Votes Push Development Along Pottstown’s Keystone Boulevard

Editor’s note:  We find ourselves in agreement with the majority on council who voted for this undertaking.  We also feel the tax breaks for Heritage Coach Co. were necessary.  Having that property sit idle accomplishes nothing and provides no income for the borough or the school district.  It also provides no employment which means there is less money to be spent on existing Pottstown businesses.  Until the word gets out to the investment community that Pottstown is open for business and that establishing a business in Pottstown is a good idea, incentives will need to be used to attract development.  

Cleaning up Pottstown would go along way towards fostering development.  Nobody wants to open a business in a crime-ridden community.  Unfortunately, that is the perception you are dealing with, whether it’s entirely true or not.  Perception IS reality.  Cracking down on crime, Section 8 housing and the pervasive drug problem need to be priority one in order to attract business, industry and homeowners.   The number of rental units is too high, partly due to reputation of the Pottstown School District, the reputation of Pottstown Borough and the high taxes.  Any real estate professional will tell you the same thing.  Selling a home in Pottstown is difficult.

POTTSTOWN — Prospects for development along Keystone Boulevard have been bolstered by two votes of borough council Monday evening.

With a unanimous vote, the council approved a “memorandum of understanding” with West Pottsgrove that pledges both municipalities to pursue efforts to extend Keystone Boulevard, which runs parallel to West High Street and the Schuylkill River, into West Pottsgrove to connect with Grosstown Road.

“It’s a conceptual agreement for defining a path to move forward,” Borough Solicitor Charles D. Garner Jr. explained to council.

The extension of Keystone Boulevard through the former Flagg Brass property in West Pottsgrove and over to the Stowe interchange has long been envisioned and was the subject of an $81,000 study by the Rettew Associates engineering firm.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130613/NEWS01/130619600/votes-push-development-along-pottstown-s-keystone-blvd-#full_story

$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

Edgewood ‘Family’ Says Goodbye In Heartfelt Closing Ceremony

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

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

POTTSTOWN — The end of 44 years of educational tradition was marked Friday afternoon with closing ceremonies held at Edgewood Elementary School.

Students, teachers, staff, retirees, parents, administrators and school board members all gathered in the building’s steaming all-purpose room to say goodbye to the school they have called home for so many years, and to the people they have called “family” for just as long.

“This is a place that has welcomed every child as family,” Superintendent Jeff Sparagana told the assembly. “This is a school community that greets anyone who walks through the door as their own.”

He praised the work done at the school saying “never let anyone say our staff does not take the work they do seriously. If anyone in this region says the work we do here is not done well, I invite them to come here and visit and see for themselves.”

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130601/NEWS01/130539783/edgewood-family-says-goodbye-in-heartfelt-closing-ceremony#full_story

Pottstown School Board Urged To Approve KOZ Deal

Editor’s note:  We agree!

The Pottstown School Board is set to vote tonight on a tax break deal that would bring a new business to the Keystone Opportunity Zone.

Pottstown Borough Council has approved the tax break, but if the school board votes no, the plan is nixed.

The three boards that levy property tax — council, school board and county commissioners — must all approve it for the business to relocate to Pottstown.  Montgomery County Commissioners have said they will go along with whatever the two local governing bodies decide.

As with council, we urge the school board to vote yes to this proposal as an incentive to business and as a smart move in the longer view of the borough economic development.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130325/OPINION01/130329656/pottstown-school-board-urged-to-approve-koz-deal-#full_story

Pottstown Borough Council Dickers Over Tax Abatement Deal

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

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

Editor’s note:  Pottstown is already perceived as NOT business friendly.  Companies aren’t rushing to relocate there.  The KOZ site is empty.  The best chance of enticing other companies to build there is to get a business in there STAT.  Then you can market away.  These tax abatements are the cost of doing business.  Sadly, not many on council understand that.

POTTSTOWN — Several borough council members Wednesday picked at a proposed tax relief deal floated to bring a new business to town, saying the borough is giving too much away.

The discussion centers around the former 84 Lumber truss assembly plant at 451 Keystone Blvd., which a Conshohocken business wants to buy for a hearse and limousine company that would bring half a dozen jobs to the borough.

The site is located in Pottstown’s mostly moribund Keystone Opportunity Zone, which would allow for a property tax abatement on the property, with the agreement of council and the school board.

After knocking the subject around at the joint meeting between borough council and the school board on Feb. 26, Borough Manager Mark Flanders and Schools Superintendent Jeff Sparagana were tasked with negotiating with Jay Lankford of Heritage Coach Co. Inc. to iron out a deal all sides could agree on.

Read more:   http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130308/NEWS01/130309489/pottstown-council-dickers-over-tax-abatement-deal#full_story

Pottstown Joint Meeting Wrestles With Jobs Versus Lost Tax Dollars

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

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

POTTSTOWN — During the first joint meeting of the year between borough council and the Pottstown School Board, discussion was free-flowing and frequent.

Perhaps highest on the list, and the subject which generated the most focused conversation, had to do with a business that wants to occupy the former 84 Lumber truss plant at the end of Keystone Boulevard.

Steve Bamford, the director of Pottstown Area Industrial Development Inc. and the borough’s chief economic development officer, gave for the third time, an overview of the Keystone Opportunity Zone program and the request from Heritage Coach Co. to occupy some of the space there.

Sellers of hearses and limousines, Heritage began as a side business for the Lankford family, which also operated a GM dealership in Conshohocken that was shut down during what Jay Lankford, a Hill School graduate, called GM’s “political sham of a bankruptcy.”

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130228/NEWS01/130229383/pottstown-joint-meeting-wrestles-with-jobs-vs-lost-tax-dollars#full_story

Pottstown Meeting Set To Boost Borough-School District Cooperation

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

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

Editor’s note:  Considering the same 5 square miles comprises the school district and the borough, this is well overdue.  However, on a positive note, we will hope this leads to substantive change for the beleaguered Pottstown taxpayer.

POTTSTOWN — It won’t just be the location of the joint school board/borough council meeting Tuesday that is unusual.

The agenda is short, unusual in itself, and further, it is focused almost exclusively on breaking down barriers to cooperation.

“We want to set the stage for collaborating, for open communication,” said schools Superintendent Jeff Sparagana who, along with Borough Manager Mark Flanders, met with The Mercury Thursday to outline their efforts.

“That’s one of the reasons we wanted to have the meeting off-site,” said Flanders. “To put everyone in a setting that encourages participation and interaction.”

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130225/NEWS01/130229649/pottstown-meeting-set-to-boost-borough-school-district-cooperation#full_story