With so much going on around town, catch up on what you may have missed.
It’s Friday, November 20. As Thanksgiving approaches, the Mayor’s emergency ordinance limiting gatherings is still the law of the land. Plus, it’s now final: 2021 will bring a property and a sewer rate increase, we say goodbye to the Gay Street open air market and West Chester has its first sustainable storefront. Who’s ready to catch up on another week in the Borough?
The tax increase that came to be. After months of speculation and back and forth with the Borough management team, West Chester Borough Council this week called mercy on the 2021 budget. Voting 6-0 they approved the latest iteration which, while a far cry from the originally proposed 32 percent increase, still calls for a six percent property tax increase and a 15.8 percent increase to the sewer rate.
To determine your property tax increase multiple the assessed value of your home by the new millage rate of 7.40. For the sewer rate, expect a roughly $4-$5/month increase depending on how much water you use.
The beginning of the end. The Gay Street closure ends on November 30. The open air market concept was conceived this summer as a way to support local businesses struggling with COVID-19 restrictions. Closing the street allowed restaurants and retailers to spread out, adding tables and creating a traffic free environment for visitors to dine and shop. Early discussions were met with concerns over increased traffic, especially on Chestnut Street where cars were detoured, parking, and the ability of emergency response vehicles to reach victims.
However now four months into the experiment, the worst of the concerns have not borne out and the closure has been credited with helping keep the downtown business district mostly intact, but it’s not just business owners that seem pleased with the outcome. Residents too are signalling their approval. I posed the question on social last week and the topic generated a nearly 98 percent positivity rate with the most comment feedback – extend it year round.
“It’s too bad it’s not open year round with awnings that extend into the street, heaters, etc.,” one commenter wrote on Instagram. “It would become the most favored dining community in the tri-state area!”
While for now there does not appear to be interest or budget for extending the open air market through the winter, there is a possibility it will be back next spring.
The last day for the market is November 29.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. This week Borough Council approved a plan by the business community to add more holiday decor to downtown. The new decorations and lighting will be on display between Thanksgiving and New Years Day. Without the standard draws like West Chester’s popular Christmas parade, both the BID and West Chester Area Chamber of Commerce are hoping the added cheer will draw shoppers downtown .
In addition to the standard light wrapped poles and greens and holly this year you’ll find:
- Oversized ornaments in the planters
- Bows added to the old-fashioned light poles
- Twinkle lights strung between poles on the same size of the street
- Up lighting in red and green under several trees
But it’s not all ribbons and bows, West Chester is also gifting shoppers with free parking at the Chestnut Street garage on Black Friday and Shop Small Saturday (November 27 and 28, respectively). While free parking on this particular weekend has been a West Chester tradition for a few years now, this is the first time it has been opened up to garage parking. Just ask your friendly West Chester retailer for a get out garage free card before you leave.
While Borough Council was feeling generous this week, they were not feeling that generous.
High fives for High Street. Looks like the High Street corridor is in line for some improvements. This week Borough Council accepted the planned improvements that will sculpt High Street over the next five to ten years. The plan developed by Traffic Planning and Design includes:
- Adding a traffic signals at Sharpless Street and University Avenue
- Adding a southbound turn lane at Nields Street and a northbound turn lane at Sharpless Street
- Removing the crosswalk at Lacey Street
Since High Street is a state road PennDOT will assume the bulk of the costs contributing $1.8 million to the project. Chester County will chip in $400,000 to cover sidewalk additions and stormwater infrastructure. While the Borough is planning to add in $100,000 toward the remaining costs.
Have concerns about any specific item in the plan? No worries, you’ll still have plenty of opportunity to be heard. Once the grant funding is allocated by the various sources, each individual item will still need Borough approval before it begins.
The warnings. Skip the cheese course. Saturday night at approximately 9 p.m. West Chester Borough Police Department was alerted to a vehicle driving around downtown throwing slices of cheese at people on the sidewalks and eating outside at restaurants. The juvenile offenders were stopped by officers and held until their parents could claim them.
Make sure to have your fireplace inspected. West Chester police were called to a Borough home this week to help assist with the removal of a furry-tailed friend from the residents fireplace.
Limit your gatherings and keep that face mask handy. The Borough’s COVID-19 emergency ordinance stands until December 21.
Accolades. Congratulations to Roots Cafe on being named the Borough’s first “Sustainable Storefront.” The designation courtesy of West Chester’s Sustainability Advisory Committee recognizes retailers and restaurants doing their part to limit the Borough single-use plastic waste. Roots has switched to biodegradable straws (by request only) and biodegradable takeout containers.
The designation, and opt-in approach, was launched after the pandemic put the West Chester’s single-use plastic ban on permanent pause.
Also, high fives to brothers Matthew and Charles Dever who captured the world record for – farthest football snap on the football field of their alma mater Rustin High School earlier this year. Matthew who spent four years as the Golden Knight’s punter is skilled on both ends of the snap. That talent came in handy when in a bout of pandemic boredom the brothers decided to best the standing Guiness World Record of just under 37 yards – which they did, successfully completing a snap of 41.5 yards.
Finally kudos to the Classic Diner which was recognized by Main Line Today as among the best take–out options on the Main Line – and I have to agree. We ordered a family style taco meal from them early this year and the quality of the food was great.
Goodbye. To Jacqueline’s on Gay Street. So it looks I was a little late to the game on this one but Jacqueline was forced to close the store front a few weeks back to attend to a couple of now completely virtual students. I feel your pain. Fortunately for fans of the funky boutique, online orders are shipping daily and in-person appointments are available by appointment.
To McDonald’s on Gay Street, at least temporarily. Word is, like the rest of us, they are using their COVID time to spruce up their interior. Need a Big Mac badly? The Mickey D’s in the Parkway Shopping Center (927 S. High Street) is open for business.
Hello. To the West Chester Christmas tree. It seems everyone is decorating for the holidays a little earlier this year, and the Borough is no different, Sunday night was the first sighting of the 2020 West Chester Christmas tree.
Note: this scoop was found on the Facebook group Wonderful West Chester. If you are not a member, it’s a great site for a whole manner of interesting West Chester news.
To free electric vehicle charging at Giant. One more tiny step toward our clean energy future.
Pay it forward. The West Chester Police Department is once again collecting toys for tots. You can drop off your new, unwrapped toys in the police station main lobby (401 E. Gay Street). With many offices still closed, so are many donation locations yet the need is high, perhaps, higher than ever.
While Thanksgiving dinner may look different this year, it doesn’t mean anyone should be forced to skip the turkey and mashed potatoes. The West Chester Senior Center is on it. They are running a Thanksgiving Dinner Food Drive for their seniors. Next time you’re at Acme or Giant grab an extra bag of potatoes, brownie mix, and some mac & cheese. They are also accepting gift cards and checks (payable to WCASC). For more information or to schedule a delivery email Dan Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally good deeds don’t need to come in the way of donations. Sometimes they are just moments of brilliance we decide to share with the world – and that my friends, is exactly what Rams Head is looking for – your cocktail brilliance. Create an original cocktail recipe and submit it to Rachel at Ram’s Head. Sure it comes with fame (you and your cocktail will be featured on menu), but that’s not why we do it. Submissions due: November 30.
The freakin’ weekend. What are you up to this weekend? We are relocating all the furniture on our first floor to somewhere else in the house as we prepare to have our downstairs floors refinished.
I am also hoping we can squeeze in a trip downtown to check the progress on those Christmas decorations (and, don’t tell but I got the scoop on a great bag and I’m now dying to check it out.)
Mark your calendars:
Dia Doce is back with their $20/mini cupcake boxes. I wasn’t fast enough to get in on the Halloween version but I will not miss the pie-themed versions they developed for Thanksgiving.
Chester County History Center is hosting a Home for the Holidays Holiday Market today and tomorrow (November 20 and 21). Stock up on greens, crafts and more. Head over in person or preorder is still available.
Also, don’t forget the Turkey Trot is on Thursday.
Stay safe. Stay healthy and enjoy a lovely holiday with your family. I’ll be back with another Roundup in December.
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