Wednesday, January 31, 2007

NH School Board Future...

As the snow continues to fall it makes me think that spring is just around the corner. With that comes flower buds, Easter and of course - primary elections.

This year a handful of North Hills School Board members are up for re-election and it makes this Tattler wonder whose going to throw in their hat? Board members with expiring terms include Arlene Bender, Al Barkely, Jeff Meyer, Mark Kasperowicz and Ed Wielgus.

So far, Al Barkley has already said he does not plan to run for re-election after serving two years. This action will take away a much needed opposition voice on the board.

This Tattler would also be very surprised if Mark Kasperowicz decided to run for a second term. Over the past four years, it seems as if he has been very silent on the board - not getting involved as much as other school board members.

If he does decide to go for re-election, this Tattler believes it will be an uphill battle because of his apparent lack of involvement on the board. This tells you that the job is not for everyone.

I most definitely believe Arlene Bender will throw her hat in once again. As the longest serving member on the board (nearly 20 years), she has a lot on her side including experience, name recognition and familiarity with issues facing the district.

However, Bender voted for the closure of three elementary schools in the fall and consistently votes to raise taxes. I'm sure she has the health of the district in mind while doing this, but it may prove to be a crack in her armor come election day.

The remaining members, Meyer and Wielgus could go either way at this point. Both have proved to be articulate opposition voices on the school board during their last term. I would expect Wielgus to run because he has been on the board for several years. Meanwhile, Meyer could go either way.

With some members choosing not to run for re-election, it opens the field up to other residents who have been trying to get on North Hills School Board for years. It should be an interesting primary and exciting November election.

Working to keep you posted...

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Northway Mall tear down...

Something is brewing at Northway Mall (Shoppes at Northway), a nearly 45-year-old shopping facility in the North Hills. After years of struggling to attract and retain tenants, a mall official plans to tear down a portion of the upper level to transform it into a strip mall.

They also plan to construct three exterior buildings, which would house any number of merchants. I would not, however, expect a restaurant to locate into any of those structures because additional parking would have to be added and the mall is at a maximum.

Although many community members may take issue with the strip mall concept, it has worked for other area shopping facilities.

North Hills Village Mall went through its own growing pains as an indoor shopping mall but just a few years ago converted to an open air shopping facility. Since then, the mall has attracted new tenants (Target, Ulta) and seems to be at full capacity.

While some could argue that three malls in such a limited area could be too much, it still sounds like the plan is worth a shot. Although the mall lost its movie theater in the process, this Tattler thinks the remodeling will be the greatest benefit.

Ross Township Planning Commission approved the plans last week and developers will now present them to Ross Township Board of Commissioners.

Just keeping you posted...

Wal-Mart may be coming to McKnight Road...

After years of looking at that run down Chi-Chi's Restaurant left vacant after a health scare in 2003, someone has finally purchased the property. Yes, folks, you heard me right -- the buyer in question is Wal-Mart.

The corporation adored by so many (haha) bought the building for $2.1 million. Quite a sum of money for an old restaurant that other developers had relatively no interest in for the past two years.

This tattler reporter has recently found out that Wal-Mart purchased the land to increase it's total acreage but has no plans submitted for development. Remember, a Sam's Club (which is also owned by Wal-Mart) was previously located next to the Chi-Chi's site but vacated the property last summer.

Although Wal-Mart is very tight lipped and saying the purchase was merely just a transaction. This tattler believes a plan for a new building will soon be coming down the pike.

SPECULATION: If approved, Wal-Mart will expand the old Sam's Club building and tear down the Chi-Chi's for extra parking. Those were some expensive spaces.

In the end, a Wal-Mart on McKnight seems like a good idea that many in the community have wanted for years. It will bring more revenue to Ross Township as well as provide jobs and another retail option. Although i'm sure several will come out of the woodwork against the plan (if that is indeed what they are doing), it is a positive aspect for the community.