Chamber: We Support Wawa Construction

The Chamber of Commerce conducted a meeting regarding the new Wawa in the township.

The following message is from the Willow Grove Chamber of Commerce:

Following the discussion on the proposed Willow Grove Wawa at the annual meeting of the Willow Grove Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber’s Board of Directors met and voted to support the project. Before the vote, each member expressed an opinion and the reasons behind it. Many felt that although the project was not perfect, it would be an asset to the community and would meet many of the aims of redevelopment. The vote carried by 14-1. 

At the, November 7 meeting, developer Bruce Goodman explained plans for the project. He showed illustrations of the alterations that were made to more closely conform to the Upper Moreland and Montgomery County redevelopment plans for the area and to make an attractive and walkable area. Commissioner Joe Lavalle, who chairs the township’s Community Development committee and Commissioner Kip McFartidge answered questions about the proposal.

Do you agree with the Chamber of Commerce?

J.W November 08, 2012 at 12:06 PM
I don't honestly think we need anymore ... there are so many already it's sick... I think that for that space we can think of something better like a community center or something.. something that would benefit the children in this area
Cindy Haage November 08, 2012 at 12:29 PM
Seriously wrong for this spot?? Traffic is already a nightmare and train parking has overflowed to non-designated spaces... Now they are going to tie up traffic even more??? May be time to put some new commissioners in...
Michelle Young November 08, 2012 at 12:58 PM
While I am sure many can think of alternate plans for the area, the developers are simply not coming forward with the ideas (or the money) to undertake such projects. Goodman Properties has proven themselves in our township and the plans they have come up with are, to say the least, aesthetically pleasing. There will never be a way to make everyone happy. We absolutely must avoid another vacant, run down property in Upper Moreland. Their designs have incorporated the recent improvements made along Veterans' Memorial drive, as well. We need to encourage progress in Upper Moreland.
Carol Memberg November 08, 2012 at 03:23 PM
The design showed new access that diverts some of the traffic to avoid some of the traffic problems. Also, there is a parking area included. Developers haven't approached the township in response to requests for ideas for any area in our downtown, except maybe for that storage facility which sure doesn't beautify us. As for a community center, that's a great idea, but the township, and we taxpayers would have to pay for it, not likely to be approved. However, the additional tax revenue from the WaWa could help to pay for enhancements in the park.
Mariann O'Connor November 08, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Please come out to the PUBLIC HEARING on TUESDAY NOVEMBER 13th at 7PM in the Council Room at the UM Township Bldg. Your voices NEED to be heard on this proposed project. The future of our historic town is in jeopardy. Your voices matter.
Tom Winterberg November 08, 2012 at 03:46 PM
Like Michelle says, “Goodman Properties has proven themselves in our township” and I feel that based on their previous projects within the township they are looking to put in something that will benefit all involved: township, residents, developer and land user. There has been some talk that this project doesn’t meet the town center zoning. Well, in my opinion, that zoning needs to be looked at and rethought. Do we really want the center of Willow Grove to have buildings that are 5 stories high and 15 feet from the curb? I believe that the Wawa proposal will bring in much needed revenue to the township, create a reason for individuals to walk from the train station past the Erenphort (sp?) building and possible create interest in that building to be renovated and revitalized. This project could be the spark that starts revitalization/redevelopment of Willow Grove that has been talked about for at least 35 years!!
MoW November 08, 2012 at 04:32 PM
I don't think the traffic is a real concern. Sorry for those that do. If you are judging traffic concerns by the stores in Hatboro and on Moreland Rd, that is understandable. The newer stores are designed with a traffic flow in place. As far as if WAWA fits into the redevelopment of UM, perhaps not- whatever that plan actually is. We really don't need anymore retail stores that have potential to sit empty. On the plus side, WAWA, is a repeat business retailer. It will be great for train users and commuters. It will employ members of the community. It is a company with a proven track record in it's business model and practices. This company supports the comunity it serves. The design can model the landscape of the intention of UM, and certainly not the existing landscape. I have stated in many posts that I prefer to see UM become rich on the arts. A multifunctioning theater. Stage shows, plays, concerts, etc. With access to the train, this is a viable option for our community, and would also continue with the rich history of UM. This option would bring foot traffic in for restaurants and shops. It could include space for daytime programming for our seniors and many of the other community groups. Just my option.
Barbara November 08, 2012 at 05:05 PM
The traffic will be no worse than the former health club's traffic in and out. The developer bought the building and has a right to develop it as he sees fit under the law. If Goodman Properties wants to turn it into a Wawa, legally, I don't see how the Commissioners can object. If he wants to put in gas pumps, that will require a variance, but other than that, I don't believe the Commissioners have any legal right to object to its use as a Wawa, if it meets the zoning specifications for that area. Sure we'd all like to see the center of town redeveloped--but after all the missed opportunities, there are no developers banging down the door. The location is not what I would consider to be the 'center' of town, it's on the edge, and I'd rather see it developed than continue to be vacant. What I like is that it will have a continuous presence; most of that area shuts down after rush hour. I just wonder how much business it can do with the Giant supermarket so close...
Mariann O'Connor November 08, 2012 at 08:29 PM
Please see newly added photos. Examples of what most citizens would like downtown Willow Grove to look like. Willow Grove certainly needs a WAWA, but not in a prime real estate location in the town center.
Mariann O'Connor November 08, 2012 at 08:57 PM
To John Preite - These charges of favoritism and corruption in our town government definitely need to be addressed. I am sure many of us would like to have answers to these situations you have mentioned. Please come to the PUBLIC HEARING on TUESDAY NOVEMBER 13 at 7PM and bring up these incidents you have mentioned. Let's get some public, documented answers and put an end to corruption and favoritism in our local government.
Tom Winterberg November 08, 2012 at 11:21 PM
Mariann, the photos are lovely, just not practical or probable for Willow Grove. Redevelopment like what you show would need 1 maybe 2 developers to buy up the whole downtown, level it and start from scratch! It also would most likely take a substantial investment from the public (read TAX dollars) which UM does not have. Our downtown does not lend it's self to this type of development due to the individual parcels being owned by individuals who want top dollar for their properties (rightly so).
Barbara November 09, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Not sure I understand the charges of favoritism or corruption. Unlike prior Boards, this Board of Commissioners operates in a very transparent way. All meetings are open to the public, including the budget meeting, What I especially enjoy is the reasoning most of the Commissioner provide to explain their vote. I may not always agree with them, but I enjoy the thoughtful dialogue, esp from Joe LaValle, Donna Parsell and Sam Valenza.
John Burkhauser November 09, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Related to traffic concerns...Wa Wa wants to build here because of the traffic. In doing so they traffic situation will get worse. It already takes up to 15 minutes to pass through the center of town now. Adding this destination can only make it worse. I also invite anyone in favor of the Wa Wa to sit by another super Wa Wa and watch the traffic. It's crazy. As a motorcyclist I avoid and become very alert whenever passing one of these facilities. Build it else where, maybe further up York Rd where there are plenty of empty lots in need of occupation.
Mariann O'Connor November 09, 2012 at 07:33 PM
Barbara, John Preite referred to numerous incidents of apparent abuse of power in the township in his above replies dated 8:41AM and 1:10PM on Thursday, November 8. Favoritism in the areas of who is getting permits and who is not....
Barbara November 09, 2012 at 07:58 PM
Mariann, with all due respect, you're reaching here. Each variance situation has to be objectively looked at, I don't think it's fair to anyone to listen to one anectdote and conclude that there are "numerous incidents of apparent abuse of power". If you have specific details of zoning variances that you feel were inconsistent, then I suggest you take it up with the Board of Commissioners. It's just not fair to the members of the Zoning Hearing Board to make false allegations without definitive proof. Those are libelous statements.
Mariann O'Connor November 09, 2012 at 08:16 PM
Barbara, not sure why you are directing this to me? I did not make these accusations. I am referring to the comments made by John Preite in the replies above. That is why I had suggested to John (in a reply above) to bring up these incidents he mentioned to the Board at a public meeting. And from reading John's response on the subject, he has elected to live with the inconsistencies he has experienced and to "bite his tongue. Since he finds more good than evil in the town he lives in. But on this subject, and from a first hand, direct quote by an extremely reliable source (former County Commissioner). I was told there was a time that Upper Moreland was know to be "one of the most corrupt townships in the county". Can't tell you what years or particular boards or people that person was referring to. Just extending the first hand comment.
Patricia Gershanick Valenza November 09, 2012 at 08:43 PM
Great discussion on the proposed WaWa, but I wonder how a WaWa gas station can be aesthetically pleasing. Talk about redevelopment and revitalization has been going on for years; over the last fifteen years five million dollars in public money has been spent. Have not been to the recent meetings to see the proposed plan and cannot find it on either the Township site or the Willow Grove Chamber site. Could this plan be posted? Previous developers have made proposals for downtown Willow Grove. Gallup proposed residential, office and retail. Federal Realty proposed retail and residential. Neither developer saw a gas station as being a good fit. An extensive sampling in 2005 of residents by Arcadia Univ showed that residents wanted a sit-down restaurant; that still remains a good fit for this location. Would have loved to see a Miller's Ale House at this location. Also wondering if the zoning has been changed for the area; I read where no drug store is permitted. Is this still true? The comments made about Goodman's developments being attractive are true, but this is just a WaWa, not a shopping center. PGV
Barbara November 09, 2012 at 08:58 PM
Mariann--I'm sorry, but those were your words, not John's and I'm merely responding to your words. You said we need to "put an end to corruption and favoritism in our local government" and paraphrased his anectdotes as "numerous incidents of apparent abuse of power". I'm merely stating that some strong accusations are being made without having objective knowledge of the facts. That's all. We need to be careful that we don't disparage people and make libelous statements.
John Preite November 09, 2012 at 09:13 PM
To All Above, This is exactly why I never comment on these things. Those were not accusations that I made. they were some things that I personaly have gone through with certain instances. People are blind to many things. There are many good people in theses township governments trying to do so many good things but lets face facts different types of favoritism exists and it goes on. If you think not your world is not as real as you might believe.This will be my last commentand you should be able to see the reason why. This is my world .It is real and everything in it is real. I grew up in an area where you learn to read between the lines and with that I have done very well for myself. My world is not rainbows and sprinkles but it is wonderful place with my wife of 32 years and 2 great sons that all reside in this town. I like it here and sice this board makes it a good place I can live with everything else.


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