Community meeting announced to stem violence

In the wake of the recent gunfire in Pottstown, the mayor and local and county law enforcement officials will hold a meeting next week to address residents’ concerns and report on what measures can/will be taken to prevent further outbreaks.

The meeting will be led by Police Chief Flanders, Mayor Bonnie Heath and District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman. It will be held at Invictus Ministries, 79 N. Hanover Street on Wednesday, November 17 at 6:30 p.m.

Please come out in a show of strength to restore sanity and safety to the streets of Pottstown. I’ll see you there.

Sending good vibes to a fellow blogger & friend

Mo Gallant, the voice of Pottstown’s Blog, has taken down her blog. I hope this is a temporary situation. I’m not sure many people know the persistence, time and energy it takes to keep blogging day after day, and Mo was one of the most prolific bloggers I’ve ever come across, commenting multiple times a day on local, national and world news and trends. I’m rooting for you, Mo, sending good vibes your way, and wishing you all the best.



Downtown Ambassadors Program

In a comment on another post, Katy mentioned Easton, PA’s Downtown Ambassadors program, and I thought I’d post some links. I’ve heard a few folks from Pottstown mention this, but I didn’t know that there was a company that actually provides this service to downtown improvement districts. Basically, you can contract to have casually-uniformed ambassadors on your downtown streets, cleaning, providing info to visitors and being  a security presence. They carry 2-way radios, too.

Here’s a link to Block By Block, the company. And here’s an article on the positive feedback on Easton’s program. Looks and sounds like a great idea. Money — always an issue. Maybe a volunteer force? Worth looking into, for sure. Thanks, Katy!

Pottstown: Time for the full-court press?

The article about Danville, PA that we just added to our Revitalization Library got me thinking about very specific actions that Pottstown might want to consider now.

Why not take the $45,000 remaining after painting the Mrs. Smith’s building brick red and apply it to QUANTIFIABLE & VISIBLE ACTIONS to improve Pottstown’s downtown?

High Street is THE face of Pottstown. People take one look and make a snap judgment, maybe without even getting out of their cars. Pretty soon High Street is going to be beautifully illuminated. Now is the time to press any advantage to be gained from that, coordinate resources, and put out a blitz of tried-and-true downtown economic development strategies.

1) I’ve heard from several sources that there was a downtown site  inventory/survey started or completed as follow-up to the Economic Development Strategic PlanWhere is it? Resurrect & update it. Find a simple, clean, attractive, inexpensive way to create an online database with key information about vacant properties that are available for sale or rent; allow for uploading of photos. Call upon Montgomery County Community College’s new urban planning students to help with site inventory and in getting additional info from local realtors and the county’s property records database. Input the data and unveil a new downtown district marketing tool via PDIDA’s website.

2) Determine the vacancy rate in the downtown and set a goal for getting X number of additional storefronts occupied within 6 months. Use some of the $45K to create a rent subsidy/marketing incentives package to attract new businesses that have solid business plans. Include existing businesses in the marketing plans. (I don’t know what PDIDA’s budget is, but I’m pretty sure it needs more resources to get its job done.)

3)  There is this wonderful resource for new and existing business owners right in the New York Plaza building at 244 High Street: SCORE. They’re a non-profit business mentoring association that gets funding from the U.S. Small Business Association. Four times a year they offer a workshop seriesto help with all aspects of running a business. They offer other courses as well, all of which are taught by experienced professionals who volunteer their time to share their knowledge. Use some of the $45K to fund partial scholarships for new Pottstown-based businesses and nearly-full scholarships for existing business owners.

Imagine the messages the Borough could pretty quickly & easily send to the business world:

1) Here’s our downtown property inventory; we want to help you find the space that works for your business.

2) If you have a solid business plan, we will help with the rent during a pre-determined start-up phase.

3) We help promote all our businesses.

4) We will fund training workshops and introduce you to a network of business professionals to help you succeed.

5) By the time the 2011 First Saturdays start up again, there will be a VISIBLE difference in the downtown.

6) By coordinating the expertise already in the community, we can make $45K go a long way.

High Street is how the outside world judges you.At some point, you gotta put on your full-court press.

(Ideally, along a parallel path, the Borough would be doing the same thing for its industrial sites, including facilitating brownfield clean-up & marketing the sites nationwide, even internationally. I’d put an emphasis on green manufacturing and renewable energy tech companies, but that’s just me.)

Danville, PA: “Each stride forward begets another.”

I am sending a HUGE thank-you out to Pottstown resident Andrew Kefer for sending along this article:Welcome to Downtown Danville, the Vibrant Small Town You Never Expected.

There are so many lessons here that could be immediately applied to Pottstown’s revitalization.

1) Create a “better business climate.”

2) Tap Montco college students for discrete planning and community development projects and give those students real-world experience.

3) Resurrect the facade improvement program. (Is PDIDA’s Facade Rehabilitation Loan program active?)

4) Promote arts district downtown. (Danville is doing a multi-year mural program: “To one degree or another, all murals should touch on Danville’s heritage and history,” said Danville Main Street manager, Jim Wilson. Although I think a mural program would be fantastic, in the post that follows this one, I’m going to suggest using the additional $45K from the re-painting of the Mrs. Smith building toward other economic development efforts. For me it’s a matter of timing and getting the most bang for the buck. )

5) Create a business incubator downtown. Get designated as a Keystone Innovation Zone to get grants to attract tech start-ups and entrepreneurs. (Is this state designation/funding still available?)

Thanks again to Andrew for this informative, idea-packed article!


Mélange Dance Company at Tri-PAC… NOW!

Mélange Contemporary Dance Company is the resident dance company of the Tri-County Performing Arts Center on High Street. They are back from their recent tour of Poland and are performing this weekend. There are just two shows left – tonight and tomorrow afternoon, so get your tickets today! The following press release gives insights to their recent overseas trip. sr

Back from their tour of Poland, the Mélange Contemporary Dance Company returns to the Tri-County Performing Arts Center, 245 E. High Street, Pottstown for a weekend of superb music and dance. On stage for three shows only, November 5th through 7th, their performance features pieces performed at The International Dance Festival in Ladek Zdroj Poland, as well as new works.

The dances are informed by experience – and their experiences during this year’s trip to Poland left some lasting impressions! Much like our recent weather, Poland experienced severe storms and flooding, and when Mélange arrived to perform at the International Festival they discovered that the stage had become unstable due to the wet ground. The entire festival had to be moved to the town square – a quaint, old part of the town, while pumps sent in from Russia worked to reclaim the original festival area.

The town of Ladek Zdroj, Poland is one of the oldest spa towns in Europe. The old buildings survived untouched during WWII because the Germans utilized the spa treatments. It is said that Mozart’s wife Costanza used them too! During the dancers’ downtime they were able to relax and enjoy a swim in a naturally heated indoor pool of mineral water, time in a salt cave that helps sinuses and respiration, and a body de-tox. They were also given a class by a world class instructor from Warsaw.

During the festival Mélange was a headlining group, and participated in a week of classes, performances, and lectures with dancers, teachers, critics, and students from around the globe. A local sculptor thought their program was the best one during the whole week and has since sent pictures he took to Michelle Jones-Wurtz, for whom he made a sculpture that he plans to present to the company next year.

The company includes Founder and Artistic Director Michelle Jones Wurtz, Christa Campbell, Krista Grunklee ,Emily Horstmann Getchell, Jessica Jarvis, Jill Michalsky, Sara Pyfer, Jackie Kokolus, and Tija Ore. Their November performance at the Tri-PAC will showcase a diverse, energetic suite of dances.

Tickets for all shows at the Tri-PAC are available online. Please note that seating is limited, and shows do fill quickly, so go to to purchase your tickets now or call 610.970.1199!

Tickets range from $13 for children 12 and under, $15 for students and seniors (65+), and $17 for adults. Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. When available, tickets will be sold at the door. Remember, it’s all happening on High Street!

Village Productions is a dynamic nonprofit performing arts organization that seeks to strengthen community, inspire creative exploration, educate, and entertain, through the presentation of quality performing arts events and educational opportunities geared toward a diverse audience. The new Tri-County Performing Arts Center at 245 E. High Street, Pottstown, PA is the home of Village Productions. You may contact Village Productions through their website at, or by telephone at 610-970-1199.

East Vincent’s Park on the Ridge: Active recreation & access to nature, all in one location

East Vincent’s Community Park on the Ridge has got every imaginable amenity for active family members of all ages. From the moment you turn off Ridge Road and into the driveway adjacent to the municipal building, you will be impressed at the landscape that unfolds before you. The park slopes downward from the playground, tot lots and pavilion, which are at the highest point. From there I took a path that led toward a small bridge. On the way, I passed a meadow and informative marker.

There are markers throughout the park that explain various ecosystems and notable environmental characteristics, such as riparian wetlands and hedgerows. It’s clear that whoever planned this park wanted to draw visitors’ attention to environmental resources as well as the active recreation that’s available in abundance.

For local teams, there are ball fields and soccer fields. The basketball, tennis and volleyball courts offer options for young and old alike. If you want to jog, or just take a walk while pushing a stroller, there are loop trails throughout the park so you can vary the scenery while getting your workout.

Exercise stations along the way offer additional challenges. I looked a good long while at the parallel bars, but decided against giving them a try; I wanted to finish this series without sustaining a single injury!

Although I don’t seem to have gotten a picture of it, there was actually a tetherball set-up. I remember playing tetherball at Laurelwood Pool in North Coventry many, many years ago, but haven’t seen the game in ages. In general, two opposing players hit a ball attached to a rope around a pole. One is hitting the ball clockwise, the other is hitting it counter-clockwise. The winner is the first one to get the rope wrapped all the way around the pole, going in their direction. Stop by Community Park on the Ridge and give it a try!

This park is the site of the Township’s Annual Community Day. Here are photos from the May 2010 event.

Location: 262 Ridge Road, Spring City, PA 19475, behind the municipal building
Size: 20 acres
Suitability: All ages. Site of Township’s Annual Community Day.
Facilities: Tables, benches, pavilion, grills, sand volleyball court, tether ball, basketball court, soccer & baseball/softball fields, tennis courts, environmental markers, meadow, ornamental gardens, trees, birdhouses, exercise stations, 2 trail loops. Pavilion is available for rental.
Activities and tips: How many exercise stations can you do? Give the classic game of tetherball a try! For facility rental, call the Township and use the form here.
Hours: Dawn until dusk.

For pavilion rentals, contact:
East Vincent Township
Pottstown, PA 19465
(610) 933-4424
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. M-F
(Facility Rental Form)
Awesome website!

Follow the parks series at Mission: Healthy LivingPositively!PottstownTwitter(PositivelyPtown), Facebook, and The Mercury.



Near park entrance



View across Ridge Road



Pavilion available for rent



Fall glory





Spring City’s Parks: A little bit of everything

Spring City is a relatively small municipality – population about 3,400 – whose recreational facilities run the gamut from neighborhood parks to the Schuylkill River Trail.

Hall Street Park

My first stop was Borough Hall because I knew that Hall Street Park was adjacent to it, but I also needed some directions to two other parks. To get to the park itself, just go around the right side of Borough Hall and head up Hall Street. It’s got a decent incline, so just be forewarned. On your left, you’ll see the two full-court basketball courts, which are in excellent condition. The fencing on two sides ensures that your ball won’t be sailing down to the sidewalk and street below (as long as your shooting or passing isn’t too erratic!) The fairly steep-sloped grassy open space beyond the courts is probably really good for sledding, but perhaps not for ball games. There are a few benches under some trees that might make a nice shady spot for summertime reading.

Spring City Pool

I got back in my car to get to the Brown Street Park, which is at the intersection of Brown and S. Wall Streets. I wished I’d been there on a summer day because this is the site of the Spring City Pool, which is run by a non-profit called The Community Association of Spring City. The public park also has facilities for tennis and basketball, a tot lot, open space and a pavilion. I imagine it’s a beehive of activity in the summers.

The Penn State study listed the third recreational location as the “Spring City Boat Ramp Area.” I couldn’t find any reference to it online. At Borough Hall, I was directed to the vicinity of E. Bridge Street and the bridge over to Royersford. On my way there, I stopped at the Burger King; no one there knew of any ramp on the Spring City side, but they did know the Phoenixville Boat Ramp. I figured I’d just go down to the river and have a look around anyway.

Royersford view

I’m glad I did because I got to take a walk along another segment of the Schuylkill River Trail, which was how I started out this whole series in Riverfront Park in Pottstown. Although I will wrap up the series with one more post tomorrow, this area in Spring City was actually the last one I visited, so it felt like a fitting end to my explorations.

I walked along the trail in a southeasterly direction. If I had kept going, I might have eventually ended up in Phoenixville, although I don’t think that segment is completed yet. There was some trail construction taking place on the section leading from E. Bridge Street north toward Limerick. When I got home, I found details about the project at the Chester County Parks & Recreation website. They are constructing a 15-mile section between Phoenixville Borough and Pottstown. The website says that, “The 12-foot wide asphalt-paved trail will use PECO Energy right-of-ways, roadways, a canal towpath, public and private open space, and existing bridge and culvert structures.”

I’m going to try to keep track of the improvements and connections being made on the Schuylkill River Trail. The Trail promises to become a premier, regional recreational destination, bringing economic development potential to the towns it passes through. It should be interesting and exciting to see that transformation take place.

Location: 6 S. Church Street, Spring City, PA 19475, behind Borough Hall.
Size: ~2 acres.
Suitability: All ages.
Facilities: Two full-court basketball courts, fenced on 2 sides; open, hilly, grassy open space, benches, some trees.
Activities and tips: Walking up the grassy incline got my heart pounding! I feel I should issue a warning: See your doctor before starting any exercise program.
Hours: Dawn to dusk.

Location: Turn down Brown Street at the intersection with S. Wall Street. On a GPS or mapping program, use 50 Brown St., Spring City, PA 19475.
Size: Unavailable.
Suitability: All ages.
Facilities: Tennis, basketball, pavilion, public pool, tot lot, open space, parking.
Activities and tips: Tennis courts are inviting. Basketball court is in parking lot and might not be available when it’s crowded at the pool.
Hours: Dawn to dusk.

Location: Use 10 E. Bridge Street, Spring City, PA 19475 on a GPS or mapping program.
Size: Unavailable.
Suitability: All ages.
Facilities: Cleared and paved trail along Schuylkill River.
Activities and tips: Check Chester County Parks & Rec website before going out. Some parts of the trail may be closed while trail construction is underway.
Hours: Dawn to dusk.

Spring City Borough (Chester County)
6 S. Church Street
Spring City, PA 19475
Phone: 610-948-3660

Follow the parks series at Mission: Healthy LivingPositively!PottstownTwitter(PositivelyPtown), Facebook, and The Mercury.


Hall Street hoops

Hall Street hoops

Intersection, Brown & S. Wall Streets

Brown Street hoops

Brown Street tennis

Brown Street pavilion

Brown Street tot lot

River Trail

River Trail

Roots along the Trail

E. Bridge/Trail improvement area

E. Bridge/Trail improvement area