-11-5-2015 Why I support the preservation of the Barclay Grounds – by Senator Andy Dinniman

Why I Support the Preservation of the Barclay Grounds – by Senator Andrew Dinniman

It is local treasures like the Barclay Grounds that allow the Borough of West Chester to be beautiful and bustling at the same time.

That is why I worked so hard to secure $700,000 in state funding for the Grounds’ preservation, and why we must continue our work to help secure the remaining $147,000 needed.

It takes special commitment to preserve a community’s historic and natural resources at the same time it is bursting at the seams. West Chester’s past leaders and residents deserve great credit for preserving the Barclay Grounds from the mid-1860’s all the way through the 20th Century.

When the latest proposal to develop the Grounds surfaced in 2012, it was obvious we had an obligation to both our predecessors and our successors to stand up for the Grounds and preserve them for good.

For five decades I have driven into West Chester and been greeted by the wonderful sycamore and oaks, birches, poplars and maples that frame North High Street and make the Barclay Grounds the most beautiful of open spaces. Each and every time I arrive it is a wonderful reminder of why the Arbor Day Foundation annually bestows its “Tree City” award upon West Chester.

But the Grounds do so much more than please the eye. The 150-year-old specimen trees help me imagine what life was like back in the 1860’s.  I think of the property when John Rutter first turned it into a nursery; and after the Civil War, when Joshua Hartshorne rode his horse through the wrought-iron gates that remain to this day, past the saplings he planted and right to the door of his mansion.

As a historian, I am inspired by all who walked the Barclay Grounds. I think of those who lived there after the property became “The Barclay Home,” a Quaker boarding home for seniors in the mid-1930’s. I am reminded of the veterans who came home after World War II and undoubtedly took pleasure in the shade beneath its trees. I think of the Barclay Grounds’ many neighbors and residents who take joy in its peaceful nature every day.

It was with all this in mind that I convened Barclay Grounds supporters on the first floor of my North Church Street office nearly two years ago.

Since then the process of saving the Barclay Grounds has been like assembling pieces in a complex jigsaw puzzle. But we all got involved knowing it wouldn’t be easy.

Throughout its history, the Barclay Grounds has too often been threatened by development, with residents and friends thwarting such efforts each time. Once, a resident reportedly even stood in front of a bulldozer and said, “Over my dead body.”

It is time the Barclay Grounds receives a permanent lease on life, and we are now just $147,000 away from the finish line. With your continued help we can cross it together.

Thank you, Andy Dinniman

– 12/9/2014 Another big win for the campaign to Save the Barclay Grounds

I am delighted to inform you of another big win in the campaign to preserve the Barclay Grounds. Yesterday the Chester County Commissioners voted unanimously to increase the County’s grant for the Barclay Grounds from the $125K that they awarded earlier this year … to $250K.

We have now raised more than $1 million dollars in the past 12 months to preserve the Barclay Grounds – and are within reach of raising the $1.2 million needed to complete the purchase!!!

This is a tremendous accomplishment and something that we should all be very proud of. Please know that, as with previous votes, the presence of BGPA supporters in the meeting room was important – as were the many e-mails that you collectively sent to the Commissioners. Commissioner Costello – who Chaired his last two meetings of the County Commissioners yesterday, as he has resigned in order to take up his new role as the US Congressman for this area – told me how important the e-mails were in helping him make his decision to increase the grant. He also complimented us, as a group, for having run such an effective and responsible public advocacy campaign on behalf of the Barclay Grounds.

Of course we did not accomplish all this alone and I would like to express my gratitude for all their hard work on this issue to State Senator Andy Dinniman and his staff; State Representative Dan Truitt, Mayor Carolyn Comitta; Council President Jordan Norley and the West Chester Borough Council (especially Bill Scott, in whose Ward the Barclay Grounds is situated); the Brandywine Conservancy; the Natural Lands Trust; and last but not least the new Borough Manager, Michael Cotter.

So, now that the State and the County have really come through, it is time for all of us, as supporters of the BGPA, to make good on our commitment to raise up to $200K. As we enter the final weeks of the tax year it is an ideal time for you to think about making a donation to the BGPA (which now has 501(c)3 status), as donations made before 12/31/14 may be deductible on your 2014 tax return. You can make a donation using a credit card or an existing PayPal account by copying the link below and pasting it into the address line of your web-browser. If you prefer to pay by check, the directions for where to send your check, are also included on the page at this address.

http://www.savethebarclaygrounds.org/donations/

We can think of the campaign to SaveTheBarclayGrounds as having three major phases. The first phase was to raise awareness, mobilize the community, halt the development and encourage the council to buy the property. The second was to maximize the County and State grant awards. We are now entering the third phase – to raise sufficient funding to meet our commitment to the Borough and help it complete the purchase. We have been successful with the first two components – and working together I know we will be successful with the third.

Best wishes,

John

John Cottage
President, The Barclay Grounds Preservation Alliance (BGPA)

– 12/5/2014 County Commissioners to vote on whether to increase Barclay grant this Monday

Dear Friend of the Barclay Grounds,

At the Chester County Commissioners’ meeting on Monday (December 8th) the Commissioners will consider whether or not to increase their grant award for the purchase and preservation of the Barclay Grounds.
You may recall that earlier this year the Commissioners granted the Borough $125K towards the Barclay Grounds purchase (vs the $500K that the Borough had requested; and the $250K that the County’s Director of Open Space Preservation had recommended). In making the award the Commissioners made it clear how much they had appreciated receiving – and were influenced by – the many e-mails sent to them in support of funding the Barclay Grounds. Commissioner Farrell (who initially appeared set to vote against providing any funding) noted that the e-mails helped to convince him that the Commissioners should make an exception for the Barclay Grounds to their general philosophy of only funding open space preservation in the townships and only funding infrastructure projects in the Boroughs.

The Commissioners also noted that the Borough could return later this year to request more money if the Commissioners felt that the Borough had put more “skin in the game”. With the recent Borough Council vote (5-0) to send a letter of confirmation to the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) that it would guarantee a match for the DCNR grant of $600K – as well as working towards establishing new sources of revenue (e.g. the Commercial Recreation Fee In Lieu) that could be used to fund part of the Barclay Grounds purchase, I believe the Borough has made a good faith effort to meet the Commissioners’ request.

I hope that the Commissioners will grant additional money for the Barclay on Monday – but I believe that their decision will rest on their perception of the amount of public support for the project. So I am writing to ask you make a phone call, or send an e-mail, to each of the Commissioners (see their contact information below) before Monday’s 10 am meeting to let them know your position on the importance of preserving the Barclay Grounds.

As with most public officials they place a lot of weight on visible support at their meetings. So, if possible, please also come to the meetings on Monday in the Commissioner’s Board Room (313 West Market Street, West Chester, PA 19380) to demonstrate your support. The first meeting of the day (the “Sunshine Meeting”) is the one where your presence would probably have the most impact. This will be held at 10:00 am and is a meeting to obtain public comment on issues (although there will be no voting on those issues during the meeting). The second meeting (the “Commissioners’ Meeting”) will be held at 1:30 pm. This is when they will actually vote on issues.

Thank you for your continued support of preserving the Barclay Grounds as a new park for the Borough of West Chester.

Best wishes,

John
Commissioner Ryan Costello
313 West Market Street
Suite 6202
West Chester, PA 19380
610.344.6100
610.344.5995 (fax)
rcostello@chesco.org

Commissioner Kathi Cozzone
313 West Market Street
Suite 6202
West Chester, PA 19380
610.344.6100
610.344.5995 (fax)
kcozzone@chesco.org

Commissioner Terence Farrell
313 West Market Street
Suite 6202
West Chester, PA 19380
610.344.6100
610.344.5995 (fax)
tfarrell@chesco.org

– 11/26/14 DCNR Grants West Chester $600K to Preserve the Barclay Grounds

Dear Friend of the Barclay Grounds,

I am delighted to share with you the exciting news that the PA DCNR has confirmed it will grant $600K to the Borough of West Chester specifically for the purchase and preservation of the Barclay Grounds. DCNR stands for the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

When added to the other two grants received this year for the Barclay Grounds ($125K from Chester County; $100K from the PA Department of Community and Economic Development) the total comes to $825K. When the $200K commitment from the Barclay Grounds Preservation Alliance (BGPA) is added to this it takes the total raised to date to $1.025 million. This puts the successful preservation of the Barclay Grounds as a new Borough of West Chester park well within reach.

We hope you will come out to celebrate with us tomorrow by participating in the BGPA’s first annual Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot. It will be a fun and energizing 3-mile walk that begins at the beautiful and historic Barclay Grounds (corner of N. Church and W. Marshall) and leads through the streets of West Chester, visiting Marshall Square Park, Everhart Park and neighborhoods along the way. Well-behaved dogs on a leash are welcome to join in the fun. Bring your thermos cups – as coffee, hot chocolate and donut holes will be provided.

There is no “entry fee” but we ask that you make a monetary donation in an amount of your own choosing – so that the Barclay Grounds and events like these will be here for years to come.
For more information or to register in advance and/or buy a commemorative 2014 Turkey Trot T-Shirt visit http://www.savethebarclaygrounds.org/west-chester-turkey-trot-2014/

Best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving. I look forward to seeing you at the “Turkey Trot”.

John

– 11/23/14 Two big wins for the Barclay Grounds during the Council meeting last Wednesday

Dear Friend of the Barclay Grounds,

I am writing to inform you of two big steps forward during last week’s Council meeting toward preserving the Barclay Grounds.

First, though, I would like to tell you about a fun, new event that will take place in West Chester on Thanksgiving morning. Bring your family, friends and neighbors to join in an energizing 3-mile walk that begins and ends at the beautiful, historic Barclay Grounds (corner of W. Marshall Street and N. Church Street) and will lead through the streets of West Chester, visiting Marshall Square Park, Everhart Park and neighborhoods along the way. Registration begins at 9.00 am for a 9.30 am Start. Well-behaved dogs on a leash are welcome to join in the fun. Bring your thermos cups – as coffee, hot chocolate and donut holes will be provided.

There is no “entry fee” but we ask that you make a monetary donation in an amount of your own choosing – so that the Barclay Grounds and events like these will be here for years to come.

For more information or to register in advance and/or buy a commemorative 2014 Turkey Trot T-Shirt visit http://www.savethebarclaygrounds.org/west-chester-turkey-trot-2014/

Two Big Steps Forwards Towards Saving The Barclay Grounds In Council On Wednesday, November 19th

First, Council vote 5-0 in favor of accepting a $100K open space grant towards the purchase of the Barclay Grounds from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED).

Second, Council passed a resolution (5-0) to send a letter to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) guaranteeing the additional $381K that is needed to complete the required “match” for the $606K DCNR open space grant request for the Barclay Grounds purchase. This does not mean that the Borough is at risk for this full amount as the Barclay Grounds Preservation Alliance (BGPA) has guaranteed to cover any shortfall (up to $200K) between the purchase price and the total amount of grants received for the Barclay Grounds purchase.

You may be aware that in the recent round of DCNR grants announced the Barclay Grounds was not included – even though it scored higher than several projects that were awarded funds. The reason for this was that DCNR wanted to make sure that the matching funds were in place before making a grant. So the Barclay Grounds were put on a High Value Projects list pending confirmation from the Borough that the full match was available.

So where does the funding for the Barclay Grounds currently stand?
The Borough has already received $225K in grant awards towards the purchase of the Barclay ($125K from Chester County; $100K from DCED). If DCNR awards the full $606K requested and the BGPA’s guaranteed $200K is added to this then the total raised would be $1,031,000. The Borough would then need to find only an additional $169K to complete the purchase.

To make up the $169K in a way that would ensure there is no additional burden on the residential tax payers of the Borough, the Borough is looking to use funding from new sources (including a proposed new Commercial Recreational Fee in Lieu which would be charged to new Commercial property developments if they do not set aside the required minimum amount of open space) and other creative means (e.g. potentially looking for sponsorships related to the park). The Borough also has the option of requesting additional grant money from the County Commissioners – as the Commissioners previously stated.

One additional fact that you should be aware of is that in July of this year, when the Borough completed the first “closing” under its contract to buy the Barclay Grounds – by which they acquired the two lots that border N. High St. (out of the four lots that comprise the Barclay Grounds) the sellers agreed to extend the date of the second closing (originally scheduled for December 2014) until December 2015. This will provide a realistic amount of time for the BGPA (which has now been granted tax-deductible donation status as a 501 (c) 3 charitable organization by the IRS) and the Borough to meet their fundraising targets.

For more information or to submit a question please visitwww.SaveTheBarclayGrounds.org.

Best wishes,

John (Cottage)
President, Barclay Grounds Preservation Alliance (BGPA)

– West Chester Turkey Trot 2014

Turkey trot png

Start your Thanksgiving with a new tradition!
Bring your family, friends and neighbors to join in a fun and energizing 3-mile walk that begins at the beautiful and historic Barclay Grounds and leads through the streets of West Chester, visiting Marshall Square Park, Everhart Park and neighborhoods along the way.

Please, click here, to get more information.

– 11/10/14 Come and dine out at Iron Hill to help save the Barclay Grounds

The Barclay Grounds Preservation Alliance and Iron Hill Brewery have joined forces to do fundraising for the Barclay Grounds. On November 10th Iron Hill Brewery will accept the above coupon when presented with payment for dinner, lunch, and take-out food served at its West Chester location and 20% of the food bill will go towards saving the Barclay Grounds.

Look under our events section to find out more information: http://www.savethebarclaygrounds.org/event/975/

 

 

– 07/22/2014 Borough Council voted 6:1 to move ahead with the first Closing

 Success!!! Borough Council voted 6-1 to move ahead with the first Closing

I am delighted to inform you that Council voted 6-1 this evening in favor of going ahead with the first Closing on the Barclay Grounds (by which they will secure the two lots on N. High St.).

I hope you feel a sense of pride in what we have achieved together.

It was a good meeting and I thank those of you who were able to attend in person very much. I know I have asked you to come to a lot of meetings now – but they were all important junctures along the way – and your presence in Council Chambers made the difference on each occasion. 

I would also like to thank those of you who were not able to attend in person but nevertheless took the time to call or write to your Council representative. Please know that this made a big difference. As Ellen Koopland (Seventh Ward) said … “It makes my job so much easier when I hear from my residents about how they feel on an issue”. Don Braceland (Fifth Ward) mentioned to me outside the meeting that about 95% of his mail was in favor of saving the Barclay, which helped him decide to vote “Yes”. Brian Abbott (Third Ward) also said yesterday that he was receiving a significant proportion of his e-mail in favor of saving the property. 

If you were not able to come this evening I am sorry because I know you would have enjoyed it. When it could have become an adversarial meeting Bill Lynch set the tone, as he often does, by putting things into the big picture perspective of the community as a whole and that this is not a win/lose situation – especially if we all put the same level of energy and creativity into solving the Borough’s other needs once we have preserved the Barclay Grounds. 

This then led to some very good “speeches” by members of Council (actually several were so good that I was disappointed when I realized the meeting was not being recorded). The meeting ended on a conciliatory note with many of the naysayers saying they felt less anxious by the end of the meeting about the finances involved . 

Now I am looking forward to being able to turn our energies away from the politics and more towards the work of actually raising the money.

Thank you for your role in getting us to where we are today. It is gratifying to know that we have all carried the ball at some point. I am excited that we now have a clear end-goal to focus on (i.e. getting together sufficient funding to allow the Borough to complete the second (final) closing) – and that, if we achieve this, we will have succeeded in saving this beautiful and historic property.

In closing, I would also like to thank President Norley and the Members of Borough Council for their decision tonight to take a calculated risk in order to preserve something very special for the Borough. While there are so many individuals that I would also like to recognize (and plan to do so in a future e-mail) I would be remiss if I did not single out three individuals at this juncture for their commitment, support, counsel and leadership throughout the past 15 months. These are State Senator Andy Dinniman, Mayor Carolyn Committa and Ward One Council Representative Bill Scott.

With Best Wishes,

John Cottage

– 05/26/2014 Thank you for a wonderful Spring Celebration

What a great night we had at the SaveTheBarclayGrounds Spring Celebration – held at The Barclay on Wednesday night (5/21). The event was held inside the part of The Barclay that was the original Hartshorne Mansion – and on the elegant, spacious covered-porch that overlooks the Barclay Grounds. With the mansion’s pink and grey marble fireplaces, 12-feet high arched doorways and 14-foot ceilings with decorative medallions, this was the perfect venue for such a gathering.

For the 160 people who attended, it gave a vivid sense of the historical importance of the estate that occupied the whole of this block (bounded by N. Nigh, W. Marshall, N. Church and W. Virginia) from 1866. On permanent display in a hallway of the Barclay was a copy of an illustration of the Hartshorne Estate from Futhey and Cope’s 1881 book “The History of Chester County, Pennsylvania”. The Hartshorne Estate was one of only two West Chester estates chosen to be illustrated in the book and is the only West Chester estate of this era not to have been subdivided and built on. Throughout the evening there were expert-led tours of the historic trees on the property.

For much of the evening guests socialized over hors d’ouvres and beverages, and browsed the 81 items in the silent auction. At 8:30, when the silent auction closed, the guests moved out to the porch and grounds where auctioneers from the Smith Auction House conducted a live auction of 11 impressive auction packages. Those who won items in the silent and live auctions got some really good deals – and, like everyone who attended, had the satisfaction of supporting the preservation of the Barclay Grounds.

The Barclay Grounds Preservation Alliance would like to say a special “Thank You” to:

Everyone who supported the Barclay Grounds by purchasing tickets
Tony Stancato & Vic Abdala of StanAb LP, and Allan Steenhausen of John Milner Associates for the use of the Barclay Mansion and Grounds
Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant for its donation of beer and other beverages
Linda Collier of Collier’s of Centerville for catering arrangements and wine selections
Sarah Hutchins and Rick Ray for guided tours of the historic trees
Anette Smith of Smith Auction House for conducting the live auction
Chaddsford Winery for the loan of the tables
West Chester Friends School for the loan of equipment and assembly space
The many businesses and individuals (soon to be listed on our website) who donated auction items
And last but certainly not least, the Spring Celebration “Committee Members” who worked so hard to make this a memorable evening for all …

Co-Chairs: Eric Lorgus; Arlene Rengert
Committee Members: Martha Carson-Gentry; Julie Cottage; Kristin Gerling; Karen Hamilton; Tandy Joy Hufford; Karen Jackson; Barb Lynch; Lee Miller; Larry (Parker) Parke; Donna Pyne; George Rengert; Liz Sweeney; Anarie Terezo; Margueritte de Wet; Kathryn Wood; Renny Wood

Thank you for your help.