When you talk to Paul Robinson about the Borough of Media you can hear the love that he feels for his town. As a child, his family moved to Media from Drexel Hill in 1960 and he has lived in Media for 50 years. He has served on the borough council since 1993 and has served on every committee except for finance. Robinson has also served as council vice president under two different council presidents.
Currently he serves as the Chair for both the Public Works/Infrastructure Committee and the Properties Committee. The Properties Committee oversees all properties owned by the borough. The borough owns and is responsible for Borough Hall, the Trader Joes building, the Barrall Community Park and Scott-Lowrie Playground, aspects of the ball field, parks and extensive properties outside the borough in Upper Providence & Middletown Townships from a time when Media operated its own water and sewer services.
When asked about the challenges currently facing the borough, he cites the difficulties facing Media’s beloved retail and restaurants because of COVID-19. “They are both so important to the borough” he said. He and the council have been working with restaurants and retail stores to help them navigate and get through this difficult time. “Before COVID-19, the business district was a significant portion of what we needed to maintain for the wellbeing of the borough – now it’s even more so. Retail is continuing to change – what do we need to do for retail in the 21st century? How do continue to be relevant and have retail services and restaurants all combined in our business district?” Lined with these wonderful gems, Media’s retail shops and boutiques offer so many unique items with personal and friendly service and a small-town feel. “It really sets us apart” he said. He remembers the days when Granite Run and Springfield Malls decimated Media’s business district with a 75% vacancy rate and wants to make sure that never happens again.
The council is concerned with residential development as well. With increased residential construction, there is a concern that some of Media’s older homes will be lost. Robinson and the council want to make sure the beautiful old homes are preserved, and the continuity of the neighborhoods remain. That concern has had the council looking at “form based” zoning ordinances for the borough. “Form based” zoning is where construction projects are looked at in the context of how they fit in the surrounding neighborhood – instead of the traditional zoning using square footage alone. The variety of homes are “what’s really cool” about Media. “We have Victorians, but we’re not a Victorian town. We have homes from the early 20’s and early 50’s and we want to keep that variety”. Hopefully, funding will be secured soon so the “form based” zoning ordinances can be drafted for 2021. He is hoping that residents and builders recognize the value of keeping the variety of homes that give Media its appeal and build accordingly – “like it’s always been there”.
When asked what he wants residents to know, Robinson said “A big thank you to Media residents who have been outstanding with masking up – absolutely outstanding and in this COVID environment – stay safe, we will make it through this, and we the borough, will end up being a better place”.
Article written by Stephanie Carroll