Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Bala Avenue and LM Commissioners

Commissioner George Manos met with us, at our house, for about 2 hours today - to calm our questions about the future of Bala Avenue. As I understand it, no plans exist at present to change the residential side of Bala Avenue. All the proposed zoning changes relate to the other side of Bala Avenue (between Union and City and both side between Union and Montgomery). The proposed, far in the future, plans would like the areas on Bala Avenue, near the sidewalks, to have retail shops but none with drive thru windows like banks and fast food shops. Sounds good, in theory. Just imagine, a resident can get off the bus or train at City Avenue, stop at a retail shop, pick up dinner and flowers, and head home with no extra energy expended.

We discussed other issues - including safety codes that permnit flexible pipe to connect dryers to the gas line, effectiveness of the City Avenue Special Services District, using banks as payment centers for Lower Merion tax and sewer bills, the effectiveness of "no parking" signs when loading and unloading are permitted in spite of the signs, large lighted signs on Bala Avenue, seeking historic significance for the art deco Bala movie theater (that used to be called the Egyptian) and new, more effrective, more pedestrian friendly street lighting on Bala Avenue.

I told him that I police Bala Avenue, probably twice a day, sometimes more, to pick up the litter left by inconsiderate and careless people - either playground users or pedestrians. I am particularly resentful of the dirty diapers, glass bottles, candy wrappers, fast food bags, and other detritus, left on the street. Commissioner Manos said he would talk to the Street cleaning people about that. I suggested that the City Avenue Special Services District bicycle riders should carry plastic bags and pick up whatever trash they see in the street, and on the adjacent grass patches, as they ride by. He did not seem receptive to that idea.

We stressed that, if crime goes up in Bala Cynwyd, property values will decrease in Gladwyne with crime creep. That if traffic is congested in Bala Cynwyd, and Merion, property values will decrease in Gladwyne, with congestion creep. If taxes continue to go up, residents will threaten to move out; but I think the threat is a ploy, not practical.

A good piece of news, the traffic light at Union and Bala Avenues will be replaced with a 4-way stop sign. Good, because drivers will no longer be able to speed up to try to beat the yellow light. Instead, they will all have to slow down and stop at this intersection.

We discussed the new smart parking meters - they allow 10 minutes of free time, to run in to a store to get change, to give a refund to the smart card of the time not used at the meter, and to give net revenue to the township.

We discussed the stalemate over replacing the decaying Union Avenue bridge. The problem seems to be with Septa that wants to own the air rights over the tracks in case, sometime in the not foreseeable future, Septa wants to do something with the air rights. Like build a stadium? The resolution will probably be something like what happened with the Merion Avenue bridge when all the parties are locked in a room and no one can leave until a decision is made and the bridge can be replaced, before it falls down. The date inscribed on the Union Avenue bridge is 1911. Plans are to widen it, just a little, so that Union Avenue is the same width all the way through and you don't have to hold your breath, and make yourself thinner, in your car, when you drive over it.

Plans for beautification of Bala Avenue include planting more trees.

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