Media Borough coup d’état: Williamson
Peter Williamson responded to former Borough Council member Brian Hall’s request for a statement regarding the recent changes in Borough Council. To put Mr. Williamson’s comments in context, he addressed issues brought up by Mr. Alyanakian in his prepared statement in July. Media, PA News asked Mr. Alyanakian to speak directly to these issues as a counterpoint to Mr. Williamson’s comments, however, he refused to do so on the fallacy that we “could not possibly understand.”
Mr. Williamson was able to outline the complexity of each issue in his statements during the meeting.
So, below are Mr. Alyanakian’s quotes with rebuttals from Mr. Williamson.
“The future of 1 West State St. and how it impacts our business district”
Mr. Williamson pointed out that the 1 West State Street (formerly Brodeur’s) was put up for public bid with unanimous approval from all Borough Council members. He indicated that Mr. Alyanakian had requested to not use a professional broker. Williamson also indicated it was a matter of following the law, the borough had to make a public offer of the property for a specific period before even entertaining alternate options.
He then indicated that after a certain amount of time, Borough Council would be much freer to pursue additional options.
According to Mr. Alyanakian‘s web site, he proposed selling Old Borough Hall (a.k.a. 1 West State St.):
Recommended selling Old Borough Hall in 1999, 2004 and 2007 that would have netted the borough in excess of $750,000 negating at least 1 tax increase.
“The empty lots on Baltimore Pike”
Here, Williamson stated that the empty lots on Baltimore Pike were due to the national recession, and asked sarcastically if Mr. Alyanakian if he had the power to force banks to loan money to businesses to build on Baltimore Pike.
He also pointed out that the two largest projects on Baltimore Pike, the Hampton Inn and the office building, have been opposed consistently by Mr. Cunningham.
“Declining services or rising costs for maintaining public safety”
Williamson went into detail outlining how the police budget has almost no room for cutting, because 90% of the budget is police salary and benefits which are union negotiated.
Williamson also pointed out the prior cost-cutting measure trim the dispatchers by using the 911 routing instead, which passed with a unanimous vote.
He then asked, rhetorically, how Mr. Alyanakian expects to cut the budget without decreasing safety in Media.
Reinvigorating a fractured business district that currently has five web sites dedicated to promoting State Street
“Why propose eliminating the mercantile tax … that supports the Media Business Authority? Is the way to fix a thirty-year-old organization they are unhappy with to destroy it?”
He then advocated Mr. Stein’s approach: to improve governance and communications of the MBA to address some of its weaknesses, and not to “throw it out.”
Editor’s note: There are only three web sites from the MBA: http://statestreetblues.com/, http://visitmediapa.com/, and http://mediabusinessauthority.com/; the three music festival web sites were already merged into one web site.
“Alyanakian re-stated his major concerns with lingering issues such as the Third Street Bridge”
Williamson indicated that the 3rd Street Dam (not a bridge) was delayed by prior Borough Councils and that the issue is complex.
Williamson stated the cost of repairing the dam is between $1.5 and $4 million dollars. He outlined the history: it was originally built by Broomall’s Lake members, then Delaware County purchased the strip of land down the middle, and finally Media paved it. Williamson stated that Broomall Lake Country Club and Delaware County’s positions are that Media Borough should pay for the entire repair, however, Mr. Williamson was vehement in his insistence that it was his duty to ensure that the repairs (and the maintenance) be divided somehow between all three parties.
Williamson also indicated that repairing the dam is just the start of the issue, and that it will require additional capital to maintain it once repaired and that that responsibility should be shared among all parties.
“… paralyzed for far too long by partisan politics that has left us with mounting infrastructure and financial issues that need immediate attention.”
Mr. Williamson pointed out that Media is in excellent shape, with $1 million dollars saved in a capital accounts fund over the past 4 years, and that we have exceptional public services, relatively low taxes, and a “good library.” He took a minute to commend Borough Manager Jeffrey A. Smith which resulted in applause from the gathered crowd.
He also pointed out that “the residential real estate market is excellent—a measure of how well we are doing.”
He indicated that the issues the coalition used as “straw men” are important but not even close to being new or unknown to Borough Council. He then described how all budgets in Pennsylvania are tight, and added:
“There is no crisis, yet Mr. Alayankian and Mr. Cunningham raise this specter repeatedly, as if repetition would make it true.”
“I strongly urge you all to continue to pay close attention to the coalition’s proposals over the next several months. If they are poorly thought through, you will certainly hear from Monica, Eric and I, but it is even more important that you express your feelings too. ”
“Pete is right: leadership matters. Being Council President takes a lot of time and mental effort; it isn’t suited to flashy proposals that leave wreckage in their path. ”