West Chester Weekly News Roundup

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Hundreds turned out for clean-ups across town last weekend and the results look awesome. Way to go, West Chester!

With so much going on around town. Catch up on what you may have missed.  

It’s Friday, May 3 and it looks like we’re starting this month with another big hole. Plus, WCASD won a sizable grant for safety, the borough’s beef with the University and a conversation begins on school start times. After a putting in a lot of hard work last week, West Chester you deserve a break (and a margarita). Sit back, relax, and catch up.

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While the University celebrated on social media, not everyone was as excited by the news.

WCU’s new project. West Chester University broke ground this week on the University’s largest expansion to date. The $130 million project will add 176,000-square-feet to the campus architecture in the form of a Sciences & Engineering Center, Commons area and a 450-car parking garage.

The goal of the project is to position the University to better serve students in it’s rapidly growing STEM programs including health science, physics and a new biomedical engineering program. The state-of-the-art facility will allow students to train in simulated real-world settings, like hospital rooms, and with “human-like robots that… can experience cardiac arrest and a variety of other lifelike symptoms.”  The University will also add more space for eating, meeting and parking. 

“We are not expanding anymore in the borough or purchasing more property that is going to negatively impact the tax base of the borough.”

– Christopher Fiorentino, West Chester University President

The college/community riff. Not everyone is thrilled with this week’s big announcement. According to a report in the University’s online pub, The Quad, university officials moved forward with expansion plans without notifying local government leaders. Not only did the Borough not get a courtesy call, the build will expand across High Street, a border the University had previously promised not to cross, and, thanks to the University’s tax exempt status, none of this expansion will contribute to the town’s coffers. All of which has left local residents and the University with some relationship building to do. WCU has made promises to limit future expansion and communicate better. While, the town is looking at adopting an “unruly social gathering law” that aims to target a variety of behaviors. TBD if this leads to any changes. 

Are the kids alright? West Chester Area School District (WCASD) was recently awarded $400,050 from the School Safety and Security Grant Program. The money will be used to help with things such as improved security planning and security technology.

School start times. Monday (at a meeting I wanted to attend but ironically got the start time wrong) WCASD began a year-long look at the effects of modifying the district’s school start times. The proposed move comes on the heels of several studies (including this and this) showing that school should start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. for most teenagers. This has caused several districts in the area and around the country to push back start times. Whether this move makes you want to jump with joy or cringe, there are some more things you need to know:

  1. No decisions have been made. Research alone on all potential effects will take no less than a year.
  2. Other things will be affected, namely transportation which could come at a higher cost.
  3. You can’t just flip elementary and high school start times.
  4. The earliest a schedule will go into effect will be fall 2021.

Have an opinion? The school district is looking for volunteers for its school start task force. Register here.   

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While Chester County took a hit for its air quality this week, it was also applauded for its open space initiatives. Marshall Square Park, West Chester.

Air quality. According to a new report by the American Lung Association, 40 percent of Americans are living in areas with unhealthy air, and Chester County is among them. According to the report, Chester County received an F for air quality.

In related news, West Chester has a new Green Team.

The accolades. Congratulations to Rustin High School technology education teacher Theodore Harrison on his excellence in teaching award and to this year’s national merit scholars Claire Mobed of East high school and Ananya Muthukrishnan of Henderson high school. Nicely done.

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A warm welcome on a warm night. Opa, Opa is back with some completely renovated digs.

The new, new restaurants. Last week I reported on two new establishments – clothing boutique Compendium (134 Market Street) and restaurant Slow Hand (30 N. Church Street). Now, there are two more to bring your attention to, greek restaurant Opa Taverna (40 E. Gay Street) – the space and name are new but the food should be familiar, it’s from the good people behind Opa, Opa, and Bonchon (124 E. Market Street) which is a Korean fried chicken restaurant. I didn’t even know there was such a thing, yet, it sounds delicious.

The warnings. Note to all you lap swimmers out there, the water heater at the competition pool at the Y is broken and not expected to be fixed for another two and a half weeks. Brrrr. On a positive note, swimming in cold water is supposed to be good for you.

In other health and safety news, Fame Fire company has broken ground on a new addition. The addition will house specialized technical rescue equipment that is currently being stored outside in the Fame parking lot due to lack of space. The group has raised $1.6 million to fund the initial build and are looking to raise another $800,000 to finish the project. If you are interested in donating, visit famefireco.org to make a pledge.

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Reminder, the Gallery Walk is this Friday. Plus, Church Street Gallery is celebrating an anniversary so, you should stop by and congratulate them on their success.

The freakin’ weekend. What are you up to this weekend? We have an obligation jammed couple of days with a birthday party and a christening, but if the weather cooperates maybe we’ll walk downtown tonight to check out the Gallery Walk. (Get your map here) Or there is a benefit concert being held at the Melton Center on Saturday in support of Community Volunteers in Medicine. Cost of admission? One bottle of Extra Strength Tylenol or some Metamucil (or any one of any number of items on the group’s wish list.) The eclectic line up includes an Irish Folk group, an R&B singer and a rock ‘n roll band. And of course, the Grower’s Market officially opens for the season on Saturday. (So excited.)

Mark your calendar:

  • Gallery Walk, Downtown – May 3
  • Pete Seeger tribute concert, Unitarian Congregation – May 3 (Tickets $20 at the door)
  • Growers’ Market Opening Day – May 4
  • Community Volunteer in Medicine benefit concert, Melton Center – May 4
  • May Day Celebration, Everhart Park – May 5

Thanks for stopping by and hanging out for a while. If like me, you are still in catch up mode from a busy couple of weeks, here’s last week’s round up to get you up to speed. Also, check out the last of the park profiles and in case you’re curious after visiting all 12 of them – this has to be my favorite find.  That’s it, if the rain holds out I’ll see you all downtown for a drink.

Oh, and don’t forget to follow the blog. (Please, and thank you.)

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