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

Gay Street closed this week against the backdrop of a continuing pandemic.

It’s Friday, August 7. Welcome to August. Gay Street closes, just in time for Isaias to sweep through. See what this open air market is like. Plus, West Chester School Board confirms the inevitable, West Chester University reaches an important milestone with its science and engineering building and breaking – the West Chester Christmas parade has been cancelled for 2020. Who’s ready to catch up?

“Thank you for the work you have done to get the open air market open. I understand there will be hiccups along the way (penndot, mask naysayers, figuring out deliveries) but we will work through it as a community.”

Sarah Getz, in a message to Mayor Herrin via FaceBook
Jersey barriers placed on Gay Street Monday morning making it official.

Open for business, closed to traffic. This week after a summer of anticipation, West Chester plopped down lego shaped barriers and officially closed Gay Street. The new open air market will allow retailers and restaurants to spread out their wares and hopefully make up for some of the capacity (and revenues) lost to social distancing requirements.

I’ve read numerous comments on the topic and the community seems to be divided whether this is a godsend or the start of the apocalypse, like most things, probably somewhere in the middle. We walked down on Tuesday night, after the storms passed through. Crowds were light. People were well distanced. Not all tables were set up yet. In many ways it felt like the tail-end of a big event. Mask wearing however, was lax.

Hopefully they are planning to have more Borough representatives on sight to remind people when masks need to be worn. The guidelines as they apply to masks outside are not as clear as inside and I think guidance coming from the people behind the market (rather than angry residents) would be helpful. Just a suggestion.  

“This is still a global pandemic. The science is still emerging.”

West Chester Area School board

Is that your final decision? On August 3, West Chester Area School Board voted by a count of 8 to 1 to accept the District’s proposal to begin the school year remote. The prevailing feeling is that there are too many unknowns regarding the virus at this point to safely reopen. 

Most appear to be in favor of (if still reeling from) the all-virtual decision. During the meeting Assistant Superintendent Bob Sokolowski shared that public comments collected prior to the meeting showed community preference stood 2 to 1 in favor of the remote start. 

On Sunday the opposition organized a last minute rally at West Chester School headquarters to voice their concerns over the all remote plan. The rally was led by West Chester resident Dr. Beth Ann Rosica. With a PhD in education and two boys in the District she summarized for those gathered why she believed the all-virtual route was a mistake. Among her concerns, online education favors students with more resources and a safe home life. She also worries all students will fall behind in both their education and social developments. “By not opening our schools, we are accepting that the achievement gap will widen between those who can afford resources and those who cannot,” Beth Ann stated in her speech which she shared on Facebook

While the vote was a disappointment for all who were hoping to return, there was some positive movement in that direction this week. In an email sent Wednesday, Superintendent James Scanlon said they are working with the Chester County Health Department to develop a metric to guide their decision making going forward. The district also committed to evaluating the mode of instruction every three weeks beginning on September 25 rather than the previously discussed Thanksgiving break.

West Chester parents now have until Monday noon (extended from today) to register for the Cyber Program. If a student is not enrolled in the Cyber program, they will be defaulted to Remote learning 2.0.

Lights out, Isaias. On Tuesday Tropical Storm Isaias dropped 6.6 inches of rain on Chester County knocking over trees and leaving much of the Borough flooded and without power. The West Chester Fire Department was called in to assist with many water rescues over the course of the day. While some residents had power restored on Tuesday and most by now, others were told they would not have power until mid-day Friday or later. 

Loading the last beam. Image WCU.

It’s coming together. Well, at last something is moving forward on the West Chester University campus, last week the University placed the ceremonial final beam in their new Science & Engineering Center and Commons. The project marks the largest building in the University’s 149-year history and sets the University on the path for its next 150 years. 

“Digital convergence, artificial intelligence, and advanced engineering design will make our students engage like never before and open a gateway to integrating across disciplines to present eloquent solutions to the vexing challenges of today, like COVID-19, and of tomorrow,” said Marc Duey, Founder, President, and CEO of ProMetrics and one of the project’s lead benefactors. 

The project is expected to be complete for the spring 2021 semester (hopefully there will be students there to see it!)

St. Agnes would like to politely remind you their parking lots are for parishioners only.

The warnings. If you’re not in church, you can’t park there. In a press release issued this week, St. Agnes reminded residents their parking lot located on W. Gay Street is only for those using the church, all others will be towed.   

In times of power outages, traffic lights turn to four way stops. This is a public service reminder, as it was reported that when the Borough went dark on Tuesday, many forgot this little traffic rule. Finally…

Keep your hands to yourself. West Chester Police are looking for help identifying a bald light-skinned black male wanted in the assault of a clerk at the Seven-Eleven on 200 South High Street on July 30 at 8:50 p.m. The man is believed to be a regular of the store. Anyone who witnessed the altercation or can provide details about the event is asked to contact Patrolman Diefenderfer at 610-696-2700.

Party venue ideas in West Chester, PA
Chester County History Center back when it was the Historical Society and large gatherings didn’t insight fear.

Accolades. Congratulations to West Chester University graduate Conor Hepp on being named president of the Chester County History Center (formerly the Chester County Historical Society). Conor, who most recently served as the Director of Visitor Experience at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, will take office on August 10.

Also, high fives to West Chester University which learned this week it would be receiving $353,678 in Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Funds. A nice figure but not likely to go far against the estimated $100s of millions in losses Universities will experience. Forbes reports the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, which oversees 14 universities, including Cheyney University and West Chester University, is projecting a $100 million loss just from room and board and other fees. 

Hello. To online parking permit sales. With Borough Hall still closed in response to COVID-19, all residential parking permits and guest passes must be purchased online. Guest passes will be mailed to the registered permit address. See COVID-19 isn’t all bad. 

To the new principal of Penn Wood elementary school, Dr. Michael Garvin. Dr. Garvin is joining the district from Avon Grove where he served as assistant elementary principal.  

To the Shop on Market Street. Local barbers Ashly Bryn and Christina Hughes have opened their own shop on well, Market Street. 

Goodbye. To the West Chester Christmas parade 2020. Because of course, 2020 would take Santa, too.

To Walgreens on Bradford Avenue. Early reports this morning are the pharmacy is temporarily closed. No word yet as to why or for how long.

Pay it forward. Want to counsel while giving exceptional hair cuts? After a few months of anxious waiting, West Chester’s barber shops are up and running again and looking for help. Charlie & Co. on N. Church Street is hiring now (contact charlierandcobarbershop@gmail.com for details) and Champions School of Barbering is enrolling new students for fall classes.  

Flowers for sale at Green Eyed Lady.

The freakin’ weekend. What are you up to this weekend? We are heading to upstate New York for a lake vacation. This will be our first time “laking” as my youngest puts it. I’m excited but fairly certain I am going to mispack.

Also, Sip and Shop is going on tonight. Wine, retail? Plus, that new open ait market to check out. Really, what more could you want? Yes, it is going to rain – but have you seen all the umbrellas downtown? (Kidding it’s weather permitting, so if it rains you’ll want to double check it’s still going on.)

Also going on this weekend, Titled Axes (19 Hagerty Blvd) is holding a cars and coffee event. All cars are welcome and professionals will be on hand to take pictures of all cars present. Never too early to get ahead of this year’s Christmas card.

Finally, where’s your favorite place to go downtown? 6ABC wants to know. Looking for some place new? I have three suggestions for you. All brave enough to open in a pandemic so go out and show them some love.

Stay safe. Stay healthy and I’ll see you in two weeks. 

New to the blog? Follow along for the latest updates from West Chester. If I’m missing something, and I probably am, send me an email. 

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