“If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
If a public meeting is held and no one from the public attends, how is the public heard? Your input is needed (required) on the Borough’s Facilities Plan and the time for your input is NOW in the early stages before any decisions are made. Borough Council will hold a public meeting on March 29, 2023 at 7 pm in Borough Hall (in-person and on Zoom). Be there to listen, learn, and be heard on facilities’ decisions that could range up to $20 million.
What are the facilities owned by the Borough and how can they best be utilized? The Library’s need for additional space was the catalyst for the development of an ad hoc committee to address these questions in a broader context. Lansdowne Borough Facilities Planning (ad hoc) Committee has been looking into facilities and functions during 2022 and held their first Public Meeting on January 25th in Borough Hall.
A power point presentation was made by representatives of GKO Architects LLC, the architectural firm hired by the borough for initial planning. The borough functions that were considered include: Administration and Police (both currently housed in Borough Hall); Library services (currently in the library building); and Community Center activities (currently utilizing Twentieth Century Club). Recently taking advantage of some real estate opportunities, the Borough acquired a property on S. Lansdowne Ave that adjoins the library parking lot and a property on Baltimore Ave adjoining Borough Hall. The 2020 House on Lansdowne Court didn’t play into the discussion. Administration does not need additional space, but both Police and Library spatial needs are growing rapidly.
Three scenarios were considered and presented in architectural renderings by the consultant to foster dialogue early on in this decision process. In all scenarios, Administration would remain where they are.
- Same Place, but Better. Keep functions in the same place, but renovate and expand all the buildings to meet current and future needs. Cost estimate $15 million;
- Switch Police and Library. Move Library services into Borough Hall with Administration remaining upstairs; Borough Hall would be renovated and expanded with 2-story addition for growing needs of Library services. The current library building matches police needs for space, but renovation is required for function. Cost estimate $17.5 million;
- New Community Center Campus. The Twentieth Century Club with a two story addition becomes the campus that would encompass both Community Center activities and Library services. Police could stay where they are or move to library location. Cost estimate $21.4 million.
The evaluation criteria considered in developing these scenarios was discussed: cost; locational value; customer compatibility; integration with surroundings; architectural appropriateness; impact, both long and short term; accessibility (including ADA); borough operations; long-term borough redevelopment plan; environmental impact; energy impact; and time frame.
Each scenario has some positive and some negative aspects, while presenting visions to address the growing needs of the Borough. The cost figures are estimates and the Borough Manager is expected to pursue grant money to help pay for the projects. As with other capital improvements, the remaining cost would need to be borrowed, incurring debt service fees.
The groundwork has been laid for public inclusion in deciding about these exciting new possibilities. Unfortunately, few community residents attended the first meeting and handouts were not made available to the public. There was also no recording of the meeting found on the Borough website. On February 16th at the regular Borough Council meeting, it was reported that a second public meeting on Facilities Planning will be held on March 29th at 7pm in Borough Hall. This is your chance to be heard before any decisions are made. The meeting will be hybrid (in-person and on Zoom). If we expect our local officials to make the best decisions, then we need to show up and provide our input. Mark your calendar now!
The Borough Council informs the public through postings on their website and other social media and primarily by (attendance at their) meetings. The Lansdowne Democratic Committee is committed to the goal of maximum community input in governmental decisions to reach a consensus solution. Especially, in projects as extensive and potentially expensive as these facility plan scenarios.
The Lansdowne Democratic Committee is committed to “Accountable Leadership & Accessible Government” and will amplify the Borough’s efforts to reach more residents early in this planning effort. Share this information with your friends and neighbors so that they can help decide Lansdowne’s future too.