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Opinion: Chamounix Road Sidewalk a 'Political Agenda'

The following was submitted to Radnor Patch for publication by Richard F. Booker, Radnor Ward 2 Commissioner Elect.

The following was submitted to Radnor Patch for publication by Richard F. Booker, Radnor Ward 2 Commissioner Elect.

It took seven years, but a slim majority of the Radnor Township Board of Commissioners have finally pushed through a project to construct a new sidewalk from the St. David’s train station, along Chamounix Road to the Eastern College access path – and the neighbors are not at all pleased about it. 

Deemed to be a boon to the neighborhood, this project has turned out to be a bane to those who have been directly affected by it. 

The vote for this sidewalk project has become a disaster for the 2nd ward residents.  First, as you can see in these pictures, this very large tree had to be removed to accommodate the sub-base for the sidewalk. 

As can be seen in the picture attached, the contractor damaged the roots to the extent, that the homeowner and the Township arborist felt that there was no hope in saving the tree – it had to be removed.  In so doing, the Township also had to repair the adjoining fence, and also replace the tree with new ones, in accordance with Township rules.  

Next, the contractor broke the water main in the area near the sidewalk – many of the neighbors on Chamounix Rd. and Cornwall Lane were without water for hours -- all this strife for a sidewalk that the neighbors did not want.  Many families are being inconvenienced by the Radnor Township Board of Commissioner’s capricious decision to install this sidewalk against my requests, against the neighbor’s request and against the Township Manager’s advice.

The Radnor Township administration has been doing its best to ensure that the neighbors have been kept informed, and working with them to make sure that they do everything they can to honor the Township’s word on this.  But through no fault of theirs, this project has wreaked havoc on the neighborhood, and on the 2nd Ward constituents in that area.

Finally, the cost on this project is going to be way above the $70K the Township allotted – the cost will be at least double -- $140,000 or more.   Cost appears to be of no object when there is an agenda.

There is no doubt, that more heritage trees on nearby property will be killed by the work crew in constructing this sidewalk along the neighbor’s property.  What happens if the roots give way during construction and a tree falls on a nearby house or on the road into traffic or onto pedestrians?  Does anybody really know the effect of high winds on a compromised tree structure?

The property owners feel that they have no voice on this issue.  This sidewalk project was initiated by Radnor Township (not Eastern University, as it purports to serve) and is being forced upon the neighbors.  It was poorly thought out, impacts homeowner liability and current foot traffic is so minimal so as to not warrant a sidewalk.

The Eastern students are adults and certainly savvy enough to walk along Chaumonix Road.   The traffic/accident survey used by the Radnor Board of Commissioners to justify the project was misleading.  It listed 36 crashes between 11-17-98 and 11-17-08 of which only 3 occurred in the stretch of Chaumonix Road which will be “sidewalked.”

The neighbors rightfully fear for their property, as they have significant plantings which have provided privacy and aesthetics to their homes.

The majority of the Radnor Board of Commissioners who pushed through this project for what appears to be only a political agenda, should be ashamed of what they have done to their constituents. 

Mike D December 06, 2013 at 10:55 AM
For a J.D., I would expect a little more from your argument. You come off as whiny and rely on several "what if's" in your complaint. You also make many assumptions, specifically on ones ability to be "savvy" enough to travel on the road. Personally, I really don't have a horse in the race here, but the tone of your letter alone is enough for me not to support any future elections you may seek.
Radnortownship December 07, 2013 at 07:33 AM
Rich: yes this project is a waste of tax payer money, was forced on the neighborhood, and will be used by 2 people per day. Radnor has a history of this kind of thing. For example the park along 30 in Wayne. What an absolute waste of money. And currently Schaeffers Jihad to acquire Ardrossan. RADNOR TWP SHOULD HAVE A REFERENDUM ON THE ARDROSSAN ACQUISITION. If you want a new project, Sue the Twp and FORCE a REFERENDUM! That's something I would support.
Edward N Flail, Jr December 07, 2013 at 07:46 AM
This is another case of the Board of Commissioners fixing the non existent problem. There has never been a pedestrian injury in the area where the sidewalk is going and only one on Chamounix Road. It is a political move headed for years by Bill Spingler to try to get the Second Ward to elect a Democrat Commissioner. He didn't get anywhere, until the Board went from RINO to Democrat. The Board also promised that they would not spend any Township funds, but the $80,000 put up won't cover half of the cost. When they are cutting back on Township-wide services to look fiscally prudent, they are forcing a project that has no benefit in the name of "safety" which has become one of those unassailable catch words. If you're doin something in the name of safety, everyone who opposes it is labeled adversely. In this and other cases, the Board uses safety to trample all over the affected owners' constitutionally protected property rights, another step toward socialism, which comes right before totalitarianism. If you support this effort because it doesn't affect you, wait - the next time it may be your rights being trampled upon. Fortunately, the political aspects of this effort did not succeed - this time. Rich Booker won because he's the right person. Obviously, the majority of the voters got the issue, and that's why they elected him. I hope the residents of his Ward support him in his efforts to stem the tide, which never used to exist, of Commissioners from other Wards intruding into the business of a Ward, for political reasons or otherwise, when the Commissioner and the majority of his constituents oppose the action that is being forced down their throats.
Radnortownship December 07, 2013 at 07:50 AM
Go Ed! "another step toward socialism, which comes right before totalitarianism". Since King O is in the process of doing this on a National Level the local politicals are just following the Kings lead.
Danielle Fraser Kleinman December 07, 2013 at 08:14 AM
No one wanted Radnor Trail for decades and now everyone loves it. Taking a walk on Chamounix Road today is dangerous and a sidewalk will protect those who want to enjoy the area. Sidewalks always serve as a path to bring people together; it is time to stop being short sighted.
Ted Pollard December 07, 2013 at 08:35 AM
Folks, let's do a history lesson before you mouth off. This project was a condition of the approval of Eastern's last dorm in 2006. One group of neighbors who were fighting the dorm proposal worked with Eastern and the Township to get the sidewalk approved to alleviate a very serious safety issue. None of the neighbors affected by the sidewalk complained at the time - at least not in a concerted way. The police did a study of the foot traffic - there really IS alot of foot traffic and walking on a narrow road, especially in the dark, is exceedingly dangerous. There is NO political agenda here, just the BoC finalizing what the ZHB and the BoC approved in 2006. So, thank you, BoC, for doing the right thing! And, speaking of "what ifs" - what IF somebody had been hit while this project was in limbo?? Think about it!
Radnortownship December 07, 2013 at 08:43 AM
Theodore, expressing ones opinion is not mouthing off. I drive that stretch of Chamounix every day, 365 days a year for 30 years and in my opinion walkers are a rare sight. Theodore, do you consider my opinion mouthing off?
Elizabeth Mosier December 07, 2013 at 09:30 AM
I've lived on Chamounix Road since 1989, in one of the smaller houses with the only stretch of sidewalk (west side). I can understand why property owners with property lines longer than mine wouldn't want to have to shovel; it's a pain. But our street is narrowed for half the year by piled leaves and banked snow. Eastern students, walkers to the middle school, train commuters, joggers, trick-or-treaters, mothers with strollers all navigate the near-center of the road during those months -- until they get to the short stretch in front of my house that does have a sidewalk. With all due respect, living on the street gives one a different view of the foot traffic than driving by. But all you have to do is look at the path of denuded grass along the properties on the east side of Chamounix to see that people avoid walking in the street.
Joe Cunningham December 07, 2013 at 09:34 AM
In the words of Rodney King - "Can't we all just git-a-long"
260patch December 07, 2013 at 09:55 AM
I have walked this stretch of Chamounix for over 20 years. Not once have I ever felt threatened by a passing car. NOT EVER!! Not even a near miss, never saw anyone else in danger. A 6 or 7 foot pathway off the street already existed. I attended the meetings only to witness the Brd. of Commissars dismiss all logical arguments and historical facts regarding safety. I kept asking why? This didn't make any sense. What was I missing? Why? Then at a meeting when the Township Manager, Mr. Zienkowski, officially opposed the sidewalk because "it would set a precedent", it hit me. The BoC WANT to set a precedent! Now anyone in the town can ask for a sidewalk and use this ridiculous and unnecessary case as an example. Ted, if my memory is correct the original intention/placement for a sidewalk in the 2006 ZHB was on Eagle or KoP Road were the dormitory was actually built, not on Chamounix Rd. But when it was determined not feasible in those locations they still had to get a sidewalk somewhere, anywhere!! Now the residents of Chamounix are stuck with this very ugly, harsh, urban, out of place sidewalk. Shame on the BoC for thinking they know better than the people who live on the street, especially JIM Higgins. I hope you all get your shovels/salt out to help the residents when it snows. Talking about the paranoid thinking of "what if's"…..To everyone in favor of the sidewalk, What if someone slips and falls on this walkway because a homeowner wasn't able to keep it clear during a long snow or ice storm? What if that person calls a "slip and fall" lawyer?
Susan Michaelson December 07, 2013 at 10:04 AM
Taking a walk along Matson Ford Road is dangerous, too. So is Centennial Drive. I do it all the time, because it's where I live. So do a lot of other people, because I pass them. How about a sidewalk for me, my neighbors, the Corporate Center workers, the Archbishop Carroll folks, the Radnor Memorial Park users, and the Radnor Elementary School community? I think one could make the case that a sidewalk from Township Line Road to King of Prussia Road with an extension around Centennial Drive would solve a safety problem and represent an important benefit to this side of the Township. How do we get that done at the expense of all Radnor taxpayers? We're certainly paying enough for everyone else's safety and satisfaction. . .
Radnortownship December 07, 2013 at 12:06 PM
Elizabeth: " But our street is narrowed for half the year by piled leaves and banked snow." Isn't that a bit of an exaggeration?
i grew here you moved here December 07, 2013 at 01:08 PM
This project is a joke. People will now be more apt to want a sidewalk out of 'safety,' just like the speed humps/bumps/tables they've put everywhere. Thanks to the BOC and other nouveau clowns for once again, destroying more fabric of what made the twp. and certain neighborhoods so idyllic and appealing...all in the name of, to refer to Ed's note, socialism.
I Lived Here for 25 Years & Finally Moved Out December 12, 2013 at 06:06 PM
This is the type of crap that goes on in this Township. Glad I moved away.
Edward N Flail, Jr December 12, 2013 at 08:06 PM
Ok, Ted, what is the serious safety issue? Many years no sidewalk, no accidents involving pedestrians. The escrow from Eastern was forced down its throat by a coalition of NIMBYs and SAFETY NAZIs. Your history lesson needs a history lesson, and it was politics, pure and simple at the BoC. And, Joe, that line didn't work for Rodney. He got arrested several other times for not getting along with people and the law. Also, don't I remember that you, a certified Major League Baseball Umpire got thrown out of Little League for not getting along with the Little League Umpires?
Catherine December 14, 2013 at 10:26 AM
Thankfully, this project has finally gotten started. What it is, 7 or 8 houses that are directly affected by the construction? I'd rather lose a tree than risk injury to a single commuter, student, mom strolling a baby, runner or bicyclist. You naysayers who claim few people walk on Chamounix obviously have your eyes shut when you drive down the road: there is most definitely pedestrian traffic there and thankfully, will be much more when it becomes safer. Couldn't care less that the east side Chamounix homeowners will now have to shovel to keep the sidewalks safe for everyone else. Pay a high school kid to do it and let a young person earn a little pocket money. Lord help this township if this is what Booker is already crying about .. and he hasn't even been sworn in yet. You ward 2 folks have no idea what you've done.....

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