Your Pottstown Tax Dollars At Work

Editor’s Note:  Former Sixth Ward Councilor, Jody Rhoads posted this fine example of the Pottstown Public Works Department’s keen eye for detail when constructing a “curb cut” aka handicapped access ramp.  Imagine trying to get your wheelchair around the poles. Apparently, this didn’t seem like a flawed plan to whomever constructed the ramp? Really?

 

Jody writes “Here is another one where Pottstown’s Public Works wasted you’re money.  What is wrong here?  West St between Charlotte and Evans. Go look at it for yourself.  These are the type of things that need to come out so people can see what Pottstown and its leadership is really all about.  And I’ll bet no one will raise hell at a Council meeting about this! Leadership thinks this is doing a GOOD job?  This one should go VIRAL!”

Feast your eyes on this engineering marvel!  No, it’s not an April Fool’s joke…

1526409_10201686061139379_8739009307955973678_n

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Beech Street Factory: Arts-Based Community Revitalization In Pottstown

The Beech Street Factory is a $12.5-million, 30-year investment in Pottstown’s future. With this project, Genesis Housing Corporation and Housing Visions propose not only to rehabilitate a vacant, prominent building in the Borough’s National Register Historic District, but also to spark renewed focus on the arts in Pottstown.

Pottstown has seen a cultural resurgence in recent years. Decades of hard work by organizations such as ArtFusion, Steel River Playhouse, the Pottstown Area Artists’ Guild, Montgomery County Community College, The Hill School Farnsworth Art Museum, and other arts-oriented organizations have highlighted the importance of cultivating visual, performing, and fine arts in Pottstown. More recently, the formation of CreativeMontCo has solidified county-wide interest in the arts. And ongoing investment by Genesis Housing Corporation, Mosaic Community Land Trust, the National Trust Main Street Program, and the Borough of Pottstown have helped to strengthen the overall quality of life in in the Borough by enhancing the public streetscape and laying the groundwork for further investment.

The Beech Street Factory proposes to capitalize on these long-standing efforts and help take them to the next level. Through their development expertise and knowledge of funding programs, Housing Visions and Genesis are planning to convert the old Fecera’s furniture warehouse into a 60,000-square-foot, mixed-use arts center. The ground floor will include 3,000 square feet of energy-efficient, financially sustainable space for ArtFusion, Pottstown’s long-running and much-loved non-profit community arts center.. And the remainder of the building will provide 43 loft, industrial-style apartments to artists and other interested residents. With 14 unique floor plans, exposed brick walls, plenty of natural light, and amenities including a landscaped courtyard, community room, resident computer lab, elevator, and off-street parking, the Beech Street Factory will provide inspiring spaces for Pottstown’s creative community to call home.

The combination of commercial and residential space will ensure a “24-hour” community at the Beech Street Factory, where the busy hum of ArtFusion students during the day gives way to quiet creativity among individual residents at night. The Beech Street Factory will seek to engage with the larger Pottstown community by hosting gallery events at ArtFusion and in the building’s resident community room and open front porch. Residents will be encouraged through Housing Visions scholarships to take classes at ArtFusion, and similarly, members of ArtFusion may wish to apply for residency at the Factory. Additionally, Housing Visions plans to market the residential units to qualified tenants throughout the region by advertising in local arts publications, print and social media, and at local arts events.

The Beech Street Factory provides the catalyst for a renewed conversation about creating a formal Pottstown Arts District. The developers plan to participate on a new Arts Task Force, supporting the Mosaic Community Land Trust in their effort to create an Artist Relocation Program around homeownership in the Beech Street Neighborhood. Through Housing Tax Credit funding, Housing Visions commits its expertise and resources to help improve the quality of life in Pottstown over the next 30 years. By sharing their extensive experience in creative financing and redevelopment of historic properties, Housing Visions and Genesis hope to foster a renewed, stronger emphasis on neighborhood revitalization and quality of life in Pottstown.

By Heather Schroeder, Development Project Manager, Housing Visions

Editor’s thoughts:  This project is gaining supporters. Here is this list, so far:

U.S. Representative Gerlach

Creative MontCo

ArtFusion

Steel River Playhouse

Genesis

Michael Horn, Architect

We feel this project could be the “game changing” catalyst that will finally propel Pottstown’s Arts Revitalization movement forward. Successful completion of a major project in Pottstown would send the signal to funding agencies, investors and developers that Pottstown is now working together toward a common goal. We urge Pottstown Borough Council to get on board with this project.

The biggest thing holding Pottstown back has been the inability of all parties to find common ground and work together. Now that Housing Visions has gotten on board with Pottstown’s desire to be something more than another dumping ground for Montgomery County’s social service ills, and made significant changes to this project, we feel this version is now worthy of our support as well.

We feel the last paragraph regarding the creation of an “arts district” and an artist relocation program is a key component of this project. We have posted about Oil City‘s artist relocation program and how it has helped transform this much smaller and more remote community in Venango County. Pottstown’s excellent location and easy access to Philadelphia, the Lehigh Valley, Reading and Lancaster only improve the chances for success.

We think you will see support continue to build from other stakeholders in the Tri-County area. A revitalized Pottstown benefits EVERYBODY in the 19464,19465 zip codes, and beyond.

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Citizens Action Committee For Pottstown To Give Presentation To Borough Council And Codes, February 20th

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Citizens Action Committee will be giving a presentation to Pottstown Borough Council and the codes and infrastructure departments about a wonderful program that has been implemented in sections of Utah and has proven success in reducing crime and blight in communities, holding landlords accountable, and spurring community revitalization and positive growth.  The program is called The Good Landlord Program, some basic details of it are linked below.  Please make every effort to attend this meeting and show your support of bettering YOUR town! Ears are opening at council and we need to make out presence and interest known!

The presentation will be delivered THIS THURSDAY, February 20th at the Codes/Infrastructure meeting at 5:30 p.m. at Borough Hall.  Take an interest and be part of the solution!

http://www.communityprogress.net/filebin/pdf/toolkit/UtahHousingCoalition_WhatIsTheGoodLandlordProgram.pdf

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Vision For Future Of Pottstown Ready For Public Feedback

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POTTSTOWN, PA — It has been nearly three decades since Pottstown had a new comprehensive plan, but there is a draft on the drawing board right now that is ready for public review.

Crafted with the help of the Montgomery County Planning Commission, the current draft plan provides an overall vision for the community and suggests for how to implement that vision.

The draft calls for taking advantage of what Pottstown has — historic architecture and resources to attract heritage tourism; expanding the airport and railroad access; transitioning apartment units back to single-family ownership and appropriate development of multi-unit apartments.

Pottstown’s first Comprehensive Plan was adopted in 1960.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140208/vision-for-future-of-pottstown-ready-for-public-feedback

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Pottstown Police Department Sees New Recruits, Full Force On Duty

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POTTSTOWN, PA — Borough residents will soon see several new faces in Pottstown Police Department uniforms after the largest class of officers in the history of the department started this past week.

On Jan. 27, seven men began a year-long probationary period with the department, Capt. Robert Thomas said.

Not only is this the largest class of new members, the addition means the department will be running at full complement.

“Our full force is 46 officers,” Thomas said. They represent 15 percent of the department and Thomas said that is a substantial addition.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/20140206/pottstown-police-department-sees-new-recruits-full-force-on-duty

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Opposition Builds To Library Funding Cut By Lower Pottsgrove Township

Location of Lower Pottsgrove Township in Montg...

Location of Lower Pottsgrove Township in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

LOWER POTTSGROVE TOWNSHIP, PA — The township commissioners’ decision to reconsider its 2014 funding for the Pottstown Regional Public Library has resulted in a swelling of support for the library and a number of efforts to keep the funding intact.

Earlier this month when the Board of Commissioners reorganized, the new majority announced its intention to open up the 2014 budget adopted one month earlier and reduce funding to the Pottstown Regional Public Library on High Street.

Paradoxically, in December, Lower Pottsgrove had joined with both Upper Pottsgrove and Pottstown borough in increasing the allocation to the library for 2014.

In Lower Pottsgrove’s case, the commissioners had agreed in December to increase the annual allocation by $5,000 — up to $65,000.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140118/opposition-builds-to-library-funding-cut-by-l-pottstrove

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Pottstown Poised To Fill Vacant Authority, Commission Posts

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POTTSTOWN, PA — Although borough council wasted little time in filling the tax collector vacancy Wednesday night, there are still a few vacant positions up for grabs.

As part of the annual process of filling posts on boards and commissions, council will vote Monday on filling nine open spots, with a 10th vacancy being filled in February.

One seat on the Pottstown Borough Authority is open and two people have applied to fill it. It is currently filled by plumber Aram Ecker, who is seeking a second five-year term. However, newly elected Borough Councilwoman Sheryl Miller has also asked to be appointed.

With Miller’s defeat of Jeff Chomnuk for the third ward seat on council, the authority board currently has no member of borough council, a role Chomnuk had filled.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140110/pottstown-poised-to-fill-vacant-authority-commission-posts

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Pottstown Council OKs $39M Budget, Tax Hike Below 1%, Sewer Rates Up 4%

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POTTSTOWN, PA — The $38.9 million 2014 borough budget was adopted by council with a 5-1-1 vote Monday night after it was announced the tax hike had ducked under the 1 percent mark.

With a 6-1 vote, Council also approved a sewer rate increase of $5 per quarter for the base rate, and an additional 20 cents per 1,000 cubic feet of water used — an increase of about 4 percent.

Borough Manager Mark Flanders announced prior to the budget vote that the 1.01 percent tax hike initially proposed by the administration in November had been cut to 0.95 percent.

For a resident with a home assessed at $85,000, that works out to an increase of $8.39 for the year, he said.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20131210/council-oks-39m-budget-tax-hike-below-1-sewer-rates-up-4

Facing 4.3% Tax Hike, Pottstown Working To Close $330K Budget Deficit

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POTTSTOWN, PA — The public got its first look at the proposed $38.3 million borough budget for 2014 on Wednesday night and saw a projected deficit of more than $330,000 — the rough equivalent of a 4.3 percent property tax increase.

Finance Director Janice Lee made the budget presentation, but did not identify how the administration will propose to close the deficit, which her presentation spreadsheet pegged more specifically at $332,308.

Other than a property tax increase, options for closing that budget gap could include additional revenue from other sources or decreased expenses.

Asked after the meeting how much of a tax hike would be needed to close that gap, Lee declined to speculate and noted that the administration has not yet made a recommendation to borough council, whose members listened to the budget presentation Wednesday night but asked no questions.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20131107/facing-43-tax-hike-pottstown-working-to-close-330k-budget-deficit

Pottstown Council: Miller Ousts Chomnuk In 3rd Ward, Kirkland Defends 7th Ward Seat

Editor’s note:  At least there are two new faces on council!  We also read that Missy Mayor lost to Sharon Thomas.  Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus :)

POTTSTOWN, PA — Borough council will swear in two new members as a result of Tuesday’s election that will leave council with only one Republican member.

In the Third Ward race, Democratic challenger Sheryl Miller ousted incumbent Republican Jeff Chomnuk by a slim unofficial 13-vote margin, according to unofficial results posted on the Montgomery County voter services website.

However, in the Seventh Ward, incumbent Democrat Joe Kirkland successfully defended his seat for a second time against Republican challenger Cindy Conard, winning by a 77-vote margin, according to unofficial results.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20131105/pottstown-council-miller-ousts-chomnuk-in-3rd-ward-kirkland-defends-7th-ward-seat

Municipal Elections In Pottstown, November 5th

Tuesday, November 5th, is Election Day.  There are many options on the ballot which will directly impact everyday life for Pottstown Borough residents.  The people running for election tomorrow will be determining things like how much tax you pay and the direction the school district and borough take over the coming years.  The four school board candidates are all running unopposed but there are choices for two council seats and the mayor.

If you aren’t satisfied with how the borough spends your money, then tomorrow is your opportunity to vote for positive change.  Do you want to live in a safer environment?  Do you want your taxes to stop going up?  Do you want to see more economic development in the borough?  Do you want the elected leadership to actually have a plan of action instead of just “keeping a lid on the power keg”?  Do you want to see the leadership work together for the betterment of the community instead of in-fighting and having personal agendas?  Are you tired of seeing For Sale signs every where you look?  Are you tired of Pottstown being Montgomery County’s dumping ground for social services and Section 8 Housing?

We are officially endorsing the following candidates for mayor and borough council:

 

301241_1150220388989_8259643_nSharon Valentine Thomas, Mayor of Pottstown

Running against incumbent Bonnie Heath

 

 

 

 

Sheryl Miller headshot

Sheryl Miller, Pottstown Borough Council, Ward 3

Running against incumbent Jeff Chomnuk

 

 

 

 

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Cindy Conard, Pottstown Borough Council, Ward 7

Running against incumbent Joe Kirkland

 

 

 

 

Here is the latest map of polling locations in Pottstown Borough:

Pottstown New Polling Locations

Budget Preparations Getting Started In Pottstown Borough

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POTTSTOWN, PA — Although Pottstown Borough Council has yet to be presented with a budget draft, the members of council’s finance committee have.

It is too soon to say if council will be able to avoid raising property taxes for two years in a row, but it is obviously on everybody’s mind.

Councilman Dan Weand, who chairs the finance committee, told council that he likes the way the borough finances are shaping up.

“So far, with 75 percent of the year passed, we’ve brought in 85 percent of the revenue and only seen 74 percent of the expenses,” said Weand.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20131019/budget-preparations-getting-started-in-pottstown-borough

Pottstown Takes Aim At $27M In Medical Costs For Retired Police

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POTTSTOWN — Facing a potential liability of as much as $27 million for medical costs for current and future retired police personnel, the borough is finally beginning to set aside money to cover the costs, as a financial review and several audits have recommended.

At its Sept. 4 meeting, council was briefed on the proposal to set aside $250,000 per year for what the council agenda labeled opaquely as “OPEB,” which, according to Borough Manager Mark Flanders, stands for “other post employment benefits.”

The official vote will occur at Monday night’s council meeting, which begins at 7 and is the meeting at which the public is allowed to comment.

These potential costs are not retirement payments, but rather represent medical benefits for retirees, both current and future.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130908/NEWS01/130909553/pottstown-takes-aim-at-27m-in-medical-costs-for-retired-police#full_story

Pottstown Poised To Loosen Tree Rules

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note: What’s that I hear?  Is it the sound of wailing coming from the 200 block of Chestnut Street?  To say the tree ordinance was “a little bit extreme” is the understatement of the decade.

POTTSTOWN — Borough council is expected to vote Monday on a proposal to lessen the requirements for plantingtrees when a property is developed or re-developed.

Specifically, the vote would authorize Borough Solicitor Charles D. Garner Jr. to advertise an amendment to the borough’s sub-division and land development ordinance, known as a SLDO, and would apply to “open space trees” and to “parking lot trees.”

“This is the result of an ongoing theme at the planning commission,” Garner told council during the Wednesday work session.

“We were calculating a large number of trees and then granting waivers and it was becoming problematic,” he said.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130906/NEWS01/130909576/pottstown-poised-to-loosen-tree-rules

Write-In Votes Change The Face Of Fall Elections

Editor’s note:  The only way to make Pottstown better is to clean house!  New mayor, new councilors. We ask you to please support the new candidates running for office and write in Ross Belovich for mayor.  If you wonder why, check out the Crime in Pottstown Facebook page and read what’s happening to your town.  It’s time to take it back!   POWER TO THE POTTSTOWN PEOPLE!

In Montgomery County, a contested Democratic primary in Pottstown’s Seventh Ward has translated into a general election battle.

Although incumbent Borough Councilman Joseph Kirkland easily won the Democratic line in the November ballot, his opponent, Cindy Conard picked up 50 wrote-in votes on the Republican line, for which no candidates were running.

As a result, the two will face-off again on the November ballot, with Kirkland on the Democratic line and Conard on the Republican line.

Read entire article here:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130723/NEWS01/130729836/write-in-votes-change-the-face-of-fall-elections#full_story

New Facebook Page, Crime In Pottstown, Is Valuable Tool For Residents

There’s a new Facebook page dedicated to crime in Pottstown.  Unfortunately, there is a need for such a thing to exist.  The delusional  leadership doesn’t seem to think there are any problems in town but if you read this page you will see ordinary citizens telling their stories about being victims of crime.  Burglary is a big problem in Pottstown along with drugs.  Probably because they go hand in hand.  This is an eye-opening read which helps keep residents and those who work in town up to date.  We urge you to share information and keep informed.

We have listed Crime in Pottstown under our Important Pottstown Sites on the right hand side of the page.  Here is a link to click on which will take you directly there.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Crime-in-Pottstown/149360611925992

Pottstown Has A Drug Problem – See For Yourself

1044756_392391437532570_1638549602_nThis is a picture of drug baggies that were collected in the 400 block of King Street this morning, Sunday, June 23, 2013, by a homeowner and taxpayer.  This is an everyday occurrence for people who live in the core neighborhood in Pottstown.  Does this not look like a problem!?!  One day, one block, seven baggies.

Drugs lead to crime and violence; burglaries, shootings and stabbings, oh my!  How does allowing this problem to continue help Pottstown?  Why does the leadership sit idly by and watch Pottstown deteriorate?  The crime rate is astronomical.

Why isn’t Pottstown aligning itself with the Berks County drug summit initiative?  If you listen to certain people, they will tell you Pottstown’s drug problems are because of Reading and Philadelphia.  I am sure that is a big part of the problem.  I bet if somebody in authority reached out to Berks County and explained what’s going on in Pottstown they might allow you to be part of the group, being so close to the Berks County line.

If you listen to others, like Mayor Bonnie Heath, they are in complete denial that Pottstown has problems.  If you try and point out the problems you are labeled a malcontent activist.  Being a cheerleader for the borough is one thing, being in complete denial is quite another.  Bonnie oversees the police department and wants a second term as Mayor of Pottstown.  The queen of obfuscation wants your vote in November.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  Just imagine how many more baggies could have been picked up this morning on the streets of Pottstown.  Houston, we have a problem.

The Suburbs: Pottstown Is Worried Over Tax Credit Housing Developer Who Answers Few Questions

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  It appears others are closely watching what Pottstown Borough Council decides regarding this low-income tax credit project and we are pleased!

Up in Pottstown (that’s in MontCo for you folks who don’t know what lies beyond the City’s limits) is a blightfighter who runs Golden Cockroach, an activist fighting against substandard rental living conditions in rental apartments, vacancy and urban (yes, urban!) blight up in Pottstown.

A boro of only 22,000 people, Pottstown occupies a small 5 square mile area of the western corner of Montgomery County, bested by Norristown and Conshohocken in urban density.  Most of the town is middle income at the high end and lower end working class.  As an older PA boro with an industrial past, it has its share of rusty buildings and older housing stock.  Ranchers on large plots are few.  Twin porchfront rowhomes with postage stamp front yards, many.

Since the housing bubble burst 5 years ago Pottstown has seen an increase in cash buyer investors seeking to grab deeds and insert renters into properties as has happened in other PA towns like Bensalem where subprime mortgages existed.  Many of those investors are absentee, maintenance is less than spectacular, and residents are worried that if left unchecked, and combined with urban-industrial decay within the town, that could put Pottstown’s viability as a desirable place to live under fire if quality of life worsens.  No one wants to see Pottstown decay into Chester or see its tax base erode or flee.

Read more:  http://www.philadelinquency.com/?p=2866

$3M Bike Lane/Sidewalk Project Would Create Safe Routes To Schools In Pottstown

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POTTSTOWN — An ambitious $3 million plan to repair sidewalks and install bike lanes throughout the town as part of an effort to establish “Safe Routes to Schools” was unveiled Monday before borough council.

The idea is to combine state transportation funding and seek funding from the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation as a match to undertake the upgrades, which would include repairing numerous damaged borough sidewalks at no cost to property owners.

At the same time, said Pottstown School District Superintendent Jeff Sparagana, the district would seek to incorporate the idea of physical fitness into its curriculum and encourage students to walk or ride a bicycle to school and home again.

Sparagana offered up two towns, Naperville, Ill. and Titusville, Pa., where similar efforts were undertaken and have proven successful.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130613/NEWS01/130619676/-3m-bike-lane-sidewalk-project-would-create-safe-routes-to-schools#full_story