Letters to the Editor

To My Fellow Swarthmoreans

Do you have plans for Memorial Day morning this Monday? Swarthmore has a single, brief, but meaningful ceremony uptown at 10 a.m. to commemorate those in the military who made the ultimate sacrifice:  death. Our freedoms, which we can easily take for granted, were hard won by those who served, especially those who have incurred injuries, disabilities or death.

The stirring music of the Silver Dollar Band and the speaker, the blessing, the placement of flags in Monument Park (corner of Dartmouth and Park Avenue) help set the tone for the holiday.

You are also welcome to follow veterans and Boy Scouts to a ceremony at Eastlawn Cemetery (down Park Avenue and across Michigan Avenue) where the scouts will place flags on the graves of veterans.

On the preceding night of Sunday, May 27, there is an excellent patriotic program on PBS (channel 12) from 8 to 9:30 p.m. (and repeated from 9:30 to 11 p.m). It captures the National Memorial Day Concert on the Mall, which has been held in Washington, D.C., for a number of years, with a different military focus each year. Patriotic music is woven through a story line of a military person’s sacrifice in their tour of duty. The program is usually hosted by Gary Sinise and Joe Mantegna. This inspirational program sets the tone for Memorial Day.

Please care, please come, please ponder why you are lucky to have your freedoms.

Joan Watson

Freshly repainted, the gazebo offers a serene shelter in Little Crum Creek Park. Photo by Susan Kelly.

Thank you, Tom Pinto!

To the Editor:

Have you been to Little Crum Creek Park lately? If so, you’ve probably noticed the new “face” of the gazebo.

Several months ago, the roof was replaced by the borough but, similar to any improvement project, once you improve one thing, something else needs a new look. In this case, the metal supporting structure and benches looked pretty scruffy.  

When I approached Tom Pinto, owner of Thomas Aquinas Painting, asking him for an estimate to paint the metal frame of the gazebo, he volunteered that he would have a crew sand and paint the metal frame and sand and stain the benches, free of charge. Tom’s crew performed a miracle by adding the finishing touches to the gazebo, and to the park.

We’re extremely fortunate to have people like Tom in our borough, so when you see Tom around the borough, please don’t hesitate to thank him for his generous donation of time and resources to the park.

Susan Kelly
Swarthmore Environmental
Advisory Council

Re. the Biddle Tract: Intent is at issue

To the Editor:

Facts matter and the co-founders of Swarthmore 21 are misinformed and wrong. It is intent, not motive, at issue. 

At the November 2017 public council meeting my written and videotaped remarks to borough council proposed that either Council should not sign any waivers, or in the alternative, Council should sign waivers for all the properties under the restrictive covenant that are appropriately zoned. Further, my intent has been consistent when speaking with other business owners, elected officials, and other interested persons. Easily holding more than one thought, my position is consistent with the intention of the original signers of the deed: that Swarthmore College intended that no alcohol be sold within the Clement Biddle land purchase. Since 1892, the college has not changed their intention. It is not really a Biddle prohibition, rather a contractual clause running with the land enforceable still by the college!

My intention has been consistent for nearly 20 years from the initial RFP circulated by borough council on behalf of Swarthmore College and alcohol sales, favoring open meetings and a broader community involvement. Further, at no time did I oppose alcohol sales per se, and if it happens in the borough no single institution or business should be favored. If change does happen, then naturally my self-interest seeks the alleged benefit that others would enjoy. 

But if the founders of Swarthmore 21 do suspect motives, then why do they look away from the actors? The Co-Op has no business plan and yet submitted a bid to purchase a liquor license even before obtaining a legal determination on the restrictive covenant. Co-Op drafted but did not circulate a ballot to shareholders. The Co-Op refuses to disclose this information to a shareholder, so where is their transparency? As a shareholder, my requests were denied.

Swarthmore College imposed the contractual covenant upon Mr. Biddle, yet that institution in recent decades has (i) justified an exception for alcohol sales on their institutionally zoned campus, (ii) refused to enforce their covenant upon the borough, which violates the covenant by allowing vendors to sell alcohol at the Farmers Market, and (iii) readily signed a waiver and release for the Co-Op, while not releasing all other commercial properties burdened by their restriction. The college could keep the issue out of the courts by unburdening and releasing ALL the Biddle owners, instead of playing favorites. 

My intention is the engagement with all the Biddle property owners and the Co-Op shareholders, but the Co-Op’s actions are destined for a judicial decision if the college does not release all. The risk for the Co-Op is that the court will review the college’s intent as of the 1892 deed, not the 2018 motives of any other party, nor the single waiver bestowed upon the Co-Op. 

Pat Flanigan

Jim Ryan of the Lions Club of Swarthmore gives out trophies to the winners of the 17th Annual Swarthmore Charity Fun-Fair 5K Run and Walk.

Running with the Lions (and Rotary)

To the Editor: 

Kudos to all of the runners and walkers who participated in last Sunday’s 17th Annual Swarthmore Charity Fun-Fair 5K Run and Walk, sponsored by the Swarthmore Lions Club and the Swarthmore Rotary Club. The rain held off for the race and then drenched us afterwards. The winning time for the women’s division was the fastest in several years and fourth fastest overall. The men’s field was also fast and very competitive.

The women’s overall winners were 1.) Lisa Victorius (21:40), 2.) Corinne Weidner (24:59), and 3.) Sophie Bergstrom (27:06). The men’s overall winners were 1.) Bradley Ernst (20:51), 2.) Steven Melly (21:03), and 3.) Blanton Dunn (21:28).

Female age group winners were 1.) Riley Armstrong and 2,) Charlotte Davis (10 and under); 1.) Keira Bolin and 2.) Charlotte Caywood (11-13); 1.) Breanna Raysor, 2.) Alicia Valente, and 3.) Naomi Dicky (14-19); 1.) Maura McCarthy (20-29); 1.) Kristen McKenna, 2.) Julianne Barclay and 3.) Anna Filipczak (30-39); 1.) Heidi Arnold and 2.) Libby Elliott (40-49); and 1.) Kate Dicky (50-59).

The male age group winners were 1.) John Stephanson (10 and under); 1.) Sawyer Bock (11-13); 1.) Alex Melly and 2.) Ben Ent (14-19); 1.) Chris Houpt and 2.) Michael Bolin (30-39); 1.) Scott Greuser,  2.) Doug Milana, and Chris Armstrong (40-49); 1.) Mike Keeports 2.) Paul Maillet, and 3.) Michael Stack (50-59); and 1.) Michael Palazzo, 2.) Terry Britt, and 3.) Jack Fields (60+).  If you did not receive your medal, please send an email to jdryan17@gmail.com. Full race results are now posted on www.runtheday.com.

I would like to recognize Swarthmore Rotarians and the Fun-Fair Director Joe Lesniak for their generous support of the race. Special thanks to Gina Sheehan, Faculty Advisor of the Ridley High School Leos Club, and the Leo volunteers. who marshaled and served refreshments at the finish line. Many thanks to Swarthmore Police Chief Brian Craig and Sergeant Bill Thomas for keeping the streets safe. Rich Allen and the Run the Day team did a great job with the race timing and results. We also thank Michael Hill and Swarthmore College for allowing us to run through the campus.  

Finally, thanks to fellow Lions and friends (James Verdi; Jeff Bergstrom, the Dickey family, Rob Borgstrom, and the Milbourne family) for their help with the race. We look forward to seeing you at the Swarthmore Lions Independence Eve 8K on Tuesday, July 3. 

Jim Ryan
Swarthmore Lions Club

Co-Op Up for Best of Philly!

To the Editor:

This is a personal plea from myself and my team at the Co-op to help us out with something fun, without a financial ask. We just need your votes.

We have been nominated to compete in the Philadelphia Magazine 2018 Best of Philly Edition for Best Sandwich. We are competing against three other local businesses for this prestigious title.

How you can help? We need folks to vote online on a daily basis, on multiple devices if possible.

Simply use your search engine by typing in “real philly deli,” or visit https://www.phillymag.com/real-philly-deli.

We would love it if you could also pass this along to your family/friends/co-workers, wherever they live. Every vote counts, no matter where in the world it is cast. The winner will be determined simply by number of online votes. This competition runs thru June 3.

If we win, the Co-Op will be featured in a 2-page spread in the Best of Philly edition of Philadelphia this summer. 

Thanks for your time, and remember to vote daily and vote often!

Mike Litka, General Manager
Swarthmore Co-Op

Sunday Night Softball returns

To the Editor:

Sunday Night Softball is beginning this Sunday evening, May 27, at 5:15 Swarthmore time, on the college field next to the track and the Community Center (behind the Presbyterian Church on Harvard Avenue).

This is a pick-up game. Anyone who’s a teenager or older is welcome to play or hang out and watch. 

Hope to see you all out there!

Al Federico

Why give away goldfish?

To the Editor:

I attended the Swarthmore Charity Fun Fair this past weekend with my daughter. Our family looks forward to this day every year. We are proud to highlight our community’s benevolence and support such great causes.

I was, however, dismayed that once again goldfish were being given away as a prize at one of the carnival booths. What message does this send to our children about the value of a life? Animal ownership is a responsibility that needs to be planned and well thought out. It should not be a spur of the moment thing that happens simply because someone has won a prize. Games offering a living creature as prizes do not take this into consideration. Handing out an animal as a toy perhaps sends the wrong message to children, whom we wish to teach compassion for all living things, regardless of their likeness to us. Even greater is the fear that we teach children that living things less capable than us exist solely for our amusement. Treating even the lowest animal as disposable fails to instill in children the compassion we must have towards those who cannot defend themselves or those that rely on us for assistance. 

Goldfish are easily stressed. They may suffer from shock and oxygen starvation, or even die from changes in water temperature. These “carnival” fish often die before their new owners can get them home, or soon afterwards. Animal welfare as a field has made considerable progress over the past two decades. Until recently, fish were thought to be unable to perceive pain, and have little to no memory. As such, fish have tended to fall through the welfare net. There is, however, growing scientific evidence that fish are far from dim-witted and that they share many of the same general pain processes and stress physiology as other vertebrates. Current interest in the welfare of fish has resulted in scientific publications indicating that there should be concern over potential pain, distress, and suffering that humans may cause in interactions with fish.  

While at this time it is impossible to answer the question whether fish can suffer, considering the current literature on the subject, it is argued that they should certainly be given the benefit of the doubt. I have no qualms with rearing animals for food, humanely disposing of pests causing humans manifest harm, riding ponies, or owning dogs. I just wish to point out that a goldfish’s low cognition and relative defenselessness does not mean that it cannot suffer. I am sure that no harm was intended by offering this prize. Rotary International’s dedication to improving lives and creating a better world by promoting peace is laudable. However, I believe that treating animals compassionately breeds compassion towards people weaving more empathy, respect, and dignity into human interactions. A compassionate relationship with animals is integral to a more compassionate world.

Ines Rodriguez, MS, VMD
Board Eligible in the American College of Animal Welfare

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