It’s Friday, May 29. Gay Street closure moves to the planning phase, the new Zukin hotel gets the green light to begin construction, Wrong Crowd Brewery is coming to Hannum Ave and we are all going to yellow! It’s been a while, my friends, grab your cocktail to go, we’ve got a lot to talk about.
I’ve never been so happy to see yellow. It’s official Chester County, along with the rest of the Philadelphia area, is moving to yellow on June 5 which is a little later than the initially promised June 3 but hey, it’s an official date:
Here’s what you can look forward to under yellow:
Gatherings of under 25 people. Sure it’s not a full reopening but I’m not going to lie, 25 feels huge right about now. Hello, old friends.
Restaurants while still closed to diners, can now begin offering carry out again and retailers can resume in-person operations, although pick-up and delivery are still preferred.
Limited outdoor dining can also resume, which will pair well with the Borough’s plan to close Gay Streetfor the summer (More on that in a minute.)
Under yellow daycares can open and last week Governor Wolf said, “yellow” counties will also be allowed to operate summer camps as long as their operations meet CDC guidelines. Guidelines which include keeping children together in the same small groups throughout the day, limiting objects kids can bring from home and disinfecting thoroughly. They also recommend staff and kids over the age of two wear masks, although, Governor Wolf has said children will not be required to wear face masks.
And for those already looking ahead to green, Chester County has a new map for you, this one more closely tracks against the state’s designated benchmarks so it is clearer when we are ready to embrace the new normal.
“We cannot, in good faith, ensure the health and well being of the children and staff during these difficult times.”
-West Chester Park and Rec Department
When your summer plans get cancelled. Well not all summer camps will be opening when Chester County goes to yellow, West Chester has officially cancelled its camp for the summer. According to a message on their website the protocols set forth by CDC were just too much to bear. Probably also didn’t help the program was facing record low registration numbers (reportedly only 15 to 20 borough kids had registered). If you are one of the parents of those fifteen kids (cough) me (cough) you “will receive a full refund in the very near future.” Their words not mine.
Let’s do this thing. Just before Memorial Day, West Chester Borough Council gave the ok to the “the concept” of closing Gay Street from Matlack Street to Church Street for the summer. The business development district and the Borough will now enter into the planning phase for the closure, where they will continue to work out details of what this new downtown will look like.
The planning will have to take place without Mike Yoder, the long-time (11 years) President and CEO of the Greater West Chester Chamber (GWCCC) of Commerce. Mr. Yoder announced his resignation earlier this week. He has accepted a position at GrayHawk Home Care Inc, in Philadelphia. GWCCC Director of Membership Dave Fairman will serve as interim president.
Also, sharing it would be leaving local businesses alone at least temporarily, the Borough’s single-use plastic ban. Borough Council has voted to pause enforcement of the much talked about single-use plastic ban. 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.
“This is not a school board decision, but one made by the state.”
-Dr. Jim Scanlon, West Chester Area Superintendent
No new taxes. Just higher costs. West Chester Area School Board has approved a zero percent property tax increase for Chester County residents (Delaware County residents will see a small increase.) However, while the board is not increasing tax rates, it recently received word from the Pennsylvania Department of Education that the money allocated by the state to reduce property taxes for homeowners is being cut in half.
“While the tax rate won’t increase for our taxpayers in Chester County, they will see an increased payment due to a state cut in property tax reduction,” said Dr. Jim Scanlon, Superintendent in a recent announcement to the community. “This is not a school board decision, but one made by the state.”
Economic woes continue. Borough Council has called two special meetings to review Borough finances. This week they compared 2019 revenue and expenses against 2020, discussed the role of the new Citizens Financial Advisory Ad Hoc Committee and reviewed internal department plans for savings. Another meeting is scheduled for next Wednesday at 6 p.m. An agenda for the meeting has not yet been set.
Speaking of cutting losses, earlier this month Borough Council approved a fee hike for blue recycling bins raising the price to $10 from the current $6. 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.
Go forth and develop… We are not going to let a little economic downturn keep us down. During the last Borough Council voting session, Borough Council gave the final ok to the land development plan for the new Zukin Hotel project, an 110-room boutique hotel that will occupy the corner of E. Gay and N. Walnut Street. And word is work on the project has already begun.
Also getting the Borough Council green light, Wrong Crowd Brewing. The Bryn Mawr-based nano brewery is going to get a chance to set up tanks in West Chester. Owned by friends and home brewers, Dan Shaw (formerly the manager of Pinocchio’s Beer Garden To Go in Media) and Bob Bagonis their new brewery at 342 Hannum Avenue will allow them the opportunity to grow their brewing capabilities, establish small restaurants and sell their wares directly to customers. Could also add a nice destination to the west side of town?
Where do you see yourself in the next five years? Get out your noise makers, local graduations are set for this week. Yes, they are all virtual but that doesn’t mean you can’t still embarrass your favorite graduate from the comfort of your own home.
- • June 3 – Henderson HS Class of 2020 Virtual Graduation at 6 p.m.
- • June 4 – East HS Class of 2020 Virtual Graduation at 6 p.m.
- • June 5 – Rustin HS Class of 2020 Virtual Graduation at 6 p.m.
Let’s go (green) team. Borough Council has approved a resolution to accept the Clean Energy Transition Plan as prepared by the West Chester Area Council of Governments and move forward with the strategies outlined within. In addition, Council issued an RFP (request for proposals) for power purchase agreement. West Chester is committed to transitioning to source clean energy for community-wide electricity by 2035 and heat and transportation by 2050.
The warnings. Stop what you are doing and return that mail in ballot. Mail in ballots must be received – in hand, postmarked does not count – by the County Election Office by 8 p.m. Tuesday night to be counted. At this point your best option is probably to hand deliver it personally to the Government Services Building. For those voting in person, polling places will be open with extra sanitation measures.
Don’t leave the vehicle with the engine running… especially, if it’s full of deliveries.
Accolades. Congratulations to former West Chester Mayor Clifford DeBapiste who celebrated his 96th birthday with a visit from the current mayor and a good old-fashioned birthday drive by.
Also, high-fives to West Chester University thrower, Ralph Casper, who was named a Division II All-America by U.S. Track and Field and the Cross Country Coaches Association. Of course this was for his efforts on the indoor track, but still it’s nice to have some sports news for a change.
Finally, praise to the officers of the West Chester Police Department eight of which earned promotions last week. Thank you for all you do.
Hello. to Scoops & Smiles, West Chester Borough’s only ice cream and frozen ice parlor. This is not to be confused with gelato, which has more milk and less cream than traditional ice cream, and which West Chester already has two of. I personally think there is room for all manner of frozen desserts. Scoops & Smiles is on Gay Street, right where Coffee + Ice Cream used to be, so hopefully I’m right about keeping all three.
Also, say hello to a tasty cocktail to go. Governor Wolf signed into a law a bill that would allow restaurants, with some stipulations, to serve drinks to go. A law, West Chester restaurants have embraced heartily – (FYI -here’s your guide on where to go.)
“We want to thank everyone who’s come in and enjoyed a cup of coffee with us over the past 12 years.”
-Starbucks on Gay & High via Instagram
Goodbye. Since last we spoke, we are saying goodbye to Best of Main Line 2019 award winner, Old Soul Decor. For now the Market Street design destination is awash in store closing banners, but I am sure the talented designer behind the store front will be back in some capacity before long.
Also, and this was a bit surprising, but we must say goodbye to our frappuccinos, mochaccinos, all our -ccinos, really. Starbucks on Gay and High Street has announced it is closing its doors for good. Starbucks has inhabited the corner spot for twelve years now, but don’t be too sad, there’s another within 2 miles – and plenty of quality coffee options in the borough.
Finally say goodbye to the June 13 date of the Midtown Makers Market. The June market has been cancelled due to, you guessed it, COVID-19. The July and August markets, however, will continue as scheduled.
The freakin’ weekend. What are you up to this weekend? Really, tell me. I am running out of ideas here. Although, I did get the scoop on a Brandywine Creek access point where the kids can dig in the mud and splash in the water. If the weather holds out, I think we might check it out.
Stay safe. Stay healthy and I’ll see you next week.
If you are new here, sign up for the latest news from West Chester. If you’re a regular, tell your friends. I hear word of mouth is the way to go. Also, here is the breakdown of the School District’s redistricting plan if you want to see how your favorite kids will be affected (or where you’d be going if you were still in school.)