Easements not to blame for Greylock

Contrary to well-meaning and spirited debate, the state of the historic Greylock property is not due to the preservation and conservation easements placed on it. Rather, the Greylock situation is a direct result of the mismanagement of the property, over leverage and the inability of a lender to come to grips with a bad loan that should be written down to reflect the realities of this real estate.

None of these factors were caused by the Greylock estate itself or the easements on Greylock held by the Chestnut Hill Historical Society. The current owner and lender were well aware of these easements when acquiring and lending on this property.

The Chestnut Hill Historical Society holds two easements that restrict development on the property. One is a conservation easement covering the grounds surrounding the home, the other is a preservation easement that protects the mansion’s exterior. These easements were gifted to the society and it is the steward of those gifts.

The Greylock easements are actually quite flexible, allowing for many development options including condominium conversion.

Having developed as condominiums the equally challenging “Anglecot,” a historic mansion and carriage house back in 1982, as well as many other historic properties in Chestnut Hill, I have been approached by numerous developers expressing an interest in Greylock. While the easement is a concern, of far greater detriment are unresponsive owners and lenders.

This easement has done its job: The land as a component of the Wissahickon Watershed is protected and, while the mansion has sadly sustained some damage, the vast majority of its historic fabric is intact, ready for adaptive re-use.

With a clarifying sheriff’s sale on the horizon, the true impediments to redevelopment will be resolved and Greylock will have new life.

Richard Wood Snowden

Chestnut Hill

Taking chances on Lincoln Drive

Stacia Friedman’s letter about “Dead Man’s Gulch,” aka Lincoln Drive, really hit home.

In October 2015 my husband and I were on our way home from the airport after a vacation. We were heading north in the right lane on Lincoln Drive, around 9 p.m., when a woman driving south in an SUV lost control of her vehicle, jumped over the median, and struck us head-on.

Thankfully, we were wearing our seat belts, and were in a relatively safe vehicle. She was driving so fast that her vehicle, now facing northbound, continued another 30 feet after striking our car, and came to rest straddling the cement median. The damage to our car was in excess of $25,000, but we were so very fortunate in that we both survived, albeit with injuries.

We learned from the wonderful and helpful police officers who responded that this woman had three children with her, all under the age of seven. I never learned whether or not they were in restraints. She had no driver’s license (and never had), and had no insurance. She was arrested at the scene, as she was a “scofflaw,” having failed to appear at a court hearing for some previous motor vehicle violations.

It took me many months before I dared to use Lincoln Drive again. The posted speed limit of 25 miles is a joke, ignored by almost everyone. I make a point to drive only in the right lane, and even maintaining a maximum of 35 miles per hour, cars routinely pass me in the left lane, easily doing 40-50 miles per hour. Obey the 25 miles per hour speed limit and you are guaranteed to be “tailgated,” which creates its own dangerous situation.

The moment it starts raining, the tow trucks gather and hang out at the old police barracks near Gypsy Lane. Sadly, it is pretty much guaranteed that an accident will happen. They profit, but everyone else pays, sometimes with their life.

Sharon M. Reiss

Mt. Airy

Bring back the CCC

I have some thoughts regarding our nation’s crumbling infrastructure along with the shortage of jobs fir many of our younger and minority men in America.

Back in 1932, the government created the Civilian Conservation Corps. This program provided work and income for a large number of unemployed men during the Great Depression. The work and projects that were accomplished in the years following were very significant. I think our government should now consider creating a similar organization.

I would even suggest that another feature could be added to this program. That would be a civilian GI Bill that would provide the way to education and training for CCC members who complete their tour of duty in the CCC and wish to move on to bigger and better things. I think most people would agree that, as far as government programs go, the GI Bill and the CCC rank at the top 10 in terms of success.

Dr. Ron Barnes


Personal service gone – Progress?

I was really moved by the Camera Shop article this week by Len Lear (“Chestnut Hill Camera Shop; personal service is history,” Aug. 25). It almost made me want to cry.

I was also raised a long time ago in Olney, and we knew all of the store owners along the 5th Street shopping corridor, and they knew us. My mom and I would go from store to store, exchanging pleasantries with the owners, even if we did not buy anything. We knew each other and cared about each other, just like Lear’s memories in his article. It wasn’t all about money.

That is almost all gone now, and we are not better off because of it. Computers are great and cell phones are great, but I think we have lost more than we have gained, the human connection. Kids don’t talk much to their parents anymore; they just look down at their small screens. Do you call that progress? I don’t.

I feel for Frank Garber and the Chestnut Hill Camera Shop. He added so much to Chestnut Hill. His personal service was so great. You just can’t get that anymore. I wish Frank the best.

Abigail DeMaio

Chestnut Hill

Camera Shop article hit home

I could really relate to your article on the camera shop (“Chestnut Hill Camera Shop; personal service is history,” Aug. 25).

My husband and I bought a camera in July and decided not to go to a big box store because we wanted someone we could talk to when we had a problem. It was too late – the store had closed.

I wonder how many of those Chestnut Hill specialty shops will be around in five years.

Karen Bojar

Mt. Airy

Compassion urged for transgenders

I saw an article in a suburban newspaper last week in which a woman from Aston was denouncing attempts by transgender people, whom she called “perverts,” to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify.

That made me think of a man I saw on on TV recently in a discussion about this issue. This man had a beard, appeared to be fairly muscular and spoke in a deep voice. No one on earth would suspect that he had once been a female, but he showed a photo of himself as a 10-year-old girl. His doctor talked about his operations during this discussion.

When this man was a teenage girl, he/she tried to commit suicide twice because of all the bullying, etc. He said he is a very happy person today and is engaged to be married to a woman. If he was forced to use a women’s bathroom, the women would probably call police on him because he looks like a typicai man. He uses the men’s room simply because he is a man.

I have read more than once that 40 percent of transgender people have tried to commit suicide at least once in their lifetimes. Instead of calling people “perverts” because of the way their brain is wired (and there but for the grace of God go the rest of us), I think a little compassion would be in order, especially from people who call themselves Christians, for individuals who have not harmed anyone, who have most likely been bullied and discriminated against their entire lives and who simply want to be what their brain tells them they are.

Lucille Lavoy