One of the agenda items at tonight’s Pottstown Borough Council meeting was:
8. Motion to approve the submission of an application to the Montgomery County Community Revitalization Board and prioritize from the following projects:
- Western Gate
- Gallery on High
- Pottstown Skyline Lighting Project
Councilor Joe Kirkland made a motion to change the order making the Gallery on High the first priority, the Skyline Project would be second and the Western Gateway would be third.
After making his motion, Councilor Kirkland spoke in favor of the Gallery on High in downtown Pottstown. People attending shows, exhibits and classes can then take advantage of their proximity to places like the Brick House, Juan Carlos, Funky Lil’ Kitchen and other downtown bars, restaurants and shops. In light of the recent budget cuts in Harrisburg, the Gallery School has offered to partner with Pottstown School District in the event arts funding is severely cut or eliminated so students will still have this important educational component.
Councilor Chomnuk disagreed and stated he preferred the Western Gateway be made the number one priority as it would be more beneficial to Pottstown. Since the Gallery Building was already renovated, Chomnuk did not think the Gallery on High’s project would be approved by the county.
Councilor Allen agreed with Councilor Chomnuk. She did express her feelings that the Gallery on High does good things but she feels the Western Gateway would be more beneficial.
Councilor Rhoads spoke in favor of the Gallery on High because they are an existing business and contribute to downtown Pottstown. (If the Gallery could buy their building and make the necessary renovations to the third floor, basement and reconfigure their current layout, the Gallery could contribute even more to downtown Pottstown.)
Councilor Weand spoke in favor of the Gallery on High for many of the same reasons listed above. He sees the benefit of having a thriving business on High Street that brings people into downtown Pottstown “our mall”.
President Toroney spoke in favor of the Gallery on High. The arts are listed in the Urban Land Institute Report as a way to revitalize downtown Pottstown and we should follow the suggestions of this study. He also recognizes the contribution the Gallery and TriPAC make to our downtown. President Toroney and his wife attended “The Crucible” production at the TriPAC and he stated he only recognized about three people. People are coming into Pottstown from outside the borough to attend these productions.
Councilor Gibson did not speak as he was not present at tonight’s meeting
After much discussion, a roll call vote was taken:
Allen – NO
Chomnuk – NO
Kirkland – Yes
Rhoads – Yes
Weand – Yes
Toroney – Yes
Gibson – absent
Mr. Kirkland’s motion passed making the Gallery on High proposal the borough’s number one priority when applying for these county funds.
Cathy Paretti, Co-Founder and Director of the Gallery addressed Council during the comments from citizen’s present, before the vote. Mrs. Paretti asked Council to please make this project a priority. She explained that if the Gallery could buy their building they could make the necessary renovations to expand their presence downtown and services to residents. Cathy also mentioned that the Gallery has a great relationship with the Pottstown School District and if arts education gets cut from the budget, due to decreased funding from Harrisburg, the Gallery would be there to pick up the slack. Also present in a show of support was Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Gallery School, Erika Hornburg-Cooper.
Roy’s Rants gives Pottstown Council two thumbs up for supporting an existing downtown business, supporting the arts and paying attention to the ULI Report’s recommendations to move Pottstown forward.
We hope the county sees the wisdom of this decision. Jason Bobst, Borough Manager and Erica Weekly, Assistant to the Borough Manager will be presenting this proposal to the county so I feel we are in good hands as they are excellent public speakers who can effectively articulate our needs.