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A blog that takes a look at West Chester area government, politics, and community events.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Bold statement of the week

This week's award goes to Laura Hunter, a West Goshen resident who lives within earshot of the Major Louis H. Close Pistol Range.

In my Nov. 11 article on the unknown vandals who bulldozed much of the range, I quoted Hunter as saying:

"It's not uncommon for neighbors to hear things and not report them."

Hunter continued (I cut this part of the quote from the final version of my article):

"We live in the armpit of the nation. We pay the same taxes as everyone else in West Goshen, but you would not want to live here."

Hunter was explaining that although she and other neighbors heard noises on the night the pistol range was bulldozed, they did not report these noises to police. She told me that, in her neighborhood, it's not unusual to hear odd noises.

This is because several days a week, local police fire guns at the pistol range. And the sewer plant next to the range generates additional racket. (It was at the sewer plant that the unknown vandals found the bulldozer.)

Anyway, after I talked on the phone to Hunter and several of her neighbors, I drove out to their neighborhood. I was expecting to find the "armpit of the nation." Instead, I found cul-de-sacs lined with relatively large homes. "Aah," I though. "Irresponsible real estate developers are to blame."

That's the same conclusion reached by some of the readers who left comments under my article. Other commentors blamed the residents for not properly researching the neighborhood in which they were about to buy houses. Still others, noting that the range is used solely to train police officers, blamed the neighbors for complaining at all. Their arguement was as follows: The West Goshen police keep you safe. If you lived in Philadelphia, you would be less safe, and you would hear more gunshots.


SAM wrote on Nov 12, 2009, at 9:18 AM: " . . . Perhaps these neighbors close to the gun range should move to Philly... Oooo wait, they may complain about the gun noise there also. :-)"

berry8353 wrote on Nov 12, 2009, at 10:01 AM: "Its not a war zone, its a shooting range. It very well could save my life someday. If you want to live in a war zone go to the city. Thats a real war zone. I guess you can say I'm fortunate enough to have a well staffed police department. Thank god . . . "

I have a big problem with comments such as these. I lived in Philadelphia for five years and never heard a gunshot. The one time I had to call the police (my bike got stolen), an officer was at my door in three minutes.

I lived in Philadelphia's Fairmount neighborhood, one of the many safe neighborhoods in the city. My point is this: suburbanites often congratulate themselves for not living in Philadelphia, as if the whole place were a hellhole from which they'd heroically escaped. Due perhaps to the Philly press's habit of sensationalizing gun violence and the prejudice of the white middle class against rowhomes, many lifelong suburbanites consider Philly real estate off-limits. They never discover the advantages of urban living (there are dozens - a topic for another post). Instead, these suburbanites engage in a generations-long search for houses that have fresh coats of vinyl siding. This search has recently led them to the injudiciously placed subdivisions that are destroying Chester County's landscape. The result: Philadelphia, which has many nice, already-built houses, suffers a lack of upper-income residents. And Chester County suffers a glut of tasteless subdivisions (with the attendant traffic clogs and local tax increases).

Many Philadelphia residents have it far better than the unfortunate residents of the homes that surround the Louis H. Close Pistol Range. Pistol reports, endured day after day, creep into the subconscious and begin to fry the mind. If you are subjected constantly to this traumatic noise, it's easy to believe you live in the armpit of the nation.

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