Unhappy in Pottstown? Maybe You Should Get Out.

After working with Mosaic Community Land Trust in the borough for several years, my family and I decided to sell our home in Schwenksville and move to Pottstown. Not only did we buy a home, but we are also starting a business. I love this town! I have met so many wonderful people in my work here, and now so many neighbors have become friends. I have deep friendships with the people I have met through Mosaic and my church, located in Pottstown, in which I have been active since moving to Pennsylvania 11 years ago. This beautiful old town has captured my heart. The architecture here is unique, genuine, and lovely, whether it’s a twin on Queen Street, a row home on Chestnut, or a 19th century mansion on Hanover or High. I like that I can walk to everything in town, and yes, I love the bike lanes that run right in front of my house. It makes me sad and a bit puzzled when I hear people disparage our town.

Pottstown isn’t perfect. I’m not a Pollyanna. Well, okay, maybe I am, but I’m not ignorant. I know there is crime here, and I know there is a drug problem. But those things do not define this town. I know these problems aren’t easily fixed, but if you aren’t happy with the way things are in Pottstown, then you should get out.

But not in the way you’re thinking.

First: Get out of your mindset. Part of place (or a person) becoming better is to start by believing that it is. Look for the positive around town. See the things that are good about this place and the people that live here. If you are having trouble doing that, talk to someone who likes it here about what they like. Focus on the good things rather than the bad, and then we can all come together and continue to work on making necessary improvements. And when you talk about the town to others, before you launch into the problems, mention the positives. (Can’t think of any? How about the many kind and committed people who live here? We have beautiful architecture and large, lovely street trees. You can walk from one end of town to the other in under an hour, and therefore almost the entire town is walkable. There are some good restaurants here, a top-notch theater, and a scenic river.)

Second: Get out of your house. Get out into the town. If you haven’t been downtown or to the river or Memorial Park in a while, go do it. Things are changing. There are new businesses downtown, and a lot of new ideas coming to fruition. Did you know that Pottstown has one of the only indoor Dragon Boat practice facilities in North America? There is a bead store downtown where you can learn to make jewelry yourself, and they teach classes there all the time. There is an indoor food court that has opened in the old Farmers Market building at the corner of Charlotte and High that has a great taco stand and a vodka bar, and soon a coffee shop and vegan place. And speaking of tacos, we seem to have an excessive number of good places to get them all up and down town. Three Brothers is great, Juan Carlos, The Pub, Los Aztecas and now Aye Caramba…it’s taco heaven! Did you know that a mural is about to be painted on the trail along the river? There’s a new Asian fusion restaurant opening where Brick House used to be, a delicious new doughnut shop near the bus station, a beer garden going in on High Street, and a Bed and Breakfast opening near Jack Cassidy’s Irish Pub. We have a gorgeous restored carousel, an indoor badminton facility, multiple breweries, and even an axe throwing place! There is a lot happening, so get outside and check it out!

Third: Get out of your comfort zone. Join a group, volunteer, get involved. Every person has something to gain and something to give when they involve themselves in their community. Find a church you like and start going. Join your school’s Home and School association and participate in meetings and events. Find a nonprofit or other community group that is doing work you find important and volunteer with them. Come to borough council or school board meetings. Walk next door with a plate of cookies and meet your neighbor. I work in community development, and I am a firm believer that the most effective way to develop a community is to strengthen interpersonal connections within the community. In return for stepping out of your comfort zone, you will find satisfaction in building community, contribute to problem solving, and probably even make a friend.

Things are beginning to change. We need our community members to think positively. Get out of the mindset that may have you thinking the problems are too big to solve or that things can’t get better. Get out of your house, office or car and have a walk around town and look and see what is new, and what’s there that has always been great. And get out of your comfort zone and get involved. We need YOU! We should care about each other, work together to problem solve, and look around and see the good that’s happening all around us. If you have lived here a long time, or used to live here and have moved away, it’s time to look at Pottstown with new eyes. Get out and do it!

FARM

Photo courtesy of Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation

Calling All Entrepreneurs

With the just-announced closing of Weitzenkorn’s, I find myself a little puzzled, to be honest. There is so much happening along High Street, I can’t for the life of me figure out why our friends at that fine Pottstown institution would cut the cord and run right now.

In the last twelve months, several new businesses have opened on our main street and nearby, including Pottstown United Brewing Company, Splitting Edge Axe Throwing, Aye Carumba and the new wine bar inside the Farmer’s Market, The Avenue, the Ice Cream Shop, and my personal favorite, Studio 36, a lovely bead store, among several others. We have health food, a bakery, a beautiful bridal shop, divine doughnuts, vegan food, handmade woodwork, antiques, and many of my old favorite eateries (Grumpy’s, Lily’s, Argento’s, Juan Carlos to name a few).

I will concede that Weitzenkorn’s is probably too big to compete in this Amazon era, but its target demographic has never been foot traffic. Its loyal customers have always been the people who have shopped there for years. Moving to Phoenixville will likely alienate most of those customers. My family moved here last year, and we loved Weitzenkorn’s from the very beginning, but I never shop in Phoenixville. In fact, other than the occasional art house movie and some really amazing Thai food, I rarely go to Phoenixville. I’m so sad to see Weitzenkorn’s leave our lovely downtown district right as it is beginning to wake up. Why not move to a smaller space on High Street, or lease out part of the existing store and stay with its loyal customers?Downtown High Street

The revival has begun, but what we now need are more entrepreneurs. Having recently moved downtown, I walk to do many of my errands, and it has brought to light a few of the holes in our retail selection downtown. While remodeling my house, I have used Rich Ranieri’s Flooring and Lastick Furniture, but we need a small hardware store. I’m not talking about a place that competes with Home Depot or Lowe’s, I just mean a place I can buy a packet of screws, a tube of caulk, or some light bulbs.

Last month, I needed to choose a wedding gift, but other than a booth inside the Farmer’s Market (which is great), there wasn’t anyplace downtown that had new gift items. A gift shop would be great. A little book store would be wonderful…preferably one with a place to grab a cup of herbal tea and visit with a friend! Since Connections is transitioning, there is a coffee shop sized hole on High Street, as well. How about a small grocery store or co-op?

What are some of the things you would like to see on High Street?

Upcoming events for Legendary Locals of Pottstown

JOIN US FOR A BOOK TALK AND SIGNING!

There are a couple of book talks/signings coming up in the next week for the Legendary Locals of Pottstown book, co-authored by photographer Ed Berger and me. Come out to meet some Legendary Locals, learn more about the history of Pottstown through its legends, and how we put this book together. BOOKS WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE ($21.99) Look forward to seeing you!

The first event is at the Pottstown Regional Public Library at 500 E. High Street this Sunday, from 1-3 pm. The library is opening just for us!

Then, next Wednesday, November 6th at 7 pm, there is a talk/signing at the Schuylkill River Greenway Association at 140 College Drive in Pottstown. This is a really cool former PECO substation that is used by the Greenway and owned by Montgomery County Community College, and they’ve got a fabulous permanent exhibit about the history of the Schuylkill River. You can learn about Pottstown’s people and the river all in one fell swoop.

Finally, thank you to Joe Zlomek of The Sanatoga Post and The Pottstown Post for publicizing the latter event!

Sue Repko

Pottstown CARES initiative to be underway shortly…

Pottstown CARES: Part Two

 The second part of the CARES project will be a clean-up day TODAY, Friday, October 25 in a targeted area of Pottstown, from High Street north to Beech Street, and Hanover Street east to Edgewood Street.  All 505 Hill School students as well as Hill faculty and staff; 50 Pottstown High School students and numerous faculty members; and many Borough workers and officials will be dispersed to weed, pick up trash, and complete other “spruce up” tasks in public spaces in the core downtown area during this day of service that precedes National Make a Difference Day (October 26).  A team of volunteers also will work to beautify Edgewood Cemetery.

The CARES organizers estimate that a total of 700 students and adults will be contributing to the clean-up during the morning of October 25.

Last summer Borough residents were encouraged through a Mercury article and the Borough website to shares suggestions and requests for specific homeowner projects that might be tackled by the volunteers, in addition to general street and sidewalk clean-up.

The massive volunteer crew will assemble under Hill’s former hockey rink roof at 8:30 a.m. to receive instructions. Pre-organized teams then will disperse to their designated project areas until about 12:30 p.m., when they will return to Hill for a picnic lunch prepared by Sodexo, Hill’s food service provider.  Sodexo is generously donating the meals for all school district and borough volunteers as well as Hill students and personnel.

 After lunch, a celebratory group photo of all participants will be taken on Hill’s campus. 

 In addition, as part of the October 25 clean-up day, the Pottstown School District is running a blood drive from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the high school. Individuals interested in making a donation at the Pottstown High School on October 25 may send an email to Pottstown faculty member Mark Agnew at magnew@pottstownsd.org or call him at 610-970-6707.

Hill’s fine woodworking class students are painting new planks for a park bench to donate for one of the MOSAIC community gardens. A team of volunteers is expected to help build new compost bins for the garden at 423 Chestnut Street. Also, Hill School art students and faculty will be canvassing neighbors to ask for input on the design of a public, downtown Pottstown mural they would like to create in partnership with Pottstown High School art students.

Numerous organizations have contributed funding, tools, supplies, or other support to the CARES project.  In addition to equipment being shared by each of the three entities involved – from rakes to a public address system – the United Way has generously donated $1,000 toward tool procurement in addition to loaning tools through their tool share program.  Home Depot made a greatly appreciated cash donation to the project as well. CARES project organizers wish to give special thanks to the Pottstown Police Department and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department for their support.

Individuals who would like to donate work gloves, trash or leaf bags, or tools for this and future projects may take their items to Borough Hall at 100 E. High Street.

 Borough Manager Mark Flanders emphasized that Pottstown CARES is not intended to be a once and done affair, but a starting point that builds momentum for additional efforts that increase residents’ pride in Pottstown.

“It is my hope that this is the beginning of something bigger, and that, as time goes on, Pottstown CARES is a way of life for the residents of Pottstown – rather than a scheduled event,” Flanders noted.

Hill Headmaster Zack Lehman arranged for all 505 Hill students as well as faculty and staff to participate in the October 25 clean-up day.  He said he is excited about the synergy occurring between Hill, the Pottstown School District, and the Borough – and he is passionate about Hill’s involvement in the community.

“Hill was happy to provide the space for the community education event and to serve as the rallying point for the clean-up project,” Lehman said. “I see these CARES initiatives as the first of many cooperative projects.  Hill contributes to Pottstown in many ways, from our existing, highly engaged student community service program, to enthusiastic support of local businesses. We are eager to demonstrate our commitment to the town that has been Hill’s home for 163 years, and very happy to do so with our CARES partners.”

“Pottstown CARES provides community stakeholders with the opportunity to send the clear and inspirational message that, when working together, we are more effective in our actions,” said Dr. Jeff Sparagana, Pottstown superintendent.

“Together, we are Pottstown,” Sparagana said.

Legendary Locals Launch Party Set for Tomorrow

The Legendary Locals book launch party will take place Sunday, October 20th from 1-4 pm at Grumpy’s Sandwiches (137 E. High Street, Pottstown, PA 19464).

Come on out, meet authors Sue Repko and Ed Berger, and get a copy of the book! Legendary Locals of Pottstown features the people who have contributed – and continue to contribute – to the life of our community in ways large and small.

Book talks and signings are also scheduled for:

Sunday, Nov. 3rd, 1-3 pm, Pottstown Regional Public Library, 500 E. High Street, Pottstown.

Wednesday, Nov. 6th, 7 pm, Schuylkill River Greenway Association, 140 College Drive, Pottstown.

The book costs $21.99 and is also available at these local retailers: Grumpy’s Sandwiches, Coles Tobacco, Pottstown Roller Mills, and Professional Pharmacy

Check out Legendary Locals of Pottstown on Facebook for updates.

CCF10152013_00001

Boro, School District, and Hill School team up for Pottstown CARES 10/19 & 10/25

POTTSTOWN CARES PRESS RELEASE – PART I

Borough, Pottstown School District, and The Hill School

Combine Resources and Volunteers for

Two Pottstown CARES Events

Residents invited to free community resource and activities fair on October 19; 700 volunteers to embark on Pottstown clean-up set for October 25

 

POTTSTOWN, PA –Volunteers from the Borough of Pottstown, The Hill School, and the Pottstown School District will combine forces to demonstrate their care for our hometown in several tangible ways in a two-part, two-day event, with separate components planned for Saturday, October 19 and Friday, October 25.

This joint CARES (Community, Awareness, Responsibility, Empowerment, and Sustainability) endeavor was conceived last spring during conversations between Borough Manager Mark Flanders, Pottstown School Superintendent Jeff Sparagana, and Hill School Headmaster Zachary Lehman.  The three leaders envisioned a collaborative project that would help to “spruce up” a designated area in the core of Pottstown while also boosting community pride and awareness about Pottstown resources.  A small committee of representatives from these three key Pottstown entities began meeting late last spring; they sought feedback at a community forum held at the Ricketts Center in late June; and they have been meeting regularly since that time to manage myriad details for the project.

The first part of the CARES project will be a community education and activities day on Saturday, October 19.  (Please read below about the second CARES event on Friday, October 25.)  This free information fair on October 19 will occur rain or shine from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at The Hill School, under the former outdoor hockey rink located off Beech Street near Hill’s Center For The Arts.  Attendees may park in the Center For The Arts parking lot. The GPS address for this location is 860 Beech Street.

This October 19 community day will allow nonprofits and other Pottstown-focused, helpful organizations — ranging from arts and recreational organizations to the Bloodmobile, Reduxtech e-waste recyclers, and other service providers — to share free materials about their programs and talk with Pottstown residents.

A variety of free children’s activities will be available through the YMCA and other organizations, and the Masons will be doing child identification fingerprinting.   

Numerous local food vendors will be on hand selling various refreshments, from French fries to vegetarian foods.  Free, gently used office supplies also will be available at a “Get Organized Pottstown” station.

The Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities will be accepting donations of food, clothing, and other essentials near the Center For The Arts parking lot in Hill’s old rink. Greatly needed items include: Canned soups and stews; canned prepared pasta; canned fruit; oatmeal; personal hygiene items; small bottles of  laundry detergent; cleaning supplies; socks; underwear; and coats.

In addition, the Chester County Pet Food Pantry will be accepting donations of pet foods, and Forgotten Cats will be represented.

An e-waste collector will be on hand to accept any old items that had electricity running through them.  The e-waste collection truck will be located in the Center For The Arts parking lot.

 The Miller-Keystone Blood Center Bloodmobile will take walk-in blood donations.  Registration for walk-in donations will be located in the lobby of Hill’s Center For The Arts.  People who would like to sign up in advance to donate blood on October 19 at The Hill may contact Jason Coady, a Hill teacher who is coordinating this effort, by emailing him at jcoady@thehill.org.  Also, CVS will provide a flu shot clinic from 12 to 2 p.m.; people interested in getting a flu shot should bring their insurance card if they have one.

A voter registration table will be set up and individuals will be there to help people with this process.

As part of the day’s activities, The Hill will provide two free screenings of an inspirational, multiple award-winning film about “the power of one” demonstrated by nine individuals on six continents, all of whom are working to make their communities a better place.  The film “Opening Our Eyes” (PG-13, www.openingoureyes.net) will be shown in The Hill School Center For The Arts at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the Green Room, located off the CFTA lobby.

Also, The Hill invites individuals to take a free, self-guided “Art Walk” architectural tour of Hill’s historic campus.   Interested guests should look for the Art Walk registration table under the rink roof, where they will be provided with a brochure and map of the tour sites as well as an Art Walk visitor badge.  All tours must begin by 3 p.m.

Additional organizations that have registered so far (as of October 10) to participate in the CARES information-sharing event include: Community Connections; Community First Development Corp., Inc; Children and Youth Services; the Colebrookdale Railroad; Genesis Housing Corporation; the Greater Pottstown Tennis Association; Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County; the Montgomery County Health Department;  the Pottstown Borough, including the Codes Department; Pottstown Carousel; the Pottstown Downtown Improvement District Authority; the Pottstown Fourth of July Committee; the Pottstown High School Key Club; Pottsgrove Manor; Pottstown Memorial Medical Center; Pottstown MOSAIC; the Pottstown Office of Family Services of Montgomery County; Richard J. Ricketts Community Center/Olivet Boys and Girls Club; Sunnybrook Foundation; the United Way; the World War II Dance Committee; and the YMCA and YWCA.

Participating organizations are asked to complete registration and set up between 10 and 11 a.m. on October 19.    They should enter the site from the Center For The Arts parking lot off Beech Street.

Gorgeous Victorian available at 259 Walnut Street

There’s a beautifully restored Victorian on the market for $164,900 at 259 Walnut Street in Pottstown. Looks like it’s got a 2-story garage with a workshop; this is a huge added benefit in a Pottstown home. I pass by this charming block periodically just because it’s got several lovely homes with wonderful front porches. It’s in the vicinity of Emmanuel Lutheran Church and the Pottstown School District administration building. The home can be seen on this YouTube video. It’s listed by Brian Kelly of Kelly Real Estate. Check it out!

Pottstown’s Annual Sidewalk Sale this Saturday

Please check out The Mercury’s recent article (partially re-printed below) about Pottstown’s Annual Sidewalk Sale, coming up this Saturday.

Summer is time for savings in downtown Pottstown, especially this Saturday, July 20th,

when the annual Sidewalk Sale takes to the streets from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

According to Main Street Manager Sheila Dugan, the day will include offers from more than 40 downtown merchants, as well as face painting, a visit from Rainbow the Clown and collections of Pottstown School uniforms.

Demonstrations will be provided by CrossFit at 21 N. Hanover St. at 12:45, 2:45 and again at 4 p.m.

Also providing demonstrations at 307 E. High St. will be Red Cloud Kung Fu at 12, 1:30 and 3:30 p.m.

Read more here:  http://business-news.thestreet.com/the-mercury/story/pottstown-merchants-will-take-the-streets-saturday-0/1

Planning meeting this Tuesday for repair/clean-up day set for Oct. 25th

Brought to you by The Hill School and Evan Brandt’s Digital Notebook

Residents and business owners of the Borough of Pottstown have the opportunity to share suggestions and requests for targeted neighborhood property repairs and general “clean-up” needs during a community conversation to be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 25 in the Ricketts Center, 640 Beech St., Pottstown.

During this gathering, representatives from the Borough, the Pottstown School District, and The Hill School will begin planning a collaborative volunteer project that will involve teams of personnel and students from these three entities on Friday, Oct. 25.

The Project is focusing on the core redevelopment area bounded by High Street, north to Beech Street, then from Hanover Street east to Edgewood Street.

Dubbed the Pottstown CARES Project — with CARES representing Community, Awareness, Responsibility, Empowerment, and Sustainability — this endeavor will utilize the efforts of The Hill School’s students, faculty, and staff; a dedicated group of Pottstown School District students and teachers; and a crew of Borough maintenance professionals.

Pottstown residents are encouraged to attend the meeting Tuesday evening to help organizers plan how to make a tangible impact on the borough on Oct. 25, both in terms of improved aesthetics and, ideally, heightened and sustainable Pottstown community spirit and commitment.

Light refreshments will be served.

For additional information, please contact Assistant Borough Manager Erika Weekley at 610-970-6515 or eweekley@pottstown.org.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: