everhart_after the storm
The beauty after Tuesday’s storm. Everhart Park.

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

It’s Friday, July 5. Hope everyone had a nice fourth of July. We had a lovely vacation but it is good to be back! This week we recap the crazy storm, see what’s happening with West Chester’s plastic bag ban, and more scary health code violations, including our favorite sushi place. [Insert sad face.] Grab the last of the red, white and blue M&Ms and let’s get started.  

tuesday storm
Price Street at Bradford Avenue. Photo by Jeff Cantwell as post to Nextdoor.

The surprise storm and the subsequent outages. A doozy of a storm whipped through the area on Tuesday night, terrorizing trees and knocking out power to much of the Borough. While, there were storms in the forecast many were taken aback by the severity of the weather that came through. Several large trees were reported down including the one that blocked Price for most of Wednesday. Most people were back online before Wednesday morning however, several were still without power well into the day.

Can you hear me now? Of all the ways the borough is currently trying to reach out to residents, and there are a few, none of them have been particularly effective, so they are looking to add more. According to a proposal being reviewed at next week’s Administration, Technology and Communication subcommittee meeting. Local officials are looking to invest in an outreach initiative which would “advertise” existing solutions to grow their reach. They are also looking to add a new monthly digital newsletter that will be available through the borough website or by subscription. No mention of what type of budget will be spent on such an outreach initiative but the digital newsletter is scheduled to launch in August. 

High Street, West Chester, PA.
High Street, West Chester, PA. 

West Chester’s plastic bag ban. Last fall West Chester Borough Council agreed to the idea of banning single use plastic bags within the Borough of West Chester. However, to make it official the ban had to be written as an ordinance and submitted for a public comment period. Plastic Free Please was formed and they began working on a proposal. The proposal was submitted and it is currently open for public comment – you can read the full proposal here

Then last week in a 69-page spending bill that was signed into law, a legislator from Centre County snuck in a one-year moratorium on all single use plastic bag bans in the state so he can measure the economic effects on a plastic manufacturer in his district. The moratorium would delay implementation of the West Chester proposal from January 1, 2020 to January 1, 2021, Christiane Torres, a member of Plastic Free Please told me via email, unless the borough uses its Home Rule Charter to implement an exception. In her email she states, “I have learned that the borough is considering [using the Charter] but only if we show a lot of support from the public for the ban.” West Chester advocates, I think that’s your battle cry. 

More on where and when to show that support (spoiler: Borough Hall, July 17) and what exactly is in the ban next week.    

How clean is your kitchen? Chester County health inspection reports are out for June and once again several West Chester establishments got snagged, among the worst offenders, our go to sushi place, Mischi, who had eight violations among them “handling ready to eat food ingredient with their bare hands” and thawing frozen fish and meat in “large bowls of standing water.” 

Also receiving eight violations, the Chester County Golf and Country Club snack bar, which was made to discard a gallon container of caesar dressing after it was found, “on the storage shelf held at room temperature, rather than 41°F or below as required” for more than four hours. 

You can find the complete list of offenders here.

No more mulch. Public Works is researching recycled tires as an alternative.

No more mulching for the borough. West Chester Public Works department  is reportedly looking to move away from using mulch around trees in the downtown business district, instead they are looking to approve the use of Perk E Pave for tree well treatment. According to its website Perk E. Pave is made from recycled tires and is extremely porous allowing for excellent stormwater management and “when used around tree bases, assures health of trees and eliminates tree root damaged sidewalks.” Wonder if this is also a more permanent solution than annual mulching? 

Also, on the Public Works to do list is to expand the sharrow markings on area streets. Sharrow, if like me you are familiar with the term, is a combination of the words “share” and “arrow” and serves as a visual reminder cars and bikes are both welcome here. The new “sharrow” markers are to be added to Darlington and Walnut Streets.  

Night time closures on Gay Street. Staying downtown for a minute, the borough is reporting overnight closures of Gay Street, between Matlack Street and Walnut Street and Matlack Street, between Market Street and Gay Street, beginning Sunday night and continuing through Thursday. Work is to begin at 8 p.m. and continue to 6 a.m.

Some predict the old brick buildings of West Chester’s east end will end up the collateral damage  of development.

What to do about the gentrification of West Chester. Over the last several years, new construction has been popping up all over the east end of the borough forcing generational residents to mingle with newcomers and causing the loss of several of the area’s historic brick buildings. The gentrification of what has historically been a black neighborhood is central to the play “Mud Row” which is currently playing at People’s LIght & Theater and it was also the topic of discussion of recent tour through the area by Historian Penny Washington. Many, like Washington, worry that the price of progress will be the destruction of the neighborhood and all it represents. 

We cannot stress enough, please lock your vehicles.”

– West Chester Police Department

The warnings. Lock your car doors and remove any valuables when you leave. West Chester has been experiencing what can only be described as a spree of car break-ins over the last couple weeks culminating late Monday night into early Tuesday morning when 12 unlocked cars were broken into on the 500 block of High Street. 

More vehicular warnings: If you’re going to be celebrating this weekend (or any) with a drink (or three), use Uber, Lyft or a DD. Enforcement will be out in force. Speaking of safe driving habits, watch your speed. Local cops now have radar guns.   

The accolades. Congratulations to D’Ascenzo’s Gelato who was recognized by Travel & Leisure magazine, not as best in the area but, best ice cream in all of Pennsylvania. 

And also, a round of applause to Chester County hospital’s maternity center for being named “baby friendly” by Baby-Friendly USA. Baby-Friendly USA is leading the U.S. charge on implementing the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative a global program set to improve the care of pregnant women, mothers and infants around the world.   

Give back. Want to get in on the action at the 15th annual Benchmark Twilight Cycling Classic? The Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce is seeking volunteers for the event. According to the website hundreds are needed to ensure the event is a success. (Psst. There’s a t-shirt in it for you.) Learn more here

Unless everyone magically reappears, it looks to be a quiet one this weekend. Why not take that opportunity to get some of the best gelato in the state?

The freakin’ weekend. What’s on your list this weekend? We’re having a little post-fourth fireworks display. We hit up a roadside stand and stocked up for the weekend. We’re more fountains and sparklers than mortars and shells but there’s still something exhilarating about backyard fireworks. Also, on the weekend bucket list, West Chester’s new coffee shop

Mark your calendars: 

  • Succulent Arrangement Workshop, Appalachian Brewing Company, July 9
  • How to Train Your Dragon, family movie night, West Chester Library, July 10 
  • 50th anniversary celebration Apollo 11 moon landing, West Chester University Mather Planetarium, July 13
  • Magic Bus, tribute to the Who, Uptown!, July 13
  • Happy Hour on the Terrace, Game of Thrones edition, West Chester Library, July 19
  • Turks Head Music Festival, Everhart Park, July 21

I’ve been wanting to try one of these succulent workshops for a while, and this one from Appalachian Brewing Company comes with everything you need plus a free beer. Promising. 

That’s it. I hope everyone in town enjoys having it all to yourself. It’s a crazy feeling. Plus, I shared some quotes from West Chester-based street artist Cassius King on Instagram this week and the discussion on what does and not constitute art has been interesting. What do you think? Art or a mess for Public Works Departments to clean up? I’ll see you next week!

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