With so much going on around town. Catch up on what you may have missed.
It’s Friday, May 8. Borough Council considers a proposal to close Gay and Market Streets for the summer while, construction resumes at 44 West. Plus, graduation dates set for local seniors and downtown businesses get a payout. Moms and teachers, pour yourself a quarantini, it’s time to get started.
Is it just me, or is there something different here? Borough Council is considering closing Gay Street and part of Market Street for the summer. The move would allow restaurants to set up tables from one sidewalk to the other offering more room for social distancing and curb-side sales and hopefully giving West Chester businesses an advantage over neighboring towns.
According to a report in the Daily Local, early proposals suggest blocking Gay Street from Matlack to Darlington streets, while leaving the cross streets at Walnut, High and Church streets open. Market Street would be reduced from three travel lanes, and two parking lanes to one vehicle lane from Darlington to Church streets.
Borough reaction on Nextdoor was pretty positive.
“Excellent idea to jumpstart downtown businesses even if for only a temporary summer trial,” Borough resident Elizabeth Timmins wrote.
However traffic was raised as a concern. “Traffic is already the most frustrating part of living in West Chester,” commented Chris Brandt another resident. The move would require rerouting traffic around downtown for the summer. It would also cut into the parking spaces available and much needed revenue for the Borough.
The Public Works committee will discuss at the matter at their Tuesday meeting with the full Council planning to discuss at their May 20 voting session. However, even with a yes vote, any action will have to wait until after the Governor lifts restrictions on restaurants in the state.
If you would like to join the Public Works discussion, here is a link to the WebEx.
Next on the agenda. Not paid your real estate taxes yet? You could be getting a small reprieve from the Borough. Council has called a special meeting for Tuesday, May 12, to vote on a resolution that would waive the collection of late fees for 2020 real estate taxes. As long as taxes are paid in their entirety by Dec. 31 2020 no fees or penalties associated with late payments will be owed. The meeting will be live-streamed via WebEx but as the action is mandated by the state, it is expected to pass.
“We are preparing to be fully online in the 2020-21 school year.”
-James Scanlon, Superintendent West Chester Area School District
It’s a brave new world. This week James Scanlon Superintendent of West Chester Area School District, sent out a letter that sent chills down the spines of parents everywhere, the district is preparing to be 100 percent online for the entirety of the 2020-21 school year. While that would be the extreme case, health experts agree schools will likely face intermittent closures over the next year. He also expressed doubts over the acceptance or feasibility of procedures reportedly tried in other countries such as children wearing face masks or students attending on alternating days to dramatically cut class sizes.
While there are no answers for now, he did promise continued communications throughout the process.
What a long strange trip it’s been. Now onto something we know – sort of – commencement ceremonies have been set for West Chester area seniors. They will graduate as originally planned (timewise anyway) with virtual ceremonies set for the first week of June. Commencement for Henderson High School will be on June 3, East High School on June 4 and Rustin High School, June 5. All three ceremonies will be live-streamed.
The District is still hoping to give students (and their parents) that live graduation experience. A separate set of live ceremonies has been scheduled for July 26 for all three high schools — if social distance guidelines are relaxed to the point where the health of district families are not at risk.
Speaking of graduations not to be, West Chester University launched a “Virtual Celebration of the Class of 2020” this week. The celebration consists of a series of videos including a heartfelt message from WCU President Christopher Fiorentino and a compilation video featuring the names of all members of the graduating class against the backdrop of hundreds of photos and footage. The University will not, however, be holding an official online graduation as it is waiting to hold a series of special in-person commencements at a later date — when it is once again safe to convene.
Signs of life. While we are still likely a ways away from reopening or even yellow in the Governor’s new normal color chart, there were signs of a cautious return to life. This week we saw construction resume at 44 West after a state-wide order gave the okay for construction operations to resume on May 1.
The warnings. Watch what you do with that stimulus check. Benchmark Credit Union is advising residents to be aware of a slew of scams that have arisen around COVID-19. Scams such as bogus coronavirus tests, unproven vaccines and of course, stimulus check grabs. Anyone contacting you by phone, text, or email asking for financial account information or verification of information for the deposit of your check is not legit and note the government is referring to the checks as “economic impact payments” not stimulus checks. Read the full blog to learn more.
This Week in Good News
Need a little good news for a change? Check out all these cool ways people are giving back!
“Your support was a wonderful boost in trying times.”
-West Chester Public Library via Instagram
Both the Friends Association and West Chester Public Library had extra reason to raise a margarita on Tuesday, both groups reached their Giving Tuesday Now goals. Friends Association raised over $12,000 while the library passed their goal of $3500. Both organizations expressed their sincere gratitude to contributors. If you thought Giving Tuesday was some time around Thanksgiving, but would still like to support any of our wonderful local institutions, I am sure they will still accept your check – better make that, credit card.
Have a business and a banner you’d like to display? West Chester Buggy Bath on E. Market Street is offering to let local business owners use their fence free of charge. Contact them for details.
Speaking of good news for businesses, it was announced this week that roughly two dozen small businesses across Chester County have received more than $1.8 million from the third round of funding distributed through the COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program. In the Borough, both Kaplan Jewelers and Velvet Hair Studio picked up checks through the program.
Accolades. Congratulations to Chester County Hospital, in addition to all their hard work keeping the community safe during the COVID-19 crisis, they were recently awarded an A in safety by the nonprofit group LeapFrog. Twice a year the group rates more than 2600 hospitals on accidents, injuries and infections, and how well a facility prevents medical errors and other harm to patients. Chester County Hospital consistently receives an A. Something you like to hear during a pandemic.
High fives to East High School’s Doug Costin, the 20-year West Chester Area School district educator was recently named the winner of the Citadel Heart of Learning Award.
And while we’re at it, a big round of applause to all West Chester area teachers. This situation has been a challenge as a parent, I can only imagine what it’s been like as a teacher. Today is the last day of teacher appreciation week – so if you haven’t done so already, take a minute to thank a teacher.
Hello. To Side Bar and Teca. After being forced to close last month after the Borough announced curbside restrictions, I am happy to report both have reopened with new take-out menus.
Also, say hello again to street sweeping. In case you missed it, the Borough resumed street sweeping earlier this week. For now, sweeping will resume without enforcement of the opposite side of the street parking requirements, but the Public Works department would appreciate it if you complied with posted signage.
Goodbye. Last month the West Chester University community said goodbye to beloved educator Marjorie “Kat” Kathleen Ellis who passed away at the age of 53. Kat was a professor and director of the university’s ASL and Deaf Studies Program in the Language and Cultures Department. According to her obituary, her students were her love and her legacy and now they are taking up that mantle and are working to start a scholarship fund in her honor. The scholarship will go to support a deaf studies student at the university. If you would like to make a donation please send your check to WCU Foundation in Memory of Dr. Kat Ellis, 202 Carter Dr, West Chester, PA 19382 – or you can make a donation online, here are those directions.
The freakin’ weekend. What are you up to this weekend? We are going to be celebrating the Nueve de Mayo with all our leftovers from the Classic Diner Cinco de Mayo taco celebration meal, which was delicious, and continuing to work on a very hard puzzle. Our last in the puzzle stack.
Also, it’s Mother’s Day. So to all the moms out there, I hope you enjoy a day for yourself whether it’s in quiet reflection, smack-dab in the middle of the chaos or somewhere in between. Also, gentle reminder to all you dads, kids will not be bringing anything home from school this year – so get them started on those cards now.
Stay safe. Stay healthy and I’ll see you next week.
Feel like you’re missing something? Here’s last week’s Roundup.
Need direction for your new running habit? West Chester’s famed Mother’s Day run is going virtual this year.
Finally, if you are new here, follow along. It’s all West Chester, all the time.