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West Chester Weekly News Roundup

April showers. May flowers.

The easiest way to be in the know.

It’s Friday, May 13. Parking in the borough can be seen as a glass half empty or a glass half full kind of thing. This week we are staying positive as we watch that glass fill back up (and to be clear by glass, I mean the borough’s coffers). Plus, two big park reveals, high school students finally get to eat lunch – and what exactly is Porchfest? That and eight other concerts coming to the borough this summer. I love this time of year. Who’s ready? Let’s catch up.

Parking refunded

Parking revenues are up. (Fueled in part by multiple alternate-side-of-the-street violations as witnessed on S. Walnut Street.)

After three subpar(king) years, things are finally looking up. “It’s not 2019 numbers, but it’s a heck of a lot better than where we’ve been,” Borough Manager Sean Metrick told the Parking Committee during his Director’s report on Tuesday. The comments by the borough manager followed a report by Impark, the borough’s parking management company, that showed garage revenue also up over the first three months of the year. 

“We are almost half a million dollars up over last year,” Impark representative Martin (I am not even going to guess at his last name) told the committee. It’s a trend his teams are seeing everywhere. “We take care of municipalities from here to Roanoke, VA and everything is looking up,” he said.

Altogether parking revenue (including meters, garage revenue, and ticketing) is up $88,000 or six percent against budget. Not huge numbers but a big improvement.

“This is good news,” said Mr. Metrick. “Last year we were much later in the year before we began running ahead [of budget] on these three items.”

Expect numbers to dip a bit over the summer before picking up again in the fall and hopefully further closing the gap on 2019 when the borough was living large on parking revenues. If you would like to dig into the numbers yourself, you can find the monthly garage report here and the committee meeting recording here

Summer of Music

I don’t know if you have been keeping track but there are roughly 27 concerts planned for this summer. I’m kidding, but by my count, there are nine which is still a lot. To keep it all straight here is your month-by-month guide for easy listening. 

May

Porchfest: West Chester’s newest concert event is generating a lot of buzz (and shares on social media.) A joint production between the West Chester Green Team and West Chester Mayor Lillian DeBaptiste, the May 21 concert series consists of 53 performances on 31 porches. The idea, as I understand it, is to wander the borough’s southwest quadrant (most events take place on W. Union, Dean, and W. Miner Streets with a couple of stops on S. New and S. Church Streets.) listening to music and chatting with neighbors. Union Street will be closed to traffic from Darlington Street to Bradford Avenue as will the 400, 500, and 600 block of Dean Street. Music is planned from 1 – 7 p.m. Each set is scheduled for 45 minutes and you are welcome to bring a chair or blanket to your destination. Some homeowners may even have chairs set up. There will also be food trucks, dance performances, and a children’s area.

Come and be prepared to go with the flow. It’s a bit of come and see this year. “We’ll see this year how it works out. It is a trial run,” says Green Team President Margaret Hudgings. 

Find a list of performers, times, and porches here; the official map here. Follow them on Facebook for the latest.

June 

Turk’s Head Music Festival: In its 39th summer the Turk’s Head Music Festival is finally getting a reprieve from the worst of the summer heat. Typically planned for the absolute hottest day of the summer. It’s been moved up a month and a half this year to the beginning of June. Mark your calendar for June 5, music is scheduled for 12 to 7 p.m. 

Fete de la Musique: Another new event planned for June is downtown’s “Fete de la Musique,” a busking festival planned for the summer solstice. The worldwide festival invites local musicians to play on street corners the globe over, a celebration of the arts. This is West Chester’s first year participating but the Business Improvement District has been actively recruiting musicians to help usher in the summer. Check it out on Tuesday, June 21, 12 – 9 p.m.

June, July, and August

Concerts in the Park: Also back this year, West Chester’s concert in the park series. In addition to concerts at Marshall Square Park, the borough is looking to spread the love around this year and is adding events at Hoopes Park (June 30), Everhart Park (July 14), and Greenfield Park (August 11). The dates on the Marshall Square Park series are still being finalized but I will share as soon as I know more.  

“Students need a schedule that will better serve and support the development of 21st Century skills.”

West Chester Area Superintendent Bob Sokolowski

Let them eat lunch

Last month the West Chester Areas School District approved a new high school schedule. The 2022-23 school day will start and end at the same time as it did this year. There will still be eight academic periods but instead of 45-minutes of class time, there will be 42 and no homeroom period. The extra minutes will allow the school to offer an additional mid-day period that can be used for lunch or academic or intervention support. 

Assistant WCASD Superintendent Kalia Reynolds told board members at last month’s school board meeting the new schedule had three goals:

Superintendent Bob Sokolowski shared his support with the Daily Local this week. “A revision of the high school schedule has been long overdue,” he said. “Students need a schedule that will better serve and support the development of 21st Century skills.”

They also need to eat. 

The revised schedule has been a goal of the district since 2019.

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The warnings.

Click here to see the video.

If you are going to sit there and record it, the least you can do is share it with the rest of us. This week West Chester police are seeking help identifying three extremely blurry females wanted for participating in a beat down at Buddy’s Burgers, Breasts, and Fries on an early Sunday morning in March. Since a good percentage of the bystanders appear to be filming rather than intervening one would expect a little more in the way of video quality. Unfortunately, this is what you have to work with junior crime stoppers. And a side note, congratulations to Buddy’s on celebrating 12 years in the borough. They are usually empty when I walk by but I see now they are early morning eats. 

Mosquito season is almost here. And West Chester Borough would like to help you get out ahead of it this year by stopping the little buggers before they start. To do so, they will once again be providing non-toxic, pet-friendly BTI dunks to larvicide any standing water you may have on your property. Just drop the dunks into the water and count yourself larvae-free for 30 days. The dunks are available at no charge and can be picked up at Borough Hall (but you need to register first). 

The Accolades

300 high school students from Chester County and beyond participated in this year’s Chester County Art Festival.

Shout out to Shurti Bedekar, a senior from West Chester Henderson High School. Shurti won first place at last month’s Chester County Art Festival held at the Chester County Art Association for her painting from Everhart Park. “I’m just overwhelmed. I was not expecting this at all, but it feels amazing,” she is quoted as saying. If anyone knows Shurti, tell her I would love to share a picture of her painting. 

Also, a round of applause to Chester County Hospital which continues its commitment to excellence despite a recent increase in patient volumes. The West Chester-based hospital once again received an “A” in safety from the Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit committed to quality, safety, and transparency in healthcare. If you are a regular reader this will come as no surprise to you, Chester County received the same mark (twice) last year. What might surprise you, however, is while, Chester County and Paoli both received “A”s, Chester County’s remaining hospital did not. Phoenixville Hospital received a “D”.

West Chester Area School District was also congratulated this week for attending to the details, in their case as it pertained to their financial reporting. The District earned a Certificate of Excellence for its Annual Comprehensive Financial Report, the highest distinction offered by the Association of School Business Officials International. High marks were given for the District’s commitment to financial transparency. 

And finally, high fives to the Rustin Girls Track and Field Team. They are your 2022 Ches-Mont Championship meet champions!  

Hello.

Everhart Park playground. All-day. Every day.

Say hello to a new era at Everhart Park. The Friends of Everhart Park and the borough will make it official this afternoon when they cut the ribbon on the new Everhart Park playground. Opened in November with a “soft launch,” as they say, the official ribbon-cutting ceremony was put on hold until some final landscaping could be completed. However, the lack of natural aesthetics has not kept the kids away. They have flocked to the park by the dozens nearly every day since given that late fall okay, bringing even greater life to an already pretty utilized park.  

If you would like to attend the ceremony, it is being held today at 3:30 p.m. at the playground. If you have found yourself spending more time than usual at the park lately and you would like to contribute to its upkeep,  Friends of Everhart Park is running a membership drive. New members’ dues will be matched by an anonymous donor through June 21.    

Sticking with park playgrounds for a minute. Strap on those sneakers. Pack up the snacks. Marshall Square Park’s new playground is ready to go. “The small kids’ playground and swing set will be open next week – just in time for summer!” Friends of Marshall Square Park Vice President Rick Ammons reports. “The new playground includes a new playset designed for younger children and a more versatile swing set that includes accessible swings (a couple of parts on back-order). The mulch is soft and deep, and the newly seeded area (post-grading) is covered with straw. An age-appropriate playgroup was lined up today ready to test out the new equipment!!” Read more about the playground here

Also say, hello to some new COVID variants. I like everyone else would like to put my head in the sand on this one, but we are not quite there yet. County data has been inching back up over the last several weeks surpassing the 100 cases per 100,000 benchmark three weeks ago and continuing upward. This week the West Chester Area School District sent an email to parents reminding them to continue to check students for COVID-19 symptoms before sending them to school. The reminder came as the district has seen an uptick in cases since the spring holidays. The good news, however, is hospital bed utilization for COVID and community spread both remain low. So no lockdowns or masks needed as of yet, but if you’re feeling sick – maybe just lay low for a day or two?  

Continuing with COVID-19 topics that just won’t quit for a moment longer. This week five West Chester police officers’ and Luteniant Chris Daly’s employment hangs in the balance after the officers failed to comply with the borough’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The union officers took their concerns to an arbitration panel last month. The panel dismissed the officers’ concerns finding the mandate within the borough’s rights and gave the officers until May 9 to comply or file an exemption. Five officers have since applied for exemptions. TBD if the exemptions will be accepted. Lt. Daly, who was not covered by the Brotherhood of West Chester Police union, tenured his resignation earlier this year. His resignation was accepted by Council. He is now appealing that decision to the borough’s Civil Service Commission.  

Goodbye.

The annual WCU spring move-out is underway.

Goodbye West Chester students, we will see you next year. With final exams complete and graduation ceremonies scheduled for this weekend, the town will soon be ours again. (And just a reminder to all you landlords, West Chester changed its bulk trash rules earlier this year. You’ll need to schedule a pickup for all those abandoned mattresses, dressers and couches.)

Also, this week parents are saying where is the splash? It’s nearly mid-May and the water feature at John O’Green Park has not been turned on for the season. A sign in the park states the water is turned on May 1. The problem is likely connected to cracks in the foam splash padding – a similar issue delayed the start of splash season last summer as well. I reached out to the borough Parks and Rec but I have yet to receive a reply as to either when the water can be expected or the reason for the delay. Maybe not too much of a problem yet, but when temps hit 80 on Sunday, I bet there will be more than a few disappointed kids. 

Note – there is a community meeting scheduled for June 4 to discuss the future of John O’Green Park. Stay tuned for more on this park in a coming issue.  

Pay it forward.

Over 200 people came out to support Bournelyf’s annual spring run.

High fives to everyone that came out to support the Bournelyf Cinco de Mayo 5K. Over 220 runners flooded the streets of West Chester raising more than $25,000 for Bournelyf Special Camp, a summer camp experience for individuals with mild to moderate intellectual and developmental disabilities. I hope you all celebrated your success with a margarita. 

Also, here’s to helping out. West Chester PA Moms Facebook group, a wildly helpful resource for any of you moms out there, was included this week in a 6 ABC news story on the formula shortage. The group was sited as a local resource for new moms in the area. Less than a week ago a local mom shared her concerns after finding supplies out at local stores. “I can’t find formula anywhere including Target,” she wrote. “I’m starting to panic. Where is everyone else getting their formula? I have a 6-month-old and one on the way. I’m really nervous.”

The post received 72 comments including lots of suggestions (try ACME), substitutions even offers to check nearby retailers. 

And finally, a friendly reminder Tuesday is Primary day. While there are several big-ticket races, Governor, Senator, U.S. Representative, and State Representative for you to engage yourself with, there are no local elections. So, I am going to graciously bow out of covering this one but I am going to say, voting takes about five minutes and everyone should make a plan to do it. Find your local polling place here

The freakin’ weekend. 

The Chester County Studio Tour is this weekend.

What are you up to this weekend? Boys are going camping so I think Piper and I may take in a little neighborhood culture. Earlier this week I came home to find a postcard tucked under our mat. It was from a neighbor, Philip Hill, a local artist, inviting us to check out his work this weekend. Phil, along with three other West Chester artists, is a stop on the Chester County Studio Tour. As a dug in, I learned there were a lot of West Chester stops, 28 to be exact, on the tour. So I called Phil at the number provided to learn a little more about how this works.

Do I need a ticket or to register somewhere (always my first question)? “No,” says Phil. “You just pop in. People wander about on foot or car.” All the artists will have their work for sale including a 6” x 6” County Collector painting available for $75. No matter how established or how much their original work normally sells, $75 is all they can ask. “It’s a loss leader,” says Phil about the work priced below market value to draw people in. Don’t worry even if you miss this bargain, there are options out there at pretty much all price points and this is a good way to find them. “It’s a good way to meet local artists, see what they are doing outside the galleries and get some good art at a good price,” says Phil.  Learn more about the Tour and find a map here.

Also, this weekend: There’s the Bubble Walk on Sunday which looks like fun. Pretty dresses (and possibly an anniversary discount) at Blink, easy-drinking options revealed at Artillery, and new spring menu items at Two Birds Cafe. Remember WCU graduates this weekend, so the edge of town may be the way to go.

Mark your calendars:

That’s it. Stay safe, stay healthy and I’ll see you next week. 

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