Letter to the Editor | Open Letter Concerning The Outbound Station Property from Joe Collins

First I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of support and involvement in our situation regarding the potential taking through eminent domain by the Borough of Conshohocken of the Outbound Station property, which we have owned for 44 years. Your social media campaigning, petitions, e-mails, phone calls, and private urging have been encouraging, appreciated, and hopefully effective.

My involvement with Conshohocken has been a continuation of our family’s tradition of promoting and serving our great one square mile. I graduated from Temple University with a degree in communications. I am the second President of the Conshohocken Historical Society, following my father who was the first. I spent 12 years on Conshohocken Borough Council and 2 years serving as Mayor. I was the first Shade Tree Commissioner, spent 25 years as Chairman of the Mary Wood Park Commission, and am a member of the Conshohocken Ambucs.

My wife Barbara and I remain in the house that was built in 1857 and that my grandparents moved into on their wedding day on October 10, 1890. All of these experiences make me feel qualified to speak out when I see something wrong. And what I’m seeing here with this eminent domain ordinance targeting our building is wrong, and I believe that it is just a microcosm of many more issues in Conshohocken.

A brief history of the Outbound Station property: it was built as the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Conshohocken Station on the Schuylkill Valley Line circa 1890. The line was in direct competition with the Reading Railroad and carried passengers and freight from the coal regions of Pennsylvania to Philadelphia. Passenger service ceased in 1962, but freight was still moved through even after my wife and I purchased the train station building in 1978.

At that time it was in deplorable condition, and we reacted to a sign on the building reading “Available,” which ultimately led to our purchase at auction. Neither Conshohocken nor the Montgomery County
Redevelopment Authority acted upon the opportunity.

After a new roof and floor, months of labor, every cent we had, and a favorable zoning board decision, Barbara opened The Outbound Station (offering antiques, collectibles, and gifts). When the bike trail was extended through Conshohocken in close proximity to the shop, we expanded the offerings to include drinks and snacks. After 30 years of operation, it was time to step back. In 2009 the building was leased for use as a café, and has continued as such under different operators until COVID.

At present time we have found a perfect match as the new tenant of the building, The Couch Tomato Café, which already has successful locations in Manayunk and West Chester. We think so highly of them and appreciate their passion for the building and the community so much that we felt confident in entering into a long-term 18 year lease with Craig Mosemen and Mike Cassano, the owners of the business.

We want to continue with our plans. And I ask for your help by contacting your government representatives, urging them to vote NO regarding eminent domain of 2 Harry Street (The Outbound Station), and to speak out for the good of all. My ultimate goal is and always has been to promote open, transparent, and responsible government.

Both Barbara and I thank you.