Up to date news on the happenings in Eddystone, PA. For such a small town, there's always BIG drama...inside and outside Borough Council Chambers.

A spade is a spade and a red sign is a red flag

In The Daily Times, Borough Manager Francie Howat wrote the “…tiny borough of Eddystone — less than 1 square mile along the Delaware River — has a long, proud history of commerce and industry” (Letter to the Editor, 9/1/11).   Being proud of our past is a great thing; it is nice to be proud of our connection to the railroad and shipping industry.  People want to live where there is a strong sense of pride. 

Let’s dig into the history even deeper.  Another part of Eddystone’s history is that generations of families were born and raised here.  It was not uncommon for a child who grew up in Eddystone to buy a home in the Borough and raise a family right around the corner.  The tight knit community existing in Eddystone came from the fact that extended families literally lived next door to each other.  This continued all the way up through the 1980s and into the 1990s.

Yet another proud part of Eddystone’s history.

Our elders left us a thriving community.  It was built around the ideals of their generation.  Industrial boom.   The idea of people in the working class going to the factory or shipping dock each day to make an honest living defined Eddystone.  Our elders built our community as a response to the demands of their time and as a result, Eddystone thrived in the early and middle parts of the 1900s.  Something changed, though.  In the very recent past the younger generation of Eddystoners began leaving rather than staying. 

In the same Delco Times letter referenced above, Mrs. Howat stated that an increase in industry allows for  “…unceasing, affordable home ownership.”   She continues, saying, “No one wants a vacant industrial wasteland in his/her backyard, only to realize that the taxes no longer generated there would either lead to a downward spiral in public services or an increase in residential real estate taxes.”

What about vacant houses?  What does Mrs. Howat think about those?  Let’s be honest.  Mrs. Howat, on behalf of the Council, did not write this letter to highlight our history.  She wrote it out of spite towards a few people that spoke out against this local government and made them look a bit foolish.  Otherwise, the letter would not talk about vacant properties in town because the simple fact remains that this Council has not marketed our Borough in a way to attract new residents.

While housing is quite affordable in the Borough, it is not because of any booming industry.  It has to do with the fact that almost 3 dozen houses are available in our tiny, less than 1 square mile Borough.  Unfortunately, the demand for them isn’t.  You don’t need to be an expert in economics to know that when supply is high and demand is low, prices are going to nose-dive.

Given the nonexistent trend of people moving into the Borough, invariably our taxes are going to go up even if there is an influx of industry.  It is even further evident that a tax increase is on the horizon given that Mr. Begley and the rest of this Council have already spent more money on the new firehouse than what has been or is projected to be collected from EMR over the next decade or more.  And for the record, not one penny has been collected from them yet, meaning that we are in a downward economic spiral and we are spending more money that we currently have in our coffers.

As we continue through this crossroads of our Borough’s history, I can’t help but think about how our decisions will affect our future.  I wonder what our children’s children will say about the community we left them.  I also keep thinking about the fact that, if you bought your house in the last 10 years, you probably owe more on your mortgage than you could sell you house for today.  You may have to take a loan out just to sell your home.

It is this last point that concerns me when I also hear some of my neighbors talking.  One thing I keep hearing about Mr. Begley is that, “He’s a nice guy” or “He is a nice neighbor.” 
This may be true.  He is probably a great guy and he may be a nice neighbor.

However, is he the forward thinking leader our community needs to sustain growth?  Is Mr. Begley a nice enough or a good enough neighbor to loan you the 50k you can no longer borrow against the value of your house to help send your child to college, or to make home improvements when needed?  The obvious answer to that question is no. 

The demands of today’s society are not the same as the early 1900s.  We don’t use an icebox anymore; we use refrigerators.  The milkman doesn’t come by any more, nor do we crank our engines to start our cars.  Letters are not our primary means of communication, and we don’t tune into the radio for our news.   Trains or ships are no longer the primary means of long distance travel.  The biggest change deals with the very way most of you are reading this right now.  The world is smaller these days thanks to the Internet.  Industrial jobs are becoming less and less a driving force in the economy and communities built solely on an industrial base are being forced to adapt or become a dumping ground for everything society does not want in their backyard.

Unfortunately for the “red sign” candidates, their signs remind me of the stuck in the past thinking that refuses to respond to our generation’s needs.  Those red signs remind me of the lack of forward planning that allows other communities to pass us by while we willingly accept their waste being dumped into ours.  

The red signs remind me that our town needs to not only keep our younger generations living here, but we also need to attract new families into our community if we want to flip the supply and demand curve to where the supply of houses is low and the demand is high.  This is something Mr. Begley and the current Council could not do over the past six years.  Every red sign, at least to me, is a red flag standing for spiteful behavior and stuck in the past thinking.

Imagine a Council that developed and implemented a comprehensive plan for our community.  Imagine a Council who markets our community in a way that reverses the economic damage done by this Council.  Imagine a forward thinking plan for our community, based on the past successes of Eddystone, but built to meet today’s needs.  Imagine a Council where the past is seen as something to cherish but not a place to live. 

Now that would be something to be proud of.