christmas downtown tree
Still standing: The West Chester Christmas tree welcomes in the first few days of the new year.

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

It’s Friday, January 3. Welcome to the 2020s. West Chester borough receives plans for a new hotel, the school district gets into the life skills business, and we say goodbye to a pub that just couldn’t hold on for the new year. Plus, Everhart Park wants your thoughts on their new playground. Ready? Grab that leftover champagne and let’s dive in.   

“We need your help to make sure we build one of the best playgrounds in the Borough!”

Friends of Everhart Park

Indy park
Friends of Everhart Park want your ideas on what the new Everhart Park playground should look like. This climbing park we visited in Indianapolis is nothing like anything we’ve seen around here.

Let’s all plan to get together in the New Year. In the 2020 West Chester Borough budget Everhart Park was awarded $130,000 to invest in updated playground equipment. The Friends of Everhart Park (FoEP) will be working with Play by Design, as well as students and members of the community, to develop the final design. FoEP is committed to involving the community in the design and are seeking input via a survey they have created. 

Have ideas? You can take the quick four minute survey here. Share with any families that use the park, and even those that don’t. Responses are due by January 15.

After feedback has been gathered a Design Day presentation is planned for 6 p.m., January 22 at Hillsdale elementary school. The presentation will include survey feedback as well as recommendations from the students who will be participating in a separate design event the week before. 

Welcome to the neighborhood. During the last meeting of the year, West Chester Borough Council passed an ordinance welcoming those suffering from “religious, ethnic, and political persecution” into the borough. According to Patch, the borough is now under the Department of State’s “Reception and Placement Program,” which provides initial resettlement services to newly arriving refugees. This however, does not make West Chester a sanctuary city, nor does it put at risk any federal funding the borough may receive – (nor guarantee anyone seeking refuge here can actually find reasonably priced housing.)

Also, looking to build roots in West Chester, Stove & Tap. The cozy Lancaster pub known for serving American classics is turning its attention to the borough after successfully opening its second location in Malvern late last year. If things go to plan, the bar will take over the Landmark location in spring 2020.

Architects rendering Zukin hotel
Architects rendering of the Hotel Indigo Boutique

No room at the inn. West Chester’s sole hotel is about to get company.  Land development plans have been filed by Zukin Realty with the borough for the new 110-room boutique hotel that will occupy the corner of E. Gay and N. Walnut Street, Mayor Dianne Herin reported last month in her Borough Brief’s email. The Hotel Indigo Boutique will reach 90 feet high (in line with neighboring Chestnut Street parking garage) and feature a first floor restaurant. To accommodate guest parking the hotel will purchase 55 Chestnut Street parking passes from the borough. (And they were worried about a shortage of parking before…)

While renovating the building Zukin Realty is also looking to “restore the exterior and interior of the Spence building to historical standards,” the email says. In doing so they will be converting the four student apartments into non-student apartments. On the upside for those students, they should have no problem finding a hotel room while they look for a new place to live.  

“The program will pay for itself in two-and-a-half years.” 

-James Scanlon, Superintendent WCASD

life skills house
This cute little house on N. Penn will serve as the home of the new Life Skills Transition program.

This is adulting. The West Chester Area School board has approved the purchase of a building at 402 N. Penn Street across from Henderson. The building will be set up as a fully functioning apartment where students with special needs can practice daily living skills like budgeting, cooking, cleaning and laundry.  

The new program will be lead by a WCASD teacher and paraprofessional staff and take over many of the transitions services currently being contracted out to the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU). 

The cost savings by moving the program inhouse are estimated at over $125,000 a year.

Thinking they should make this required coursework for all students.

Can I write you a check? The added funds will come in handy as the school board also approved the following projects during their December meeting: Repairs to the Rustin elevator ($16,000); Repairs to stage rigging at the secondary schools ($100,000); Additional funds for the Henderson softball field ($100,000); Repairs to windows at Mary C. Howse ($30,000);  cellphone antenna system ($60,000) and update the Family Consumer Science center at Pierce ($34,000) all for a grand total of $340,000.

New Year’s Day surprise. The New Year is off to a good start for one lucky individual. A winning Treasure Hunt lottery ticket has been sold at the Lukoil on 845 Paoli Pike, in West Goshen. The ticket is worth $107,000. The ticket matched all five numbers of the January 1 drawing. 

The year’s also off to a good start for the West Chester University basketball team which has started their season 11-0 and is currently ranked 10th in the nation. You can check out the surging Golden Rams at home tonight.

This week in good news. The Corrado family, who’s Knobb Hill light display is well-known in the area, was recently featured on CBS 3 for a Christmas spirit that shines beyond their well-lit yard. 

Also, two local children took their extra gifts to the West Chester Police before the Christmas holiday and asked their help in delivering the presents to needy kids in the borough. Which they did. 

The warnings. Don’t drive impaired. If you think you’ll be drinking, call Uber, Lyft or reserve Free-Ride West Chester but leave the car at home. “There’s no excuse to drive intoxicated — not now, not ever.” This has been a message from your friendly state representative

Check those smoke detector batteries. West Chester Fire Department was called to assist at a house fire on Black Rock Road in East Bradford on January 1. A cause of the attic fire has not been released yet, but this marks the second house fire in the neighborhood in the last six months. Fortunately no one was injured.  

Watch where you are going. This just in from the borough, North Walnut Street will be closed on January 7-8, between Market Street and Middle Alley for a sewer repair.

“The S-76 is an exciting addition to our collection of aircraft. It will greatly enhance our ability to educate the public about the many civilian applications helicopters fulfill.”

-Allison Titman, Executive Director of the American Helicopter Museum & Education Center 

The Helicopter Museum’s new toy.

The accolades. Congratulations to the Helicopter Museum on their swanky new teaching tool. A realistic full-scale model of the S-76D™ was donated to the museum last month by helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky.  

Also, congratulations to Chris McCune on being selected temporary West Chester Area School Board President. Chris will serve a one-year term. The school board also recognized its newest members at their December meeting including: Mr. Gary Bevilacqua, Mr. Daryl Durnell, Dr. Karen Herrmann, Dr. Kate Shaw and Mrs. Sue Tiernan. Each will serve a four-year term beginning in January.

Finally, kudos to the Friends Association of West Chester which was awarded $25,000 grant from the Connelly Foundation. The grant will help Chester County families gain housing stability and financial security. Now, that’s money well spent.

Hello. to Flourish Coworking Space at 1121 West Chester Pike. You can get to know them through a series of events planned for this weekend including a 2020 Planning Workshop and dinner, January 3, a work party with speakers (and free headshots) on January 4 and yoga and brunch January 5. All require reservations.

A shuttered Appalachian Brewing Company. The Harrisburg-based ABC never really found its place in the West Chester bar scene.

Goodbye. To QVC and Franklin Mint founder, Joseph Segel. The prolific entrepreneur with more than 20 companies to his credit, including West Chester-based QVC, died last month at the age of 88. 

To the Christmas tree. West Chester Borough Public Works has begun collecting last year’s Christmas trees. Just leave your (fresh cut) completely undecorated tree on the curb, not in the street, anytime before January 17 and the borough will pick it up and make sure the tree gets properly recycled.

Finally, we say goodbye to Appalachian Brewing Company who closed their doors over the holiday break to the surprise of no one who has been there recently. We were there before the Christmas parade and while they were decently busy there was just no life left in the place. Hopefully the owners can find an establishment that has what it takes to make people want to venture to that end of town. 

longwood christmas 2019 -2
A Longwood Christmas

The freakin’ weekend. What are you up to this weekend? I am knee deep (literally) in a massive purge I began last weekend. Keep an eye out on Buy Nothing West Chester if you are in need of some kid comforters, artwork, books or knitting supplies. Oh, and of course, this.

If you are not yet ready for the holiday festivities to end, we attended the Longwood Christmas last Sunday and it was amazing. While the outdoor displays are similar to 2018, they continue to build on them making each year a little more magical than the one before. Still a few days left to check it..

Mark your calendars: 

  • The Art of War: To Report, Remember and Reconcile, Knauer Art Gallery, exhibit ends Jan. 3
  • West Chester University undefeated men’s basketball team, Hollinger Field House, Jan. 4
  • A Longwood Christmas, Longwood Gardens, through Jan. 5 (timed tickets required)
  • Better Than Bacon 2020 improv, Uptown! Performing Arts Center, Jan. 10
  • James and the Giant Peach, Uptown! Performing Arts Center, Jan. 11 – Jan. 19
  • Who’s Afraid of Aymann Ismail? speaker series, Uptown! Performing Arts Center, Jan. 21
  • Live Planetarium Show: Venus, Mather Planetarium, Jan. 24

That’s it. We’re done here. I hope everyone had a wonderful New Year! I will hopefully have the latest on the Everhart Playground project as well as real inside look at the area bar scene for you next week, but until then, let’s take a moment to remember all the retail and restaurant establishments that won’t be joining us in the new year.

See you next week!

P.S. Don’t forget to take a moment to follow the blog.

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