The article on the Town Center West (the inn) Project presented a decidedly one-sided picture of the issue. (“Inn Project Begins, Debate Continues”, The Phoenix, October 6, 2011.) In choosing to focus almost exclusively on comments by those who are opposed to the project, the paper neglects to include the views of the majority of residents who support the development. In addition, many of the statements made in the article are, at best speculative and some are clearly misleading.
Currently, the parcel on which the inn is planned to be built is completely non-taxable property. Once the inn is built, it will provide much-needed tax revenues to both the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District and the Borough of Swarthmore. In addition, in our many conversations with local merchants on the inn project, we have yet to speak with one who feels that bringing additional foot traffic into our downtown is likely to decrease business. In fact, the consensus among them seems to be that the inn would have a positive impact on local businesses. Quantifying the financial benefit to our merchants from the Town Center West project would certainly call for speculation, but one fact that seems inarguable is that not bringing people into our downtown provides absolutely no opportunity for any financial benefit.
No matter how thorough a professional traffic study might be, there will be those who will feel it was not done objectively or was not thorough enough. Currently, the underpass remains one of the most confusing and challenging traffic intersections in the area. Any redesign that makes it less of a challenge can only be an improvement.
Adequate parking has always been a major component of the project, so the supposition that current patrons of our downtown will suddenly abandon it for alternative shopping venues cannot be supported. If people wish to get the merchants’ perspective on the project, ask the merchants.
This project has been on the table for over a decade and has been the subject of numerous public meetings as well as a liquor referendum. As the Board of Directors of Swarthmore Town Center, Inc., a non-profit organization that promotes the economic well-being of Swarthmore’s business district, we believe it is time to address the reasonable concerns of our residents and then move forward.
Board of Directors, Swarthmore Town Center:
Marty Spiegel, Town Center Coordinator