Much to my surprise, I learned from a colleague at work last week that St. Mary’s Villa (and all 45+ acres of it) is under contract to be sold to a developer. I imagine that this would be of interest to anyone living in our area, as St. Mary’s (formerly “Lindenwold” the estate of Dr. Mattison) has a rich history that contributed to making the town of Ambler what it is today.
The property has been in the hands of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth and managed by them until this past April, when Public Health Management Corporation took over operations. Per a recent letter from Upper Dublin Ward 2 Commissioner, there is less than two years left on the lease with PHMC and pending an approved zoning amendment, the contract of sale will go through when the lease is up.
According to an article today in the Philadelphia Business Journal, the property is under agreement with Endeavor Property Group, Guidi Homes and the Goldenberg Group. PBJ reports that “the developers are proposing to construct a mix of carriage homes, townhouses, condominiums and senior independent living apartments. They also intend to restore an existing “castle,” two gate houses and portions of the property’s formal gardens.”
This will be a hot button issue to say the least, as there are many factors to consider. St. Mary’s is currently zoned Institutional and is tax exempt, so developing the property could potentially help ease the burden for Upper Dublin tax payers. Of course, keeping the integrity of the castle, outbuildings, grounds (including the lake and the angel) will also be of paramount concern.
The Upper Dublin Historical Commission is asking people to attend their next meeting on Monday, November 25th, 7:30PM at the Upper Dublin Township Building to discuss preservation concerns and the future of St. Mary’s Villa. They are asking that you please spread the word and invite anyone who you think may be interested in this issue.
Update: A letter was delivered to homes bordering St. Mary’s yesterday, Novemeber 21, from the developers “The Mattison Estate” inviting residents to a discussion surrounding the developers ideas for the property. The letter states that questions, comments and feedback are welcome, although the letter also states that the meeting will last just one hour, which seems highly unlikely. The meeting will be held Tuesday, December 3rd, 7:00PM, also at the Upper Dublin Township Building.
To say that politics is not my cup of tea is putting it mildly. It is a topic of conversation that I often stray from, as I tend to keep those opinions to myself. I struggle with the “small fish in a big sea” feeling when it comes to national elections, which is why I focused on learning about our local candidates this year. After deliberation, and learning that Ambler elections often come down to just a few votes, I feel compelled to share my thoughts with you.
For the first time in 12 years, Ambler will have a new mayor. For a small town like ours, this is huge. Mayor Bud Wahl has served Ambler very well, and while it will be sad to see him go, it is important to see that the person who takes his spot will also serve Ambler well. I believe that Frank DeRuosi is that person.
The mayor is essentially the face of Ambler, the person who represents our town, interacts with residents and borough council, working to move our town forward in the best possible way. Frank DeRuosi is the best person to do this job, and he is already more than halfway there.
As you may know, I spend a good amount of time volunteering in Ambler and attend every event possible. I notice who is there. I see Frank and his family at every Ambler event; shopping at the farmers’ market each Saturday, First Friday’s, the Car Show, Oktoberfest; you name it, he is there. Seeing Frank and his wife chat with the local farmers whom they have come to know at the market, it is clear to me that he is not there to be seen, but because he truly loves and supports our community. This is also evident in his fight to keep Mattison Avenue Elementary from closing. As a resident, teacher, and parent, he understood the vital role that this school played in our community and worked tirelessly with several committed Ambler residents in an effort to keep the school open. I admire the respect that Frank showed when he approached Mayor Wahl years ago, letting him know that he wanted to step up and serve Ambler, when Mayor Wahl was ready to step down. Since declaring his candidacy, Frank has held several public meetings at Caffe Maida, giving everyone a chance to speak with him, share their concerns and learn what he is all about. Those who have been supporting Frank all along have told me that there has never been a request for funds, only boots on the ground. I appreciate that he is not a “politician,” but a humble individual with a desire to give back and help our community grow.
For mayoral candidates in Ambler, the issues are clear, hence the platforms are similar. This made it easy for me to focus on the person. On that note, you may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned Frank’s party affiliation, and that is because I couldn’t care less. Personally, those are my feelings in any race (small town or not), but seeing beyond party lines is critical thinking for those in a borough of less than one square mile.
One last thing that I’d like to share is that I first met Frank and his family seven years ago. He probably does not remember this, but being a new real estate agent on my first open house, I do. I studied those names on my open house sign in sheet and put them to memory. For that reason, I recognized Frank’s name the next time I did an open house in Ambler. By the third time he and his family visited an Ambler open, I recognized them immediately. Each time I would greet them and he would tell me that they already lived in town and are were just looking because they love Ambler and like to see the different homes and architecture. I do open houses all over the area, Upper Dublin, Whitpain, Lower Gwynedd, but I’ve never seen the DeRuosi’s at any of those open houses. To you, this may be weird, but to me, this is fantastic. To be so intrigued by your town that your quest to learn more involves spending precious Sunday time viewing Ambler homes, warms my heart. Although I must admit, I didn’t see Frank at my last Ambler open house a few weeks ago, but I’ll give him a pass, as it is campaign season.
If you are uncertain about voting, please remember that voting is your right and a chance to make your voice heard. Don’t waste your opportunity to contribute to Ambler’s future, vote on Tuesday!
Ward 1: Wissahickon Fire Company, 245 Race Street
Ward 2: SAAC Center, 45 Forest Avenue
Ward 3: Calvary Methodist Church, 16 East Park Avenue
Election season is upon us and this year, without the shadow of a national election, we have the luxury of being able to focus on our local elections. For the first time in twelve years, Ambler will have a new mayor. There are five council seats up for election, as well as Borough Tax Collector and there is also an Ambler resident running for a seat on the Wissahickon School Board.
Until this year, there has not been an opportunity for the Ambler community to learn about all of the candidates under one roof. Typically, you have to attend the D’s or the R’s individual functions, which leaves out quite a few. That will change this year, as on October 24th, there will be a non-partisan community meeting where all candidates, from all parties, are invited to speak and engage in a Q&A with members of the audience.
This is your chance to get to know the candidates, learn their platforms, and understand why they are desirous of the position. In addition to learning about the candidates, the meeting will also offer a mini “civics lesson.” The purpose of this is to help the community understand how Ambler Borough operates and what can realistically be expected of a candidate in his or her position.
This meeting is free, there is nothing asked of you, other than your time for the evening. In fact, there is no money being exchanged at all; the venue has been graciously donated by From the Boot, sound and music by Ambler Music, assistance in the form of a meeting facilitator by Mark Warshaw, and the event logo by Joe Ronca.
This event was created with the Ambler community in mind, you are encouraged to attend and be better prepared to make your voice heard on November 5th!
It is almost impossible to believe that Labor Day is less than one week away, kids are going back to school and summer has come to a close. Each summer seems to fly by faster and faster, and they say that’s what happens as you age, but that doesn’t make it any easier to accept. Despite my grumblings regarding summers end, I must say, that it has been a fantastic couple of months. Our wonderful town has offered so much (First Fridays, the Ambler Farmers’ Market, the Ambler Arts & Music Festival, Restaurant Week, Dog Days, and more), and I’ve collected many great memories to reflect upon.
Without question, the best thing that happened to me this summer is the opening of the Ambler Farmers’ Market. As one of the founders, I have been working on this project since July of 2012, and have spent months wondering what the market would be like and how the community would respond. In my wildest dreams, I don’t think I could have imagined the reality of the market. We opened June 1st to an AMAZING crowd, the community came out in droves to support the market, and were thrilled to be able to shop for fresh, local food in downtown Ambler. I quickly realized that not only was the market a place to shop for food, but a community gathering place. Countless people were greeting one another and embracing; I commonly overheard “Oh my gosh, I haven’t seen you in years!” Members of our community talked and caught up with one another, meeting newest the members of the family (sometimes four legged) and made plans to meet later in town for dinner or a drink. Folks were just plain happy to be there.
As you probably know, the market offers a place for kids to hang out and do activities, live music and an educational series each week. Seeing children reconnect with school friends on the kids quilt, as well as making new ones, has been priceless. I have also learned quite a bit from the various speakers we have had thus far. A hay garden was introduced to me while learning about composting, both I hope to incorporate at my home next year. Meeting Theo, the six week old “kid” from our goat farm, holding baby chicks and being mesmerized by the sweetest baby gosling (in Marie’s arms, left) were certainly highlights, as well. Music is a big part of my life and I am so moved that our wonderful musicians graciously volunteer their time each week to make for a more enjoyable shopping experience. Our farmers and vendors are all so wonderful, knowledgeable and friendly. In fact, shopping at the market in and of itself can be an education! Learning about how the crops are grown and the animals raised, you can really feel the love that goes into the product that they bring to market. Shopping there has also exposed me to some foods that I’ve never tried before resulting in exciting culinary adventures in my kitchen. I may have put on a few extra lbs eating blueberry scones for breakfast every weekend, but it was worth every bite!
Another wonderful aspect of the market is our relationship with the Mattie Dixon Community Cupboard. Each Saturday at the close of the market, Mattie Dixon volunteers arrive to pick up very generous amounts of food donated by our farmers. The cupboard commonly gets canned goods and non-perishable items, but with the market in town, they are able to offer their customers a great variety of fresh produce, breads and more!
On a more personal note, working on (and at) the market has been one of the most rewarding things that I’ve ever been a part of. Witnessing the benefit and life that it has brought to the community and being a part of something that I feel is vital to Ambler’s continued growth brings me a tremendous amount of joy. I have also made some incredible friendships along the way that I know will stand the test of time. Speaking not as an Ambler Main Street volunteer, but as someone who has come to appreciate the value of being involved in our community, I encourage you to think about how and where you can engage.
Although there is no denying the end of summer, fortunately, the market will be open for a few more months and I look forward to seeing you there!
It looks like Cornerstone Presbyterian Church is making Narnia in the Park an annual tradition, and it’s that time of year again! If you missed it last year, you missed out. Last August, Cornerstone brought us a week long celebration of the C.S. Lewis classic, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, and a great time was had by all, young and old. Mark your calendars, as this summer they are doing it again!
July 29 – August 2, you can enjoy nightly readings from another C.S.Lewis children’s classic, Prince Caspian. Dr. Carl R. Trueman will take you into Narnia on the continued journey of Peter, Susan, Edmond and Lucy. The evenings will also feature mini concerts and light refreshments. This is a wonderful event that the entire family will enjoy; invite your neighbors and friends as well! Bring your own blankets and chairs and sit back as Pickering Field is transformed into the Dancing Lawn. This event is FREE, so be sure to show your appreciation and give Cornerstone a big thank you for their hard work in bringing this to the community!
Narnia in The Park
Pickering Field, Park & Highland Avenues
July 29 – August 2, 6:45-8pm each night
In the case of rain the reading will be held at Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, 211 W. Butler Ave, adjacent to the Sons of Italy Building.
Summer is off to a fantastic start in Ambler! So far we’ve had the return of First Fridays, the debut of the Ambler Farmers’ Market, the Ambler Arts & Music Festival, and now Ambler Restaurant Week is on tap. All this activity is the reason I’ve been so absent from my blog, but I wanted to take a moment to share the Restaurant Week link with you so you have plenty of time to make your plans!
The menus are slowly rolling in, but there are a few restaurants who have already submitted amazing menus. Several restaurants are offering lunch menus and additional beverage pairings, lots of options to please everyone. Check out the details at www.AmblerRestaurantWeek.com. Menus, pricing and other information will be continuously updated as we get closer. July 21-28, promises to be another great Ambler Restaurant Week, see you in town!
Tucked away on Forest Avenue is the Senior Adult Activity Center of Montgomery County. This very active organization is asking for our help; they need runners, walkers and volunteers for “Outrunning Senior Hunger… One Meal at a Time,” a 5K Walk and 3K Run! This event will help raise awareness of senior hunger, the need for volunteers to deliver meals, and funds to help sustain the program, Meals on Wheels. Meals on Wheels delivered over 120,000 meals last year to homebound seniors in Ambler, Glenside, Norristown and surrounding communities, and this program continues to grow as the population ages and more individuals remain in their own home with support from agencies like this one.
The 5K Walk and 3K Run will take place on the Campus of Montgomery County Community College on Saturday, April 13, 2013. Registration is $20 and can be handled online or by mail, payable to Montco SAAC at Ambler Senior Adult Activity Center, 45 Forest Avenue, Ambler. Prizes will be awarded in several categories. Please help spread the word about the event!
If you’d like to help, but aren’t to run, walk, volunteer or donate at this time, volunteers are always needed to deliver meals to homebound seniors. Meals on Wheels volunteers can choose the location they would like to serve, and with an SAAC hub in Ambler, it’s easy to make a difference right in our community. Volunteers can either assemble meal packets, drive or partner with a driver. Meal packing starts at 8:00 AM so that drivers / partners can pick up and deliver meals starting at 10 AM. Volunteer schedules and day(s) of week are flexible and a weekly or bi-weekly commitment can be accommodated. The delivery of meals relies solely on volunteers, and they desperately need your help!
Contact the Senior Adult Activity Center in Ambler at 215-619-8863.
Forest & Main Brewing Company is about to celebrate their one year anniversary in April, and boy, has their first year been phenomenal! After a much delayed opening, they opened to instant fan fare and gained a devoted customer base immediately. It didn’t take long for word to spread in the beer community, F&M fans are not just coming from Ambler, but from all over the area, some traveling quite a distance to enjoy their craft beers and tasty pub fare.
Being featured on the front page of the Inquirer, receiving praise from Craig Laban (which is not easy to come by!) and taking home the coveted Best of Philly Brewpub in 2013 highlight a few of their “first year” accomplishments. Just last week they were featured on a 6abc show called, FYI Philly (see link below). The F&M coverage begins at about 9:50 into the show, and is well worth watching. Owners, Gerard and Daniel, give a fantastic peek into the brewery, as well as providing great press for our beloved town!
Check out the video below and be sure to celebrate Forest & Main’s exciting first anniversary at the pub, Saturday, April 13th. There will be live music on the porch, 4-7pm, and undoubtedly a good time had by all.
Forest & Main Brewing Company 61 N.Main Street facebook
As many of you have heard, On Tap Philly is taking over the former Finn McCool’s (YES!). I spoke with both new partners two weeks ago and was waiting to find the time to put together a cohesive piece, but judging by all the emails and inquiry’s, it’s clear that you just want the deets, so let’s have at it!
The bad news is that I have a page of notes, but am limited to share only a few details at this point. Both partners and their chef (yes, I said, chef!) will be revealed at a future date, as they have a lot of work ahead of them at that is their focus at this time. It’s safe to say that Finn’s had a bad rap in town, so my first question was not about the beer, but about service, and then immediately followed by food. I was thrilled to hear that hiring top notch service staff with a focus on customer service is paramount to them. Their general manager and staff will be hand picked, well trained, and part of the On Tap Philly family. As for the food, they are still in menu development, but it will be a healthy, American menu with a farm to table feel. It was nice to hear one of the partners say that he would never serve anything that he’s not proud of and doesn’t want to eat himself. This individual is vegan, so he feels the pain of most menus having limited options, and that will not be the case at On Tap Philly. To the extent possible, they will source their food from natural sources and local farms. Knowing what is in your food and where it comes from was a point well stressed, AMEN to that! He did give me a few menu teases, to which I’m pretty excited about. What about the beer you ask? On Tap Philly will have a mere 72 beers on tap, featuring an in depth craft selection.
Their “gold” as I call it, is the patio, and if all goes according to plan, you should be able to enjoy a cold one out there sometime in mid April. We know how restaurant openings go in this town, so while I hope they can make that date, we shouldn’t hold our breath. Once open, they will serve lunch and dinner, seven days a week, and offer take out as well. They are currently hiring, so if you’ve got “the right stuff” get in touch with them, [email protected] Also, be sure to follow their updates on facebook!
To sum it up, I was told that they want to offer a really fun place that serves really good food. If they can pull it off, I’m sure this town will wholeheartedly support them!
Back in September many of you took the time to fill out a survey and sign a petition with regard to bringing a Farmers’ Market to Ambler, and I am thrilled to say that your voice was heard! The results of the petition and survey painted a very clear picture; not only are residents in favor of a market, but desperately desire access to local, farm fresh food.
This past August, a small committee within Ambler Main Street began working to bring a Farmers’ Market to Ambler; based on the overwhelming response from the community, the efforts kicked into overdrive. There has been a ton of behind the scenes work over the past several months, including writing a business plan that proved the Ambler community could support a market. There is still a lot of work to be done, but knowing that the market is a go is one of the most exciting things I’ve been a part of, ever. Although many hurtles have been crossed, we still need your support to help bring this market to fruition, please consider donating to the Ambler Farmers’ Market so that Ambler Main Street can bring you the best possible market!
Ambler Main Street will be working in concert with Farm to City, an organization whose goal is to unite communities, families, and farmers through good locally grown food. The market will open Saturdays, beginning in May and run through November, in the SEPTA parking lot adjacent to Trax Restaurant & Cafe. For now, please visit the facebook page and like the Ambler Farmers’ Market to keep up to date; there is a website and lots of information to come! Thank you for being a part of this!