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It’s Friday, May 12: So. much. stuff. Porchfest returns next week with over 70 bands and 50 porches. What you need to know about the music event taking over a ¼ of the borough. Plus, have you seen West Chester roads? Plans are in the works, my friend. Hopefully, by the end of June, we will look like a whole new town. See which roads are being re-paved. WCU graduation, Aldi’s opening date – and a potentially exciting new gastropub coming to Market Street. The location seems cursed, but I don’t know; this one just may work. Who’s ready? Let’s catch up.
West Chester Porchfest is back for its second year and it looks to be twice as big as year one with nearly double the bands, double the porches, and double the activities. There will also be food trucks, merch stations, children’s activities, face painting, and just about every style musician(s) you can think of playing their hearts out on borough porches.
“There is a very diverse music selection this year,” said Porchfest committee member Renee Perna, who helped coordinate the music for this year’s event. “Including opera, blues, funk, psychedelic bass, classical, rock, reggae, hip hop, indie, folk, country – basically anything you could ask for.”
“We even have a ukulele orchestra,” added Margaret Hudgings, President of the West Chester Green Team who is organizing the event. “That should be fun.”
What you need to know about this year’s event
Come listen to the music: Once again Porchfest will be held in the borough’s southwest quadrant. Musical performances are planned from 1 to 7 p.m. on Dean, W. Union, W. Barnard, and W. Miner Streets as well a few outliers on S. Church and S. Brandywine Streets.
Getting around: To accommodate the crowds, Dean Street will be closed from the 200 block to the 400 block, and Union from the 200 block to 600 block. Miner and Barnard will remain open, so be mindful of traffic in these areas. With thousands expected for the festival, walking is your best bet. If walking is not an option, parking should be available at the Sharpless garage near West Chester University or maybe you can get someone to drop you off near the action? Remember Miner and Barnard as well as the cross streets will remain open.
Plan your day: To make it easy to navigate, Porchfest organizers have put together a detailed day-of schedule and map of participating locations (both will be available on their website).
The color-coordinated chart shows the performers, their genre, and where they are playing for each hour of the festival. If you scroll to the end there is also a list of other activities, food truck locations, bathroom information, and first aid services should you need them.
The team has also worked on festival flow since last year. “Activities will be closer to performers this year and spread throughout the performance area so it is easier to grab a sandwich and listen to a band,” said Margaret.
Food: Speaking of which, with more than 70 bands you are going to want to stay and hang out for a while. Fortunately, that should be easy with seven separate food trucks on site for the festival. For your main meal, select from Saloon 151, Philly Hots, Turk’s Head Food Truck, and Sabatino’s Pizza. And for dessert, there’s Dia Doce, Scoops and Smiles, and Scrape and Scoop.
Bathrooms: Bathrooms will be available at Everhart Park and the Iron Works Church at the corner of W. Union and S. New Streets.
Other activities: Two porches will have face painting (245 Dean and 331 W. Miner), 402 W. Union Street will have an Instrument Petting Zoo (instruments available to play provided by Taylor’s Music Store), and 326 W. Union will have a Lenape Journey Stick craft for the kids. There will also be two information tables (401 Dean St and 411 W. Union) with available merch sales.
“We learned that Porchfest is a great model for having a good time,” said Margaret. “Free entertainment and strolling around seeing friends and neighbors is a recipe for a successful event.”
“Porchfest is a wonderful experience,” agreed committee member Molly Hanford.
West Chester’s Paving Plan
Perhaps you’ve noticed, the streets of West Chester are in shambles. A combination of winter grind and multiple major infrastructure projects occurring simultaneously have left the streets a mess. Well, no need to worry West Chester Public Works Department has a plan.
Each year the borough gets an allotment of funds from the state’s liquid fuels tax. This money is used to repair and repave local roads. Public Works has already compiled its list of roads for repaving and is currently in the process of bidding out the project to external contractors. They are also working with PECO to coordinate the repaving of its many borough projects including the multi-year Harmony project which is finally finishing up downtown and other gas main replacement projects. PECO repaving is expected to occur by the end of June. Borough repaving should begin before that.
That leaves the Aqua projects. Repaving these roads has also been discussed.
“To best utilize available money, the plan is for Aqua to pay for and perform full-width paving for two of the three project areas. The other project area has base repair and will receive full-width paving next year using Liquid Fuels funding,” Public Works Director Don Edwards shared in his monthly report to Borough Council.
Aqua typically only repaves the side of the road damaged. The staggered paving schedule would ensure all disturbed roads are fully repaved.
Below is the Public Works Spring Paving Punch list:
Note: Don’t panic if your street is not listed above. This is just the roads Pubic Works is managing. It does not include the PECO or Aqua projects.
West Chester Photographer’s Secret to Engaging Portraits
With the introduction of the smartphone camera and digital images, anyone could take a picture, leaving many photographers to strive for works of art. It is with this mindset that award-winning photographer Roman Coia approaches a session.
Based in downtown West Chester, Roman specializes in engaging headshots, personal portraits, and creative children and senior lifestyle portraitures.
“My senior take is to create a custom experience that captures what is important right now in his or her life,” says Roman.
Before your session, you will meet to discuss your vision, style, interests, and locations. A full session can include multiple wardrobe changes, a professional stylist, and hair and makeup. “It is essentially a fashion shoot,” says Roman.
After your session, you will meet to review portrait options but don’t expect screen upon screen of proofs. Roman only presents the best images to choose from. The one’s you’ll want to display in your home.
“I see it as my job to connect with my subjects, help them relax on set, and coach them through poses in order to create beautiful engaging images,” says Roman.
It’s getting hot in here. New data shows that far from cooling down, the West Chester real estate market remains among the hottest in the state. Using the Zillow Home Value Index, Stacker, a data-driven news organization, was able to compare home prices across the state. According to their analysis, West Chester home values rose seven percent last year alone and 35 percent over the last five years.
Great news if you’re a homeowner, but not such great news if you are not. Further bad news for those on the house hunt, 17 Chester County communities ranked in the top 50.
This may require an accounting refresher. The West Chester Area School District has released its proposed final budget for the 2023-2024 fiscal year. The School Board will vote on the budget at its May meeting which is scheduled for May 24 at 7 p.m. You can find the document for your review here.
Keep those car doors locked. In the past two weeks, West Chester police have sought numerous people (three to be exact) in connection with vehicle break-in attempts on W. Marshall and W. Nields Street.
Now, that’s embarrassing. Details emerged this week about last weekend’s rescue at Everhart Park. “The children’s swings are designed for kids three or under, not 13-year-olds,” West Chester Fire Chief Steve Pelna warned those in attendance at this week’s Public Safety Committee meeting. Fortunately, the stuck teen was removed without damage to his or her person or the swing.
This week high fives to West Chester students Connor Orkin, Bobby Ristine, Dom Stoccardo, and Nico Stoccardo on reaching the rank of Eagle Scout. Prior to reaching Scouts’ highest rank, candidates must first earn at least 21 merit badges, demonstrate Scout spirit and leadership, and complete a service project. Their service projects are: Connor planted trees along the Brandywine, Bobby removed invasive species from the Quarry Swimming Association, Dom replaced 15 benches at the Advent Lutheran Church while Nico replaced the patio.
Also, shout-outs to:
- Westtown’s Zahra King, the 5’ 10” junior was named First Team All-State in Girl’s Basketball. Speaking of, Rustin’s Laine McGurk grabbed another honor for her trophy collection. She was named Daily Local News Girls’ Basketball All-Area Player of the Year.
- East’s Ben Gao, the Viking’s singles tennis player, won his first two District Championship matches, lost the third but won in a playback game to earn a spot in the upcoming state tournament.
- Rustin’s Girls’ Track team took first at this week’s Chest-Mont Track & Field Championships. The Lady Knights capped the day when they won nine individual events with a record-setting time in the 4 x 400.
- And I am not exactly sure what this means, but it sounds like a pretty big deal. Kudos to Vincent Carranza on throwing a perfect Ax score of 64 this week.
Finally, congratulations to the to the West Chester University class of 2023. This year the university has organized 15 separate commencement ceremonies to accommodate more than 3,300 graduates and their guests. The town will soon be ours again – just not this weekend.
The Borough is hoping soon to say hello to a finished rain garden at Greenfield Park after the West Chester Finance Committee approved the purchase of $17,000 in native plants to complete the project.
As you may recall the stormwater management project, with a goal to slow the absorption of water and reduce flooding, was approved last summer. However, by the time the garden infrastructure was complete temps were already in frost range delaying plantings until spring. What has resulted, as West Chester resident Anne Carroll put it at this week’s Public Works Committee Meeting, are “rain pits.”
“I am sorry,” she said. “But right now that is what they are.”
During the rainy period earlier this month, pooling was noticed at the site of the installed rain garden. While slowing is good, stopping is bad. It turned out the standing water was caused by the landscaping fabric used to secure the area until plants could be installed. Fortunately, the fix was simple and pooling was temporarily relieved by puncturing holes in the fabric. Full remediation will come when the fabric is removed and plants planted – which should happen soon. Borough Council should approve the plant budget next week. It received a 3-0 recommendation from the committee this week. Leaving just one last question, what is the maintenance plan?
This leads to another hello. Earlier this year the borough launched an Adopt-a-Rain-Garden program in which borough residents agree to help with planting and maintaining existing gardens. The program, which is predicted to save the Borough nearly 50 percent in maintenance costs, was unofficially piloted for years at the W. Nields Street gardens after residents frustrated by years of Borough inaction (Yes, the pandemic) quietly took the upkeep upon themselves.
“Green infrastructure looks its worst year one,” West Chester Sustainability Director Will Williams is fond of saying. Hopefully, a maintenance program and resident support will make sure that’s not also the case for years two, three, four, five, and six…
Other things to keep on your radar:
- The water is on at John O’ Green Park. While it’s not quite summer yet, it may feel like it later today when temps are predicted to top 80. Fortunately, there is an opportunity for reprieve and a little water fun at John O’ Green Park where the water has been officially turned on for the season.
- Bobbles & Lace, West Chester’s newest retail outlet is hosting an opening celebration on Saturday. The franchised fashion outlet promises “high fashion at an affordable price.” What sets them apart “ is our styling experience,” says owner Crystal Gambardella. The shop is located at 125 N. High Street and when I walked by earlier this week it looked far from ready for a grand opening. If you’re interested in attending, I would keep an eye on their Instagram and fingers crossed. (Update – looks like racks of clothes are going in!)
- Imprint Beer Company has nabbed a spot on Market Street for its new Serum Kitchen & Taphouse. Last year in an interview with North Penn Now, the owners of the popular Hatfield brewery known for its fruited sours and pastry stouts teased a new location but wouldn’t say where – only that it would be nearby and feature food by Chef Carlos Centeno. Now we know that town is West Chester and the location is 142 E. Market Street. No word yet on the when.
- Aldi’s on Paoli Pike has an official opening date. According to an article in this week’s Daily Local, the discount grocer is planning a ribbon-cutting ceremony for May 25 at 8:45 a.m. The first 100 shoppers will receive a gift bag and all shoppers who visit during opening weekend will be entered to win a $500 ALDI gift card.
- The West Chester University Poetry and Creative Arts Festival is returning in person for the first time in four years. The theme for the 2023 festival which is scheduled for the weekend of June 9 is Will’s Survival: Shakespeare’s Legacy. Poetry workshops are offered on a variety of topics related to Shakespeare. Registration is now open for all of you hoping to up your poetry game
Finally, for those of you following, Henderson grad Chas McCormick is hoping to make it back to the big leagues soon. The Houston Astro center fielder was sent back to the minor leagues after he injured his back last month. Well, with ten days of rehab behind him Chas is ready to get back on the field. “I feel great psychically and I’m just happy I’m able to play again,” he said.
The borough is looking to say goodbye to it’s lawnmower – or at least rest it for a little while. This week the Borough floated an idea to convert a portion of each wastewater treatment plant to meadow. The borough is looking to convert about one acre at both the Goose Creek and Taylor Run properties to a no-mow field full of native species.
To make the conversion the Borough will work with the Willistown Conservation Trust, which is fronting the majority of the cost. Meadows help recruit pollinators, improve stormwater management, and save mowing time and equipment maintenance. Learn more about the new program here.
P.S. While the borough is fully embracing this idea as its own, it was planted by a resident. So a quiet kudos to those who got this started!
In a less fun goodbye, QVC parent company Qurate is facing eviction from the Nasdaq Stock exchange. The company stock has spent the last 30 days below $1 per share. To get out of Nasdaq hot water the stock must spend at least ten days above $1 before October 30 or face relegation to the Nasdaq Capital market. This is just the latest in a string of bad news for the West Chester-based company.
Perhaps, live shopping is the lifeline the cable shopping giant needs?
Finally, goodbye, to stop light wait times? Fingers crossed. Public Works shared this week that they have retimed the vast majority of the Borough’s traffic lights based on the result of a PennDot traffic study. Here’s hoping for smooth sailing.
Pay it forward.
Last week the Surgeon General issued a warning: the U.S. is facing a loneliness crisis. West Chester is lucky to already have some of the infrastructure recommended for a welcoming community environment advised to fight against these trends. We have great parks and an active library. However, in other areas, such as access to behavioral health services, we could use some work.
To help address some of these challenges the National Alliance for Mental Illness or NAMI has relaunched its Chester County Chapter. (The original affiliate was shuttered during the Pandemic.) Newly reformed in January the group has ambitious goals to improve care for those living with a mental health condition.
“In addition to peer support services, some of the needs facing our communities in Chester County include provider shortages and access to services, cost, and transportation,” shared NAMI Executive Director Sara Wein via email. “There is also a need for services and resources for BIPOC communities, services for LGBTQ communities, especially youth, and youth services in general. Not just services for our youth, but for their families.”
If you would like to help, NAMI is actively recruiting volunteers but note, not everyone will qualify. NAMI prides itself its ability to connect with clients.
“One of the things that makes NAMI so special is that every person- staff member, volunteer, board member, and intern – is someone who lives with a mental health condition and/or has a loved one who has a mental health condition,” said Sarah.
To learn more and share your own experiences with mental health services in Chester County, sign up for a NAMI-hosted community conversation. The first event will take place at the Chester County Library in Exton on June 14 at 6 p.m.
Also, in an uplifting show of community support nearly 300 runners took to the streets of West Chester last Thursday to race for Bournelyf Special Camp. Together the runners and walkers raised over $30,000 to help provide a summer camp experience for individuals with mild to moderate intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“We are incredibly grateful to everyone who helped make this event a success,” said Courtney Zimmerman, executive director of Camp Bournelyf.
And in another fine example of giving back, West Chester University senior Jacinda Maus has organized an off-campus furniture drive for students moving out for the summer. Working with the West Chester-based Community Warehouse Project and the Office of Off-Campus and Commuter Services, the pilot event coordinates with students to have any unwanted furniture collected by the nonprofit group.
So far the Move Out, Give Back project has 62 student households signed up to participate in Saturday’s pickup. They are estimating more than 300 items will be collected.
The freakin’ weekend.
What are you up to this weekend? We are traveling to Maryland to see some family, and, for real this time, getting the yard and garden cleaned up. We are a participating porch in this year’s Porchfest so it’s do-or-dead-plant time for our poor performer.
If you are around this weekend, there will be Irish Step Dancing from the McGough Academy in the street in front of Ryan’s Pub. Yoga in the Park Saturday morning at Everhart. Bring $10 and a mat and Swing Dancing lessons outside the library on Saturday afternoon.
Also, ever curious about what happens after prom? Now you can see for yourself. Henderson is opening up its After Prom (briefly) to the community. For months, volunteers have worked to create an immersive experience based on a selected theme. Tonight only from 8 to 10 p.m. you can see exactly what goes into transforming a “high school by day to a party zone by night.”
Finally, Mother’s Day is Sunday. Just a friendly reminder for all you sons and daughters out there (my own included):
- Limoncello has 15% off gift cards through May 14.
- Dia Doce has Mother’s Day mini boxes (12/cupcakes, $20, phone orders-only must be in by 4 p.m.)
- The West Goshen Fire Company is holding its annual flower sale at Station 56 (corner of Boot and Greenhill Roads). Sale runs May 12, 13 and 14. Doors open at 9 a.m.
- Teca has a special brunch
- And Jawn Supply has a Longwood t-shirt circa 1992. (Yes, moms we’re vintage)
And this week a very special thank you to TG Customs for joining Hello, West Chester as our newest Community Sponsor. With experience working on railroads, boats, campers and, of course, vans, Seth and Hillary are an HGTV renovation show come to West Chester. Check out their Instagram feed to catch all the amazing transformations – and start dreaming of your own van life.
Proudly located in the borough of West Chester, TG Customs builds custom camper-vans and trailers for clients locally and throughout the country. At TG Customs we believe in the power of detail. We work closely with each customer to build their adventure vehicle. Stop in and see what we are working on!
View a list of all our amazing Community Sponsors here. Want to get your business out in front of this wonderful community? I don’t blame you. Community Sponsorships are full but limited ad space remains in May and June. Send me an email if you are interested and I’ll get you details.
Enjoy getting these updates each week? Enjoy not having to click through a dozen annoying pop-up ads? Me too. I figure if regular readers contribute just $10 a year we can keep the updates coming and the ads limited. Plus, new subscriber perks coming soon!
Mark your calendars:
- May 12 – Henderson Senior Prom
- May 12 – 14 – West Chester University Graduation Weekend
- May 13 – Yoga in the Park, Everheart Park, 9 a.m. – 10 a.m. Join Deanna Stissi of Triple-Threat Fitness in a special outdoor yoga event. Open to all ages and fitness levels. Classes are $10/person. Pre-registration is required! Click here to register.
- May 13 – Red/Blue Workshop, East Bradford Township building, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. The workshop helps participants understand how the experiences and beliefs of those on the other side of the political divide shape their political perspectives. Registration required.
- May 13 – Polinator Garden Planting, Chestnut Street Garage, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Volunteers needed to help plant plants.
- May 13, 14 – Fierce Women of West Chester Walking Tour, Chester County History Center, 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. West Chester, long the center of battles for equality and civil rights, has been home to several trailblazing women. This 1.5 hour walking tour will visit the homes and businesses of the women that shaped West Chester from colonial times to the present. Tickets: $15.
- May 13 – Swing Dance Lessons, West Chester Public Library courtyard, 2 -4 p.m. Lessons are followed by a free dance period. This is a free event presented by the library and Rittenhop Dance.
- May 13 – Sin Brothers, Pietro’s Prime, 8 p.m.
- May 14 – Mother’s Day Express, West Chester Railroad, 12 and 2 p.m. Includes special rate for mom! Tickets: $22/adults; $15/children (2-12); $5/Mom
- May 16 – Saloon 151 Quizzo, 151 W. Gay St., 8 – 10:30 p.m. Every Tuesday night join DJ Romeo at Saloon 151 for quizzo! The top 3 teams win prizes in each round!
- May 16 – Off the Rail Karaoke, Split Rail Tavern, 15 N. Walnut St., 9:30 – 11 p.m. Join Roxanne Rohls and Ophelia Hotass for a night of singing, drinking, and drag every Tuesday night.
- May 17 – John Grecia, Pietro’s Prime, 8 p.m.
- May 17 – 3rd Wednesday Book Discussion, West Chester Public Library, 1 – 2 p.m. Bring a brown bag lunch; enjoy a lively book discussion. No registration necessary. This month’s book: Lessons in Chemistry, Bonnie Garmus.
- May 17 – Saloon 151 Music Bingo, 151 W. Gay St., 9 – 11:00 p.m. There are 5 rounds, which means 5 chances to win a gift card!
- May 17 – Ryan’s Pub Karaoke Night, 124 W. Gay Street, Includes: wings and drink specials.
- May 18 – Storytime with Tish Kids, 135 E. Gay St, 10 – 11 a.m. Bring your littles for storytime at Tish Kids every 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month. Sign up through Instagram (@tish.kids) to reserve your spot
- May 19 – East Senior Prom
- May 19 – Movie in the Park, Marshall Square Park, dusk. This is a free Borough event
- May 20 – Yoga in the Park, Everhart Park, 9 a.m. – 10 a.m. Join Deanna Stissi of Triple-Threat Fitness in a special outdoor yoga event. Open to all ages and fitness levels. Classes are $10/person. Pre-registration is required! Click here to register.
- May 20 – 2nd Annual Porchfest, West Chester Borough, Southwest quadrant, 1 – 7 p.m. This is a free community event. Rain date: May 21
- May 20 – Chester County Studio Art Tour, Explore local art, while meeting a variety of outstanding artists during this two-day event. This is a free community event.
- May 20 – Roberta Faceplant, Brickette Lounge, 9 p.m. Roberta Faceplant is a local comedian who has been featured on Comedy Central and has performed at comedy clubs across the country.
That’s it. Stay safe, stay healthy and I’ll see you next week.
Oh, one more thing, if you think one or more of your friends would like Hello, West Chester, too, please forward this newsletter and tell them to come and join us.
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