Lansdale council approves YMCA project
After lengthy discussion by several residents — and in the face of a petition from more than 40 Lansdale natives opposed to the project — borough council has approved the proposed Lansdale Collaborative Project to expand the Lansdale branch of the North Penn YMCA.
“We are very cognizant of the safety concerns of our residents and are in continual discussions with them to resolve whatever concerns we can,” said council Vice President Paul Clemente.
Which issues the council could address were the main topic of discussion Wednesday night, as residents from nearby Forest and Highland avenues and Church Road came out in force to oppose the project. Plans have evolved slightly VLnFH LW waV firVW SrRSRVHd, but the collaboration would bring Manna on Main Street, The PbAK Center and Ad- vanced Living Communities together in a combined complex adjacent to the current YMCA on the 600 block of bast Main Street.
Neighbors near the current YMCA came out in force Wednesday to voice the latHVW YHrVLRnV RI FRnFHrnV firVW heard when the project plans were unveiled last spring: that vehicle and pedestrian WraIfiF IrRP WKH SrRSRVHd project would be funneled out of the site through a privately owned stretch of Forest Avenue the neighbors Vay LV WRR WLJKW a fiW IRr WKH project.
“We ask in the petition to reject the current proposals and we ask the borough to investigate all options for this entrance way, up to and including restricting vehicle WraIfiF Ln WKH HnWranFHway,” said resident Jessica Behrle.
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According to Behrle, the WraIfiF LPSaFW VWudy SrRMHFWed that 326 vehicles would enter the new project during peak hours of 5 to 6 p.m. and shows that roughly 40 SHrFHnW RI WraIfiF WR WKH Furrent site leaves through that exit now and heads right into their neighborhood.
“If we say conservatively that 40 percent of them will continue to use Forest [Avenue], that means 130 cars or more will be accessing that road. That’s two cars every minute that will be using Highland from Forest,” Behrle.
Borough Solicitor Mark Hosterman and attorney Frank Bartle echoed the same argument — that the immediate stretch of Forest next to the driveway is privately owned and the bor- ough can’t force any changes, such as widening that stretch of street or requiring that sidewalks be added on the private road as part of the YMCA project.
“I think all of us intuitively would love to see the sidewalks continue. However, we cannot require the YMCA to do that. That would be in the nature of an offsite improvement, and we cannot require that,” Hosterman said.
The YMCA and borough planning commission also discussed the possibility of a new deceleration lane to be built along bast Main in front of the new project. But that could not be accomplished for the same reason, it would be built on private property and the landowner is not part of the project, he said.
Hosterman and Bartle both outlined the history of site improvements and dedication of that stretch of property and how it came to fall into private hands after the borough passed up on an opportunity to acquire the right of way in the 1930s.
While the YMCA can’t address that concern off of its property, its consultants have worked closely with the neighboring residents, planning commission and borough consultants to address several other concerns on the property, Bartle said , including fencing along the property line, adding skirts atop the building to block off mechanical equipment and realigning driveways inside the YMCA parking lots to add stop signs near the Forest driveway.
“We support every measure the borough takes with rHVSHFW WR WraIfiF FaOPLnJ devices or a four-way stop at Highland and Forest. But that’s really not ours to decide,” Bartle said.
“We want to do what’s right for the Borough of Lansdale and the surrounding community and we have adopted every consideration they have suggested in our plan,” he said.
That plan was approved by a unanimous vote of council, with several members explaining their votes before casting them and Clemente and council members Mary Fuller and Steve Malagari — whose Ward lne contains the proposed project and nearby neighborhoods — all said they would monitor the neighbors’ concerns and work to address any safety concerns the borough can address.
“This is the way it should work. I appreciate that all of you have come out to voice your concerns, but there is an unknown should council not approve this,” Fuller said.
“What would we get? Would the Y continue? Would they sell if they can’t build? And what would happen next? These are all scary points of issue ... and I know I would like to see something new and improved on there,” she said.