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February’s Borough Council meeting had a short agenda to go along with the shortest month of the year.
All Councilors were present. After the usual opening formalities, there were a few comments from citizens.
A concerned resident brought up a temporary cross walk erected between PMMC and Wawa. He feels the situation is dangerous as people are walking across the street and expected traffic to stop. The resident observed an incident which turned into a verbal altercation between a motorist and a hospital employee. The employee started walking across the street and expected the car to stop. This caused the driver to start yelling at the hospital worker. With the increased traffic from construction, the situation could end up resulting in an injury, death or a physical altercation. President Toroney said this matter will be brought up at the next Safety Committee meeting for discussion.
Human Resources gave a brief update of events they will take part in: Family Fest on March 17th, Latin Night hosted by CCLU at Academy Hall on May 7th and the Fourth of July parade. They are working on sensitivity training for the Police Department. The Human Resources Department is finally getting their long-awaited computer and other requested items.
Rita Paez of CCLU asked council to vote yes for agenda item number 5.
The Mayor wished everyone a Happy Valentine’s Day and then quickly proceeded to lose that loving feeling. Bonnie felt the need to again give her little lecture about the small group of haters and their under current of negativity that is trying to destroy Pottstown. It is sad that people who disagree with her are labeled “haters” and constantly browbeaten in public. Frankly, it is getting old.
Jason attended a transit meeting which included PART, SEPTA, BARTA and LANTA. Jason thinks it is time for PART to undergo a third-party review of its operations.
Pottstown received a Greenway Grant ($25,000) and an Assistance Grant ($2,000). A Heritage Action Plan is being developed for Pottstown to capitalize on heritage tourism using the Schuylkill River and the trail system as a way to bring people into Pottstown. Hopefully this will also tie into the Hanover Street Bike Lane Project.
Jason hopes to have an infrastructure meeting with PECO after the underground transformer explosion on High Street last week. The power outage severely affected several downtown restaurants, which lost large quantities of food, and many residents were without power. President Toroney agrees this issue is important and stated we were very lucky this incident was not far worse, like what recently happened in Allentown or Philadelphia.
Jason is requesting that Council allow him to investigate the costs involved in getting mobile computers and printers for the Codes Department. This would allow Codes to issues citations on site, without delay. The money would be well spent. Any use of technology to speed up a process is good. The Codes Department would greatly benefit from having this tool in their efforts to curb blight and handle other code violations.
Contracts are still in arbitration for the Police Department and AFSCME.
Pottstown and Norristown’s Codes Departments are looking for ways to work together since both boroughs have similar challenges.
Most meetings were cancelled last month due to the weather.
PDIDA – Assessments will be going out.
Blighted Property – the meeting was cancelled but Councilor Weand did attend a Blighted Property Seminar and found that Pottstown is ahead of the curve on this issue based on what he heard from other municipalities.
Council adopted a resolution to authorize the destruction of certain municipal records.
Council adopted a motion to ratify an agreement between Hough Associates and the Borough of Pottstown to collect recycling data and prepare a grant application.
Council passed a motion to grant Pottstown Industrial Investments, LLC a one year extension to gather more information for their zoning request on the proposed use of property at 551 Keystone Boulevard.
Council unanimously gave Thomas Hylton his walking papers as a member of the Pottstown Planning Commission after twelve years. Mr. Hylton was not reappointed. President Toroney directed that a letter be sent to Mr. Hylton thanking him for his 12 years of service. Council unanimously approved the appointment of Andrew Kefer, of Chestnut Street, to the Pottstown Planning Commission for a four-year term. We wish Andrew much success.
Mr. Hylton’s Chairmanship of the Shade Tree Commission was recently rendered null and void by Council’s decision to rewrite the Shade Tree Ordinance. Borough management will now make all decisions concerning trees in Pottstown, making the need for a Shade Tree Commission obsolete. Mr. Hylton is still a member of the Pottstown School Board. We certainly hope these change will allow Pottstown to move forward.
Councilor Weand submitted a very routine request to draft a policy which addresses monetary requests from non-profit organizations. Pottstown Borough gives money to several local non-profit organizations like the Senior Center. They also routinely receive requests from other groups. Councilor Weand, who is head of the Finance Committee, has been trying to standardize and streamline all financial processes and procedures since he took office. Councilor Weand wanted to create a one page standardized form to be used for all requests for money from the borough.
The reaction to this request by several councilors and the mayor was frankly astounding. Councilor Chomnuk totally opposed this request because he said it gives the appearance Pottstown had money to give away and would encourage people to apply for money. He also made the statement it would create a burden on the staff by implementing a procedure that we do not need. Mayor Heath also jumped on the “this gives the appearance we have money to give away” bandwagon. Several people asked for clarification about the form and how many requests for assistance the borough receives. The debate because rather testy at times.
Councilor Weand then asked if Council wanted to tell everyone who requested money NO? This suggestion was met with further cranky objections. Evidently, certain people want to take things on a “case by case” basis (read between the lines here). So to recap, Council spent a good fifteen minutes arguing about streamlining a procedure with a one-page form. We applaud Councilor Weand’s efforts with our borough finances and his attempt to be fair and equitable in the treatment of those who request financial assistance from the borough. The motion was tabled.
A motion passed 5-2 to ratify the mayor’s disciplinary action toward a Pottstown Police Officer who was given a three-day suspension. Councilors Gibson and Allen abstained.
A motion passed to approve Certificates of Appropriateness, issued by HARB, for two properties.
The bills were paid.
The meeting was adjourned and Council went into Executive Session.