BROOMALL–More than a dozen Gradyville Road residents showed up at Tuesday's Marple Township Board of Commissioners meeting ready to speak out about an ongoing issue with their neighborhood and the Delaware County Community College.
According to Monica Dioguardi, a resident on the 2800 block of Gradyville Road, the main issues with the community college involve the noise, look, and safety that the college has intruded onto its neighbors.
"We, as residents, pay high property taxes to reside on Gradyville Road and Springton Lane," said Dioguardi. "The Delaware County Community College does not respect all of us as their bordering neighbors. Something needs to be done and this is why we are coming to you and asking you, as commissioners, to please help us."
Dioguardi said the residents are looking for a barrier or a berm with trees to help cover the "unsightly massive orange building," otherwise known as the STEM Center on campus, but to also protect them from unwanted noise, car lights, and intruders.
In regards to the color of the STEM Center building, 7th Ward Commissioner Dan Leefson said they can't control the color of the building because it's private property. "We can ask them to consider it but I rather see them–if their funds are limited, I would rather seem them put it into a fence as agreed in the past."
John Longacre, 5th ward commissioner, said the college "had money to do this, even though they didn't do this" about creating a berm or barrier between the school and the residents.
Commissioners Vice President John Lucas, of the 4th ward, said when the application was approved for the STEM center building, the school promised to build a 6-foot vinyl fence along the back property to aid in the view for the neighbors and to keep the noise on the college side of the property.
"If I'm not mistaken, not one piece of fence has been installed," said Lucas. "Not one."
A car show was held in August and October at the community college, in which hundreds of cars were displayed with their engines on, said dioGuardi.
"Does anyone know what it's like to listen to 800 Mustangs revving their engines? It was in August. It was hot. My windows were shut, my central air was on, and I felt like I sat at the Indy 500 from 8 o'clock in the morning to 5 o'clock in the afternoon."
Longacre said he has received complaints about the noise from residents "a quarter-mile away," as far as Heather Road.
Lucas said if the college has to come to the township to request a permit for the car show, then "I'd like to make it a point to not allow them to have the car show again unless they work with us. Period."
Two residents stood up at Tuesday's meeting to share that their homes have also been broken into with the increased amount of traffic and lack of barrier from the college campus.
Colin Walsh, of the 2800 block of Gradyville Road, said his home has been in the family since 1957 and the issue isn't just the noise or car shows.
"On a daily basis–every morning, every night–we have lights shining in our hosue," said Walsh. "We live in a goldfish bowl everytime they turn around, everytime they come in, everytime they go out."
In addition, Walsh said the all the water is draining onto their property from the college's parking lot runoff, which had ruined several of their plants. And on Valentine's Day last year, Walsh said his home was burglarized by an armed robber.
"He came off of a bus, into that parking lot, sat in that parking lot, and watched our house for days finding out when we come and when we go," said Walsh. "He came in and broke into our house in a two-hour window...and stole $35,000 worht of stuff and then went down the street and did a whole series of robberies."
According to Walsh, the easy access from the college's parking lot to the residents' yards has increased the amount of home break-ins. Walsh said he complained to college officials who did nothing about the situation. "It's a disgrace."
Mark McAllister, also of Gradyville Road, who said his property is located right on the college campus, was also a victim of a home burglary.
"We've had every lower window broken," said McAllister about his home. "Someone has tried to break into it. I've been to the police."
According to McAllister, he's seen people on the college campus after-hours and cutting through residents' yards. Fearing for the safety of his wife, who is home more often than he is, McAllister said in two years they expect to move.
"We're not here to stop education," said Pat Dioguardi after the presentation on Tuesday night. "We just want the school to have a little respect for their neighbors.
Code Enforcement Officer Joe Romano said he will speak to the college and Marple Police Lt. Matthew Richter, who handles the events at the college, about the noise level during the car shows.