West Chester Weekly News Roundup

christmas house
West Chester has the best houses. The countdown continues: 12 days until Christmas.

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

It’s Friday, December 13. Is it too soon to get excited for summer? Changes to the West Chester Summer camp program take a positive turn, the Borough has free tulip bulbs and trouble at West Chester University. Plus, Greystone Elementary breaks ground, the Grinch is spotted in Hoopes Park and the 10 best bars in West Chester. Who’s ready to get started? 

“From the several meetings I have sat in on and what was reported to the [Parks and Rec] commission, this sounds like it’s going to be an amazing program.”

-Chantale Fieldhous, member West Chester Parks and Rec Commission

everhart_summer camp
Painted rocks at Everhart Park, evidence of summer camps past.

Is it summer, yet? We have updates on the West Chester Summer Camp program. After initially proposing a series of changes that were not going to accommodating working parents – I’m sorry, but who works 9 to 3 p.m. – and are you hiring? – the program was sent back to the Parks and Rec Commission (resident-run borough committee) and the Parks and Rec Department (Borough department) to come up with a solution that is better suited to all. 

Here are their proposed changes: 

  • Hours 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. with an option to extend to 6 p.m. for an additional $200. This would get you late pick up access for the full eight weeks. (That works out to be $2.50 an hour.)
  • All fees need to be paid in advance of the start of camp. When, and what exactly those costs will be still needs to be figured out but this will eliminate non-payments. Last year there was $4312 in unpaid tuition.  
  • The program will be getting a curriculum describes as 50% fun and 50% STEAM.
  • Camp will be outside as much as possible, weather permitting. The exact location of the camp has not been finalized, but it has been suggested the camp rotate between the three current locations (Everhart Park, Hoopes Park and the Melton Center).
  • Camp will be open to kids ages 5 – 12 (must be in the specified age range on the first day of camp.) However, there will no longer be three separate programs. All kids will be in one program and they will all do the same activities. 
  • Field trips will continue but they will be focused on Chester County. 

Still to be worked out:  

  • The final cost of the program. Although, there is a strong commitment to keeping it affordable.  
  • Whether or not the camp will be open to non-borough residents. It sounds like there are advocates on both sides of this issue.
  • How many kids the camp will accept. To keep the costs down they are aligning enrollment to bus capacity. If interest has dropped due to the changes or if they decide not to accept non-borough kids, there will probably be 90 openings. However if there is strong interest in the program, the borough is open to expanding to 140 kids. 

If you have an opinion on this program, your last chance to voice it is at next week’s Borough Council meeting (Tues, 12/17, 7 p.m.). Mark your calendar.

Special thanks to Chantale for keeping us all informed. 

hillsdale
New proposed language would ban the spraying of pesticides within 300 feet of a school.

Speaking of summer, Borough Council is working to advance efforts to halt the spraying of pesticides around schools and daycares. Since spraying is a county-led initiative, council can not move ahead on these changes alone. However, council member Bernie Flynn reported meeting with several Chester County Commissioners as well as County Health Director Jeanne Casner to discuss options for modifying language around spraying especially as it concerns areas where children are present. While the county can not change the state law, they can improve on it, and Bernie told members there was support from those at the meeting to change the policy to prohibit spraying within 300 feet of any school or daycare in the county. Hopefully, we will get word that these changes have been made official before any 2020 spraying takes place.

“All systems go for 2021.”

-James Scanlon, Superintedent West Chester Area School District

Hold on, I’m coming. A couple weeks late but ground has broken on Greystone Elementary, the district’s eleventh elementary school. The school is being built to help alleviate strain on current resources. Thanks to strong development in the region, including the new 598 home Greystone Estates which is being built near the school, many of the district elementary schools are at or over capacity. The construction was temporarily held up while the District secured a sewer permit but the school is still expected to be completed in time for the start of the 2021-2022 school year.

What’s next on the agenda? The Public Works Department is looking to move forward on a pilot program of a media filtration program. The three-week program will test the use of media filtration or a “filter that uses a bed of sand, peat, shredded tires, foam, crushed glass, geo-textile fabric, anthracite, crushed granite or other material to filter water for drinking, swimming pools, aquaculture, irrigation or stormwater management.” (Thank you, Wikipedia) to help lower the levels of several state-regulated chemicals. According to a report submitted by the Borough’s engineers, the wastewater treatment facility has struggled to meet revised state-mandated levels for total suspend solids (TSS), aluminum and phosphorus. The borough has found some success increasing implements and is hoping to avoid having to add a costly filtration system. The cost to the Borough to participate in the pilot is $10,000.

Can I get a substitute? The Public Works Department is exploring alternatives to rock salt for de-icing roads. Despite being widely used, sodium chloride, or rock salt, can be damaging to concrete and metal. It also can pollute streams, rivers and lakes. 

Money talks. Reminder, next Tuesday, Dec. 17 at 7 p.m. is the public hearing to adopt the 2020 Borough Budget. If you have any questions about where your tax dollars are going, plan to take time to attend. All meeting take place at Borough Hall – 401 E. Gay St.

“There are just not enough counselors to better meet the mental health needs of our student body.”

-Counseling Center Director Dr. Rachel Daltry

I need a mental health day. West Chester University welcomed its largest freshman class this fall and it sounds like the University wasn’t entirely prepared for the burden. First came reports in WCU student news service, The Quad, of strains to the school’s counseling system. Then late last month, a surprise inspection by the Chester County Health Department found Lawerence Center Dining Hall to be out of compliance with the health code siting the cafeteria for six violations including, “Eating utensils…observed to have food residue and were not clean to sight and touch.”

Happy holidays to all. West Chester University Alumni Association held its second annual sensory-friendly holiday event for kids. The event featured snacks, crafts, and even a meeting with Santa all designed for kids on the autism-spectrum. 

grinch
The Grinch spotted at Hoopes Park. Please share with all junior crime fighters. Image: West Chester Police Department

The warnings. Avoid hospital food. Several cases of salmonella poisoning have been linked to Chester County Hospital and its long term healthcare facilities. While the cause of the outbreak has not been conclusively identified, Tailor Cut Produce, based in North Brunswick, New Jersey is suspected. If you must eat the hospital’s food avoid any pre-packaged fruit at least until the issue is resolved. On a positive note, despite rumors to the contrary, no evidence of salmonella has been found at area fast food restaurants.  

Keep an eye on those packages. A West Chester resident reported having two Amazon packages stolen from his porch on the 200 block of E. Chestnut. The thief, caught on security camera, appears to be a grown man.

fox
Fox caught napping on a West Chester porch.

Beware of foxes. We’ve seen them on occasion crossing our yard on the way to Everhart Park, I presume, but never they have never gotten this comfortable. Worried about your pets? Here’s some info on what to do when fox come to town.  

Classic college bar… with cheap beers and a fun atmosphere.”

-Joy Franklin, PhillyBite Magazine

The accolades. Congrats to Rustin’s head basketball coach Keith Cochran on his 200th win!

Also cheers to Slow Hand which was recently featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The restaurant was singled out for its eclectic menu, fun drinks (Hello Darlin’ – apple brandy, Disaronno, cranberry, and rosemary syrup) and lack of TVs.  

Speaking of cheers, PhillyBite Magazine has taken a stab at the 10 best bars in West Chester. I’m not sure if these are in order or just numbered so we can see they got to 10,  but what do you think, did they capture the West Chester bar scene? I would argue 4 Dogs is not a West Chester bar but maybe I’m in the minority here. 

bulbs
West Chester Public Works has thousands of tulips bulbs in need of a good home.

Pay it forward. West Chester Borough has found itself in possession of a generous donation of tulip bulbs and they are inviting the public to help themselves. Bulbs will be available at the Public Works building at 205 Lacy Street, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

While you’re out and about thinking good thoughts, stop by Shawn’s Bar Mitzvah Toy Drive at Side Bar on Sunday. For his Bar Mitzvah project Shawn is collecting new, unwrapped toys to donate to CHOP. Shawn will be there 5 to 7 p.m. but toys can be dropped off at anytime – and like any good celebrations this one has drinks. Side Bar is offering a complimentary drink of choice (beer, wine or non-alcoholic) for every toy donated. 

Hello. To Two Birds Cafe. The latest breakfast spot to occupy the Downingtown Pike location, that was formerly Mrs. Mikes and then Perch, promises seasonal scratch dishes and parking. Two big wins for West Chester. 

Goodbye. To leaf collection in 2019. All remaining leaves should be packaged in those brown biodegradable bags available at ACE or Lowes or left to decompose in the garden

To Local Yoga Cafe. The yoga studio/cafe has been quietly (and calmly) sunset and has returned as Earthborn Yoga Studio. Same place, same great yoga, no cafe. Try them out this weekend when they host Yoga Poses and Doggie Noses in support of the Brandywine Valley SPCA. To confirm, yes, you will be doing yoga with rescue puppies. (Awwww.)

hot chocolate
Free cookies and cocoa (and the best late season produce) at this week’s Growers’ Market.

The freakin’ weekend. What are you up to this weekend? Santa is coming early to our house this year, so I know a few elves who will likely be making frantic Dollar General runs in between basketball games. However once it’s all over, we are hoping to kill a few relaxing (aka beer-in-hand) hours here

Here are some more ideas –

Mark your calendars: 

  • Into the Woods, Uptown! Performing Arts Center, Dec. 13-19
  • Free event! Hot Cocoa and Cookies, West Chester Growers Market, Dec. 14
  • Doggy Noses & Yoga Poses, Earthborn Yoga Studio (formerly Local Yoga Cafe) to benefit Brandywine Valley SPCA, Dec. 14
  • Pictures with Santa and a Fire Engine, First West Chester Fire Co., Dec. 14
  • The Nutcracker, Brandywine Ballet, Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall, Dec. 14
  • SantaFest, Helicopter Museum, Dec. 14
  • Beers with Santa, Levante Brewing, Dec. 18
  • Family Jazz Night: the Cartoon Christmas Trio, Uptown! Performing Arts Center, Dec. 19
  • Here Comes the Sun, Be & Breathe Yoga Studio, Dec. 21
  • WCASD schools closed for the winter break, Dec. 23 – Jan. 1
  • New Year’s Eve Gala, Uptown! Performing Arts Center, Dec. 31

That’s it. We are done here. Here is last week’s Roundup if you need it. Plus some great local places to get Christmas tree – pre-cut or cut your own. Also, if you haven’t checked it out yet, The West Chester Press has an awesome local gift guide. I highly suggest you check it out for all those hard-to-shop for individuals on your list.

I will see you next week. Until then don’t forget to follow the blog to get all the latest updates!

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