to and leave any time, and you don’t have to own a glove; borrowing a glove from a player on the batting team occurs regularly.

We hope to see you out there on May 28th!

Al Federico, Fran Donnelly, J. W. Clements and Matt Ainslie

Yes, to the referendum

To the Editor:

We are planning to vote “yes” on the Swarthmore21 referendum which will be on the ballot on May 16. The referendum would allow two eating establishments in town to serve beer. (And if they are willing to pay more for the license, wine. And if they are willing to pay a lot more, liquor.)

We are excited about the possibility of being able to pick up a six pack or a bottle of wine at the Co-op. And we love the idea of walking into town to grab a burger and a beer. But beyond the selfish reasons for voting “yes,” we believe having a few more fun restaurants in town will be good for Swarthmore’s future.

We love Swarthmore. We have lived here 22 years and raised our four kids here. We often brag to our out-of-town friends about what a uniquely wonderful community it is. But the happy little downtown we experienced when we arrived 22 years ago is changed. Michael’s, Swarthmore Music, T. Bumbles, the Jumping Cow, Finlandia, and the Book Source are gone, leaving many empty storefronts in their place.

Passing the May 16 referendum might be the beginning of a bit of revitalization of the downtown. Other towns that have passed similar measures have seen a marked increase in the time people spend shopping downtown. And in the evening, more people are out and about with “eyes on the street” keeping the area safe.

When we took our oldest son, Ben, went to Oberlin College, we were immediately struck by the vibrancy of the little town. It is similar in many ways to Swarthmore. Students and locals of all ages mingle in the small downtown. The new Oberlin Inn is beautiful. It is safe to walk the streets at all hours of the day and night. And the annual Big Parade includes kids on tricycles and a senior-citizen brigade doing a lawn-chair routine.

But in some ways, Oberlin is very different from Swarthmore. There are no empty storefronts (that we could see), and there are a number of lively restaurants where you can order a beer or a glass of wine with your meal. The Feve was our favorite lunch spot with great salads and burgers. In the evening, it became more of a gathering place, with locals and college-types watching games at the bar and eating the Feve’s famous tater-tots by the dozen. On the weekends, the upstairs hosted local bands.

Before having kids, we spent a couple years in Hanover, N.H., where quirky consignment shops and a bakery thrived alongside places like Five Olde, our favorite hangout serving burgers and pizza in a cozy basement pub. The town was alive, and we always knew we could walk home if necessary.

In our experience, small college towns — with eating establishments that serve beer and wine — are great places to live. We would love to see Swarthmore take advantage of this opportunity to become a more vibrant town. Let’s pass the referendum on May 16!

Beth and Steve Murray

If EPA matters, say so!

To the Editor:

On March 1, President Trump issued Executive Order 13777, “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda.” The EO requires federal agencies to evaluate existing regulations and make recommendations regarding their repeal, replacement, or modification. As part of this effort, agencies are required to receive input from the public.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is accepting comments via an established docket from any member of the public about its regulations. EPA’s national program offices have also established national meetings and teleconferences in which the public may participate. The website at www.epa.gov/laws-regulations/regulatory-reform provides specific information about how to submit recommendations. The direct link to the docket is at: www.regulations.gov/docket?D=EPA-HQ-OA-2017-0190.

This effort to reform EPA’s regulations is moving fast. The deadline for all comments is May 15, 2017. Take action now to let EPA know that its regulations are in place to protect our environment and public health! Sincerely,

Virginia Thompson

Invitation to a Refugee

To the Editor:

I have no credentials as a poet, but was inspired to write this for Poetry Month.

There is room for you in my country,
Room for you in my city, town, village,
Room in my neighborhood,
Room in my home;
There is room for you in my heart.

Stuart Hibben

Ageism at Swarthmore Swim Club

To the Editor:

This year the Swarthmore Swim Club is raising its membership fee for seniors by more than 100%. Many seniors I have talked with are upset and hurt, as am I, by what feels like an arbitrary and thoughtless decision. Such a dramatic increase is prohibitive for many and will be a deterrent to membership. I have asked both the membership secretary and the board person in charge of communications and publicity for an explanation.

The membership person simply does not respond and the communications person responds, in my opinion, in a patronizing and dismissive manner. I also asked whether other categories of membership have increased by the same amount — over 100% — and for a copy of the club’s budget and financial statement. My request for this information has been abruptly refused. I consider this lack of respect to be a form of elder abuse.

The club’s Mission Statement refers to an inclusive experience for members of all ages ( i.e., multi and intergenerational), and states that the club, established in 1955, was “to be inclusive, and to promote neighbors getting to know and interact with one another and building new relationships.”

The borough’s excellent Aging-In-Place Task Force issued its 119-page report in December 2015. It’s full of suggestions for seniors to be encouraged to interact with others to help alleviate problems such as isolation and loneliness. Swim Club board members need to read this report — in its entirety.

Again the swim club’s Mission Statement says that it provides a place for all ages to socialize — something crucial for the psychological health and well-being of seniors — and a green space for any seniors living in apartments, or anyone “who enjoys a quiet wooded setting.”

The swim club board needs to apologize to Swarthmore’s senior community and to rescind the 100% increase in fees. How can we consider Swarthmore a caring and inclusive community with recent actions by the Swim club board?

Allan Irving

Forward, into the past?

To the Editor:

During the past 40 years I have seen the business district of Swarthmore change. Starting from the intersection of Rutgers Avenue and Chester Road and proceeding in a northerly direction, I have seen a music store disappear because of online music and electronic instruments, “The Cracker Barrel” disappear, replaced by doughnuts, a used book store gone due to Internet book search engines, (the hardware store remains), a store featuring antique paintings sacrificed to a technology which will “paint you a Rembrandt,” a toy store which cannot compete with video games, a drug store replaced by CVS, its magazine and news rack replaced by Internet news, its phone booth replaced by cell phones, and its soda fountain struck down by “Nifty Fifties.”

Around the corner, a tiny pen and ink store replaced by e-mail, a photography shop replaced by digital imagery, its hobby section gone because children no longer make things. Next, a gift shop whose owner retired, a new book store, downed as surely as Borders and an antique store, failed because of current Philistine taste in home furnishing.

Across the street, a houseplant and florist, now a college watering hole, a basement psychoanalytic research office vanished, and a gas station replaced by a second Swarthmore bank. This has not been progress; it feels more like regress. Not a pretty sight.

Today, a neighbor interested in revitalization of our town center suggested that we invite a comic book store to town, but I replied that “Comic Universe” on MacDade has that market well served and that to make our town unique and to attract interesting people, there is no sense in replacing failed business. For starters, we could open an aquarium store which features cloned reef life, a rare wood veneer store, a houseplant source for Nepenthes and other carnivorous plants, a calligraphy equipment supply which offers instructional workshops in manuscript illumination and botanical illustration, and a bookbinding supply shop offering leathers, gilding equipment for titles and marbleizing supplies for end papers.

Other ideas from fellow Swarthmoreans are welcome.

John Brodsky

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