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Narberth Coffee-Shop Plan Advances

Council approved a contract for architectural drawings of a deck on the community center.

Sitting Monday night in the Narberth Community Center room that might eventually give rise to , borough council members unanimously approved a design contract to move the concept one step closer to reality.

Borough resident and Plan Commission member David Brawer will produce architectural sketches of a deck off the west wing, earning about $7,400, or roughly a tenth of what Councilwoman Heidi Boise estimated the entire deck project could cost.

The plan to renovate the west wing in a way that makes it easy to start a coffee shop there comes in the early stages of a borough-wide rezoning and after years of petitions from residents eager to see a coffee shop downtown.

Solicitor Marc Jonas said Brawer can and should simply recuse himself from any Plan Commission action on his drawings. Councilman Bob Weisbord endorsed Brawer's experience with the community center's , saying, "He seems like naturally the right person to be designing the terrace."

What do you think of the prospect of a coffee shop next to the Narberth library? Tell us in the comments, and cast your vote in the poll.

Barbara Shaw June 13, 2012 at 12:18 PM
We already have 2 coffee shops in Narberth. Why hurt the current businesses?
Deborah Lonsdorf June 13, 2012 at 12:20 PM
Who would be in charge of this coffee shop? Where is the money coming from? Would it be year round?
Deborah Lonsdorf June 13, 2012 at 12:22 PM
We don't have any coffee shops in Narberth. We have places that serve coffee, but they are not true "coffee shops", with an interest in varieties of coffees and teas and places to hang out and sit or use a laptop.
Michael Alexander June 13, 2012 at 01:09 PM
My understanding is that at the moment, all we're thinking about is a deck off the side of the community building. The potential uses for this deck could include food service, but I don't think the idea is to convert the west wing of the community building into a full-time coffee shop. There are other users of this wing that we need to be respectful of, like the Girl Scouts and Junior Women's Community Club.
Ed Ridgway June 13, 2012 at 01:58 PM
We're pretty early in the process. From what I've seen, (and as Councilman Alexander points out) so far Council has just agreed that they'd like to add an outdoor deck to the Library building. No details have been worked out as to how coffee could be served there, but Council members all seemed determined to make sure that any commercial opportunities went to first to existing Narberth businesses. As with most issues, I'm sure Council members would be very receptive to public input.
Deborah Lonsdorf June 13, 2012 at 02:08 PM
So the plan is to convert the indoor community building to a "coffee shop" and also have an outdoor terrace? I think the community building definately needs renovating and can be used for other things besides the scout meetings. The borough could even rent it out for events, recouping, over time, the monies spent on the renovation. I'm liking that idea a lot. Is that part of the plan by any chance?
x June 13, 2012 at 02:44 PM
I would not only not frequent it, I wouldn't even occasionally it.
Ed Ridgway June 13, 2012 at 02:45 PM
At this point (from what I've seen at te meetings), the plan is to build a deck. Everything else is hypothetical and TBD. Ideas and suggestions would probably be very welcome.
K. Bauer June 13, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Narberth definitely needs a real, locally-owned coffee shop where people can sit and work, have informal meetings, get together with friends, etc. While I would certainly swing by the library for a cup of coffee, I don't think this plan really fills the needs of local residents or would attract shoppers from outside Narberth to bring increased business to other shops in the area, as a true coffee shop would.
Deborah Lonsdorf June 13, 2012 at 03:33 PM
I'd rather see our tax money spent on upgrading the community rooms. They are in dire need of a facelift and cleaning and could be quite useful to the community as a whole if they were improved. The current users could get better use out of them along with money coming in from renting them out for events, but only if they were nice spaces. A deck is lovely, but how about keeping up the spaces we already have as well?
evelyn June 13, 2012 at 07:12 PM
You will increase the traffic in this already tight area not to mention taking the parking places from the people who frequent the playground and the tennis courts etc. This will also become a place for teenagers to gather. ajk
Michael Alexander June 14, 2012 at 05:20 PM
This deck is meant to serve the people already using the playground and tennis court. I don't think that building a deck, in and of itself, would add to the parking issue, especially when so many people using the park walk to it. As for teenagers, wouldn't it be a good thing to have a place for teenagers to gather? We already have rules prohibiting park use after a certain time, so I don't see what the problem is. Speaking to upgrading the community rooms, I agree they could use a fresh coat of paint. Not sure what else we could really do with them though - they are pretty much just empty rooms. Suggestions? I agree that adding a deck would not fulfill the desire to have a cafe in "downtown" Narberth.
Ilana Brookshier June 17, 2012 at 02:42 AM
While a deck that has coffee available would be nice for people who are at the park/playground/tennis courts, it would in no way fulfill the desire for a true coffee shop. I think that teens (and adults) in Narberth desperately need a gathering place that is not a pub. I absolutely agree with Michael Alexander that that would be a very positive addition to our borough. I would love to see something like the old Point (or the newer Milkboy) that would be a cool, safe, hangout with live music at night. Living near the Wawa, I see a lot of teens hanging out in the parking lot, and it looks like a lot of bored kids -- just a recipe for trouble. Narberth is such a wonderful town for young children, but there really is not much for the older ones.
Cindy T November 10, 2012 at 01:14 PM
Is there a chance for the two existing coffee shops to upgrade to WIFI capabilities, and create a place to sit and work on computer? That way, I think the community centers could be used as a place for functions, events, kids night, etc. then it is a win-win for all.......Only one problem with the deck idea.......PARKING!

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