Quality of Life improvements in the Borough of Pottstown are high on the agenda these days. Improving the experience of living in Pottstown is a key element in the revitalization process. To that end, the Borough Manager found a program that tackles a long-standing problem here in Pottstown – codes! Blighted properties and abuses by absentee landlords have plagued our town for decades. In order to clean up the mess and make Pottstown more attractive to current residents, prospective residents and commercial/business interests, our Codes Department needs more bodies on the streets.
The Citizen Codes Inspector Program takes borough residents, in good standing, and trains them to assist the Codes Department personnel by identifying and reporting code violations. Here is a partial list of the qualifications for a Citizen Code Inspector:
-Residency in the borough
-General good health
-No outstanding violations/citations with the Borough of Pottstown in areas of parking, legal, codes, water, sewer, trash or taxes.
-Good communication skills
-Ability/desire to walk some distance on borough streets and alleyways
The Borough Manager and the Codes Department personnel will be responsible for selecting those individuals who have applied for these positions.
The Citizen Codes Inspector is a volunteer (unpaid) position. The goal is to find borough residents who wish to become involved and make a difference in the community by volunteering their time to assist the Codes Department. Programs similar to this are already in place in other municipalities in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and have been very successful. The Borough Manager researched this program thoroughly before recommending it to Pottstown Borough Council for approval.
The training program will last four weeks and require about 7 hours to complete. The first phase is 2-4 hours of classroom training and the second phase is 2-3 hours of field experience with a Codes Department employee. During phase two (field experience) the trainee will practice writing up reports and have them reviewed by their Codes Department trainer.
The third phase is a debriefing and group session to do a final review and answer questions.
Safety of the Citizen Codes Inspector is paramount and there are systems in place to ensure this. Citizen Inspectors will be given identification and some sort of apparel to help identify them. The Pottstown Police Department will be made aware when these inspections are taking place. Citizen Inspectors will not enter private property. Inspections will be made from the public right-of-way to minimize any confrontations between the Citizen Inspectors and property owners.
If you live in the Borough of Pottstown and would like to volunteer your time to make a difference, click on the link below. You can read the entire article I have summarized and fill out an application to become a Citizen Codes Inspector.
Many thanks to Jason Bobst, Pottstown Borough Manager, for finding a creative solution to a big problem that does not require raising taxes or adding staff!