Phoenixville Borough – Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Molly Maguires Pub and Restaurant in Phoenixvi...

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Phoenixville Borough has a bad case of “do as I say, not as I do” according to one Dayton Street resident.  Frank Tammaro has lived in Phoenixville his whole life.  Not only does Frank take care of his sidewalk, he was plowing North Street as a public service to his neighbors for the last three years. 

Based on Frank’s account, it started snowing on Monday night, December 27th.  On Tuesday, December 28th around 2 p.m., a citation was taped to his mailbox that carried a $92 fine.  According to Phoenixville Borough code, snow is supposed to be removed within 24 hours after the storm.  Frank’s fine was received before the 24-hour grace period. 

Frank decided to check the sidewalks Phoenixville Borough is responsible for to see if they followed their own rules.  Frank took pictures of snow-covered sidewalks on the Veteran’s Bridge Gay Street Bridge and a sidewalk outside of District Justice Theodore Michael’s court along Bridge Street.  These areas are the borough’s responsibility.  Based on Frank’s pictures, they should fine themselves.

Not only has Phoenixville failed to follow their own sidewalk rules, they were not plowing some borough streets.  Frank was plowing North Street so his neighbors could avoid getting their cars stuck in the snow.  Frank says he is done plowing North Street.  It is the borough’s responsibility.  I can not blame Frank for feeling that way.

To add insult to injury, Frank was not given the courtesy of a return call from Phoenixville Borough Manager, E. Jean Krack, about his fine.

Frank’s first hearing was postponed.  When Frank arrived at Judge Michaels’ office, he was told the office was closing five minutes before his scheduled hearing due to inclement weather.  It seems contacting Frank to tell him his hearing would need to be rescheduled was not on anybody’s radar???  Frank needs to make a second trip on February 9th to address his questionable citation.

It would seem Phoenixville government needs to get its house in order.  I think Frank deserves an apology and his citation needs to be rescinded.  If you are going to ticket residents for not removing snow from their sidewalks in a timely manner, you darn well better follow you own rules.

Two Roy’s Rants thumbs DOWN for Phoenixville Borough.

J.C. Penney Closing Stores – Dropping Catalog Business

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I guess all good things come to an end.  J.C. Penney is getting out of the catalog business and closing all 19 of their catalog outlet stores.

This is possibly bad news for the Fairgrounds Square Mall, in Muhlenberg Township, which has a J.C. Penney catalog outlet store.  The store used to be a regular J.C. Penney and is one of the mall anchor stores.  The Fairgrounds location converted to the catalog outlet format in 1999. 

No closing date has been set other than it will be sometime in 2011 – 2012.  J.C. Penney would not say whether the store will close or convert back to a standard J.C. Penney retail store.

This would leave Boscov’s and Burlington Coat Factory as the remaining anchor stores in the event Penney’s pulls out of the Fairgrounds Square Mall.

Scranton Police Department Gets New Crime Fighting Software

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Scranton has purchased new software that will enable their police department to get a better handle on crime.  

For a very low price tag, $6,000, this software will enable police to do crime-mapping, tracking and facilitate anonymous tips from residents.  This sounds like something we could easily do in Pottstown.  The $6,000 price tag is a blip on our $3 million police budget. 

Anonymous tip reporting will get citizens more involved with law enforcement which is something that has been discussed here.  Citizens can get on their computer or phone, from the safety of their home, and report crimes or suspicious activity to the police.  It is completely anonymous.

The software pinpoints crimes on a map by location, type of crime and the time the crime was committed.  In Scranton’s case the data will go back as far as 2003!  What an awesome tool for such a rock-bottom price!  This technology will give police the opportunity to analyze trends and find creative ways to combat crime.

Scranton had a crime index in 2009 of 306.7, which is slightly below the US average of 319.2.  Pottstown had a crime index in 2009 of 454.7.  Scranton falls into the low category.  350 – 699 is considered moderate which is where Pottstown scores.  A score of 700 – 999 is considered high. 

The point of my comparison is that even with a lower crime rate; Scranton is being proactive and spending a few thousand dollars to reduce crime in their city with the use of technology.  It would seem this is something Pottstown should seriously consider.  I bet Scranton PD would give us a demo :)

Statistical information is from City-data.com

Taco Bell Fights Back Against Claims They Serve “Mystery Meat”

Here is Taco Bell‘s official response to the lawsuit that claims their beef does not meet the USDA requirements to be called BEEF.  AKA “beefgate”.

http://www.pwrnewmedia.com/2011/taco_bell/beef_grade/downloads/TB_Beef_ad_FINAL_BW.pdf

Sounds like a counter suit is in the works!

Harsco Corporation Turning Little Used Site Near Capitol Into Regional Warehouse And Distribution Center

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The City of Harrisburg is going to benefit from more urban renewal when Harsco Corporation turns a 21-acre site near the Pennsylvania State Capitol into a regional warehouse and distribution center.

The number of jobs created is relatively small at 20; however the site gets cleaned up and given a purpose.  Considering its proximity to our State Capitol Complex, this is good news as it will enhance the appearance the area surrounding the capitol.  Harsco is spending $2 million to renovate the site which is a significant investment in the City of Harrisburg.  The improvements should be completed by April.

More good news is that Harsco will be relocating 35 senior-level positions to a new site near its Camp Hill headquarters.  This move will help Harsco’s leadership function as a more unified team.

To learn more about this company, you may click on their website:

http://www.harsco.com/

One Of My Adaptive Reuse Posts Catches Eye Of Scranton Mayor

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This is one of those moments that makes sitting here blogging away every day worth the effort.

I wrote a post for Code Blue’s The Pulse blog about an adaptive reuse project, here in Pottstown, that would transform the old armory building on King Street into luxury apartments.  This would be significant as there are several other projects lining up along the same lines.  If this project is successful, it could jump-start redevelopment in the central core neighborhood.

As an example of adaptive reuse in a central downtown neighborhood, I cited the Connell Building project in Scranton‘s central business district.  My post and reference to Scranton’s renaissance caught the eye of Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty.  As a result, I am traveling to Scranton on Tuesday to meet Mayor Doherty and get the mayoral tour of Central Scranton.  I am more than a little excited!

Here is a link to my post about the armory project:

http://codebluepulse.blogspot.com/2011/01/pennsylvania-state-armory-building.html

There will be a posting and lots of pictures from my trip!

Wait Time Clocks In The ER? Does That Sound A Little Too Much Like Ordering A Pizza?

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Some local hospital Emergency Rooms already have them.  Some others are considering adding them like Pottstown Memorial Medical Center and Phoenixville Hospital.

I don’t know about you but is this making medical care too much like ordering a pizza or being on hold with your credit card company?  Will patients get discounts and prizes for prompt treatment?  Will employees be rewarded for providing prompt treatment?

Some things take as long as they take.  Do we want medical treatment on the same level as an express lunch guarantee at Bennigan’s?  I am somewhat skeptical of this concept.  Will we be installing deli ticket machines so patients can take a number as well?  Maybe we can put up a digital display like at Redner’s so everyone can see what patient we are on.

Triage takes care of making sure the neediest patients get care first.  Turning the ER into a deli atmosphere does not seem like a step forward IMHO.

Community Building In The City Of Chester – An Interview With Delco DA Michael Green

Watch a short but inspiring video with Delaware County District Attorney Michael Green regarding what the DA’s office feels is needed to bring Chester back.

Former Franklin Mint Site In Delaware County Being Eyed For Planned Community

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A 173-acre site, that includes the former Franklin Mint in Middletown, Delaware County, will become a planned community if developers have their way.  The mint site and two other adjacent properties will be developed into a new “walkable community”.  This project would take 5 – 10 years to complete and would feature 1,253 homes, 798,000 square feet of commercial space, 235,000 square feet of office space and a 225-room hotel.

The new community would enable residents to live, work and play in the same place.  This “town center” concept is becoming very popular.  Construction would create 4,748 jobs.  The number of permanent jobs this project would bring to Middletown is estimated at 2,800!

Tax revenue generated from this project, for the borough, school district and county, would be over $8.1 million!  The Franklin Mint, Middletown site has been closed since 2004.

Public hearings have already started and developers stated they are willing to hold as many hearings as it takes.  500 people attended last night’s legislative hearing.  The Franklin Mint redevelopment project is endorsed by the Delaware Valley Smart Growth Alliance and the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce.

The project is strongly opposed by a group called Save Middletown.

Here is a link to the developer’s website that will answer many questions you might have about the project:
http://www.transformingthemint.com/index.htm

Here is the Save Middletown website:
http://www.ourmiddletown.org/index_files/fms

You can read both sides and draw your own conclusions.

Taco Bell “Beefgate” – Where Is Clara Peller When We Need Her?

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Anybody of a certain age must remember Clara Peller in those hysterical “Where’s The Beef” commercials for Wendy’s.  Now it seems Ms. Peller’s services could once again be used.

Taco Bell‘s “beef” was found to contain less than 35% beef!  It does not meet the USDA‘s requirements to be called beef.  An Alabama law firm is suing, not for monetary gain, but to have the word beef removed from Taco Bell’s advertising.  The “mystery meat” is full of binders and fillers.  Taco Bell vigorously defends their advertising.

So I leave you with one of Clara Peller’s iconic Wendy’s commercials:

Harrisburg City Council Opts For Transparency With Act 47 Meeting

Pennsylvania’s capital city officially entered Act 47 in December, thereby officially making Harrisburg a “financially distressed” municipality and eligible for state help to emerge from their enormous debt, caused by the retrofit of the Harrisburg incinerator.

Four Harrisburg City Council members publically declined a “private” meeting with the new “Act 47 financial guru’s” today.  Council members objected to private meetings with the Act 47 taxpayer-paid team.  The meeting was characterized as a “get to know each other” routine introduction by officials from the Department of Community and Economic Development.  To get around the open meeting requirements, “Sunshine Law”, the meetings were to take place with three or fewer members of Council at a time. 

These four courageous councilors feel the process is too important to not involve residents of Harrisburg.  The public should have the opportunity to hear the information as it is delivered to Council.

We give two Roy’s Rants thumbs up to Harrisburg City Council’s observance of the Sunshine Law and transparency in city government.  Harrisburg has a long road ahead to get out from under the incinerator debt.  The public deserves the courtesy of open meetings when this important issue is discussed.

Center City Living In Scranton Is Taking Off

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The demand for Center City Scranton housing is heating up.  Another blighted landmark building in Central Scranton is being converted into more than 35 apartments with retail space on the first floor.  The 5-story Chamber of Commerce Building was built in grand style in 1926.  Brass rails, marble floors, 14-foot tall built-in bookcases and rollout doors are featured in the beautiful interior.  The building served the Scranton Chamber of Commerce until 1998.

Developer Charlie Jefferson, is the force behind this transformation.  Jefferson was also responsible for the Connell Building’s transformation into loft apartments.  All of the loft apartments were leased before anyone moved in.  Jefferson’s total investment in downtown Scranton is $35 million.  This Chamber of Commerce building sale was some where in the vicinity of $1 million according to Jefferson.

The former East Scranton Junior High School will be converted into 24 apartments.  A $3 million grant from Ed Rendell will help to transform this property into more apartments.  The school has been closed since 2001, according to a Facebook alumni page.

The construction of The Commonwealth Medical College is going to drive demand for 600 additional apartments in central Scranton in the next five years.  The amount of recent development in Scranton has been astonishing given the economic downtown during the last several years.  An increased population in the central business district will spawn the need for stores, restaurants, clubs and services like banks, dry cleaners, grocery stores and other conveniences for residents.  The Commonwealth Medical College is building an 180,000 square foot building in downtown Scranton that is opening this year.  The new facility will house the school’s educational and research programs.

Mayor Chris Doherty said “the success of the city will come from life downtown, and the trend is well on its way.”

PPL Electric Hits Record High For Morning Power Use

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Allentown, PA based PPL Electric set a record for morning peak power consumption today between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m.  Record cold temperatures were the reason.  The company released preliminary numbers showing that 7,432 megawatts were delivered.  The previous record was set on February 11, 2008 when 7,163 megawatts were delivered for the same time period between 7 a.m. to 8 a.m.

PPL Electric’s all-time peak record was set for the 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. period on February 5, 2007, when 7,557 megawatts were delivered.

For a point of reference:

A standard household light bulb has a power rating of between 25 and 100 watts. 

A kilowatt is equal to 1,000 watts.  The average electrical energy consumption in the United States is 8,900 kilowatts a year, per household.  Your electric bill reflects your usage in kilowatt hours.

One megawatt of electricity is equal to 1,000,000 watts.

PPL is just one of 11 electricity suppliers in Pennsylvania!

Midtown Harrisburg Becoming Arts And Cultural District: Susquehanna Art Museum Moving To Midtown

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A vacant property is set to become the new home of the Susquehanna Art Museum in Midtown Harrisburg.  Midtown is a neighborhood in transition.  If you recall my 3rd in the Burg post, I touched on Harrisburg’s emerging arts and cultural scene.  This neighborhood has become a focal point of urban renewal and revitalization by making itself a “destination” that is attracting people to Harrisburg.

Millions of dollars are being poured into Midtown redevelopment.  Creative business owners like Midtown Scholar Bookstore, Midtown Cinema, Midtown Harrisburg Arts Center and a growing list of restaurants and cafés are also leading the way.  The addition of the Susquehanna Art Museum will strengthen the fledgling district and attract more business to the area.  Having events like 3rd in the Burg already in place will only accelerate revitalization efforts.

Another huge addition to Midtown will be the new federal courthouse that will break ground in 2013.  The $130 million building will bring an influx of workers into the neighborhood that have disposable income to spend on things like food and arts/culture, along with other businesses that will sprout up as the result of all this development.  The site of the new federal courthouse is now a parking lot.

GreenWorks Development has been busy spending redevelopment dollars in Midtown.  They own a large amount of property in the neighborhood, including the new museum site.  In addition to the $50 million they have spent thus far, they plan to spend another $75 million on future projects.  Harrisburg Area Community College and Fulton Bank have already benefited from GreenWorks’ projects.  A four-story Campus Green building, costing $14.3 million, is another project that has benefited Midtown.  GreenWorks is also involved with residential development by creating affordable and market-priced housing in Midtown, which will be critical for Midtown’s continued redevelopment.

Midtown Development has also been a player in this neighborhood’s revitalization efforts by renovating blighted properties.

Local business owners and residents are optimistic.  Most see a bright future for Midtown.  There are always some skeptics and detractors, but the majority of residents see these changes as taking their neighborhood in the right direction.  There is still a long road ahead and things take time, but tangible progress is being made to revitalize Midtown Harrisburg and make it “the place to be” in Pennsylvania’s capital city.

Ed “Spendell” Returns To Former Philadelphia Law Firm As Partner

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Looks like some things never change.  Fast Eddie made a beeline back to Philly to rejoin his former law firm as a partner.  Rendell has rejoined Ballard Spahr’s Philadelphia office.  The firm has 13 offices across the U.S., mostly in major metropolitan areas.

The firm is excited to have Eddo back, even citing his personality as a plus.  Wonder if Leslie Stahl would agree with that assessment?  Also cited in the plus column were Ed’s national prominence and personal magnetism.  Hmmmmmm.

Anyway, if you were worried that Ed might fall on hard times, you can rest easier knowing he found gainful employment less than a week after leaving Harrisburg.

I am sure the Philadelphia media is happy that Rendell is back.  It will give them so much more to write about with all that “personal magnetism” bouncing around Center City.

Atlantic City Casinos In Slump From Increased Competition

Atlantic Ocean shore at Atlantic City, New Jersey

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I am not surprised to learn that Atlantic City is taking a huge hit from all the recent casino development in surrounding states.  Rising gas prices and a major recession are not helping things either.

Pennsylvania, under Fast Eddie, became a gambling state.   Our casinos are spread out across the state, not all in one place.  This seems to be a better strategy than New Jersey.  10 casinos are now operating in Pennsylvania.  Atlantic City has 11. 

I am sure Atlantic City depended on throngs of people from Pennsylvania coming there to gamble and spend money.  Pennsylvania may very well pass Atlantic City as the number two gambling market in the U.S. in the years to come.  Pennsylvania casino income is expected to grow to $2.7 billion dollars in 2011 while Atlantic City’s 2011 casino income is expected to fall to $3.09 billion dollars.

The last time I drove to Atlantic City, it was a ridiculously expensive trip.  Bridge tolls, Atlantic City Expressway tolls, parking and gas made it a $50 trip before I set foot in a casino or shop.  I went down for an afternoon to meet friends from high school who were staying at a casino.  I will not be making that trip again. 

Time will tell if Atlantic City can rebound or if Pennsylvania will unseat Atlantic City as the number two spot in the U.S. for gambling.

Pennsylvania Auto Show Starts This Thursday

  • When: 1 p.m.-9 p.m. Thursday; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m.-5p.m. Sunday.
  • Where: Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center 2301 N. Cameron St., Harrisburg
  • Admission: Adults: $8, senior citizens (62 and over): $5, active military (with ID): $5, students (with ID) $5, children (7-12) $3, children (6 and under) free.
  • Discount coupons: $2 off one weekday adult admission at www.AutoShowHarrisburg.com, participating new car dealers and participating McDonald’s restaurants.

Read the entire article from pennlive.com here:

http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2011/01/pennsylvania_auto_show_time_as.html?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed

Camden Layoffs Become Reality

Census Bureau map of Camden, New Jersey

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After months of talking about layoffs and balancing the budget, Camden now has far fewer municipal employees.  168 police, 67 firefighters and 100 other city workers were let go last week. (That represents about 25% of the city’s employees)  This is an effort to close Camden’s $26.5 million dollar budget deficit. (For a point of reference, Norristown’s entire 2011 budget is $25.5 million dollars).

The good news is that no spike in crime has occurred, yet.  However, as one astute online commenter pointed out, wait until summer.  It is too cold out now and people are staying indoors.  This summer, when it hot and people are outside, things will get dicey.  There is certainly something to be said for that theory.

Camden can not be compared to other suburbs their size.  Generally, suburbs do not have the inner city problems that Camden does.  Camden is certainly in a class by itself when you study their demographics and crime statistics.  The crime rate and abject poverty are startling. 

Another well made point was that Camden is not an island.  It is surrounded with other suburbs and criminals are not stopped by the city line.  Not good news for Camden’s affluent neighbors like Cherry Hill and Haddonfield, to name a few.           

Let us hope that a solution can be found to resolve Camden’s budget problems before the warmer weather hits!

Pennsylvania Sets Tone For New Era Of Civility

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I am and have always been proud to be a Pennsylvanian.  When I read about things like this it makes me even more proud to be from this great state!

Our two U.S. Senators, Bob Casey, Jr. (D) and Pat Toomey (R) will sit together during the State of the Union address on Tuesday.  This is significant because both parties normally segregate themselves, on opposite sides of the room.

In light of the tragedy in Tucson and the very uncivil political climate in our country, I am pleased that our U.S. Senators will be showing the rest of America that Pennsylvania leads the pack when it comes to bipartisan cooperation!