With so much going on around town. Catch up on what you may have missed.
It’s Friday, May 15. New details emerge about the plan to close Gay Street, including a map of street closures and how to handle an emergency. We also get a redistricting update and West Chester’s plan to limit single-use plastic takes a hit. It’s supposed to be gorgeous this weekend. Grab your phone and let’s catch up outside.
Can you tell me a little more about what you were thinking? This week a little idea – close Gay and Market Streets for the summer to allow businesses to spread out and better social distance – made its way in front of Borough Council committees and we got new details of what this could look like. Perhaps most informative was the West Chester Police Department report to the Public Safety & Quality of Life committee.
What we learned:
- Gay Street would be closed from Matlack Street to Church Street; Market Street would not really close, it would only lose parking in the area of Pietro’s Prime.
- Street closures would be in place 24 hours a day, seven days a week during the summer.
- Each of these blocks would be closed off with “Jersey Barriers” on either end. (FYI a Jersey barrier is a modular concrete or plastic barrier employed to separate lanes of traffic. Yep, I had to look it up).
- Plus, random bonus – we could also potentially be getting a free, wireless network in the Business District.
While the intent is to support downtown businesses and help them recover lost revenue faster, concern has been raised by some local residents especially over parking and emergency access. Well, the cops were reading your posts and they have answers.
“Our plan is to allow delivery trucks to stop in designated areas along Church Street, High Street and Walnut Street.”
-West Chester Police Department
Areas of concern:
Deliveries: The plan is to allow delivery trucks to stop in designated areas along Church Street, High Street and Walnut Street. Goods would then be transported to individual businesses by pallet jack or forklift.
Emergencies: The police department will coordinate with the fire department to ensure that equipment is able to access each block in the event of a fire. Pallet jacks or forklifts will be provided to quickly move barriers.
Parking: There will be a loss of parking spaces, but not so significant it can’t be made up by the parking garages. Their words, not mine, but aren’t we all proficient bikers by now, anyway?
The full Borough Council will be reviewing the proposal this week. Meeting is scheduled for May 20, at 7 p.m. Follow along on WebEx or via phone 408-418-9388 use PIN: 219174252.
I’m good for it, I swear. This week Borough Council held a special meeting to vote on a resolution that would waive the collection of late fees for 2020 real estate taxes until the end of the year. Now it’s official – there will be no fees or penalties associated with a late payment as long as taxes are paid in their entirety by Dec. 31 2020.
Speaking of things that could help your wallet, the Borough is also discussing reducing monthly garage fees for the short term. The Parking Authority has received pleas of reprieve from the business community who still require use of the spaces but are no longer bringing in the same level of business they once were. Of course, the Borough is struggling with revenue issues of its own and this could cost the Borough another 25K a month in lost revenue.
Hold up, wait a minute. We also learned this week the Borough is looking to pause enforcement of its much talked about single-use plastic ban. After defying the state and voting to enact a ban after banning was banned, it looks like single use plastic in the Borough will survive another day – or more accurately, three to six months. The ordinance will still go into effect as planned on July 2, but enforcement will be delayed until 90 days after Chester County moves into the “green phase” of Governor Wolf’s plan to reopen. Businesses are still encouraged to limit single-use plastic – as long as it doesn’t endanger public health. Well, that makes me feel good.
And there was another hit for the sustainability community this week… The Borough is looking at increasing the cost of its blue recycling bins from $6 to $10 or more. According to the Public Works Department, the bins cost $9.75 each thus leading the Borough to lose $1140 last year in blue bin purchases.
Can we talk 2021 for a minute? When you can’t control the present look to the future, West Chester Area School District reminded parents this week of a little project that was underway when coronavirus threw a wrench into things – redistricting.
In case you are still trying to figure out this afternoon, I’ll refresh your memory. The district has been experiencing serious growth over the last several years, especially in the northern parts of the district. This growth has put strain on area elementary schools, forcing several to add temporary module classrooms to their existing buildings. The strain was so great it was announced last year the district would build a new school, Graystone Elementary – and if you build a new school, you have to redistrict.
Now that redistricting plan has been presented to the School Board and is ready for a final vote. The plan affects nearly 22 percent of elementary students including students at Mary C. Howse, Fern Hill, Glen Acres, Exton, Hillsdale, East Bradford and East Goshen. While this is mostly an elementary discussion, the plan does affect a few older students. Roughly one percent of high school students and one percent of middle school will also be redistricted. This includes students at Henderson, East, Fugett and Peirce.
Want to hear more? Superintendent James Scanlon will be presenting the plan via Zoom call on Thursday (May 21) at 6:30 p.m.
Here is the link to the affected neighborhoods, if you’d like to prep for the call.
The warnings. Register now to avoid voting in person. May 18 is the last day to register to vote in the June 2 primary. If you would prefer to avoid your local precinct at this time, you’ll need to request to vote by mail. You have until May 26 to make this request.
A mask that doesn’t cover your nose is not working. Here’s your refresher.
This Week in Good News
Need a little good news for a change? Check out all these cool ways people are giving back!
It’s good to see the entrepreneurial spirit alive and well. When her family couldn’t find a sign to help celebrate her twin brother’s eighth birthday under isolation orders, 11 year-old Sophia Curley got an idea. She’d start her own yard sign business called, Happy Wishes. Now just about a month in she has 110 customers and is double-booked through the end of the month. “It’s just so simple,” her mom Jaime Curley said in a message when describing the business’s success. The Curley team drives to the location the night before the birthday and stealthily sets up the signs. “We’re like ninjas. She gets in there. She finds the right place to put it so nobody knows. So it’s always a surprise.” And if that wasn’t impressive enough, Sophia is donating 10 percent of her proceeds to local charities starting with the Bradford Heights Foundation. Prices for a sign range between $30-40 and the sign can stand for anywhere between 12-24 hours. Interested in a sign for your next birthday? Better reserve it now. Sophia already has orders for August!
Also, gotta have high hopes for the future, at least that is what local high school students Alyssa and Will Aprahamian were thinking when they launched their H.O.P.E. – help other people eat – campaign. The West Chester residents are selling signs with their H.O.P.E slogan for $15 each and sending all proceeds to support the Chester County Food Bank. Only two-weeks in and they had already sold 150 signs. If you’d like a sign of support of your own, visit their Facebook page to donate.
Now you can get West Chester as a painting. West Chester Views, everyone’s favorite West Chester photographer, has converted some of his favorite Borough images into paintings. Visit his website to check out all the options and order one for yourself.
Chester County Hospital is one of 50 in the state to get doses of Remdesivir – and Pennsylvania is one of only a few states to receive the drug. If that name sounds familiar, Remdesivir is an anti-viral medication that has gotten a lot of coverage after showing promise in treating the coronavirus. While the drug is still being investigated, preliminary results have shown faster recovery in patients who have received the drug – which is good news since local cases continue to rise.
Accolades. Congratulations to the West Chester University Class of 2020. While there was no official graduation ceremony last weekend, the grades are in the books and the diplomas are real – or at least they will be when they arrive in the mail 10-14 weeks from now. University officials are still hoping to be able to hold smaller ceremonies for the graduates later this summer.
“Seeing our dreams and hard work starting to realize during this extremely difficult time leaves us with a heart full of emotion and, above all, gratitude.”
-La Tartine via Instagram
Hello. To Mae’s and La Tartine. Can you believe it? West Chester opened two new restaurants this week! Mae’s, a farm to table BYOB, and La Tartine, a Mediterranean restaurant specializing in crepes, both on W. Gay Street. The restaurants had been expected to open in March but were delayed after the Health Department stopped inspections for new restaurants due to COVID-19 concerns. We got to try Mae’s this weekend as part of a special Mother’s Day menu and it was delicious.
We are also saying welcome back to Slow Hand, which reopened this week with a limited menu and Fenn’s coffee, which to be fair I’m pretty sure has been open for a couple of weeks now, I just forgot to mention it.
Finally hello to fiscal oversight. Borough Council is looking to reinstate the “Citizens Financial Advisory Ad-Hoc Committee.” This resident staffed volunteer group would assume responsibility for auditing the Borough’s finances looking for ways to reduce expenditures and/or raise revenues. If you’re quick with a spreadsheet, this may be the committee for you. The original committee served for a six-month period 2011. No details yet on the commitment this time around.
The freakin’ weekend. What are you up to this weekend? It’s supposed to be gorgeous out. We are discussing a long bike ride maybe ending with some gelato? I am also going to finish planting that Victory garden– and don’t these look delicious? (Yes, that was a bad segue, but I’m right, right?)
Stay safe. Stay healthy and be kind. Remember this is affecting everyone differently.
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