Former owner of 415 W. Moreland speaks out

* Last month, the Local reported that a home on 415 W. Moreland Ave. had been purchased by developer Sam Blake, who had determined the house was in too poor a condition to rehab. He has decided to raze the house on the property, subdivide it and build two new homes.

When the Chestnut Hill Historical Society learned of Blake s plan, it mobilized to attempt to save the home, which is listed as a historically significant property in Chestnut Hill’s Historic District designation.

One of the former owners who sold the house is Fiametta Rubin. She responded to claims that the house is in poor condition.

– Editor

I am writing this because this issue is part of a much larger one I have about our society and the continuous destruction of the planet. Yes, we all want to make money, but there are always consequences from any action. Building materials, oil, non-salty water, energy, are so far limited, unless technology creates miracles, which it may do.

I did what I could to prevent leaks. I waterproofed the basement so that there would no longer be any water in the basement, kept sealing the joints between chimney and top roof, kept tarring the roof over the greenhous and fixed a leak over the top, west bedroom. I left a hole in the ceiling, which I made after the initial leak. I also left a hole in the ceiling of the greenhouse to enable me to see if any more leaking occurred many years ago. Since I do not like termites and they do not chew cement, I cemented the basement bottom door shut. Locking that door meant that many items could not be gotten out of the house. Yes, but the cement can be taken out and a new door can be put in.

Yes, both the south and north walls of the house were attacked by water. The south wall was quickly destroyed by a roofing contractor when employees left holes in the upper gutter, which infiltrated water below, and the plaster over the bricks was attacked. The north face was poorly redone by another contractor about 10 years prior, and I constantly had it replastered after that. I do not bemoan the loss of the house.

What interested me, although I was an architect, is not the house per se, but the effects that the demolition of the house will have on the environment – more waste from the very demolition, more trees cut down, more utilization of wood, more phytoestrogens from mold inhibitors and from other material used for future housing to keep humidity (molds) at bay, more cars and more pollution. More people, more garbage.

What is gained besides money? Nothing. There shall be fewer birds, fewer butterflies on their way to Mexico, fewer moles devouring insects underground, fewer praying mantises, fewer frogs. We had all of this on the property. There was an ecosystem at bay designed to keep in the moisture, lessen exhausts from movers, containment of the waste from trees.

One of out neighbors who kept their sprinkler going whether it rained or not all summer long could not have a clue to why the property appeared to be so “wild” and so different than theirs. Other homeowners on the street did. Some were for me; some were against me.

Yes, had I the money and the time, I would have installed solar panels on the flat roof top and the greenhouse. That would have been a healthy legacy. Yes, I do think of those who shall come after us, and I would have liked to leave some ecological improvements. All of us want to leave a legacy; that would have been mine. Arne Ness would have approved.

Fiametta Rubin

Chestnut Hill


Declining state funding for schools a big mistake

Have you wondered why our public schools keep demanding more local tax money? Here are two reasons.

First, from the day I graduated from high school in 1975 to the present day, the state’s share of public education costs has been whittled down from well over half (55 percent) to less than one-third (32 percent) of the total costs!

Who covers the difference? Local and federal money makes up the difference. In Montgomery County federal support of education is small, meaning local property taxes have had to rise to meet a burden that has risen from 45 percent to the current 68 percent of basic education costs – that’s a 50 percent increase! In Philadelphia, a larger share of federal money covers the difference, but there is still great pressure on local taxes, and worse yet, state cuts have gutted staffing levels.

Second, Governor Corbett cut $1.5 billion from public education in 2011 that has not been restored. At the same time, he cut corporate taxes by over $3.3 billion in the past four years. These Corbett policies have yielded a loss of over 20,000 teaching jobs while the overall rate of job growth went from 12th-ranked in the nation in 2010 to 36th-ranked in 2014.

So, instead of investing in our children, our future workforce and leaders, we gave mammoth tax breaks that increased inequality, decreased education and public services, and still failed to stimulate job creation. Our state lies near the bottom of all states for job growth since 2011.

Declining state support for our schools combined with tax breaks for corporations equals a big mistake that we can start to correct in this critical election year.

Art Haywood

Democratic Nominee State Senate 4th District


Wrong Picasso

Although Picasso’s “Three Musicians” may be the focus of next week’s Art Splash at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, readers will encounter a different “Three Musicians” than the image depicted on this week’s front page. Picasso made two similar collage and oil paintings of the same subject. Notable differences: The MET’s image includes a dog and guitar (as printed in the Local) and the PMA’s includes a piano and violin.

Jason Friedland

Chestnut Hill


Mistaken website

Thank you for running the article on the businesses in the Flourtown Plaza coming back following a fire.

There was one oversight on my part. While the website in the caption was correct as, the website in the article is their old Web address and does not include the online ordering or their new hours, which are:

Mon. – Thurs. 11 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Sunday 12 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Thank you for bringing this to the attention of your readers.

Barb Sherf