Peak of summer

The easiest way to be in the know.

It’s Friday, Aug. 11, 2023: It’s residential parking permit time – or Shark Week as it’s known in West Chester. I talk with West Chester’s new parking director on a series of new program changes she has in mind – some are bound to be hugely popular, others not-so-much-so. Plus, West Chester High Schools are ranked and the Christmas Parade ups its emcee game. Who’s ready? Let’s catch up.

If It’s Broken, It’s Time to Fix It – A Parking Discussion

“A big focus of this department is to recalibrate the idea we are against the residents,” said West Chester Parking Director Ramsey Reiner. “We are here for the residents.”

You know how after you break something, you sometimes come up with a work around just to get it working again? Then in time, you get so good at the work around it seems simpler to keep it in place than to actually fix what was broken in the first place? To me, this is West Chester’s Parking Department. I shared this analogy with Ramsey Reiner, West Chester’s new Parking Director. She laughed politely but would neither confirm nor deny my view.

Still, I say, it’s a pretty solid assessment of a Department whose long-serving Director was fired last year and then charged with theft. (Spoiler: Hoping to not alienate any additional members of Borough staff, I did not ask the director about her predecessor or her own past employment. We stayed focused on Parking today.)  Since her appointment 10 months ago, Ramsey has been busy straightening up and streamlining a dense and convoluted series of parking regulations. 

Just this week she introduced a proposal to clean up the language in Chapter 77, the section of the Borough code that deals with residential parking permits. She wants the Borough’s legal team to remove redundancies from the ordinance and institute consistent policies for all parking lots.

“We’re talking about consistency across the Borough?” Councilwoman Lisa Dorsey said in mock-surprise and obvious delight at Tuesday’s Parking Committee meeting. But clean-up is only part of the plan.

“There are two main parking problems I am looking at,” she said. “One is the lack of parking in residential areas. The other is the ease of parking downtown.” 

Residential Parking is up first. Under her early direction, the Borough has tightened its grip on the Residential Parking Permit program banning new developments from participating including those planned at Mitch’s and Burger King. The exclusion will keep hundreds of permits from entering the already overtaxed system.

I asked specifically what the ratio of spots to permits was, but the Director, who had recently relocated offices, couldn’t put her finger on the report with the exact count. “I know you’re going to quote me on this,” she said, stopping short of giving numbers but giving context. “It was jarring to me – it was like double. So that’s why I am so hellbent against allowing these developers to participate in the Residential Parking Permit program.” 

She also wants to improve the annual permitting process known, perhaps not so affectionately, by staff as “Shark Week.” 

Ramsey has lots of improvement plans starting with residential parking permits.

“It used to be a Phish concert,” Ramsey said, describing a scene where residents would show up at 4 a.m. and camp out in front of Borough Hall in hopes of getting a permit. She’s going to change that. Starting this year, permits will be awarded on a rolling basis. “We are really, really trying to get people to purchase their permits online this year,” she said. 

Permits, which will now be valid for a year from the day they were issued, can still be picked up in person. However, if you are insistent on coming in, make sure to call and schedule an appointment first.  

Ramsey seems acutely aware that all her decisions will have an impact: from rolling registrations to exempting properties to tackling West Chester University guest pass abuse, a new initiative she just introduced to the Parking Committee this week. For example, she explains, removing new development renters from the residential permit program is not likely to limit the number of vehicles they come with, the guests they have, and the vehicles they bring. Those vehicles will still need to go somewhere most likely flooding the non-permitted sections of the Borough.

“It’s going to have a butterfly effect,’ she said. Though, just because it’s challenging doesn’t mean she’s giving up. 

“We have really great staff,” she said. “This is going to be a year of transitions but it’s just going to get better and better I think.”

Other changes Ramsey has in mind: 

  • New payment systems for the garages. She’d like to move to a cashless system that includes a license plate reader to cut down on skipped payments and can easily issue validation codes for businesses and restaurants.
  • A new student parking permit that would allow out-of-state WCU students to ge& a residential parking permit using their rental agreement, landlord verification, and guardian affidavit. In doing so, she’d also like to remove student houses from participating in the guest pass program. “We have a really big issue with student parking,” she told the Parking Committee this week. 
  • A lottery system for long-term lot rentals. Rather than earmarking spots for a privileged few, Ramsey has proposed a lottery system that would give all interested parties equal opportunity to secure one of West Chester’s 11 parking lots’ long-term spaces. While that sounds egalitarian on its face, it seems the only group being directly affected is the United Methodist Church on S. High Street. For the last 20 years, the church has rented 18 spaces in Lot 5 for a cost of $540/month or $30 a space – a price significantly below the $75 a space that would be requested of the individual or business securing the space through the lottery system. Another change that is likely to have an butterfly effect.

    “Losing the parking lease would have a hugely negative impact on the life of our church in town,” said Reverend Truman Brooks. 

    This week Borough Council will discuss and vote on moving forward with changes to the Borough Parking Code including modifying the business permit use, student rental permit use, creating temporary service permits, and guest passes, as well as terminating the Methodist Church’s lease at Lot 5. Borough Council Work Session is scheduled for Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. 

Breaking news: Tell your friends. Guest passes will be available on Monday. “You heard it here first,” she said. 


Celebrate National Farmers Market Week by shopping LOCAL

National Farmers Market Week – Aug. 6 – 12

The West Chester Grower’s Market is Chester County’s original producer-only market, where you can directly connect with local farmers. This week’s produce highlights include: sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers, leafy greens, beans, squash, potatoes, blackberries, peaches, nectarines, melons and apples. Plus locally grown cut flowers and plants, herbs, pasture-raised meat, farm fresh eggs, cheeses, salsa, pies, jams, pasta, breads, honey, maple syrup, coffee, cider, beer, dog treats and other delicious prepared foods. 

This Saturday, in honor of National Farmers Market Week, we are raffling off two collapsible wagons – perfect for hauling all your market goodies.  Stop by the raffle table to enter the drawing. The WCGM will easily become your primary source for the freshest and most delicious variety of foods. Come by and meet the farmers and food artisans every Saturday in May through December, from 9 am to 1 pm and every other week Saturday in January to April from 10 am to 12 pm.

We look forward to seeing you at the WCGM!



The southeast quadrant of the Borough has been the target of a recent slew of burglaries.

Southeast targeted. After presenting what he called an “unremarkable” month for the police department which saw a reduction in violent crimes and just a “small uptick” in property crime, Chief James Morehead sat down. Then resident Bryan Travis, of S. Walnut stood up. While the uptick in thefts overall may have been small, he said, all seven burglaries that have been reported have occurred in the southeast quadrant of the Borough. “We need some answers.” 

And answers, he received. “We are in possession of a lot of Ring video,” said Chief Morehead, who shared that the department is currently tracking down suspect data and actively pursuing leads. “I believe detectives are onto a name,” he said. 

In the meantime, WCPD has increased patrols in the area and for now anyway, burglaries have slowed. 

Correction: this post originally said “southwest” section of the borough but it is the southeast that has been targeted.

You can never go home again. This week we learned three apartments in the Sharples Works complex are still evacuated. The evacuations stem from a July 26 incident when an unidentified odor was reported coming from the units. The West Chester Fire Department in collaboration with the Chester County Department of Emergency Services worked to identify the odor. “It showed something was there but we were not sure what it was,” said Fire Chief Steve Pelna. Teams checked for no less than 30 different materials but were unable to identify the source. Complex management has since employed two additional consultants. While there are still no answers, the area of concern appears to be contained. “There are some environmental consultants working through that process to make sure there is no additional harm to residents or outside the buildings,” Chief Pelna.

Update: The Sharples Works residents are home. Sharples Works Property Manager Amy McCall reached out to let me know the residents were cleared to return to their apartments on Aug. 5. Glad to hear everyone is home safe.

Patience is a virtue, so is clean soil. We finally got an update this week on the Davis Oil property. That is to say there are no significant updates on the Davis Oil property. According to West Chester Building and Housing Director Kevin Gore, the PA Department of Environmental Protection continues its remediation work which is expected to take quite a while

A failure to plan is a plan that fails. This week Historical Commission Chair Tom Walsh issued a warning to Borough Council during Tuesday’s ACT Committee Meeting. “As of right now we have no celebration,” he said in reference to the Borough’s upcoming milestone birthday. In 2024, the Borough of West Chester will turn 225. The Borough Historical Commission will do some small things but a full-fledged event needs to be planned by the community and to get started the community needs a directive from Borough Council. At least, according to Mr. Walsh, that is what happened in advance of the 200th-anniversary celebrations in 1999.  “We need the community. These are community celebrations,” he said. With that admonishment, expect a directive to come from Council next week. So all you history lovers out there get out those organizing hats – it sounds like we have some catching up to do.

Sad situation. Guess who’s back. Know someone struggling with drug or alcoh by usol abuse? You can find a collection of local resources here


West Chester University

Congratulations to West Chester University, which was one of four schools honored as part of a Green Ribbon School celebration in Washington, DC this week. WCU was recognized by the U.S. Department of Education for its innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and costs, promote better health, and ensure effective sustainability and environmental education. 

“Making a difference on our planet takes all of us,” said West Chester University President Chris Fiorentino. 

Also, a shout out this week to Rustin High School which was named the 19th best high school in the Philadelphia area by Niche, a school data aggregation and review site. Rankings are based on a combination of the U.S. Department of Education data and reviews received by the website. According to the website, Henderson ranked 34 in the region and East 45.  

Speaking of impressive rankings, West Chester University’s women’s soccer team was named the #2 team in the nation by the United Soccer Coaches Association in preseason polling. The Golden Rams return three of their four All-Americans from last year’s record-setting team including PSAC East Player of the Year Kaitlynn Haughey and Rookie of the Year Faith Matter.

As you’ll recall, last year’s team advanced to the Division II National Championship game before falling to Western Washington (this year’s number-one team, according to the coaches.) The Golden Rams open their 2023 season on August 31 against Jefferson.

Also, high fives to the 11 Fame Fire Company volunteer firefighters who completed their Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Water Rescue and Emergency Response training last weekend. Training included self and shore-based rescue techniques. With hurricane season set to gear up and the way West Chester roads keep flooding, having a few additional trained rescue professionals can only be a good thing. 

Taylor Ash performing in the finals of the Taylor Made at Uptown! singer-song writer contest.

Finally, roses to West Chester University graduate Joey Graziadei on finding love or at least his 15-minutes of fame. The former member of the Golden Rams tennis team and current Hawaii-based tennis pro is a finalist on season 20 of ABC’s Bachelorette. Rumor is he makes it to the finals. Whether he makes it any farther we’ll just have to wait and see. Season finale airs on August 21 at 8 p.m.

Also, making the most of her 15 minutes? Taylor Ash. Taylor won Uptown-Taylor Music’s first ever singer-song writer competition. As an early judge, I was blown away by the sheer scope of musical talent permeating this area. Congratulations, Taylor!


It’s the little hometown Christmas parade that could. Just one year after parting ways with lead sponsor QVC and pleading for a downsized, more community-oriented event, it looks like the West Chester Chamber of Commerce is ready to once again turn all seasonal eyes towards the Borough. This week the Chamber announced the parade is not only back it will be emceed by local celebrities 6ABC meteorologist and West Chester parade regular, Adam Joseph and Preston & Steve Show regular and parade newcomer Kathy Romano. 

“I’m a West Chester University graduate, so West Chester will always be in my heart,” she said.

Also, there will be more bands. “We were not only ecstatic but felt the outpouring of affection from the West Chester community last year when the parade returned for the first time since the pandemic,” said Adam. “This year promises to be even more heartwarming – and exciting! – with even more marching bands, by popular demand,” he added.    

Mark your calendars: The West Chester Christmas parade will be held on Dec. 1. The evening will begin with the lighting of the Christmas tree at 6:30 p.m. followed by the parade at 7 p.m. 

Serenity now. After living the last year and a half in a mental health desert, there will soon be a new 72-bed mental health facility opening across the street from the Chester County Hospital at a former hospice and rehab center. The facility will be operated by Haven Behavioral Hospital and Outpatient Services, a for-profit healthcare provider that already operates seven acute hospitals and several other wellness centers across the country. The opening of the new facility will mark the first time Chester County has had an inpatient psychiatric option since the Brandywine Hospital closed on January 31, 2022.

Speaking of making progress, the West Chester Area School District sent an update this week to parents, students, staff, and the community on its search for a new superintendent. The District shared that it received applications from 36 “highly qualified and diverse candidates” from eight different states. The pool has already been narrowed to eight candidates all of whom have been invited to participate in first-round interviews. 

What will be asked of the new Superintendent? We can’t know that yet but know that at least some of the questions are being formulated using feedback gathered during the various stakeholder focus groups and nearly 1000 survey responses.

“We do not share the results until the process has been completed because we use the feedback to craft questions for the interviews,” said Chester County Intermediate Unit Board Secretary Janice Heagy via email.

It is anticipated these interviews should be completed by the end of the month with a candidate put forth for approval in September. After which we will hopefully learn what you asked for in a leader.

And finally, a couple event hellos: 

  • The Saturday Night Live comedian Jay Pharoah will be in West Chester next month for one performance only. Tickets are on sale now. The show is scheduled for Sept. 30, 8 p.m. at WCU’s Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall. 
  • Hopefully, the second time’s a charm: Outfest is coming back on Oct. 14


In a sure sign summer is coming to an end, football season began this week. Henderson made it out onto the field first on Monday morning, while East brought the heat, and Rustin started with a senior run.  Who will be the team to beat? Well, we shouldn’t have to wait long for an answer. Inter-district match-ups start early this year with Rustin taking on Henderson in their home opener on Sept. 2. Then Rustin and East meet the following week. Henderson and East, however, won’t play until Oct. 28. 

West Chester University also returned to the field this week.

And –  if we didn’t know it already – this week we learned we are spending too much of our hard-earned cash on monthly bills. According to Doxo, a bill payment aggregator, the average Pennsylvania household pays $1,922 a month on bills. That, however, is not the case in West Chester where our monthly bills average just over $2,500 a month – or nearly 35 percent more than the state average. Not surprisingly, the bulk of that money is spent on our mortgages and/or rent.

Also, a note, when I did a search on Doxo I found a couple of concerning posts. Just to say, the sharing of the above information is not an endorsement of their services. 

Finally, it’s goodbye to Pizza West Chester and Spence Cafe. Relax, it’s just for a few days but it’s a good reminder, it’s vacation season. If you are going out you better plan ahead – and if you were hoping for a pizza fix, you better go tonight. 

Pay it forward.

The Hickman Team at last year’s Chili Cook-Off

“Who Makes the Best Chili in Chester County?” That’s what the West Chester Rotary Club wants to know.  

On October 8, the West Chester Chili Cook-Off will return to Gay Street and teams will put that exact question to the people in the form of little plastic cups filled with a tasty (or not) combination of beans, meat, and tomato.  When the people have tasted – and voted – one team will leave the street with a $2,500 grand prize and undisputed and documented bragging rights. 

Of course, the real winners will be those in need because all proceeds go to help pay for their food, shelter, and clothing. If you want to put your chili to the test in support of a great cause  – and help to make this a fest to remember, sign up today

Seriously, do it. It will be fun – and more teams are still needed!

Looking for more ways to give back? Westtown-East Goshen Regional Police Department is helping collect back-to-school items for Gaudenzia, a non-profit organization that helps individuals and families affected by drug and alcohol dependency. Recently they took in several mothers and children – and are now looking for a little help gathering supplies.

You can find the list of what is needed here. Items can be dropped off at the WEGO Regional Police Department during normal business hours anytime before Aug. 23.   

The freakin’ weekend.

The sky over Applegate Dr. after Monday night’s storm. Photo: Lisa Waxman

What are you up to this weekend?  It looks like I will be making tomato sauce – is anyone else’s garden going crazy? Then nothing. Just got a calendar alert today. Fall sports practices begin on Wednesday. So this may be our last weekend to soak up those “do nothing” summer vibes. 

If you’re around this weekend, the Borough is showing Shrek tonight at Rustin Park. Bring a blanket or some chairs. Movie starts at dusk. This is a free event. Also starting tomorrow is New Light Theatre’s production of Godspell. According to the description, it is a “powerhouse of musical numbers and exuberant storytelling” and tickets are only $25.   

Ready for fall already? Blink can help you get a jump on that wardrobe. Still, soaking up summer? Mas has you. So does Yori’s.

And finally, a very special thank you to this week’s Community Sponsor Cassie Shankweiler Real Estate. As a Chester County native, Cassie understands the community and brings a promise of clear communication and fresh energy to all her clients. Give her a call if you are looking to buy or sell a home in the West Chester area!

Cassie Shankweiler Real Estate

As an active West Chester borough community member, I always look forward to meeting new faces at the many borough events. I hope you’ll trust me with your real estate needs – whether you’re trying to sell your home or move into our wonderful town. Connect with me today at 484-888-6772 or

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. Fall ad spaces are now open! It’s a great – and cost effective way – to get your name in front of a highly engaged West Chester audience. Send me an email if you are interested – but hurry, spaces are filling up fast!

Like knowing what’s happening in and around town? Same! I figure if regular readers contribute just $10 a year – we can keep the updates coming and the ads limited! Help keep readers first with a small donation below.


Make a one-time donation

Make a monthly donation

Make a yearly donation

Choose an amount


Or enter a custom amount


Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly

Mark your calendars:

  • Aug. 11 – Movie in the Park: Shrek, Bayard Rustin Park, dusk. This is a free Borough event.
  • Aug. 11 – 13 – Godspell, E.O. Bull Center at West Chester University, Fri. and Sat. at 7:30 p.m., Sun. matinee at 2 p.m. Godspell 2012 is a contemporary updated arrangement of powerhouse musical numbers and exuberant storytelling from a group of friends, invited by Jesus, who have come together to “sing about love.” Performance staged by the New Light Theatre. Tickets – $25/general admission; $15/students
  • Aug. 12 – West Chester Grower’s Market, 201 N. Church St. 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Local seasonal produce and craft goodies. Open sun or rain! Just don’t forget to bring your bags!
  • Aug. 12 – Yoga in the Street, Gay Street (near the Post Office), 9 – 10 a.m. No registration required. Just bring a mat and $5 entrance fee (cash only!)
  • Aug. 12 – Sir Paul: A Dedication to Paul McCartney, Uptown Theater, 7:30 p.m. “Sir Paul” is led by the soaring vocals of Mike Green, and he propels an incredible band through authentic, moving and energetic renditions of an expansive catalog of McCartney classics. Tickets $35 – 45. There is price tiered seating for this event.
  • Aug. 14 – $5 Movie Night: Best in Show, Uptown Theater, 7:00 p.m. Free popcorn included with the price of admission!
  • Aug. 16 – 20 – Godspell, E.O. Bull Center at West Chester University, 7:30 p.m., Wed. teen night; Sun. matinee at 2 p.m. Godspell 2012 is a contemporary updated arrangement of powerhouse musical numbers and exuberant storytelling from a group of friends, invited by Jesus, who have come together to “sing about love.” Performance staged by the New Light Theatre. Tickets – $25/general admission; $15/students
  • Aug. 17 – Chester County Property Research, Chester County Government Center (601 Westtown Road) or virtual, 12 – 1 p.m. Join Chester County, PA archivists for a presentation about how to begin your research and where to locate relevant records. This is a free Chester County History Center event but donations are always appreciated.
  • Aug. 17 – Music at Marshall, Marshall Square Park, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Free concert in the park presented by the Friends of Marshall Square Park. Musical guests, Chico’s Vibe. Food trucks arrive at 5 p.m. Face painting available from 6:15 – 8:15 p.m.
  • Aug. 18 – Trivia Night, West Chester Public Library, 7-8 p.m. Registration is required.
  • Aug. 19 – West Chester Grower’s Market, 201 N. Church St. 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Local seasonal produce and craft goodies. Open sun or rain! Just don’t forget to bring your bags!
  • Aug. 19- Yoga in the Street, Gay Street (near the Post Office), 9 – 10 a.m. No registration required. Just bring a mat and $5 entrance fee (cash only!)
  • Aug. 19 – 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.
  • Aug. 20 – CommUnity Day, Melton Center, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Check out the summer league championships while enjoying games, a bouncy castle, live performances and more. Food trucks will be available.
  • Aug. 21 – $5 Movie Night: Hotel Transylvania 3, Uptown Theater, 7:00 p.m. Free popcorn included with the price of admission!
  • Aug. 23 – West Chester University freshman move it begins!

Psst. Not done with summer? Check out the Summer Event Guide its full of photos and videos from West Chester’s favorite summer events or visit the Calendar page for events through September!

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

New to Hello, West Chester? Subscribe for the latest news and events!

Leave a Reply