West Chester Weekly News Roundup

January mornings.

With so much going on around town, catch up on what you may have missed

It’s Friday, January 15. The year may have just started, but we already have our first look at the future. Unfortunately, it’s already been decided. Plus, police investigate a scary luring incident at Hoopes park, construction begins at the Melton Center and how much was collected in trash fines last year? More than I would have guessed. It’s mid-January. Aren’t we all supposed to be hibernating? Let’s get started.

“I think we’ve found an excellent candidate who will hold the borough manager’s position for many years to come.”

Mike perrone , west chester Borough Manager

I’m sorry, I don’t think we’ve met. 

It looks like West Chester has a new Assistant Manager. It was announced this week that former Narberth Borough Manager Sean Metrick has joined the team as Borough Manager Mike Perrone’s understudy.  “I think we’ve found an excellent candidate who will hold the borough manager’s position for many years to come,” Mr. Perrone told the Daily Local.   

I don’t mean to sound rude, but is this really a top story? Ok, hear me out. Borough Manager Mike Perrone will be retirement age by the end of the year and while he says he’s not going anywhere just yet, it won’t be long before he does retire. At that time Mr. Metrick will be his clear successor. That’s makes him a pretty important person to know about.

The Borough Manager has a lot of important responsibilities in the Borough including leading all Borough departments (except the Police Department). He is also responsible for enforcing all ordinance and orders of Council and managing borough finances including the annual budget and any capital improvement programs. (Here’s the official duties list if you’d like to read up.)

Ok, I’m listening now. What do we know about him? According to the article in the paper and a quick internet search, it looks as if Mr. Metrick served six years as Narberth Borough Manager and prior to that one year as assistant manager. Before that he worked with the Montgomery County Planning Commission for 12 years. He studied philosophy at Berkeley and earned his master’s in community and regional planning at Temple. He was raised in Philadelphia and Wallingford and now resides in Willistown Township with his wife and two kids. 

What is his connection to West Chester? I am not sure but according to the paper he, “has fallen in love with West Chester.”

Also, fun fact, he served as a gardener at Longwood Gardens for a year. 

Aren’t we in a budget crisis? Where did we find funding for an assistant manager? I was wondering the same thing. As it turns out the process officially began in 2019 when Borough Council agreed to include funding for the position in 2020 budget. While the search began earlier this year, it was paused while the Borough dealt with the fallout from the pandemic. Then, according to Borough President Michael Galey, when the Parking Director departed over the summer, Council decided to add the responsibilities of managing the Parking Department to the Assistant Borough Manager (thus alleviating the need for a Parking Director) and moved forward with their search.

What are his priorities for the Borough? Another good question. It’s hard to say exactly but in his discussion with Bill Retew at the Daily Local he mentions the importance of “accurate and transparency” in the budgeting process, our historic downtown and the urban pattern of West Chester and West Chester University. You can read the full write up here.  

With such high hopes for Mr. Metrick, I am not sure why we haven’t heard more about him before now. I asked this of Mr. Galey and he explained that personnel decisions are always made during executive session and while I can respect that I am not sure why their can’t be more transparency during the vetting process. Candidates for volunteer positions on Borough commissions have to come before Borough Council to discuss their qualifications. I am not sure why the public scrutiny is less here. That said, from what I’ve heard from both people in and outside the government he seems to be a likable guy. “I am very excited to Sean join the Borough. He is an incredibly well-qualified candidate and should be a tremendous asset.” Mr Galey wrote in his email.

I am sure we will all be equally excited, once we get to know him – and it sounds like we will get the chance at next week’s Borough Council meeting.

Just as I suspected.

Late last week, West Chester Police Department released an update on the January 2, Gay Street shooting. While initially reluctant to release the location of the shooting, the police are now confirming that it did in fact occur at Hookah Matata, the smoking lounge located at 27 W. Gay Street. Two males were shot in the attack. One suffered a wound to the chest, both are still recovering from their injuries. The suspect, described as a black male, is thought to have fled the scene in a Chevy Equinox. The smoking lounge remained open despite the end-of-year mandate by the state that all restaurants and social clubs close to in person activities, actively promoting late night parties right up to New Year’s Eve.

This incident is still under investigation by the West Chester police. If you have any information about the shooting, give the police a call at 610-696-2700.

Welcome to the neighborhood

“It will provide affordable housing for long-time residents of the West Chester and long term overall stability for the Melton Center.”

Lisa Dorsey, Board of Directors, the Melton Center 
Broken ground at the Melton Center.

It’s now official. Ground has been broken on the new affordable housing development planned for the grounds of the Melton Center. The development will consist of ten townhouses and a four-story 41-unit apartment building located at their Market Street location. The project was initially scheduled to begin this summer, 

Access to affordable housing is a growing concern as skyrocketing house prices continue to push low-income residents from the Borough. “Some can’t necessarily afford to live here (in West Chester),” Borough Council representative and member of the Melton Center Board of Directors Lisa Dorsey told the Daily Local recently.   

The total cost of the project is estimated at $15.4 million and tenants are expected before the end of the year. 

The warnings. 

Don’t leave your car running when you run into the Seven Eleven. Do I have to say this? On Monday January 11, a 2013 Blue Honda Accord was reported stolen from the Seven Eleven on South High Street. The owner left the car running, but they did not leave the key. So if you spot an abandoned blue Accord, give the cops a call.

Watch what you are throwing in there. According to a year end report shared this week by West Chester’s Building & Housing Department, in 2020 the Borough raised nearly $14,000 from tickets issued for trash violations. Last year marked the first year of the ticketing program and in total the Department of Building, Housing & Code Enforcement issued 630 tickets to residents and property owners. Despite this new income source, permit revenues were down 45 percent for the year. This seems to be primarily due mainly to a significant decline in building permits. 

Time for a stranger danger refresher. In a chilling tale, two kids, ages 12 and 14, reported a grown man tried to lure them into his SUV while they played at a Borough park early Saturday evening. According to the account provided police, the vehicle pulled into the parking lot near where they were playing at Hoopes Park. The operator of the vehicle then opened the driver’s side door and asked the kids to get in. The boys fled the area and reported the incident to their parents. The vehicle in question is described as a white 5th generation (model years 2011-2019) Ford Explorer. If you have any information about this incident please contact West Chester Police at 610-696-2700.

That’s not a toy. Oh, wait, yes it is. A West Chester man was arrested on Christmas day for aiming a toy gun at passing traffic on the intersection of W. Market and High Street. The man, Brian Hook, 42, is now awaiting his preliminary hearing in Chester County Prison. Perhaps, not the best way to cap off your holiday. 

Accolades. 

Cheers! To West Chester University graduates Tim Grisillo, Jeff Grisillo and a couple friends on their new drinking app. The app called BreYou allows you to buy a drink (or a round) from a distance. According to a write up on the app in Vista, the system works similar to Venmo or other social money sharing apps. Miss a birthday or anniversary or just want to recognize a hard day? Now you can all from the comfort of your couch. Bonus the app is free to download.  

Locally the app is available at Stolen Sun Brewing Company in Exton. I am not sure if any West Chester establishments are accepting yet, but I am sure if you ask, they will gladly consider.

Goodbye. 

“Not sure how they got away with their booze and their hours, but man they booked some great live music.”

Jay Munro, on the now closed Sprout Music Collective 

Last week I shared 16 people, places and things we said goodbye to in 2020, and it turns out I missed one. Last year we also said goodbye to Sprout Music Collective. It seems the innovative, near-underground music club couldn’t survive the pandemic. Which is not terribly surprising, West Chester seems to be an awfully tough environment for live music even in the best of times. 

“The most ambitious musical experiment in town,” Jay Munro called Sprout in the post’s comment section. “Not sure how they got away with their booze and their hours, but man they booked some great live music. I hope something similar returns soon…. Support Live Music.” Amen.   

Also, say goodbye to seeing East graduate Matt Schaub every Sunday. The 17-year veteran quarterback has announced this retirement. The Falcon, Texan, Raider, then Falcon again is planning to take it easy for a few months while he decides next steps but don’t worry, he plans to stay close to the game. Whether as a coach or announcer, so you can still say, “I knew him when.”

West Chester Public Library

Hello. 

Old friend. Starting this Saturday West Chester Public Library will once again be open for in person browsing, on Tuesdays Thursdays and Saturdays. Not ready to return? Contactless hold pick ups will continue on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 

To a safer campus experience. West Chester University has received roughly $30,000 in grant funding through the state’s “It’s On US PA” campaign. According to a release, the grants are to be used to help shift campus culture and promote healthy relationships. 

To the political spotlight. After choosing not to seek re-election in 2019, former US Congressman and West Chester-resident Ryan Costello is gearing up to run for the Senate in 2022. He is hoping his stance as an “anti-Trump Republican” will resonate with suburbia. If he’s successful, West Chester will be well on its way to a political hotspot. Already home to a state rep and a state senator, this will add U.S. Senator to the list.

Finally say, hello to a new school – if you are a student living in one of the neighborhoods being redistricted next year. Despite secret hopes West Chester Area School District would have forgotten their whole redistricting plan amidst the pandemic, last week welcome letters were sent out to students who will be attending the new Greystone elementary school.

Curious who’s impacted? Here’s a list of the schools most and least affected by the redistricting plan.  

Pay it forward.

Having a grocery store in downtown may come with more perks than you may expect. Not only does it mean walkable access to reasonably priced fresh produce, it means having one more entity in town that cares about this community. During the course of December the West Chester Co-op hosted a donation drive to support the Care Center Foundation. Thanks to generous member gifts they were able to surprise 30 needy families with a GoBox filled with everything – from chicken to herbs – needed to make some delicious chicken soup. Donations are being accepted through January. Want to help out? Give them a shout.

Looking to do a little winter cleansing? Community Warehouse Project in West Chester furnishes apartments for families leaving homeless and domestic violence shelters and they are in need of your gently used household items. Most in demand items include blankets, sheets (excluding King), comforters, towels and lamps. If you have items to give, send an email with a photo of the items you would like to donate. Once you have approval items can be dropped off at their warehouse on the third Saturday of the month from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

Getting into the activist mindset can be a bit daunting, but it doesn’t have to be if you break it down. In honor of their 25th anniversary, Chester County Fund for Women and Girls has created the 25 Days of Action including manageable suggestions like diversify your bookshelf and diversify your news sources (I’m here to help.). Ok, full disclosure I am 10 days late on this but really, some action is better than no action, right? You can follow on their Facebook page for more details. Want to see what else they’ve been up to? Check this out.

The freakin’ weekend.

My closet has not been happy with me since this started.

What are you up to this weekend? The kids got tennis rackets and balls for Christmas so over the winter break we started volleying the balls back and forth. The weather looks decent so maybe we’ll head out again. Sure, it’s cold but the courts are almost always available. Also, I saw this new at home date night special from Mae’s, The Masterbaker and Matlack Florist. It’s available Friday and Saturday and comes with a two course dinner, dessert and even the table flowers. Now, if only it came with the babysitter. Note you need to reserve your meal by Wednesday – so plan ahead.

Also, this shake from Buddy’s. Yum.

Mark your calendars:

On January 19 at 6:00 p.m. – the West Chester Area Clean Energy Team will be holding a virtual meeting. Those interested in attending this free presentation can register here

Get some culture back in your life. West Chester University is holding virtual faculty recitals next month. Enjoy Vincent Craig on piano, February 1 and Kimberly Reighley on flute, February 8.

Also, if you find yourself downtown H. Rose is offering 25 percent off all apparel, Jane Chalfant is featuring a popup shop from Pocopson Mill Antiques and Carlino’s has a new look (same delicious cookies.)

Stay safe. Stay healthy and I’ll see you next week. 

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