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The Lansdale Story - with Dan Dunigan, Matt West, Timi Kirchner, John Ernst and John Mizerak
Episode 148th July 2022 • PCC Local Time • Nancy Joan Hess
00:00:00 01:28:35

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..What if a guy who has a vision for his community, hears about another guy who sounds just like him, and what if those two run into each one day in a barbershop...and what if, they happen to be from two different political parties, but decide to run together?

This PCC Local Time podcast episode include those two guys, Dan Dunigan, and Matt West. They ran for elected office in Lansdale Borough, Montgomery County Pennsylvania. Together with a willing team on Council, they realized goals that had only been dreamt of for years.

One of the first things they did was hire a new manager, our guest Timothea Kirchner who in turn brought in John J. Ernst, A.I.A., CBO to serve as Community Development Director and John Mizerak to help with strategy and funding. John Ernst is now the manager in Lansdale Borough.

In this episode our guests provide a picture of what it looks like to create organization and community readiness to achieve big goals. It is a story about an aligned team, succession planning and most importantly, vision.

It was my privilege to work with Lansdale on building an HR System during this period of time and I can say with confidence that the secret to this transformation was a community vision with people at the center.

We will start today with Matt West. Let’s join him as he talks about why he stepped up to the plate and put his money where his mouth was.

6:18 [Matt] I was getting my haircut. I was some Saturday morning, the local barber shop talking to the barber and he's like, oh, I hear you're running for council.

17:53 [Dan] To me, code enforcement has two sides to the book. It's not a yes and a no, it's a yes. And a maybe. And we had folks that had yes and no, and they were quick to find no for whatever purpose. And it created an environment in which the government wasn't working as it should.

What was the first big goal?

19:56 [Matt] …didn't take time at all. It was our unifying cry. It was our rally cry. It was what Dan was just talking about - customer service…and, a government cannot ever be run like, or be run as a business, but you can run it more business like, and so trying to take good customer service ideas and applications from the business world and apply that to the public world.

What was it about Timi that made you bring her in as Manager? What came together for you that said this is what we want to do.

23:07 [Dan] From day one she was able to make part of the vision Matt just talked about and that I had mentioned before….she made the cultural change effective, just walking in. She always commands a room when she walks in. Everybody respected her from day one.

Was there anything holding you back Timi?

26:47 [Timi] One piece of that meeting [with Council] that made me pause a little bit, and that was that one of the council members and this person who had been a former council member leaned in and said they wanted me to fire all the managers, not just the borough manager.

28:00 [Timi] For 30 years, these folks had not raised taxes, had even reduced taxes. And I knew what that meant. That was 30 years of not really improving the infrastructure of that community.

31:38 [Timi] On my first day…I deliberately brought the department heads together.

What did that period of time look like from your perspective Dan and Matt?

34:38 [Dan] …I was on my way to a meeting that night, but I had been churning out various spreadsheets trying to get your arms around how did the borough's financial picture get to where it is today and effectively they had been using reserves.

38:53 [Matt] We knew that there was gonna be a problem because taxes hadn't been raised since the beginning of time, and I'll never forget…the first budget presentation with Dan's 68% tax increase made news headlines…Timi was down in front of the dais, giving the presentation and all of us on Council were like, oh my goodness we gotta do it … 68%

38:53 [Timi] When I was offered the job, Matt, as president of council offered me the job and he leaned into me and he said, are you willing to accept a job that's only gonna last four years?

First impressions, John Mizerak?

52:44 [John Mizerak] When Timmy and I walked over to the parking lot, she said, what do you think? And it looked like a canvas…an unpainted canvas to me.

You gotta think about how you raise tax revenue in the community without raising tax rates. You need to think about how to raise tax revenues in the community and not have to worry about cutting services.

It was one, if not the busiest SEPTA stop in the region, it was one of them. That to me immediately said, what developer would not want to put a development here …I think the other part that struck me was the leadership that was there at the elected level.

And the other thing I saw was the willingness of the community to want to do something. Timi told me that this property had been identified in the municipal comprehensive plan for 25 years to say, there needs to be a development here.

And the question everyone kept asking was, why hasn't it happened?

56:44 John, could you walk us through how you worked with Lansdale to make this happen? How did you work with the Borough to bring all the stakeholders together?

Listen at 56:44 – 1:08:00.

1:08:03 [John Ernst] Timmy was right that when I came on board it was at a time when architects were not being hired and they were losing their job. I was out of work for about a year, but in the background to all that, I had been volunteering for the borough's zoning hearing board for about 14 years.

So I was somewhat familiar with processes and people and elected officials and things along those lines. But coming to this role from the private sector, there had always been a stigma from the architect's profession that working for a municipality was pretty much going to the dark side

…So I approached the process with some trepidation and I'll never forget Matt saying to me as an architect, you have an opportunity to design buildings one at a time he said, but what you might have an opportunity here at Landsdale is to actually to design a whole town and be responsible for the development of a whole community.

…So if you can maneuver your way through a code book, looking for the space in between the lines that provides an opportunity for some flexibility and that's where that conversation starts to begin.

…nobody's gonna invest in your borough if you don't invest in yourself. And one of them was the way finding program wayfinding signage..But before that, the initiative that she invested in was the branding piece.

…What does Landsdale say to everybody on the outside, looking in, what does Landsdale mean to the surrounding communities? What does it mean to the people who are working here, living here… we realized that we were investing in ourselves and we were part of a much larger project and it really all started to come together.

John, what was personally difficult for you during this period?

1:16:30 [John Ernst] …you don't have a lot of leeway to fail as a municipality with the developer because they are investing millions of dollars in an approval process …So when you say to a developer that we're developer friendly, that means an awful lot of different things to different developers, but primarily it means speed of approval and putting your money where your mouth is.

If you're gonna say it's gonna happen in this amount of time that I'm counting on you, because I'm going back to my investors and I'm giving them a timeline for when we can start doing this, you better be sure that you hit those deadlines. Because like I said, you only get one chance at that maybe two at the most with extenuating circumstances.

Any thoughts about what John Ernst is bringing forward from your time on Council?

1:18:02 [Matt] it just points to the original group's philosophy that we needed. Point the ship in the right direction.. and it wasn't just gonna be four years and done and walk away. ..it was a concerted effort to make institutional changes, to point the ship in a different direction, regardless of who's at the helm at that time.

…I love walking around the town with my family and look I had a hand in this and see how other people that I've never met before have made the decision to live here and raise their families here.

And they like the energy. That's what it's about. That continued energy. It's not just about us. It's about everybody who follows us. So I just really I just get I'm not gonna say emotional about it, but I just am really proud about how the Borough continues to move forward in this direction.

CONTACT INFO

Dan Dunigan, Vice President, Surety at Simkiss & Block

Matt West, Township Manager, New Britain Township

Timothea Kirchner, Leadership Advisor to Teams

John Ernst, Borough Manager, Lansdale Borough

John Mizerak, Director of Planning and Economic Development, Dawood Engineering

Transcripts

Timi:

I brought department heads together in the meeting room adjacent

Timi:

to the manager's office and sat them down because my instincts were, they

Timi:

probably hadn't been brought together very much in all those 30 years.

Timi:

And indeed I was right and I found it out very quickly.

Timi:

So they were all in the room together.

Timi:

And the very first thing I said to them was, I bet you're feeling

Timi:

on edge perhaps even afraid.

Timi:

About what has happened here.

Timi:

You've lost somebody that you've worked with all these years

Timi:

and good, bad and indifferent.

Timi:

You knew what the landscape was.

Timi:

And this is now a whole new landscape, know that I'm going to do what these

Timi:

council members want as much as possible while advising them through this.

Timi:

But also know that I'm sensitive to how you must feel right now.

Timi:

The other thing that you're going to know is that at least on a weekly basis and

Timi:

probably almost daily at the beginning, you're coming together as a group.

Timi:

and I know that you're very work oriented and action oriented, and you

Timi:

probably think meetings are a total waste of time, but you're gonna have to

Timi:

trust me that these meetings are gonna pull you together in a way that you've

Timi:

never been pulled together before.

Timi:

And you all are gonna reveal what's going on in your departments to each other,

Timi:

with the finance director in the room who, by the way, and this is classic

Timi:

government on their way out, the previous council did some major cuts in the budget

Timi:

and that's also typical politics and handed that over to this

Timi:

new council yeah, go ahead and see what you can do now.

Timi:

They've really cut the police department.

Timi:

But other pieces and parts of that entire government had been cut.

Timi:

So this finance director was soon in the room.

Timi:

They're all looking at him.

Timi:

Like we don't want 'em here because it's all his fault.

Timi:

And I said to all of them, we're not gonna blame anybody for this.

Timi:

We're gonna figure out what you lost and what I need to say to this

Timi:

council for us to operate as a whole.

Timi:

So that's what I did on my very

Timi:

first

Timi:

job.

Nancy:

What if a guy has a vision for.

Nancy:

His community.

Nancy:

And he hears about another guy who sounds just like him.

Nancy:

And what if those two meet one day and a barbershop?

Nancy:

And what if they are from two different political parties?

Nancy:

But decide to run together.

Nancy:

Our guests today include those two guys, Dan Dunnigan and Matt west.

Nancy:

Together as a team, they ran for elected office in Lansdale, borough,

Nancy:

Montgomery county, Pennsylvania.

Nancy:

At the time Lansdale was a sleepy burrow with just over 16,000 residents.

Nancy:

Situated on the SEPTA line outside of Philadelphia.

Nancy:

Today, land's dealt with a vibrant community of about 18,000.

Nancy:

Together with a willing team on council, they realized goals that

Nancy:

had only been dreamt up for years.

Nancy:

You will hear about the challenges that ensued.

Nancy:

And there were many.

Nancy:

One of the first things they did was hire a new manager, Timothy Kirchner.

Nancy:

She in turn, brought in John Ernst to serve as community development

Nancy:

director and John misery back to help with strategy and funding.

Nancy:

Today you will get a full picture of what it looks like to create organization and

Nancy:

community readiness to achieve big goals.

Nancy:

It was my privilege to work with Lansdale on building an HR system

Nancy:

during this period of time.

Nancy:

And I can say with confidence that the secret to this

Nancy:

transformation was a community vision with people at the center.

Nancy:

We will start today with Matt west.

Nancy:

Let's join him as he talks about why he stepped up to the plate and

Nancy:

put his money where his mouth is.

Matt:

My former life was a transportation planner for the Delaware valley,

Matt:

regional planning commission.

Matt:

And I chose Landsdale due to his close proximity to public transit, affordable

Matt:

housing proximity to open spaces.

Matt:

It was just the perfect place from a geographical standpoint to,

Matt:

to call home and raise a family.

Matt:

And so one of the aspects that we use to determine where we wanted to live

Matt:

is access to public transportation.

Matt:

Landsdale served by one of the major regional rail hubs

Matt:

in the Philadelphia region.

Matt:

So I used to walk to the train station every day.

Matt:

It's almost 17 years worth.

Matt:

And so through that time, it was me making observations.

Matt:

My my training as a geographer, looking around asking questions

Matt:

like my goodness, we've got a main street, we've got the vehicular

Matt:

volumes that are through the roof.

Matt:

We've got all of these

Matt:

things going for us.

Matt:

Why isn't Landsdale getting to the point where surrounding communities that

Matt:

have started to turn around and I hate to use the word revitalize, you hear

Matt:

that a lot, but why isn't Landsdale?

Matt:

What are those things that are keeping us back.

Matt:

And so one of my frustrations with seeing good ideas come to life and

Matt:

then pour execution, it was just lots of fumbles, lots of things that just

Matt:

didn't go the way that you thought it should go to get us to that point.

Matt:

And so I honestly just wanted to get on the planning commission and

Matt:

there was an opening on the planning commission and a I know Dan is smiling.

Matt:

Yeah.

Matt:

Wouldn't that have been an easier choice.

Matt:

Right.

Matt:

um, and so there was a former council member, uh, who I was friendly

Matt:

with and, um, I submitted my resume to be on the planning commission.

Matt:

And I remember him stopping by and saying, Hey, what about council?

Matt:

Oh, tell me about that.

Matt:

Prior to that, I didn't really know much about being on council.

Matt:

It's like, yeah.

Matt:

Okay.

Matt:

Let me think about it, thought about it.

Matt:

It's like, yeah.

Matt:

Okay.

Matt:

I guess I can do that.

Matt:

Made the decision to run and uh, funny story.

Matt:

This is a great segue.

Matt:

For Dan, I was, uh, getting my haircut.

Matt:

I was some Saturday morning, the local barber shop talking to

Matt:

the barber and he's like, oh, I hear you're running for council.

Matt:

I was like, yeah.

Matt:

Yeah.

Matt:

I told him my background and , told him why.

Matt:

And he is like, , is there anybody else running?

Matt:

I was like, yeah, there's this guy named Dan Dungan.

Matt:

I I've heard good things about him.

Matt:

I've ne I've never met him or anything.

Matt:

I was like, do you know him?

Matt:

He's like, Yeah, he's sitting right here, , waiting to get his cut.

Matt:

I was like, what?

Matt:

So I stood up and that's where Dan and I first met.

Matt:

And, . It was an amazing ride ever since that point.

Matt:

There was just a cohesiveness, , between the two of us, , representing

Matt:

two different political parties.

Matt:

Prior to that, I was nonpartisan chose the democratic party at that time,

Matt:

because they were, , most connected to the community at that time, met Dan

Matt:

and the two of us, it, it like national politics didn't belong at the local level.

Matt:

And so he and I actually campaigned together much to the chagrin

Matt:

of the, , established political parties, but we didn't care because

Matt:

we weren't in it for ourselves.

Matt:

We weren't in it for political gain.

Matt:

We were in it for the community and the group of us that all

Matt:

found each other through that there were five of us who ran.

Matt:

We're all in it for the same reasons.

Matt:

And we found each other through that political process, that election process.

Matt:

And if it wasn't for the whole group of us who, who got elected and had

Matt:

that same shared vision, that's the key word, the vision of what we wanted for

Matt:

Landsdale, this would never have happened.

Matt:

I turn it over to you, Dan.

Matt:

Nancy.

Matt:

I come from a slightly different I'm a guy who grew up couple miles away

Matt:

from where I live in Toon township.

Matt:

I have two brothers and a sister within six blocks in that little enclave

Matt:

referred to as the west ward Dale and have lived there since 1997 and mutual

Matt:

friend of mine who's been involved and was a former Councilman that Matt

Matt:

had referred to had been frustrated by many of the things while he was on

Matt:

council of seeing things start, stop, and then sort of get sidelined for

Matt:

reasons where it seemed the machine that is or can become borough governments

Matt:

or any government for that matter.

Matt:

They were great at grinding the meat to make the sausage, but could

Matt:

never quite get it in the casing.

Matt:

And as a result, he felt frustrated and he said, Hey, there's an opportunity coming.

Matt:

And guys like you who have, smart folks that have different perspectives.

Matt:

And I have as a result of my job, I have clients range in size from mom

Matt:

and pop main street organizations to fortune 50 size companies.

Matt:

So you get a real broad perspective on how the world operates.

Matt:

And then the other part being I intended to live there, forever,

Matt:

right from jump straight.

Matt:

And, I've been there since 1997, like I said, I have family that

Matt:

literally lives within blocks.

Matt:

So all of these things you would watch, and you'd say, guys, this,

Matt:

this, this has gotta change.

Matt:

I would never want to slight, those that serve because as my wife described

Matt:

it, my one term not or I'm sorry, my one sentence, not my one term.

Matt:

They devoted a lot of time, but I think what ends up happening over a period

Matt:

of years is processes get stagnant, thought processes get stagnant.

Matt:

In my day to day life, the most, annoying phrase is why do we do that?

Matt:

And the answer comes back well, that's cause that's how we do it.

Matt:

Or we've always done it.

Matt:

And tongue in cheek, I've always said, well, we used to use carbon paper.

Matt:

And we don't do that anymore.

Matt:

And we barely use paper today.

Matt:

So you had a group who had a, they were comfortable.

Matt:

And as a result, anything that became sort of on the edge or uncomfortable

Matt:

was something instead of embracing or trying to find a way to do it.

Matt:

I think they had a preference knows the easy answer.

Matt:

And unfortunately, I think that happens in a lot of towns and communities, not just

Matt:

in Pennsylvania but around the country where instead of adjusting to what's going

Matt:

on and being willing to take the risk.

Matt:

And I've said to everybody on this call, I have no problems saying to somebody, Hey,

Matt:

I need you to help me get this, approved.

Matt:

And if it goes wrong, that's fine.

Matt:

You can tell me Dan, next time we're not following that.

Matt:

That didn't work last time you have folks just afraid.

Matt:

And I think just inhibits lots of things in municipal governments,

Matt:

particularly small town type.

Nancy:

That is, a tremendous insight it's so relevant today.

Nancy:

I have to say just this idea that we're gonna do, keep doing things

Nancy:

the way we have always done them.

Nancy:

So I really appreciate that.

Nancy:

And , I do wanna know if there's anything that was holding you back,

Nancy:

Dan and Matt, in this process.

Dan:

Mean, other than my wife telling me I was crazy.

Dan:

No, not really.

Dan:

Because we, as a group through an interesting set of circumstances,

Dan:

there was five of us running at the same time on a council of nine.

Dan:

So whatever ideas the group of us agreed to as we helped each

Dan:

other campaign and get elected.

Dan:

We knew we could carry through now, was there resistance within

Dan:

the then borough administration?

Dan:

Absolutely.

Dan:

And we had no qualms about, and it was a little harsh there.

Dan:

We have some really interesting meeting tapes that are floating around.

Dan:

I'm sure.

Dan:

That know, you just had to change the idea.

Dan:

And one of the things that always came to mind was, and John O loved this

Dan:

one code enforcement back then, right?

Dan:

To me, code enforcement has two sides to the book.

Dan:

It's not a yes and a no, it's a yes.

Dan:

And a maybe.

Dan:

And we had folks that had yes and no, and they were quick to

Dan:

find no for whatever purpose.

Dan:

And it created an environment in which the government wasn't working as it should.

Dan:

Their constituency of became themselves as opposed to.

Dan:

They're real constituency.

Dan:

The people that elect them in pay taxes and the borough and

Dan:

the residents and the businesses.

Dan:

And I said to plenty of folks, as I was heading up, what do we call it?

Dan:

Finance and administration that you need to treat everybody who

Dan:

walks in that door as a customer.

Dan:

They're not a voter, they're not a constituent, they're your customer.

Dan:

And if we annoy enough customers, you are going to have a problem with being

Dan:

in whatever job or position you're in, because I'm a broker I have customers on.

Dan:

Then those guys will drop me.

Dan:

There's no tomorrow.

Dan:

If I'm not responsive to what they need, that means I gotta listen better.

Dan:

That means I gotta understand what their gripe is.

Dan:

I gotta understand all those things.

Dan:

And that goes from the receptionist to the borough manager.

Dan:

And I think along the way we changed how landfill borough was

Dan:

perceived in relative terms to.

Dan:

Not just its constituents, meaning its community members, but the surrounding

Dan:

know, business men and women and as well as those existed in the borough

Dan:

at the time, it suddenly became a place that you could get something

Dan:

done as opposed to where you always had a fight to figure out maybe.

Nancy:

So the organization piece is really big.

Nancy:

And we're gonna get to that in just a second, but Matt, could you

Nancy:

speak to what was the first big project?

Nancy:

If this is the right place to put It in there, like the first big

Nancy:

project that you set your sites on, was there something tangible or did

Nancy:

that take some time to identify?

Matt:

didn't take time at all.

Matt:

It was our unifying cry.

Matt:

It was our rally cry.

Matt:

It was what Dan was just talking about customer service

Matt:

and, a government cannot ever be run like, or be run as a business, but you

Matt:

can run it more business like, and so trying to take good customer service

Matt:

ideas and applications from the business world and apply that to the public world.

Matt:

That was huge, and it was.

Matt:

Organization wide.

Matt:

It was the manager's office.

Matt:

It was the receptionists.

Matt:

It was the electric billing and sewer billing window at customer service.

Matt:

It was the electric company.

Matt:

It was the police department.

Matt:

It was the public works, everything.

Matt:

It was institutionalized, bad behaviors.

Matt:

And we came in as a group and said, look, we need to change the image of Landsdale.

Matt:

We need to change that culture.

Matt:

And what can we do to support staff?

Matt:

And so we felt that it was our duty to, to take ownership over that and project

Matt:

that which we expected of the staff.

Matt:

It wasn't an us versus them.

Matt:

It was a look, this is our expectations.

Matt:

We want to give you those tools to succeed.

Matt:

Police department and public works still to this day.

Matt:

I'll tell anybody in municipal government, those are your two outward facing most

Matt:

outward facing units of local government.

Matt:

If you have.

Matt:

If you have problems with with attitudes, you've got a perception

Matt:

problem, because those are the people who

Matt:

are

Matt:

interacting with those who aren't from the town, as well

Matt:

as those who are from the town.

Matt:

And if you've got the problems in either of those departments, that's not gonna

Matt:

project well for your town either.

Matt:

And so that was really what we were focused on as a group if

Matt:

I'm remembering correctly.

Matt:

And that was the first and foremost biggest challenge, and many of the

Matt:

strategic moves that we made were in support of customer service.

Matt:

We had a mantra that we would always recite what's best for Landsdale period.

Matt:

If that is your decision making.

Matt:

Process.

Matt:

If you put that in front of every decision that you're presented with,

Matt:

what's best for Landsdale, all of the political gobbly book just falls away.

Matt:

It might not be the most comfortable decision can tell you.

Matt:

I can give you countless examples of uncomfortable meetings and

Matt:

making very uncomfortable decisions.

Matt:

But I am proud to say we made the right decisions and right

Matt:

decisions aren't necessarily the easiest decisions.

Nancy:

before we bring Tim into this, can you tell the story and I'm really most

Nancy:

interested in what it was about Timmy.

Nancy:

What came together for you that said this is what we wanna do

Nancy:

in terms of bringing her in.

Dan:

was gonna say to start.

Dan:

She came in initially as a temporary, right.

Dan:

And she was gonna help us transition and put us through the paces to get ready, to

Dan:

go and search out a Newborough manager.

Dan:

And I would say know, it's hard to say from day one, cuz I wasn't in the

Dan:

building all day on day one, but let's say for sake of argument here from

Dan:

day one she was able to make part of the vision Matt just talked about.

Dan:

And that I had mentioned before.

Dan:

About the cultural change effective, just walking in.

Dan:

She always commands a room when she walks in.

Dan:

Everybody respected her from day one.

Dan:

Now remember respecting and liking may not be the same thing, because I

Dan:

know sometimes you gotta, these guys all know, I would say can't make

Dan:

an OME without cracking eggs first.

Dan:

And so if you had to ruffle some feathers, she was perfectly comfortable

Dan:

doing it and would do it very nicely.

Dan:

But you quickly learned where she was.

Dan:

And she and I, and Matt talked often and we were on the same path pretty early

Dan:

on about how this needs to get done.

Dan:

And frankly we gave, I think her, the confidence that she knew that no

Dan:

matter what we had pretty much stood behind her and were going to continue.

Dan:

So that makes her decision making process pretty straight forward.

Dan:

We have discussions and we have the corridor.

Dan:

So anything within that corridor.

Dan:

She could look at Matt and I, and say, guys, you, you said within

Dan:

this corridor, this is there.

Dan:

So stand behind me.

Dan:

And that happened really quickly.

Dan:

And then jumping forward several months down the road, you're flipping

Dan:

through a bunch of resumes on folks and having discussions and hearing,

Dan:

and you of sit together and you think to yourself, what are we doing?

Dan:

If she's willing to stay, we're nuts.

Dan:

If we go find somebody else.

Dan:

Because within that six months, I think was the initial time we had

Dan:

allotted so much had happened.

Dan:

And all of those feathers that she may have ruffled initially had been calmed.

Dan:

And you could see it, the group that was the administration that

Dan:

served under her, loved her.

Dan:

And, from that day forward, it was a pretty easy choice for me.

Nancy:

Let's bring Tim into the conversation then.

Nancy:

Tim, I am so interested to hear now just what it was like your first impressions.

Nancy:

What did you see in this community?

Nancy:

The leaders, the staff.

Timi:

It was a cold almost winter day.

Timi:

when I drove into Landsdale and yeah, I was coming from Lancaster,

Timi:

south central, Pennsylvania into Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Timi:

And this borough was not unlike a lot of boroughs that I'd

Timi:

worked with as a consultant.

Timi:

and that I'd worked with as county administrator in Lancaster it was

Timi:

dying and again, they weren't atypical.

Timi:

So that was my first impression.

Timi:

I, then when I was there that first day had a meeting with a number of the

Timi:

newly elected officials and one person who had been a former council member.

Timi:

And I've been told that they had run together Democrat and Republican that's

Timi:

hard to believe, but as I sat down.

Timi:

There it was right in front of me.

Timi:

And so it made me really wanna work with this crew because I just thought

Timi:

that this was a very unique situation.

Timi:

And it told me that these folks ran for the right reason.

Timi:

They wanted to do good things with their town.

Timi:

And I'd come from a county, government and initial group of commissioners

Timi:

that wanted to do the same thing.

Timi:

So I was experienced at that.

Timi:

As I sat through the meeting there was I'll call one piece of that meeting

Timi:

that made me pause a little bit, and that was that one of the council members

Timi:

and this person who had been a former council member leaned in and said they

Timi:

wanted me to fire all the managers, not just they're firing the borough manager.

Timi:

And, so then Matt, Wes leaned in and he looked at me and he said in

Timi:

addition to doing a search and being the interim manager, we'd

Timi:

like you to do an operations study.

Timi:

And I found myself looking at this young man thinking.

Timi:

Wow.

Timi:

How does he know that really should be done, especially when you are removing

Timi:

somebody who had been there for 30 years.

Timi:

And I knew and understood those politics, everything that Dan said,

Timi:

good people, but they were settled into the way they always did it.

Timi:

The other thing that they were settled into, and this is not just Landsdale

Timi:

is councils are responsible for the health and safety and the basic

Timi:

in infrastructure of a community.

Timi:

And for 30 years, these folks had not raised taxes, had even reduced taxes.

Timi:

And I knew what that meant.

Timi:

That was 30 years of not really improving the infrastructure of that community.

Timi:

So I knew they were in trouble.

Timi:

but again, that's not unlike a lot of communities.

Timi:

So when Matt said we'd like you to do an operations study, I smiled and

Timi:

said that's gonna cost you extra money.

Timi:

And he said, I know, but I think we need to have it done.

Timi:

That opens something up for me because then I could look at this other council

Timi:

member and former council member and say, give me a chance to really study this

Timi:

organization and come up with a report.

Timi:

That's gonna tell you.

Timi:

What needs to go, what needs to stay, what these folks are like?

Timi:

Trust me, I am experienced in government.

Timi:

I know what's good and what's not so good.

Timi:

That sort of tamp down some of the, what I would call negative fervor.

Timi:

What I also was thinking about was I was going to be walking into a situation where

Timi:

you had a man manager there for 30 years.

Timi:

You had a couple of council members left who had worked closely with

Timi:

that manager and really liked him.

Timi:

And you had a whole group of department heads, all of them who had worked

Timi:

with that same manager for 30 years.

Timi:

And I know folks who have been around no matter what the organization is in,

Timi:

but usually in government, They knew how to overcome any new one coming in.

Timi:

And so I was fully aware and concerned that they would try to undermine

Timi:

these young council members that were coming in and that I needed to and

Timi:

that also they were afraid and that I needed to settle them down and bring

Timi:

them together as a cohesive group.

Timi:

those were my first impressions.

Timi:

But even with all of that, I really wanted, I really not just because

Timi:

it was a big and great consulting job, but I really wanted to go

Timi:

to work for these folks.

Timi:

Yeah.

Timi:

Yeah.

Nancy:

You just laid out that you understood what

Nancy:

the challenge was before you.

Nancy:

So the question is what did you do to set the tone and the

Nancy:

direction that you were going to go?

Nancy:

I think this is the million dollar question here.

Nancy:

Timmy,

Timi:

as I just said, initially, and Matt gave me the opening.

Timi:

When he said do an operation study, I set the tone with council saying,

Timi:

look you're hiring an expert.

Timi:

Who has a lot of experience in county and local government.

Timi:

Give me a chance to study this organization.

Timi:

One, two on my very first day on the job.

Timi:

First of all, it was a local newspaper and they had asked if they

Timi:

could just follow me for the day.

Timi:

And I'd had enough experience with the press to now.

Timi:

I should not say no.

Timi:

And I said to them, you can follow me.

Timi:

Everything, except for my very first meeting with the department heads.

Timi:

And so they were in my office.

Timi:

They were all over the place because I moved around the entire borough

Timi:

hall to get to know the people in that hall or at least say, hello, I'm here.

Timi:

I deliberately brought all the council, me or not council members, but department

Timi:

heads together in the meeting room adjacent to the manager's office and

Timi:

sat them down because my instincts were, they probably hadn't been brought

Timi:

together very much in all those 30 years.

Timi:

And indeed I was right and I found it out very quickly.

Timi:

So they were all in the room together.

Timi:

And the very first thing I said to them was, I bet you're feeling

Timi:

on edge perhaps even afraid.

Timi:

About what has happened here.

Timi:

You've lost somebody that you've worked with all these years

Timi:

and good, bad and indifferent.

Timi:

You knew what the landscape was.

Timi:

And this is now a whole new landscape, know that I'm going to do what these

Timi:

council members want as much as possible while advising them through this.

Timi:

But also know that I'm sensitive to how you must be, must feel right now.

Timi:

The other thing that you're going to know is that at least on a weekly basis and

Timi:

probably almost daily at the beginning, you're coming together as a group.

Timi:

and I know that you're very work oriented and action oriented, and you think,

Timi:

probably think meetings are a total waste of time, but you're gonna have to

Timi:

trust me that these meetings are gonna pull you together in a way that you've

Timi:

never been pulled together before.

Timi:

And you all are gonna reveal what's going on in your departments to each other,

Timi:

with the finance director in the room who, by the way, and this is classic

Timi:

government on their way out, the previous council did some major cuts in the budget

Timi:

and that's also typical politics and handed that over to this

Timi:

new council yeah, go ahead and see what you can do now.

Timi:

They've really cut the police department.

Timi:

But other pieces and parts of that entire government had been cut.

Timi:

So this finance director was soon in the room.

Timi:

They're all looking at him.

Timi:

Like we don't want 'em here because it's all his fault.

Timi:

And I said to all of them, we're not gonna blame anybody for this.

Timi:

We're gonna figure out what you lost and what I need to say to this

Timi:

council for us to operate as a whole.

Timi:

So that's what I did on my very

Timi:

first

Timi:

job.

Nancy:

I see Matt and Dan smiling there.

Nancy:

Did you want to weigh in at all on, on how that period

Nancy:

looked from your perspective

Dan:

Sure I remember.

Dan:

Yeah.

Dan:

One of my favorites was a call to Matt and I was on my way.

Dan:

I dunno whether I was on my way to a meeting that night, but I had been

Dan:

churning out various spreadsheets trying to get your arms around how

Dan:

did the borough's financial picture get to where it is today and effectively

Dan:

they had been using reserves.

Dan:

So the borough Landel once used to have a large tile factory.

Dan:

That was a massive consumer of electricity and land borough

Dan:

distributes its own electricity.

Dan:

And as a result, they had very healthy reserves and over a period of many

Dan:

years, instead of adjusting tax base, to be able to accommodate for maintaining

Dan:

the right levels of staff everywhere from the police to public works to the parks

Dan:

department and the fear that some elected officials have about trying to explain

Dan:

why a tax increase would be necessary.

Dan:

They spent down reserves and it was at a point where we were probably

Dan:

a year or two away from having a zero balance in the general fund.

Dan:

And when you own your own distribution network and you own your own wastewater

Dan:

treatment plant you, you can't have that.

Dan:

It's just not the way to, to do things.

Dan:

It's not businesslike in any former fashion.

Dan:

And so I still remember being in the car and Matt saying whoa,

Dan:

Dan, what are you so hot about?

Dan:

I said, Matt, you won't believe this I've done this five or six different ways.

Dan:

And if had raised the cost living in the borough on over the last 10 year

Dan:

period, that I've been looking back that you and I would've never run for office.

Dan:

And the incremental cost of living in the borough, was so nominal when

Dan:

stretched over a period of time.

Dan:

And it was all out of the fear of wait, where we can't raise

Dan:

taxes, why would we do that?

Dan:

And it was the idea.

Dan:

And for years I kept saying, we keep giving out $10 of

Dan:

services for $80 and 50 cents.

Dan:

And we did it for a decade and we were quickly coming up on when that would end.

Dan:

And so making that kind of rapid adjustment, a lot of people weren't

Dan:

real happy at the beginning.

Dan:

And everybody always thinks budgeting's easy.

Dan:

You could I could cut the budget.

Dan:

That's no problem, but I would turn around and say to somebody, all

Dan:

right Nancy, what don't you want?

Dan:

All right.

Dan:

And everybody said well, what do you mean?

Dan:

What don't I want?

Dan:

I'm like, you gotta get rid of something.

Dan:

I can't keep financing $10 of services with only $8 and 50 cents.

Dan:

And, It was a very interesting matter.

Dan:

Tell you there's a bunch of those meetings where you have somebody

Dan:

there and then of course, there'd be invariably the you just have

Dan:

to follow the money and you'd stop.

Dan:

And I'd look at Matt and say can we let Nancy tell us where the money is?

Dan:

Cause I'm clearly not smart enough to know where that went and it just wasn't there.

Dan:

And so those kinds of changes became really important.

Dan:

And that goes back to where Timmy fit into the whole mix of getting all those

Dan:

department heads to honestly assess their own departments and say, guys,

Dan:

we haven't fixed X, Y or Z in 10 years.

Dan:

And that's supposed to be maintained every year.

Dan:

What's that cost.

Dan:

A 68% tax increase.

Dan:

That's what it came out to that's cuz you were barely

Dan:

paying any taxes to begin with.

Dan:

So you know, it, wasn't hard in a big percentage, but I still remember the

Dan:

headline, but 68% was $25 a month.

Nancy:

Yeah, this is just really classic.

Nancy:

What I'm hearing.

Nancy:

I have heard in so many different places.

Nancy:

And so then you have this issue of communication and

Nancy:

helping the public understand.

Nancy:

And Tim can't do it by

Nancy:

herself.

Nancy:

So that's how I got to know Landsdale.

Nancy:

We began to have conversations, so in order for things to really begin to

Nancy:

happen and we're gonna bring John MISAC and John earns into the conversation.

Nancy:

Yes.

Nancy:

And Matt, please go ahead.

Matt:

I just dovetail into what

Matt:

Dan said.

Matt:

Dan was the financial expert.

Matt:

And so the, those of us who ran there was a group of us who

Matt:

all had different specialties.

Matt:

I was the big thinker.

Matt:

I was the organizer, the planner type.

Matt:

I got everybody clicking on that same page helped manage personalities.

Matt:

We knew that there was gonna be a problem because Texas hadn't been raised since the

Matt:

beginning of time, and I'll never forget.

Matt:

And Tim will it'll back me up on this.

Matt:

The first budget presentation with Dan's 68% tax increase news headlines,

Matt:

everything Timmy was down in front of the dais, giving the presentation

Matt:

and all of us on counts were like, oh my goodness we gotta do it 68%.

Matt:

It's data driven.

Matt:

Here we go.

Matt:

Gave the presentation at the last slide, therefore recommending a 68% tax increase.

Matt:

The room was packed, which was pretty standard back then.

Matt:

Standing ovation, never forget it standing ovation.

Matt:

It was still in my mind, slow motion, Timmy, turning around to me going.

Matt:

What I was like, because when you present it objectively and you have that data to

Matt:

back it up, you have that study to say, look, this is the reason why we need this.

Matt:

If you or the residents don't want that service, then, okay, we can cut

Matt:

the budget, but we haven't heard any one of anybody that we've talked to

Matt:

saying that they want services cut.

Matt:

And don't forget those of us who are elected.

Matt:

This affects us also.

Matt:

It's not just us to them.

Matt:

We also are taxpayers and it hurts us too.

Matt:

So I just wanted to add that aspect to it that Dan illustrated, he was amazing

Matt:

with the budget and with the finance and the interaction with Dan and other folks

Matt:

on council interacting with Timmy gave her that much more confidence to build

Matt:

her staff to the level that we knew, where it should be operating.

Nancy:

Yeah.

Nancy:

What a moment.

Timi:

can I just to that moment that Matt talked about, he doesn't remember

Timi:

this, I turned around and gave him this startled look and mouth, do they know?

Timi:

I just said, we're raising taxes and he just noded his head.

Timi:

And so I turned around and accepted the standing ovation.

Timi:

That budget presentation was the very first one that we,

Timi:

if you will personalize, we didn't just throw out numbers.

Timi:

We showed people working.

Timi:

In the borough in various departments, here's what they do.

Timi:

This is what your taxes pay for.

Timi:

And as the reporter said to me afterwards, and we'd met with them ahead of time,

Timi:

this is the most information we ever received about how a borough operates.

Timi:

I also will say and I'm I'm gonna emphasize these young council members, cuz

Timi:

there's quite a difference in our ages.

Timi:

And I've had a lot of experience.

Timi:

And with county government, I had an aggressive group of

Timi:

commissioners who said, we're gonna get things done that have been put

Timi:

on the shelf, all these sheriffs.

Timi:

When I was offered the job, Matt, as president of council offered me the

Timi:

job and he leaned into me and he said,

Timi:

are you willing to accept a job?

Timi:

That's only gonna last four years.

Timi:

And I smiled and said you know exactly what you're talking about because when

Timi:

an elected official does the right thing,

Timi:

I will say, and takes care of 30 years of things not being done, they have

Timi:

to do things like raise taxes or do bond issues et cetera, et cetera.

Timi:

That's perfect fodder for the next election.

Timi:

So I just noded my head because I'd fallen in love with this group and the

Timi:

department heads, they were good people.

Timi:

Noded my head and said, yep, I'll do it.

Nancy:

great quote.

Nancy:

Okay.

Nancy:

So Timmy, that let's Great setup for John.

Nancy:

MISAC and who came in and joined you.

Nancy:

And and also if you wanna say a few words about just in general,

Nancy:

why you brought John MISAC on.

Timi:

If I could speak to John Ernst

Timi:

first,

Nancy:

I, and I couldn't remember who came first,

Timi:

he, came first

, Nancy:

Let's do that then.

Timi:

So back to that point of one of those council members saying fire,

Timi:

everyone as part of my operation study, I really got to know these

Timi:

department heads very well and also bringing them together as a group,

Timi:

I could see who, who was going to buy into this whole team

Timi:

approach to things and who wasn't.

Timi:

And the one person who wasn't was the then codes.

John E:

friend.

Timi:

Just popped up and essentially was saying to all

Timi:

of us I can't operate this way.

Timi:

And he was the classic codes director.

Timi:

He knew he, he knew codes inside and out, but he knew better

Timi:

how to say no all the time.

Timi:

And so that was the one that was the one person that was removed from the barrel.

Timi:

Couple of folks said to me, we have this friend we have

Timi:

this friend and I thought, Ugh.

Timi:

Yeah, Ugh.

Timi:

That's probably one of the worst things you can say to me.

John E:

I got a guy.

Timi:

I'll meet this friend and I actually met him in Matt's dining room.

Timi:

I think it was.

Timi:

And.

Timi:

I started to ask him what his background was.

Timi:

And he said, now that you have to remember that this was in 2010,

Timi:

when we were still moving through a significant downturn in the economy

Timi:

some would call it a recession.

Timi:

And John's background was, he was an architect.

Timi:

And at that time, architects were losing their jobs left and right.

Timi:

So I knew he didn't lose his job because he was a bad architect.

Timi:

But also as he talked, I found him to be very thoughtful.

Timi:

But the most appealing thing to me was he was coming out of the private sector.

Timi:

He had done the work to get his codes license.

Timi:

I'm probably not saying that correctly, John.

Timi:

Because he realized he needed to find an alternative way to earn an.

Timi:

He came on board, I think within a week or two and within a day or two,

Timi:

he came down to my office and he said, do you know what you've just handed me?

Timi:

And I said I have a sense of that.

Timi:

he walked into an office that had, again, probably close to 30 years of

Timi:

just junk, piled up high and records.

Timi:

That didn't mean anything.

Timi:

I think he found a check that had written to the borough that

Timi:

had never been,

John E:

Never been cashed.

John E:

Yep.

Timi:

Yeah, never been cashed and that was just evidence of how

Timi:

poorly that department operated.

Timi:

But despite the fact that he walked into an overwhelming situation and people

Timi:

were even commenting to me I drove by the borough at 10 o'clock at night

Timi:

and the codes department's lights were still on he was working 12, 14 hours

Timi:

a day trying to clean things up, but began to talk to here's how I approach

Timi:

codes, knowing that this council wanted to be aggressive relative to projects.

Timi:

And he put together in quick order, a whole manual that told developers

Timi:

and anyone who's gonna build anything.

Timi:

Here's the process.

Timi:

So he took the mystery out of it.

Timi:

And made it customer friendly right from the beginning, which indeed is

Timi:

exactly what this council wanted.

Timi:

So although I handed him a really tough job, he made things a lot

Timi:

easier for me now to John MIS.

Timi:

this parking lot that sat next to the downtown SEPTA station.

Timi:

And when, and a lot of people, it was the Madison lot parking lot, and a lot of the

Timi:

council members and actually department heads, especially the Jake who was in, in

Timi:

charge of all utilities and public works.

Timi:

Really wanted to do something with that parking lot.

Timi:

And when I saw it, nothing had been done to that parking lot for probably 30 years.

Timi:

The meters in the parking lot were probably 30 years old and

Timi:

they were 10 cents an hour.

Timi:

So when I challenged the head of SEPTA, because we began to work with them right

Timi:

away, and I said, how the heck did you get a public parking lot now understand

Timi:

that parking revenue is a major source of re revenue for most communities.

Timi:

And this community was re receiving just about nothing.

Timi:

And I, I said to the guy who was the head of spa, how in the

Timi:

world did you get a parking lot that was only 10 cents an hour.

Timi:

And he smiled and leaned into me.

Timi:

And he said to me, I don't see that as a problem.

Timi:

Nothing had been done and SEPTA was perfectly happy with their customers

Timi:

only having to pay 10 cents an hour.

Timi:

But in very quick order, people either wanted a major improvement to that

Timi:

parking lot, or they wanted a major development because back to Matt's

Timi:

experience he understands the importance of putting residents in very close

Timi:

proximity to to a train station and right in the center of downtown, because

Timi:

that's gonna generate more business.

Timi:

One of the issues with having SEPTA you had this major stop, so you're like why

Timi:

aren't people using the shops in town?

Timi:

They arrived in Landsdale, got on the train, came back,

Timi:

got in their cars and left.

Nancy:

Yeah.

Timi:

because there really wasn't they just wanted to go home.

Timi:

So the focus became, we wanna do a development back there.

Timi:

Now I knew with regard to all the rules that surround a government that you

Timi:

couldn't just hand this to a developer, you had to work through a process to

Timi:

get that right for the community.

Timi:

So I said to council members I know this guy and the guy was John Misk and John

Timi:

had a background with state government.

Timi:

He was the head of planning for the governors center for

Timi:

local governor's services.

Timi:

So again, he had a strong background in planning in and in community development.

Timi:

And he was with now a consulting firm who specialized in

Timi:

revitalization of communities.

Timi:

So I said, I know this guy and I brought him in.

Timi:

to interview.

Timi:

And I, cuz I think we had a couple of other consultants that came in to

Timi:

interview and I believe that Dan and Matt were part of those interviews

Timi:

and they immediately leaned in knowing that John was the best.

Nancy:

Yeah, and I think this is a real critical piece of the story.

Nancy:

I'm gonna let John talk because I want to, if you don't mind, John, ERNs you,

Nancy:

since you were there and moving towards the future, I think you're the best.

Nancy:

one to take us out today.

Nancy:

So John, MISAC if you could recall what struck you about Landsdale

Nancy:

burrow the people and the infrastructure, when you arrived, give

Nancy:

us a sense of what it felt like for you coming in, surveying the situation.

Nancy:

I know you had a relationship with Timmy, so there was an advantage there.

Nancy:

You had an ability to probably had a shortcut language.

Nancy:

Tell us what you can about that experience.

John M:

I, it it's interesting.

John M:

I think every story, when you talk about Dale, there must have been that year.

John M:

There must have been a record on cold because I remember

John M:

showing up in Landsdale much as Timmy just said and walking over to the parking

John M:

lot and it was freezing cold that day.

John M:

was listening to everybody on here what struck me was opportunity.

John M:

What struck me was the necessary leadership.

John M:

And as I was listening to to Dan talk about problem solving,

John M:

there were three kind of areas there that I think were really.

John M:

Important the opportunity was when Timmy and I walked over to the parking

John M:

lot, she said, what do you think?

John M:

And it looked like a canvas an unpainted canvas to me that there could

John M:

be a successful investment made in the community that really could not

John M:

only improve that site, but also, help the downtown revitalize and help the

John M:

community increase revenue streams.

John M:

So that it could be part of the solution that Dan and Matt talked about, which

John M:

is you can't just always cut services.

John M:

You gotta think about how do you raise tax revenue in the community

John M:

without raising tax rates.

John M:

You need to think about how do you raise tax revenues in the community and not

John M:

have to worry about cutting services.

John M:

There was an opportunity there, as Timmy said, when we did a little bit of the

John M:

background research and realized that was, Matt could correct me if I'm wrong.

John M:

It was one, if not the busiest SEP to stop in the region, it was one of them.

John M:

That to me immediately said, what developer would not want to

John M:

put a development here with the access to the SEP, the station,

John M:

and to be able to do that.

John M:

I think the other part that struck me was the leadership that

John M:

was there at the elected level.

John M:

Dan I believe was at the time was also the chairman of the parking authority,

John M:

which was an integral part to this.

John M:

And then with the staff, with Timmy and John being there, and the other

John M:

council members that were on the board with Matt and Dan, there was

John M:

just the right type of leadership.

John M:

That to me is needed.

John M:

Some of the decisions that have to be made are gonna be difficult and that

John M:

you have to go through, that process.

John M:

So really I saw an opportunity here where there was great leadership.

John M:

And the other thing I saw was the willingness of the community to wanna do

John M:

something tim told me that this property had been identified in the municipal

John M:

comprehensive plan for 25 years to say, there needs to be a development here.

John M:

And the question kept saying, why hasn't it happened?

John M:

One of the first times I met Matt west, after we got done talking,

John M:

he looked at me and said, are you telling me we can get a shovel on the

John M:

ground and get something done here?

John M:

And I said, absolutely, you can, this is a great opportunity.

John M:

And we'll go through a process.

John M:

And he said, how fast ? And I said let's get started and

John M:

see what the interest is there.

John M:

I also think too, the leadership as you heard, and it percolated through

John M:

the need to be more business mind in the, in in the borough, as it relates

John M:

to the different services that provide.

John M:

Dan Dungan charged me and I, he said it so many times and it

John M:

was to to drive it home that it was important was I don't want this

John M:

process to be non-business friendly.

John M:

We have to realize that these are businesses that are looking to invest

John M:

in our community, and we want to create an environment through this process.

John M:

That's not gonna be cumbersome that they're not gonna just spend tons and tons

John M:

of money up front with no potential for being able to, to develop the project.

John M:

And so he really charged me immediately with, I want something business

John M:

friendly and the leaders that you see on the call today on the zoom.

John M:

They were also part of the process when it went time to communicate with the public.

John M:

And again, multiple times meeting with the, in a pre-proposal meeting

John M:

with all the interested developers, Dan Donogan stood up and said, I

John M:

don't want this to be cumbersome.

John M:

This needs to be friendly.

John M:

We are looking to create an environment where we want people

John M:

to invest in our community.

John M:

That leadership was just, was really percolating through all

John M:

the processes that were here.

John M:

And it was from elected officials to appointed officials.

John M:

And I think having that all combination there really provided an opportunity

John M:

for this development to be successful.

Matt:

Something that John just said that when the group of us got

Matt:

elected that we wanted to do something.

Matt:

Yes.

Matt:

And I say that carefully because none of us actually wanted to do the work.

Matt:

And so we quickly realized and supported that to do something.

Matt:

We needed the support of seasoned professionals.

Matt:

And I we looked at our role as supporting them to support

Matt:

our vision of doing something.

Matt:

I think that's oftentimes a fatal flaw when you have this type of environment

Matt:

where you have electeds who say, Hey, I wanna run because I want to

Matt:

do something and they get in there and they actually wanna run the town.

Matt:

That's inappropriate.

Matt:

I think that's an inappropriate level of activity for an elected.

Matt:

And I believe in an elected's role is to support the staff and

Matt:

identify those professionals that can come in and support our vision.

Nancy:

point.

Nancy:

Matt and I would like if John, you could say just a little bit more about

Nancy:

what you were able to do specifically to help them execute their ideas.

John M:

Certainly as Timmy alluded to business being a public piece of property,

John M:

there was a need for the community to go through a public procurement

John M:

process to try to secure that developer.

John M:

That would be part of an agreement to develop that piece of property.

John M:

And so we went through a process to do that.

John M:

We initially requested the development community.

John M:

We put together a nice document that had some of the demographics and the

John M:

data that was important to the region, including that there's a site here that's

John M:

directly, adjacent to one of the busiest at the regional stops in, in the area.

John M:

And we went through a process where we asked the development community very

John M:

briefly to provide some ideas of what they think might be on that property.

John M:

What could they see ? Dan Dunigan charge was, Let's let the business

John M:

community, the developers tell us what they believe is viable instead

John M:

of us trying to tell them what to do

John M:

the development community is looking to build these properties

John M:

are gonna understand the market.

John M:

They're gonna understand what the needs are, what the possibilities are there.

John M:

So we asked them through that public procurement process to

John M:

give us some ideas for that.

John M:

We went through some interviews and we shortlisted.

John M:

And then we asked for some additional information from them and then

John M:

ultimately ended up selecting.

John M:

There was a selection made by the borough to to bring on a developer.

John M:

So I helped navigate them through that process to get to that

John M:

point where they had a developer.

John M:

And so once that agreement was done, now it's time for the hard work because now

John M:

we actually had to do this project and.

John M:

Like all projects, there are always gonna be some challenges

John M:

that have to be overcome.

John M:

And some things that need to be addressed.

John M:

So one of the things, the borough was requiring was that there had to be at

John M:

least the same number of parking spaces that were there before the development

John M:

incorporated into the new development.

John M:

And that was important from the borough staff and elected officials, but it was

John M:

also something we heard from the public.

John M:

They were afraid they were gonna lose that the businesses were afraid along , the

John M:

area adjacent to this property, they were gonna lose their ability to have customers

John M:

come and park and use their facilities.

John M:

So we went through a process of making sure that was incorporated

John M:

the interesting part about it was as SEPTA became more and more involved

John M:

what we were able to do was identify some opportunities to state level

John M:

for public funding, to be able to.

John M:

Provide for parking.

John M:

It created an really awesome P public private partnership between the

John M:

developer, the borough, the parking authority, and SEPTA to build a

John M:

much larger parking garage over adjacent to the train station.

John M:

So that not

John M:

only were we providing the current amount of parking, but also increasing

John M:

the parking that would bring more people downtown and provide more opportunities

John M:

to come to Landsdale, to go back and forth, to work and use the amenities

John M:

and the services that were there.

John M:

And so that was an opportunity that we facilitated and I'll show

John M:

you how these things of played off a little bit off of each other.

John M:

Everybody realized how do we get people from the train station

John M:

to the development per site?

John M:

And at that point in time PENDOT was brought to the table.

John M:

Department of transportation.

John M:

And I'll never forget when the initial meeting was requested.

John M:

The statements, we usually don't get involved until there's a developer

John M:

there a lot of times communities will ask us, can you please

John M:

build it so that they will come?

John M:

And the response that we were able as the borough was able to

John M:

give the PENDOT was we already have the developer they're already here.

John M:

And they said, wow, okay we'll be down.

John M:

PENDOT then came in and helped us resolve the matters by providing funding to help

John M:

do some traffic and pedestrian combinings around some of the intersections.

John M:

But the biggest opportunity was they actually built a walkway over top

John M:

of the railroad tracks from the parking structure to the development site that

John M:

was over there that really provided safe pedestrian connectivity on both

John M:

sides of the railroad tracks there so that people could easily get back and

John M:

forth between not only the development, but other parts of the downtown.

John M:

And the train station.

John M:

We helped to facilitate some of that and be able to provide public funding

John M:

that made that development even more attractive than what it was.

John M:

So it was some efforts like that to try to help solve that.

John M:

The third thing I'll say is again, we brought SEP to the table and

John M:

this goes back to earlier comments about trying to be business friendly

John M:

and not just say no it's yes.

John M:

And maybe SEPTA was very concerned about the idling of their buses

John M:

where they were idling, their buses, waiting for people to be picked up

John M:

from the train and go elsewhere.

John M:

And this development was going to displace them because they had normally

John M:

used some of that parking over there and they were very concerned about it.

John M:

And I would say very concerned about it that this was an issue and the

John M:

borough through Timmy's leadership and so forth, came up with a

John M:

great solution of where their park their buses could be parked.

John M:

They were getting ready to close down a little alley connection

John M:

road to the municipal building that was just gonna be there.

John M:

They offered it up and it became the spot where SEPTA parked their

John M:

buses while they were waiting to pick up again, solving problems.

John M:

They could have easily said, no, that's not our problem.

John M:

It's your problem, SEPTA.

John M:

But they sat down and they worked with them.

John M:

And so all these little pieces started to come together and it was

John M:

all the facilitation of resolving these issues and addressing these

John M:

problems as we moved through the development process and I was part of

John M:

the team that helped navigate that.

Timi:

Yeah.

Timi:

So I just wanted to make a couple of extra points that parking lot was

Timi:

actually the property of the parking authority which had been not necessarily

Timi:

dormant, but simply told what to do.

Timi:

And the parking authority, as I recall, Dan had some money that could be

Timi:

used to help this through, but by using the parking authority for this

Timi:

entire process it separated it from the typical political process that you

Timi:

see at council meetings over into a.

Timi:

Public and open process.

Timi:

So it wasn't as if anything was being hidden from anyone and brought it to,

Timi:

yes, Dan was the chair as a council member, but there was a whole bank

Timi:

of citizens, other citizens that were on this parking authority, which just

Timi:

added to the scope of citizens that were actually involved in this very

Timi:

good or very big process or project

Timi:

it's interesting because a council Not this group, but later on another council

Timi:

member said to me who had respect for me said I kept hearing you say,

Timi:

SEPTA's gonna do this and trust SEPTA.

Timi:

And what I didn't know was SEPTA was probably the, one of the most

Timi:

distrusted organizations in that region.

Timi:

And they actually took a leap of faith with partnering with SEPTA and

Timi:

SEPTA came through in very big ways, even though they were concerned, cuz

Timi:

they were losing not only a place, but their buses, but an entire parking lot.

Timi:

What John didn't say is that because he had come from the state, he

Timi:

had maintained and increased a lot of connections into that state.

Timi:

So that was the other bonus of bringing him on board.

Timi:

Was they trusted?

Timi:

So when he said, trust me, you should come to Landsdale.

Timi:

They took that leap.

Timi:

He also knew that what we were designing in a sort of multimodal,

Timi:

am I getting that right?

Timi:

Matt?

Timi:

My multimodal approach was a model that the state wanted to put in place.

Timi:

And here they had a community that was going to do this.

Timi:

So they were hungry.

Timi:

Believe it or not to give us money.

Timi:

In addition to John misks connections, the SEP connection was invaluable.

Timi:

Cuz SEPTA stepped in and said you need to pay attention to this project

Timi:

cuz it's gonna work well for everyone.

Timi:

So we had.

Timi:

The right entities and the parking authority in combination was somebody

Timi:

who knew the state knew what their plans were and a very big player in SEPTA.

Timi:

We brought a lot of money into Landsdale as a result of that.

Timi:

Yeah.

Nancy:

Really love that point that you made that, that you didn't know

Nancy:

how distrusted SEPTA was and that there was in that a, an advantage

Nancy:

that it was you honestly came to it, giving them a chance that they

Nancy:

decided to, to really, to meet you.

Timi:

Their leadership at that time, I just in my gut admired

Timi:

and trusted.

Timi:

And and this guy was new.

Timi:

He'd been their chief engineer for

Timi:

a long time, but he was new in that top post.

Timi:

And he was a no nonsense.

Timi:

Get it done if you didn't like something, you knew it.

Timi:

But if he liked something, you knew he was gonna get it.

Timi:

He was the perfect partner.

Dan:

was gonna jump in there.

Dan:

The other part that goes in with SEPTA is Timmy may have been naive for,

Dan:

to their regional distrust, but the rest of us weren't necessarily that.

Dan:

And with the general manager being new, he also happened to be a SEPTA rider

Dan:

who used landfill which I thought was a big thing, but we also knew that

Dan:

he had a real vested interest because if we had him have to take buses.

Dan:

And if we were taking away his Tencent parking, which as Timmy said

Dan:

earlier, wasn't a problem for him.

Dan:

We had a way to keep his attention.

Dan:

And I think for the first time he felt that the borough leadership and council

Dan:

finally were willing to work with SEPTA.

Dan:

As much as SEPTA may have wanted to work with us in the past.

Dan:

It just never, it should have clicked 20 years before it did.

Dan:

And for whatever reasons it didn't.

Dan:

And we've talked about a lot of 'em and you can't ever put your finger

Dan:

on exactly what it was, but I think they finally came around to this.

Dan:

Group's going to do something with us or without us and with us is far better for

Nancy:

Yeah I wanna just interject that.

Nancy:

Having worked with Timmy over a lot of years, one of the traits that I

Nancy:

have always recognized is just her extreme positivity that she's able

Nancy:

to come to challenges with this problem solving sort of attitude.

Nancy:

And I see that also in John MISAC and I think that's what Dan and Matt

Nancy:

exhibit and moving to John Ernst, he definitely carries on that legacy and

Nancy:

knows values that, that anything, any situation looking at it in a way of what

Nancy:

we can do and not necessarily what we can't do keeping that balance realistic

Nancy:

perspective as well as the potential,

John E:

it's into interesting Nancy, excuse me.

John E:

I'll never forget when Matt and I had a conversation at Starbucks and Timmy was

John E:

right that when I came on board it was at a time when architects were not being

John E:

hired and they were losing their job.

John E:

I was out of work for about a year, but in the background to all that, I

John E:

had been volunteering for the borough's zoning hearing board for about 14 years.

John E:

So I was somewhat familiar with processes and people and elected

John E:

officials and things along those lines.

John E:

But coming to this role from the private sector, there had always been a

John E:

stigma from the architect's profession that working for a municipality was

John E:

pretty much going to the dark side.

John E:

Because these are the people that you sat across a table from trying

John E:

to get an approval for your project.

John E:

And they're the ones that are gonna say no, because you can't do it this way.

John E:

So I approached the process with some trepidation and I'll never forget Matt

John E:

saying to me as an architect, you have an opportunity to design buildings.

John E:

One at a time he said, but what you might have an opportunity here at

John E:

Landsdale is to actually de design a whole town and be responsible for

John E:

the development of a whole community.

John E:

And that has stuck with me to this day.

John E:

And I am ever appreciative for that morning coffee because at the end

John E:

of the day this is the best job I've ever had because of the engagement of

John E:

people in the community and the leaders that set the stage for us to continue.

John E:

When I first came on board, my charge was.

John E:

Customer service, as we've heard from almost everybody on the call.

John E:

And I realized very quickly that it wasn't so much about saying yes or no.

John E:

And my mantra was, that's a great idea.

John E:

Let's figure out how we can get that to work, instead of saying no.

John E:

Or instead of saying, maybe it became a partnership to say let's work together to

John E:

see how we can figure out how to do that.

John E:

And as an architect, I know that the codes are really important, but they're

John E:

important for what they say, but they're equally important for what they don't say.

John E:

So if you can maneuver your way through a code book, looking for the

John E:

space in between the lines that provides an opportunity for some

John E:

flexibility and that's where that conversation starts to begin.

John E:

If I was gonna change the culture as I was charged the first thing I did

John E:

was get rid of the third party agency that did all of our code inspections.

John E:

We had no employees in code enforcement, and I knew that it would be a challenge

John E:

trying to get a third party agency to buy into some kind of a philosophy that

John E:

the borough was trying to promote.

John E:

So I was able to fiscally bring on staff and fiscally, help them

John E:

understand what our role was.

John E:

Our role was customer service.

John E:

One of the very first things that Timmy and I do was if we are going to invest

John E:

in our town and we're expecting developers to come in, to invest in our town.

John E:

The first thing out of our mouth should not say, yeah, go visit

John E:

Steve and code enforcement.

John E:

Because that's not gonna sit very well with anybody who is dealing

John E:

with multimillion dollar projects to have to walk in the door

John E:

and deal with code enforcement.

John E:

So with insight, Timmy Timmy organized us changing the

John E:

name to community development.

John E:

So you actually walk into and you're dealing with community development.

John E:

So not only did it change the outward appearance, but it also helped the inward

John E:

appearance of staff who felt that they were actually becoming much more of a

John E:

part of a larger project and that we were working on community, not just codes.

John E:

So it really did go a long way.

John E:

Timmy also initiated a couple of other programs with

John E:

council's help that really set.

John E:

The borough into the role or into a position to help outsiders understand

John E:

that where you are investing in ourselves know, nobody's gonna invest in your

John E:

borough if you don't invest in yourself.

John E:

And one of them was the way finding program way, finding signage start to

John E:

invest in way, finding signage to help us understand what we have and where it is.

John E:

But before that, the initiative that she invested in was the branding piece.

John E:

What does Landsdale say to everybody on the outside, looking

John E:

in, what does Landsdale mean to the surrounding communities?

John E:

What does it mean to the people who are working here, living here?

John E:

So that was an extremely positive initiative that really.

John E:

Allowed all of us working here, living here to take a lot more pride in.

John E:

We do because we realized that we were investing in ourselves and we were

John E:

part of a much larger project and it really all started to come together.

John E:

We're still working on the way, finding sign for wasn't for supply chain issues

John E:

of holding back some signs, getting fabricated, but all of those things come

John E:

into play with changing of the culture and helping staff start to realize that

John E:

it's not just one department or the other.

John E:

It's the whole municipality staff moving towards creating an

John E:

environment that's easy to work in.

John E:

It's a lot of fun to work in and that you're part of a much larger project.

Nancy:

If you could tell us John, a little bit about what was personally

Nancy:

challenging for you going through this.

Nancy:

You just had a huge, challenge on your plate.

Nancy:

You really did have a lot to, to carry forward when you stepped in.

Nancy:

And let me just say now, from the community development director you

Nancy:

went into borough manager, Jake was there as manager for a time.

Nancy:

And then you took on that role.

Nancy:

So I'm

Nancy:

curious about through that, where, what was really personally difficult for you?

John E:

think beyond the logistics of fighting through all of the

John E:

office accumulation that Timmy had suggested finding an $85,000 check in

John E:

my office drawer, wondering what the heck am I supposed to do with this?

John E:

was trying to help the community underst.

John E:

That we are changing who we are.

John E:

So I took it upon myself to make sure that I started to get involved

John E:

in various community groups and boards and things like that.

John E:

You chamber of commerce and the Y M C a board and various local groups

John E:

that had presence to the community.

John E:

Now, I felt that it was important for the borough to have presence.

John E:

And Timmy was on several boards her leadership role.

John E:

And I was on several boards and my leadership role, trying to

John E:

touch base with those people who felt were gonna be really.

John E:

investors in the borough.

John E:

How do we get that message out?

John E:

Who can we talk to?

John E:

How can we develop networking communications?

John E:

How can we get the message out that we are working try and get people

John E:

to come in and feel confident that they can invest in our seldom.

John E:

Timmy remembers this.

John E:

All, everybody remembers this.

John E:

very first run at a developer coming into the borough was Chris and WBS.

John E:

And they chose to develop some town homes right in our downtown, within

John E:

walking distance of the train station.

John E:

And Chris and I had very lengthy and challenging conversations

John E:

that the developer community is a very small community.

John E:

And you don't have a lot of leeway to fail as a municipality with

John E:

the developer because they are investing millions of dollars.

John E:

In an approval process to help begin to turn around some

John E:

money and make the profit.

John E:

So when you say to a developer that we're developer friendly,

John E:

that means an awful lot of different things to different developers, but

John E:

primarily it means speed of approval and putting your money where your mouth is.

John E:

If you're gonna say it's gonna happen in this amount of time that I'm counting

John E:

on you, because I'm going back to my investors and I'm giving them a timeline

John E:

for when we can start doing this.

John E:

And you better be sure that you hit those deadlines.

John E:

Because like I said, you only get one chance at that maybe two at the

John E:

most with extenuating circumstances.

John E:

But Chris Canavan had come to me several times and said that he was

John E:

putting his money where his mouth was, because he felt that the community

John E:

was in a really good position with leadership and management

John E:

to make things happen.

John E:

And what's interesting about Chris Canavan is his background.

John E:

Came from a municipal management background.

John E:

He actually was a municipal manager for the adjacent community here in Landsdale.

John E:

He was in Toman township as the municipal manager.

John E:

So he knew the ins and outs of planning and promoting and

John E:

approving and how these things work.

John E:

So I don't wanna say he was skeptical, but at the end of the day, he was

John E:

skeptical about whether or not we were gonna be able to, make things work.

John E:

And in the end we did he has invested in at least four other projects since then.

Nancy:

what John is bringing forward?

Matt:

it just points to the original group's philosophy that we needed.

Matt:

Point the ship in the right direction.

Matt:

And then it, wasn't just gonna be four years and done and walk away.

Matt:

And here's hoping it was a concerted effort to make institutional

Matt:

changes, to point the ship in a different direction, regardless

Matt:

of who's at the helm at that time.

Matt:

And continue to surround yourself with good people, smart people

Matt:

that are smarter than you.

Matt:

And just get in there who understand why we do this for the community.

Matt:

And I think this what's happening today is a result of that.

Matt:

I love walking around the town with my family and look I had a hand in this

Matt:

and see how other people that I've never met before have made the decision to

Matt:

live here and raise their families here.

Matt:

And they like the energy.

Matt:

That's what it's about.

Matt:

That continued energy.

Matt:

It's not just about us.

Matt:

It's about everybody who follows us.

Matt:

So I just really I just get I'm not gonna say emotional about

Matt:

it, but I just am really proud about how the borough continues

Matt:

to move forward in this direction.

Matt:

And it makes me proud that I was a part of that that, that original decision making

Matt:

process, as, as difficult as it was.

Timi:

I will say at the beginning I talked about pulling the managers

Timi:

together as a team so that they knew everything that was going on and

Timi:

it was their responsibility then to communicate that back into their staffs.

Timi:

So even though if you will, the inevitable happened where this

Timi:

council did not get a second term.

Timi:

The department heads were so vested and I include John in this, so vested in what

Timi:

had gotten started and I'd actually told Matt and Dan and John Misrach knew

Timi:

this all too well, the things that we were embarking on you, you're not gonna see,

Timi:

come fully , to fruition for 10 years.

Timi:

I knew this, John Misk knew it.

Timi:

I told that to Dan and to Matt.

Timi:

Matt understood that because I think more because of his background.

Timi:

But as Matt said, we had set such a strong foundation, especially within

Timi:

the staff and this staff remember had been around for 30 years.

Timi:

So that's another benefit to this that this was

Timi:

good and it was what they only could have dreamed of.

Timi:

So even though.

Timi:

All of us after a period of time went away they pulled it through.

Timi:

And John ERNs was a very big part of that along with his fellow

Timi:

department heads at that time.

Timi:

Matt's absolutely correct.

Timi:

We put things in motion so that you couldn't turn them back no matter

Timi:

who got into public office, but also having it in the parking authority.

Timi:

There was a stability in there and that parking authority and

Timi:

they were fully vested in it.

Timi:

Sedan Dunigan with his leadership was able to carry that through against

Timi:

a lot of odds to get that done.

John E:

Nancy.

John E:

And I would say that my, my charge right now, as I look at you last

John E:

you five to eight years of my career in this town, hopefully, is make

John E:

sure that I surround myself with leaders who are able to understand.

John E:

What a unique environment that has been created for them

John E:

to, continue moving forward.

John E:

We are, and I say this to staff all the time that we are stewards of

John E:

everything that's been given to us.

John E:

And our role is to kind pass all of these assets and amend these

John E:

onto those that come after us.

John E:

Timmy, when she came on board was able to show us a different way of looking at

John E:

things along with her council members and to give us some guidance and opportunity.

John E:

my role is to make sure that the people that I work with who

John E:

several of them did work with Tim.

John E:

So they got firsthand experience with Timmy.

John E:

Know how important that is to kind keep that moving.

John E:

Obviously things change there's a core, there's a core group of values.

John E:

Let's put it that values that we as leader.

John E:

Move through and we pass them on as different people step it forward into

John E:

leadership roles that this this is a very positive way of doing things.

John E:

and, if it's not working some way

John E:

we

John E:

change it,

Nancy:

The leadership that's this key takeaway is that the leadership seep

Nancy:

down all the way from the beginning of our story today from Matt and

Nancy:

Dan's leadership all the way down through bringing Timon and that

Nancy:

John, that you do carry forward the core values that were developed and

Nancy:

that broad stakeholder base that you

Nancy:

included.

Nancy:

So many people into the process is a way that has ensured this legacy going

John E:

Right.

John E:

Right.

John E:

So one thing I will add to that I, I think that this would be a

John E:

completely different conversation.

John E:

If the manager in place right now

John E:

did not live in the community and did not have the experience of what

John E:

it means to actually live and raise a family in this environment.

John E:

I believe part of that passing on of that understanding of that leadership is

John E:

because I've lived here and I've seen it.

John E:

me, I'm embarrassed to admit that when I was not working for the borough, I was

John E:

not really concerned about development.

John E:

Even with my professional background, I was not concerned

John E:

about main street development.

John E:

You was so concerned about driving an hour, each way to

John E:

work and raising a family that it just wasn't part of my mind.

John E:

But now as I been here for 30, some odd years, I think that the role with a leader

John E:

in this borough would be much different if I was not part of the community.

John E:

have a vested interest in its outcomes.

Nancy:

insight.

Nancy:

Anyone else I'd like to have some wrap up comments from you and any shout

Nancy:

outs you might wanna give to others who have been a part of this process that

Nancy:

maybe have not been mentioned for any

Dan:

Oh, sure.

Dan:

I'll jump in on that.

Dan:

Nancy, the Matt and I were two of five that basically

Dan:

broke our was to get elected.

Dan:

And all five of us, it was Paul Clemente, Mary Fuller.

Dan:

Who's still in council.

Dan:

And Mike St in addition to Matt and I, that literally worked our tails off.

Dan:

And while Matt was the council president, and I was head of

Dan:

finance and administration.

Dan:

The two of us didn't do it alone.

Dan:

We got buy in from our other three who came on board at the same time.

Dan:

We also did quite a lot of work with the then existing other four on council.

Dan:

Some who were a little more inclined than others.

Dan:

Some rode against the current, just a row against current.

Dan:

But for the most part we were able to get a lot of agreement amongst the

Dan:

group that things had to be altered.

Dan:

And while it is always nice to have somebody say you did this,

Dan:

or you did that I recognize right away, I didn't do it alone.

Dan:

Matt and I still will always have a unique story of one meeting in the

Dan:

local barbershop and then two going door to door one with an R next to their

Dan:

name on the sheet and the other with a D and completely flabbergasting nine

Dan:

outta 10 voters with how this works.

Dan:

And then seeing that through And I remember some of my final comments

Dan:

when I was done with my sentence, as I said earlier, was that I hope that

Dan:

what I had done financially speaking, because as we all say, keep it, it's

Dan:

James car, it's the economy stupid that holds true was in your own borough.

Dan:

Things are very easy to address if the finances of the house are in

Dan:

order and the plan that we laid out and executed on in a very short time,

Dan:

politically speaking you figure you took six months to get it together.

Dan:

You're talking about something.

Dan:

We laid out in three and a half years basically, or a little less was to,

Dan:

we used the ship analogy earlier a foundation earlier was to lay it out

Dan:

so that, and I think I probably own a council meeting minute somewhere.

Dan:

Someone's gonna have to work hard to screw this up.

Dan:

And it seems to have born fruit we laid something down and pointed

Dan:

it in the right direction so that if you were willing on member of

Dan:

everybody in the.

Nancy:

Excellent.

Matt:

change is hard.

Matt:

And I think the five of us who ran, truly understood that.

Matt:

And I believe each one of us understood this was a short term commitment

Matt:

because what we did is not sustainable.

Matt:

It will create other reactionary forces that will work so much harder than you.

Matt:

You are working to get you out of that role.

Matt:

And we all knew that, but we were okay with it.

Matt:

We were okay with being that change and being that

Matt:

update and bearing that cross.

Matt:

And

Matt:

I think aside from Mary, God bless her for still being there.

Matt:

I don't know how she does.

Matt:

It is an exhausting position.

Matt:

It's volunteer and it's exhausting.

Matt:

And to stay on point to stay the course you're up against a

Matt:

lot and you can't do it alone.

Matt:

And you have to rely on the support of those around you and

Matt:

the staff, everybody around you.

Matt:

While this is a good introductory story of Landsdale itself could be its own

Matt:

podcast because there are so many other micro stories in those four years and

Matt:

four years beyond that, we haven't even touched that really point, the

Matt:

bigger success of what Landsdale is.

Nancy:

well, there you go, John Ernst, you can think about that podcast

Nancy:

series of Landsdale to up that branding.

John E:

I'll do that.

John E:

My spare time.

John M:

know Nancy, I would say that I've I've worked and I've worked

John M:

through my career around the country with communities and officials to try

John M:

to effectuate positive change in their communities and I think when you look

John M:

at what transpired in Landsdale taking the elected officials, leadership

John M:

to set stage, to then bring in the appointed staff members and have them.

John M:

Take the the lead from a management perspective to actually effectuate

John M:

change by putting together that

John M:

strategic planning process that they did they put in motion, a number of things

John M:

that were required to to be successful.

John M:

I think Landsdale would've moved forward successfully with one or two of them

John M:

being implemented, but the fact that they had such a great foundation with the

John M:

leadership and then that strategic plan, I think most of the stuff that they wanted

John M:

to put in motion got implemented and all of that combined, when you leverage that,

John M:

you start to see how much change really has occurred and continues to occur there.

John M:

That started way back when I've had many officials be marveled at

John M:

communities that are able to do that.

John M:

And they say, how did they do that?

John M:

And I said, it didn't start yesterday.

John M:

It started a while back with a great foundation.

John M:

John Urch and I have had a couple opportunities when I drive

John M:

through Landsdale, I have to stop into some of the restaurants.

John M:

So I'll call John sometime and we'll, I'll pop in.

John M:

And the stories that he's telling to this day and will probably for the

John M:

continued future are all grounded in those successes that came out of that process.

John M:

The idea that developers are attracted to the borough because they know that

John M:

their investment's gonna be protected by a community that says what it's

John M:

gonna do and it's business friendly.

John M:

And it respects the

John M:

times and the investment that they're putting in

John M:

the fact that they're a friendly it's not code enforcement anytime.

John M:

I was a former, I'm a former code enforcement officer.

John E:

yeah,

John M:

That was that immediately put people's tails up in the air.

John M:

When you said code enforcement by

John M:

saying community development, that's got a positive note to it, those little things.

John M:

And then you look at the

John M:

financing pieces and the budgets that were examples that were

John M:

talked about through this process.

John M:

All of these integral pieces have created an environment for not only

John M:

the people in Landsdale to invest, but people outside of Landsdale to invest.

John M:

And that's what you wanna see is people in the community be invested, and

John M:

you wanna see people from outside the community, be invested in your community.

Timi:

yeah, to that strategic plan quickly that, we developed

Timi:

a capital improvement plan.

Timi:

That was a 45 million capital improvement plan that showed that

Timi:

this barrel was willing to improve all of its infrastructure, which of

Timi:

course is appealing to any developer.

Timi:

But it was a wide open to the community.

Timi:

This is what we need to do.

Timi:

And this is where your money's going to, that plan was developed in total concert

Timi:

with the department heads living to.

Timi:

Res.

Timi:

They never thought they would get to.

Timi:

Cause they were essentially putting things together with duct tape.

Timi:

They put that together.

Timi:

So they had full buy into it.

Timi:

A number of them lived in the community and that's what they were communicating.

Timi:

But also we were doing massive change and we knew we had to pay very close attention

Timi:

to the internal piece of this borough.

Timi:

As part of the operations study, we revealed that there was no human

Timi:

resources plan whatsoever in this borough.

Timi:

And this council not only was focused on the outside.

Timi:

They said, you better take care of the inside.

Timi:

And we didn't just have a consultant come in and give us a cookie cutter.

Timi:

Here's your plan.

Timi:

We actually involved every staff member in the development of that plan.

Timi:

And that just increased the buy-in because quite frankly the man and woman

Timi:

on the street are gonna believe that person from the public works department.

Timi:

Or the electric department or the wastewater treatment department,

Timi:

much faster than they're gonna believe me or an elected official.

Timi:

And these folks now were fully invested in it and they were beginning to say,

Timi:

yep, I know exactly what's going on.

Timi:

And speaking in more positive ways about their total buy-in to the good

Timi:

things happening with the borough.

Timi:

So my point is you have to pay as close attention to the interior.

Timi:

You can't just be focused to the outside, but to the, I meaning that

Timi:

staff has to realize their part of it.

Timi:

And they're a highly valued part of it.

Nancy:

and I'm glad you brought that piece in Timmy, because that was the opportunity

Nancy:

that I had to work with Landsdale.

Nancy:

And I think.

Nancy:

What I would say, just in inviting you all here today is that I know

Nancy:

what generous spirits you have.

Nancy:

All of you your stewards of public service.

Nancy:

And I have another, client's brought stories forward from my experience there.

Nancy:

And you have always responded whenever I've said, go talk to Landsdale

Nancy:

and so you all continue in your own ways to keep serving.

Nancy:

So it's a story that keeps giving and it's it's very generative.

Nancy:

There's so much here.

Nancy:

So I want to thank all of you.

Nancy:

for coming together.

Nancy:

This is the most people I've ever had on an episode.

Nancy:

And I wanna thank John Ernst.

Nancy:

In particular, you might notice that his voice is a little deeper today

Nancy:

and we, I wish you a speedy recovery.

Nancy:

I know

Nancy:

that you

Nancy:

are here and giving us of your time when you probably would rather be home.

Nancy:

Okay.

Matt:

Thanks.

Matt:

All.

Matt:

Thanks

Nancy:

Thanks everyone.

Dan:

All right.

Nancy:

have you

John E:

be well, folks,

Timi:

Yeah,

Timi:

thanks.

Timi:

It was great to see all of you and to tell our story again, this was fun.

Dan:

Yeah, take

Dan:

care.

Timi:

Bye.