I have good news and I have bad news.
Good news first!
After a 10 minute emotionally charged “presentation” by Shade Tree Commissioner Thomas Hylton and a round of questioning, Borough Council unanimously passed the new Shade Tree Ordinance thereby making the Shade Tree Commission and Thomas Hylton history.
Hylton told Council he hoped they knew what they were getting themselves into by taking on trees. He reminded Council that as a nonprofit he has “discretion” on what he does and does not do. Therein lies the problem Tom and that is why you are no longer in charge. It is a little thing called customer service. Being arbitrary is NOT good public relations.
Hylton made a statement that led some on Council to believe Trees, Inc. would no longer use their money to provide tree services if the Shade Tree Commission was disbanded. His answer was vague. When further pressed Hylton emotionally stated that it is hard to do a job when people throw bricks at you all the time. Finally when pressed again said he would continue to help, aka Trees, Inc.. Hylton then left the meeting.
Council had a big decision to make which will decide Pottstown’s path for the future. The question was do we want to be like Manayunk or do we want to be a low-income retirement community. After much debate we unanimously chose the low-income retirement community option. 1.5 acres of prime riverfront property will become a subsidized 55+ housing project (rentals). In the end, $11 million dollars and a supposed guarantee that the property will always stay on the tax rolls won out.
This project is good for 15 years. After 15 years the property could be sold to a private investor who could potentially make undesirable changes. Of course the “pitch man” said that would be highly unlikely….right.
While Pottstown has a demonstrated need for senior housing this site is wrong, wrong, wrong. Furthermore, these residents will pull our already low demographics down further. Residents will not buy things on High Street. They will not eat at the Brick House or Juan Carlos. They won’t be able to afford it. They won’t have enough disposable income left after paying their rent and electric bill. By the way, the heat is ELECTRIC and not included!!!! Excelon is rasing their already astronomical rates even higher!
I was told more senior housing is planned for the borough. Evidently a larger project is in the works for the old Pottstown Nipple factory area. I will venture a guess we are not talking about a project like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Villages,_Florida but more like the towers or this new riverfront community.
There was a lot of other business discussed which I will report on tomorrow.