School Board's plans for Meadowbrook will disrupt neighborhood

Editorís Note: This letter was also sent to School Board President Josh Gould. His response is printed below, with his permission.

To the editor:

Since I live on the corner of Meadowbrook Lane and Pothouse Rd., I am concerned about the Phoenixville Area School Boardís plans to take over Meadowbrook Golf Course. First of all, if the School board has any plans to modify or change Meadowbrook Lane or Hallowell Ave., they should realize that each street is owned by the abutting properties. The home owners along both streets own to the center of the streets, according to the legal descriptions on their deeds. Any modifications would require the consent of all the property owners.

My second concern is water runoff. All the homes on Meadowbrook and along Pothouse get water in their basements. The drainage in this area is nil. The ground has difficulty absorbing water which lies on the surface for days. A storm drain to Pickering Creek will be required even with a detention basement. Both of which will be quite costly for the district and for us taxpayers.

My third concern is enrollment projections. Except for Freemont Village, there is no new construction in the district. With the Renaissance School and the two Catholic elementary schools in the district increasing their enrollment significantly each year, are a learning center and a new elementary school sustainable? I doubt it.

My fourth concern is the presence of 6 ft. cyclone fencing, parking lots filled with cars and the noise factor from rehearsing bands and playgrounds that will impact the neighborhood.

I also resent the fact that the homes of the Board Members are not going to be impacted by their decision. They decide to totally upturn our neighborhood while their neighborhoods remain intact.

I propose that this entire venture was the personal agenda of one or two members of the board. Itís sad that one or two members can convince the board to take this massive and expensive undertaking at a time when money is tight and unemployment is in critical condition. Only the private agenda of a few could explain why this golf course was chosen and why now.

I hope more members of the board will come to their senses and realize that what theyíre doing may turn out to be another expensive mistake like the purchase on Route 113. Itís obvious they have not done their due diligence.

I also hope that the Schuylkill Township Planning Commission uses the same requirements for the development of this golf course as was used for the development of Pickering Glen and Charlestown Hunt, which means that half to a third of the acreage will be open space buffer zone.

John Di Giuseppe

Schuylkill Township

Editorís Note: School Board President Josh Gouldís direct response to Mr. Di Giuseppe is reprinted below, with his permission. The only change Mr. Gould has made is to redact the dates and times of meetings to be held with Meadow Brookís neighbors. Per Mr. Gould: ďI redacted the exact date and time of the meetings we are holding with the Meadowbrook neighbors. There is nothing secret about those meetings, everything discussed there is also discussed at public committee and board meetings, but those meetings are by invitation to the neighbors so that we can understand and respond to their concerns.Ē

Mr. Di Giuseppe,

Thank you for your email. You raise many valid concerns, I will try to answer them all.

There are no plans right now to change Meadowbrook Lane, but it is not out of the question that PennDOTís requirements may drive us to seek changes. We are aware that Meadowbrook is a private road. Please know that we do not have any intention to direct buses or parent dropoff to occur via Meadowbrook Lane.

We have heard that there are water runoff issues in your neighborhood. This is one area where our project could benefit you, as Schuylkill Township will almost certainly require us to address the water runoff issues. That is a normal part of any project and we would incur expenses for water management wherever we construct a school.

Your third concern is the enrollment projections. We update our enrollment projections at least once a year using a software tool that analyzes a wide range of drivers, including past trends, birth rates, expected construction projects, and so on. The projections have shown for years and continue to show that our enrollment will continue to grow significantly. Over the last two years our enrollment has grown even more rapidly than the projections have predicted. Not only is our enrollment growing, but the rate of growth is increasing year to year. For the coming years, we are watching several development projects that are currently in the planning process across all three municipalities within the school district. In short, our enrollment projections are quite clear that we need new classroom space for hundreds of students at the elementary level over the next decade, and there is no indication that enrollment will shrink in the longer term. By the way, we spent considerable time last Tuesday night reviewing updated enrollment projections at our Building & Grounds Committee meeting.

I understand your fourth concern. I very strongly urge you to come to our Building & Grounds Committee meetings where plans for the project are always discussed, the dates of the meetings can be found on the PASD website (http://www.pasd.com/page/61). Several of your neighbors have attended these meetings and have already influenced the designs to reduce the impact to your neighborhood. You also should have received an invitation to meetings that we are holding with the neighbors of Meadow Brook. The first of those meetings was this past Tuesday, additional meetings are [date and time redacted] at the PASD Administration Building (attached to the High School off of City Line Ave).

I do not agree with your assertion that this project is the result of personal agendas by one or two board members. Enrollment projections clearly show that more classroom space is needed, and the year-long process that we went through to evaluate all possible properties has been thoroughly discussed at public meetings and reported in the press. I am sorry that you feel you will be negatively impacted, but I hope that you will work with us during the design phase of the project to minimize that impact as several of your neighbors are doing.

Respectfully,

Josh Gould