The meeting was called to order by President Steve Toroney.
The minutes were approved.
Public comment was taken.
The first speaker said he is working toward becoming an Eagle Scout and his project is to beautify the Pottstown signs around the borough that indicate upcoming events. Signs are located across from the YMCA, PMMC and two other locations in the borough. The scout will plant ornamental grasses and flowers. The project will cost about $500.00 and be paid for by donation.
The second speaker said he was in favor of the new rental ordinance that Council is working on.
The third speaker spoke about pit bulls running loose in Pottstown. His dog was mauled by a pit bull. The dog owner incurred medical bills for his animal. He wanted to know if we have an ordinance on the books for pit bulls.
The fourth speaker was a landlord in Pottstown who thinks we already have enough regulations on the books that are not currently being enforced. He is not in favor of any additional requirements for landlords in the borough.
The fifth speaker was the wife of the pit bull owner and she spoke regarding the pit bull situation.
The sixth speaker was another landlord who objects to the new rental ordinance.
The seventh speaker (a homeowner) made the point that we have landlords in the borough who run up $20,000.00 worth of unpaid water, sewer and trash bills and their water is not shut off. On the other hand, homeowners will have their water shut off fairly quickly. He supports the new rental ordinance.
The eighth speaker was not in favor of approving the US 422 Transportation Master Plan including tolls on 422. He feels the plan is flawed and asked Council to vote NO!
Jason gave his Manager’s Report.
Jason said US Congressmen Jim Gerlach and Joe Sestak are taking Section 8 issues to Washington DC as the result of the First Suburbs meetings. (Pottstown and Norristown are overrun with Section 8 housing and need relief from the strain Section 8 puts on both communities.)
http://www.acleanerpottstown,org is a new borough website to report code violations. They have received approximately 55 complaints thus far.
The CBDG sidewalk grant was in jeopardy but we are resubmitting!
PAID has started writing bylaws and searching for a Director. They hope to have this completed by January 2011.
We are applying for a grant to help pay for snow removal from the blizzards of 2010 through FEMA/PEMA. Jason said we would like to get $15,000.00 to recoup what we spent. (Montgomery County aggressively pursued FEMA for these funds and was awarded millions of dollars to help communities like Pottstown with snow removal expense).
Pottstown is seeking a PennDOT grant for the pedestrian promenade which must be submitted by September 15th. This grant is 100%.
There was mention of Keystone Boulevard and a grant being shared with West Pottsgrove Township. The process would be 1 ½ years. Not sure of the specifics.
Park & Recreation is moving temporarily to Borough Hall as of September 1st. Their new office will eventually be at the new mini-golf course.
All minutes will now be posted on the borough website, one month behind. Score one for transparency.
Richard Almquist, Pottstown Redevelopment Group, made a presentation on what to do about improving the Mrs. Smith’s Foil Plant building exterior.
The Feroe Bldg. has a yellow industrial shell that is not attractive. Council wants this façade changed to make the gateway into the borough more attractive. The tenant aka Mrs. Smith’s Foil does not want the exterior of the building modified.
The exterior, under the yellow shell, is in bad condition and almost nothing can be done with it. It won’t support stucco etc… The building has a unique insulation system that affords the tenant energy savings. The tenant said they will consider litigation if necessary to prevent the building being modified.
The Foil Plant provides over 50 jobs (more during peak season) so we do not want to lose a job creating/tax paying entity in Pottstown Borough. (Personally, I did not realize any part of Mrs. Smith’s was still in Pottstown)
Mr. Almquist did a colorful presentation on what could be done to improve the exterior of the building without modifying or removing the outside skin. Murals and building art was the crux of his presentation. There is money in escrow that could be used immediately to enhance the exterior.
Philadelphia has one of the largest mural collections in the United States and this urban art certainly adds to any neighborhood. Council would have final say on anything selected.
There is also talk about lighting which is another cool idea. Pittsburgh is a great example of specialized lighting on bridges and buildings.
FYI…Phoenixville has a large mural in their downtown that represents Phoenixville’s steel heritage.
A new Shade Tree Ordinance needs to be written in “ordinance language” and a draft presented to Council for review. This new ordinance will make the current Shade Tree Commission obsolete. Council would take ownership of borough tree maintenance. There was talk about establishing a permanent funding source as a long-term solution; however, there would be an immediate need for funding for the first year. Councilor Weand raised the question could we get money back from Trees, Inc. (to pay for the first year) since Pottstown contributed very generously to Trees, Inc. in the past. That is something to be looked into. The motion carried to draft the new ordinance which should be ready next month.
The Carousel of Flavor will take place on 09/26/10. Council approved High Street being shut down from 10 am to 6 pm and also gave their approval for the beer and wine garden again this year.
Pottstown Borough Council was asked for their endorsement of the US 422 Transportation Master Plan, excluding the tolling of 422. Councilor Gibson stated his opposition to our endorsement after learning that the Keim Street bridge replacement has been delayed from 2013 until 2020. It appears the western end of the county gets forgotten.
If the Keim Street Bridge collapses into the Schuylkill River ahead of the replacement schedule, it will not be replaced until such time as the work is scheduled. See the 12th of Never.
Councilor Gibson pointed out there are four major bridges that need replaced around Pottstown: Armand Hammer Boulevard, Keim Street, Stowe and Hanover Street. These bridges are crucial to Pottstown’s ability to revitalize. Our needs are not being met in this end of the county so why should we cooperate with this plan.
Council did not give their endorsement of the US 422 Transportation Master Plan by a vote of 5-2 with only Toroney and Kirkland voting yes. It appears most of Council agrees with Mr. Gibson.
The Church of the Nazarene will be the location for the next town hall meeting for Wards 6 & 7 on 08/10/10 at 7:00 pm.
Meeting was adjourned!