West Chester Weekly News Roundup: July 16, 2021

Wild and free outside a Sharpless Street home.

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

It’s Friday, July 16. This was the week of things that weren’t. And a few very big things that were. Like could West Chester actually be close to securing Federal funding for its return to rail project? It’s not exactly the project we were promised, but could it be close enough? Plus, a New York Times write up for one local artisan, West Chester gets a YouTube channel and goodbye Krapf, hello SEPTA. What a week. Grab something icy and let’s get started.

The things that never were this week. 

200 block N. Everhart Avenue.

News is usually dominated by things that happen, and rightly so, but sometimes it’s worth noting the things that didn’t.

The flood of the century that swung around West Chester

According to Patch, rainfall on Monday led to 100-year flooding conditions in parts of the Philadelphia area. While the hardest hit areas were in Bucks County where 10+ inches of rain pounded the countryside in a matter of hours, Chester County wasn’t spared. Downingtown quickly recorded over ½” inch of rain, Kennett Square just under and heavy downpours were reported as close as Exton. West Chester on the other hand, did not receive enough rain to wet the paper bags my kids carelessly left all over the back deck. Not that I’m complaining per say, was just hoping to not have to water the garden.

You are enough

On Monday night the West Chester police were called to do a well check of a person residing Audubon Manor Apartment Complex on North Everhart Avenue. During the investigation it was learned that the person was suicidal and armed. Alerts went out through social media and residents in the area were asked to shelter in place. 

The West Chester Regional Emergency Response team was called into support. The incident was peacefully resolved after a five hour negotiation when the subject passed his weapon through the window to officers below. Displaced residents were able to go back to regularly scheduled program around 10:30 p.m.. 

Remember this has been a long year for a lot of people. Please keep an eye on your neighbors and if you think someone may need professional help, here are some resources from the Chester County Suicide Prevention Task Force and of course, the suicide prevention talk line is always available at 1-800-273-TALK.

Coming to you live from Borough Hall – just not yet

West Chester Borough Hall

Talks continued this week at the ACT (Administration, Communication, Technology) Committee meeting on how to live stream Borough Council meetings. And the good news is we are getting close – we are just not ready yet. After live streaming Borough Council meetings for over a year, members of Council and Borough staff are struggling to figure out just how to bring it back.

This week the Committee reviewed three options for live streaming each focusing on a different level of engagement:

  1. Stream it – only. This would mean a live stream of the meeting would be available via Facebook, YouTube or the borough webpage and that’s it. You can see but not be heard.
  2. Stream and allow members of the community to engage via chat/messaging features. Under this option messages would likely be sent directly to the meeting host in a private chat to avoid auxiliary conversations among residents. 
  3. Full engagement – residents/community members calling in could be recognized to make live comments during the meetings. 

Concerns were raised that comments could be missed in the chat or that side conversations among residents could get contentious and off-topic. West Chester Chief Information Officer Bill Mann asked the committee to take its time and used a phased approach. “Who do you ask and who don’t you ask to speak? You have to have a process for that,” he said during the meeting. 

And a phased approach is what the committee has agreed to. After a year when we all became experts in a virtual world, next week after two months of discussion, the ACT committee will recommend to Borough Council they live stream the Borough Council meetings without interaction from the public. They will then work to allow select stakeholders participate then, fingers-crossed, in six months or so, they estimate they should be ready to let the public speak again. 

On the positive side all members on the committee and the mayor seem to be committed to getting to a fully-interactive approach, there just doesn’t seem to be a lot of urgency to get there.

West Chester YouTube Stream is Live!

While live streaming and interactive virtual meetings may still be a few months out, the Borough of West Chester YouTube channel is up and running. It has been populated with all the Borough Council and committee meetings that have occurred over the last several months including the committee meetings that took place this week.

It is easy to navigate, videos are organized by committee, and you can subscribe to get notifications when a new video has been uploaded. A vast improvement over the current system.

The warnings: Restaurant inspection edition 

Rolling Stars rainbow bagel with cream cheese. Note these were purchased several months ago but they bagels were delicious and the cream cheese did not seem to be expired.

Ewe, Don’t drink that. Rough month for Rolling Stars bagels. The NY-style bagel shop on E. Market Street was found to be out of compliance with the Chester County Health Department after “a few dozen” cartons of expired dairy were found in a walk in refrigerator, a can of RAID pesticide was removed from the kitchen and trays of uncovered baked goods were observed on top of the bagel case ripe for contamination. But hey, if you forget all that, their bagels are yummy. 

Rats! Literally. The Colonial Village Market was found out of compliance last month by the Health Inspector after significant fly and rat activity was found outside their High Street Location. They were advised to take “aggressive measures” including “pest control treatments at least two times per month.” On the positive side, no “vector activity” was found inside the facility.

Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere. Also out of compliance, the Smoothie King on West Chester Pike where apparently hand wash soap was missing from the hand wash sink, and floor to ceiling tile cleaning was advised. 

Accolades.

Kudos to Eclat, whose life-sized chocolate June bugs earned the praise of New York Times food critic Florence Fabricant. “This year [Eclat owner Christopher Curtin] fine-tuned the design and has given them new colors and fillings, making them as beautiful as the gilded ones that delighted the Pharaohs,” Ms. Fabricant wrote in the Times. The two-inch burnt orange, lime and burgundy bugs come in flavors such lemon mint and cherry vanilla. June bugs, seven for $28.50, eclatchocolate.com, available until the first frost.

“Stay tuned, West Chester – rail service is on its way.”

Jordan Norley, West Chester Mayor
West Chester rail station. Rail could be coming back to West Chester, just not clear yet, where it’s going.

Hello. 

Say, all aboard to a new solution to the West Chester return to rail problem. This week West Chester Mayor Jordan Norley shared via Facebook that Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey would be recommending a $2.4 million appropriation to restore rail to West Chester – but there’s a catch.

This would not be the full SEPTA Media/Elwyn service the Restoration of Rail Service was hoping for but rather a shuttle from West Chester to Middletown Township. According to the message, the project could be complete and ready to ride 24 months after funding is received.

This is the first I am seeing of this new approach so a lot of questions remain – would this continue to use the existing rail or would new tracks be needed? How often would this service run and where from in West Chester? Will there be significant interest in this option? As one resident asked on Facebook, “Why would I take a shuttle to Middletown which is at least 20 min.. and then spend 55 minutes on a train to Suburban Station when I can take the Paoli Thorndale line from Exton Station and get to the same destination in 50 minutes?”

Mayor Norley also notes, the total project would cost $6.95 million. Much less that the $380 million estimated to return full service but still more than the appropriation would cover. In-kind donations and a local match of over $1.3 million would still be needed and it’s yet to be discussed where that money will come from. So for now, to quote Mayor Norley, “Stay tuned, West Chester.”

Also, say hi to Dionne Fears, the new Principal of Fugett Middle School. Ms. Fears, a graduate of West Chester University, is new to the West Chester Area School District, but not the area. Prior to accepting the position at Fugett she was an Assistant Principal in the Upper Moreland School District. 

“SEPTA looks forward to working with you during this transition and beyond to make the 135 Route a successful asset to your community.”

Leslie Richards, SEPTA General Manager, CEO

Goodbye.

To Krapf’s Transit Route A. To those of you not familiar with bus routes, this is the service line that connects West Chester to Coatesville, Downingtown and Exton – and the bus you would take to the Exton Square Mall or the Downingtown Station. And fortunately the route is not going away, just Krapf is. Beginning on August 1, it will be known as  Route 135 and under the operation of SEPTA.

To West Chester’s street sweeper. Yes, that is correct, the street sweeper is out of service and has been for a couple of weeks now. So if you’ve seen a build up of leaves and sticks on the streets, now you know why. Note, that while, the streets may not be swept, you will still need to respect the alternate side of the street parking signs. Sorry. Adulting sucks sometimes. 

Pay it forward. 

Know a family struggling with rent or utilities? Chester County emergency rent and utility assistance program may be able to help. The County is providing financial assistance to families and individuals that are currently unemployed or have seen a reduction in income during COVID-19 and are now missing payments. There are a couple of additional criteria to review but priority is being given to those facing immediate eviction or loss of utilities. To date the program has helped four West Chester families. If you know potential number five, quietly pass them this link

Looking for a way to give back to the community, while checking out a new West Chester restaurant? Every Monday in July, when you dine in at Sedona Taphouse you can help support Family Service of Chester County and earn a deal on a tasty meal. Choose one of their charity entrees (Black Angus Flat Iron Steak or Salmon) at a discounted price and add a drink (any drink). Family Service gets a $1 for every entrée sold and you get a quality meal at a solid price. Win. Win.

The freakin’ weekend.

What are you up to this weekend?

What are you up to this weekend? We are going to our first wedding in a pandemic. It promises to be smaller and more casual than weddings I have been to in the past. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. Just hope I remember how to make small talk. 

If you are staying around here. 

The heat wave continues. Here are you pool options, if you need them.

This bacon, egg and cheese crepe form La Tartine looks amazing.

And here is a best of- tour of West Chester that’s set to rock your world.

Mark your calendars:

July 22: Back of the House and Beyond: the Millionaire Household, 1900-1942, 7:00 p.m. via Zoom. Registration required. Event is “pay as you wish.” 

July 22: Dueling Pianos, Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center, 7:30 p.m. Tickets $20 in advance; $23 at the door

July 22 – Music at Marshall Square Park, Marshall Square Park, 6:30 p.m. Free. Just bring a blanket. Food trucks provided (at a cost, of course). 

July 31 – Live at the Fillmore – Allman Brothers Tribute, Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center, 8:00 p.m. Tickets $43 (with service fee)

Aug 5-7: WCStudio presents The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center, Family- friendly performance, Tickets $10 adults, $8 kids; see website for times

Aug. 8 – Touch a Truck Day, Chester County Government Services Complex

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

New to the blog? Follow along for the latest from West Chester.

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