Free feel to use this space to tell readers about yourself and anything else you want to share.
I am running for Whitemarsh Supervisor as an Independent Candidate. I will answer to no party and be responsible only to the residents of Whitemarsh and our community. While working for Whitemarsh, I will also focus on the big picture and our relationship with our neighboring communities. I will meet regularly with neighboring community officials to see how we can reduce stormwater runoff, protect our streams and water ways and ensure the air we breathe is of the highest quality. It is true, that Whitemarsh cannot exist alone in a bubble, but we must also not let outside influence pressure us to do things not in the public’s best interest.
What is the most important issue in your neighborhood and how would you address it if elected?
First and foremost, Whitemarsh is represented by “at-large” Supervisors. That means our leadership is responsible to all neighborhoods within the Township. That’s why I consider Whitemarsh to be all of my backyard.
I believe we have not done a good job with overall land management. We have allowed new text zoning, granted waivers and allowed variances for development that has adversely affected the Township. Our fragile environment is at risk due to the significant loss of our tree canopy. Stormwater runoff is causing sinkholes and property damage.
If we make protecting our environment a priority, then we can use our lands in a more sustainable way and protect our neighborhoods.
How have you funded your campaign and who are your five largest donors?
I am self-funding my campaign. I have excepted no donor money despite being offered contributions from friends and supporters.
For me, it was important to have a campaign that has a low environmental impact. The political campaigns of others generate a lot of unneeded waste.
To date, I have spent just over $1700 on my campaign.
The county has a plan to fix Butler Pike, but it doesn’t have a plan to address the ongoing issue of storm water along Butler Pike in the historic district. During the September presentation by the county on the status of Butler Pike, it was apparent neither the county or the township had made an effort to get all of the property owners along that portion of Butler Pike in a room to start a discussion on solving the problem. If elected, what would you do differently?
I would certainly make an effort to get all the players together and come up with a detailed plan for the public to see on repairs to the road. There are so many players who have responsibility right now and I am in no position to comment in detail as I am just a resident.
I will say, that I think the Township should be doing a better job of communicating to the public.
At the September 26th Board of Supervisor Meeting the agenda posted for the public said:
“ANNOUNCEMENTS Montgomery County Updates Butler Pike Road and W. Valley Green Bridge Closure”
There was no indication that representatives from the County were going to be there. If there was, perhaps more people could have attended the meeting to ask questions.
Why not just have a public meeting where only this important issue is discussed?
The stormwater issue needs to be looked at in great detail not just in this area but in all of Whitemarsh. This could be done with a detailed look at all infrastructure issues including traffic.
The Colonial School District recently underwent a bidding process for a new middle school. The bids received under its “Responsible Contractors” policy resulted in just two bids and both were over budget. After the school board waived the policy for the general contractor and rebid the project, it received double the number of bids and was able to secure a general contract at a savings of three to four million dollars. Should Whitemarsh Township review its similar ordinance and consider repealing it?
I think that any qualified contractor should be given an opportunity to bid on jobs. They should be properly vetted and come with a portfolio of prior experience and recommendations.
It is incumbent on the Township to describe in significant detail the job in question and apply satisfactory protections so the isn’t left holding the bag during the RFP process. I think we have inadequately handled our current trash situation.
Over the past couple of years, there has been growing concern about development, especially as it pertains to townhouse developments. What is your view of townhouse developments? And if they are a concern, what would you do to manage their growth?
The larger concern here is the density of development and what it does to the surrounding environment. Regardless of a townhouse, apartment complex, or single-family home, we should not be considering detention basins and front yards as open space.
We should not be removing our mature tree canopy and giving waivers or “fees in lieu” to cut them down without replacement. Replacing a large healthy mature tree with small trees regardless of the caliper equivalent is not an even trade.
We should also be looking at our overall infrastructure and school district capacity before any high-density development.
Does Whitemarsh need a connection to 76? If so, how would you advocate for it?
I’m not sure where this question arises from as I haven’t heard it discussed. There was something about a pedestrian bridge connecting to Gladwyne in the River Front plan. However, as this may relate to our traffic issues, I would be in full support of an extensive traffic study for all of Whitemarsh before any further large-scale development is done.
We have put the cart before the horse in many past projects and traffic studies come up after a development is proposed. They are often done with a narrow view of a small area and by the developers traffic expert. Yes, they are signed off on by the Township’s traffic engineer but they seem limited in scope to the small area involved forgetting about the impact to the rest of the township and surrounding areas.
I also think there should be a geological assessment of all of Whitmarsh to look at the impact of stormwater related to development both current and future. This would look at sink holes and other damage caused “downstream” by development or the prospects of new development.
The business district in Lafayette Hill has outdated strip malls with bad parking lots. What could be done to encourage the property owners to make improvements?
In the recent past, Whitemarsh Township invested money on a Germantown Pike Beautification program. Plans were drawn and a significant financial grant was received. Despite asking questions and filing right to know requests, I have not been able to get an answer as to why this did not happen. That said, we should revisit those plans and look for low hanging fruit that could immediately be implemented.
One thing we could immediately do is plant shade trees along the Germantown Corridor. We should work with property owners to share the value of trees and receive their consent to plant. Organizations like the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society or Arbor Day foundation have been instrumental in helping this happen in other communities like Chestnut Hill with little to no cost.
We should make it easier for small business to succeed in Whitemarsh. I have heard from many that the process of simply getting a sign up is an onerous one. We should lower or eliminate our fees to residents who want to do business in the Township.
Finally, the Township should facilitate the formation of a robust Business Association that can aid in the development of Germantown Pike and other business areas.