Thursday, April 16, 2015

The battle over Avenue J

I had the privilege of meeting Mary Loreto today.  While Mary has an extraordinary personal history as well as a long association with Columbia, she requested that this article remain focused and committed to the issue at hand, Avenue J.

Mary recollected how two cousins living at 106 South Second Street maintained the lower section of Avenue J, which runs adjacent to the property, from Second Street to Bank Avenue.  She stated that the majority of that work in the avenue was done by Ralph McBride.  The cousins pulled weeds and maintained the bricks and cobblestones, keeping everything intact and clean.  Mary added that her children also helped pull weeds there.  (Jeanne Fisher currently owns this property.)

Since the McBrides no longer maintain Avenue J, it has deteriorated.  There have been reports of weeds and trash.  Most noteworthy is a piece of concrete curbing that may have been removed, presumably to allow for off-street parking.   

A request was recently presented to borough council to maintain Avenue J and block it off from thru traffic.  The barrier would be placed at the intersection with Second Street.  

Recently, some 300 signatures supporting such a change were obtained by a private citizen and presented to borough council as well as to consultants hired by the CEDC.  Mary stated that she placed a follow-up call to Mayor Lutz on April 9, 2015.  According to Mary, the mayor said he must present the request for a barrier to council.  However, such a proposal had already been discussed with council at its March 23, 2015 meeting of the whole.  During the ensuing conversation, council promised a "field trip" to Avenue J.  To date, no one is aware that this has taken place.  At the meeting, Mary also cited a study done with a $50,000 grant in which it was recommended that Avenue J be preserved as a walking path.

Mary said that this block of Second Street is Columbia's most historic - and its most unique.

 The lower section of Avenue J, looking southwest from the 100 block of South Second Street. A faltering curb can be seen on the left.

 A section of curb bordering Avenue J, at about the halfway point

 The curb ends abruptly at a dirt driveway leading onto private property.

 Avenue J, looking northeast from bank Avenue.  A driveway is pictured on the right, and a sewer access can be seen immediately below it.

 Another view from Bank Avenue

Further down on Avenue J, as seen from Bank Avenue

23 comments:

  1. This is the way history is lost and forgotten. It begins slowly with small encroachments. While this section is a small piece of land, it cannot be erased and ignored.

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  2. i agree 100% that this is THE most historic area in town. it MUST be preserved. period. forever. thank you Cole and Mrs. Loreto for educating us all. I remember how beautifully maintained it was when i was a child and walked to school. Mayor....this Avenue MUST BE PRESERVED!

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  3. The historical society can do what ever they want. I hate to say it like that but thats the way it is!

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  4. This matter needs to be taken up with the rest of the neighborhood not just a select few that would support the closing of avenue j. The person that is pushing to get this alley closed is doing so for personal reasons not for the betterment of the community. A lot of things said about what has been going on there are false. There was never a curb taken out as there was a garage on the property at one time. If it is closed to traffic the family that lives there will lose their off street parking. The reason for this individual trying to close the alley is for that purpose because he does not like them. (Pure fact) He has been bullying the neighborhood for some time and this is just another one of his tactics to try to make things unpleasant for other people that do not want this or he thinks are not (historic) enough. When is this bullying going to end? Open your eyes Columbia! This alley is not causing an issue but rather one individual making false statements to get his way is the issue. Most of the people on the block do not want this to happen but they have never had a petition brought to them. For proof you can go to the rest of the people on their block and ask them and I can guarantee that is the answer you will get. I have been told he treats them like they are stupid and harasses people constantly. Some of the families are sick of this treatment and it should no longer be tolerated. Keep avenue j open!

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  5. Could you please elaborate on the " what ever they want" term. We can only suggest and feed information on any property or citizen in Columbia. We will never jeopardize the integrity of a person(s) feelings or passion on any property in or out of Columbia.
    I put in over 1500 hours of volunteer services to the Columbia Historic Preservation Society in 2014. With two other Directors with almost the same amount of hours. The Society is passionate about our history and barely keep our doors open due to a budget of $24,000 per year. Donations and memberships is what we rely in to survive.
    Keep this in mind, that it is not the way it is.
    Thank you,
    Christopher Vera
    Director/Columbia Historic Preservation Society

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    1. People don't understand the difference between the CHP and HARB.

      Another negative side effect of that sick joke that was/is HARB, unfortunately.

      --FMB

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    2. HARB was created by the borough and can be abolished by the borough. It follows the ordinance that borough council created and only recommends. Do your homework. And can anybody question why less and less people VOLUNTEER?

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    3. I know what HARB is. Doesn't make it any less of a sick joke. Do I detect a hint of defensiveness? Perhaps you are a part of said joke?

      --FMB

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  6. Why is the historic society being attacked? I have not seen anyone from the historic society pleading for this cause. Maybe I missed something.

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  7. Keeping avenue J open to protect one person's off street parking space? Lots of residents would love to have an off street space. The land is eroding due to curb removal (not suggesting that this was done recently, it may have been years ago). Continued erosion will ruin what is left of Avenue J. When 300 people sign a request petition to preserve it, how can that be ignored?

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  8. Once the few old, stately, single family homes left in this block are sold and broken up into rental units, Avenue J will be totally forgotten. It's a losing battle.

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  9. what? first off Chris Vera and the Historic Society put in thankless countless hours trying to improve our town...what are you doing? spreading rumors. thank you Chris and I apologize for the ignorance of petty people. secondly, are you kidding me? you ignorant person.....so this attack on Historic Society and SOME neighbors is ALL BECAUSE YOU WANT TO KEEP OFF STREET PARKING?! SERIOUSLY. So do the thousands of TAXPAYING HOMEOWNERS. CLOSE AVENUE J. its too historic to ignore and will make a nice little walk !

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  10. Closing avenue J is definitely a personal vendetta of one person that lives on 2nd street. The signatures on the petition were mostly those of people that do not even live in Columbia and many people that live in a local apartment building that I have been told would have signed anything. Ask the people that have lived on 2nd street for years longer than the person trying to force this issue and they will tell you they do not want it closed. This alley is not used to dump trash, hide drug dealers or anything else that has been erroneously brought up. The residents living next to avenue J, that have been there for many many years take care of the upkeep (mowing, weeds etc.) have stated on numerous occasions that they are willing to continue to do so. The historical society can only do so much with what they have and when you have people that are willing to take on the responsibility for an area and with that allow the historical society to use their resources in another area that may actually need it, why wouldn't you just leave things as they are? It's really sad that so much time and effort has to be put into arguing something such as this just because of one persons' bullying two year old tantrums.

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  11. It seems that there is only one residence routinely using avenue J, so sell it to them for use as a private drive and then they can pay tax on it.

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  12. Two year old tantrum is an understatement!

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  13. If we leave the alley open it would be for the best. It would not be historic to make it a walking alley. If anything it could be fixed up a little for better driving. This alley is not an issue in the least. If it's not broken there is no reason to fix it

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  14. Fact 1 - Mary apologized to Mayor Lutz and the Borough council for allowing her name to be associated with this issue. Bob misrepresented this issue to her, in order to use her name to garner names on his petition, since Mary's good name carries weight in this town. Mary's good heart always causes her to seek the best in people, so she would not think that someone might be using her. To my knowledge, none of the residents of South Second were approached to sign the petition (except for those not directly affected, and if they signed, it was only out of respect for Mary's name).

    Fact 2 - Rich and Ann (the homeowners who adjoin the alleyway in question) have been mowing the grass and raking leaves in Ave. J as far back as when Ralph and Leo McBride lived in the Bachman Mansion (now owned by Jeane), which means they've been maintaining it for well over 20 years.

    Fact 3 - The condition of Ave J has not changed one bit in the last 25 years. Any assertion to that affect is a pure lie.

    Fact 4 - This Blog article was submitted to this blog only after Bob was shot down at the Borough meeting ... The same meeting where Mayor Lutz gave his phone number to residents on South Second Street and asked the residents to call him first, and then the police if Bob continues his harassment of the neighbors on the block.

    Fact 5 - The couching of this article under the guise of concern for the historical significance of this alleyway, is just a smokescreen to hide a personal vendetta that Bob has towards residents in the block. He introduces himself to new tenants that he is the Mayor of South Second Street and/or the "bitch" of South Second Street.

    Fact 6 - This neighborhood has good people in it who are long term residents, and we never had this kind of tension until Bob moved into the neighborhood. The local police department is tired of having to answer calls where Bob is the center of conflicts (especially when it is the response to public drunkeness).

    Opinion: It is the irresponsible publishing of articles without talking to Mary, the Mayor, the police department which is aware of the harassment going on in the neighborhood by one individual, or other residents on the block (taking one person's word as fact), which causes Columbia to continue to be the joke of Lancaster County, and undermines the effort of this good Mayor, the Historical Society (not to be confused with HARB when it was first organized), and many others in this town who are promoting all the things that are good about this town.

    Please be responsible when using a public forum, before casting aspersions on people's good names. And be wary of individuals who name drop to give credence to their assertions.

    I expect better of this forum. This article should be removed since it is filled with misinformation.

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    1. I know bob personally and the things you are saying about him are very uncalled for.

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  15. During the meeting that I attended the mayor asked for phone numbers of neighbors so that he could call them to line up the "Field Trip" to avenue J.

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    1. Actually, that was Jim Smith. The field trip hasn't happened.

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  16. Mary dropped her own name when she spoke clearly to council about avenue J at a public borough council meeting.

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  17. In other news, how about them section 8'ssssssssss!!!!!!

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