MOSAIC to hold information sessions about Community Garden

Have you ever wanted to have your own garden, but didn’t have enough room in your yard? Would you like your children to learn how to grow their own fresh vegetables, but don’t know where to begin?

This spring MOSAIC Community Land Trust is building Pottstown’s first community garden at 423 Chestnut Street. They will be holding three information sessions during the month of February to explain what community gardens are all about and to take applications for approximately 40 raised bed garden plots for the 2012 season.

In addition to the garden plots, there will be compost bins, rain barrels, pavers, fencing, trellis, perennial gardens, a storage shed, and water service for irrigation.

The MOSAIC Community Garden is being built with a $30,000 grant from the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation. The property at 423 Chestnut Street was donated by thePottstown School District last spring, and other major donors and volunteers includePottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation. Other donations have already been received from Genesis Housing/Susquehanna BankLowes, Davey Tree ExpertsAndrew Monastra, Esq., the Borough of Pottstown, and many other individuals and volunteers.

According to the American Community Gardening Association, a community garden is “any piece of land gardened by a group of people.”

Typically, community gardens transform vacant lots into beautiful and positive community gathering places. While fresh, organic food is typically more expensive and out of financial reach for many people, the cost to grow and harvest one’s own food is significantly less. Residents pay a small annual fee to lease their plot and actively cultivate it throughout the entire growing season. MOSAIC plans to provide educational workshops for new and experienced gardeners. Individuals, families, community organizations, youth groups, and local restaurants are all welcome to apply for a plot.

The information sessions will be held at the following times and locations in Pottstown:

Tuesday, February 14 from 7-8 pm at the Ricketts Community Center, 640 Beech Street

Tuesday, February 21 from 7-8 pm at MOSAIC’s office, 10 S. Hanover Street

Saturday, February 25 from 2-3 pm at Victory Christian Life Center, 28-30 N. Washington Street

Applications will be available at the meetings and can be dropped off at any of the above locations or mailed to MOSAIC Community Land Trust by March 1. In the event that there are more applications than garden plots, a public lottery will be held at MOSAIC’s offices on Sunday, March 11 at 2 pm. For more information, contact Sue Repko, MOSAIC Executive Director, at 609-658-9043 or srepko@mosaiccommunitylandtrust.org.

Wellness Foundation Helps Community Garden Grow

The Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation recently awarded a grant in the amount of $30,000 to the Preservation Pottstown/Mosaic Community Land Trust to build Pottstown’s first community garden at 423 Chestnut Street. The Foundation’s grant will allow for the construction of up to 42 raised beds for planting and the installation of fencing, paths, a trellis, rain barrels, compost bins, benches, and a play area for children.

“We are honored and grateful to receive this grant from the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation, which will allow us to complete Pottstown’s first community garden this spring,” said David Jackson, President of Mosaic Community Land Trust. “The garden will greatly increase access to healthy foods and already has many supporters in Pottstown and surrounding communities.”

Community gardens are a growing trend particularly in vacant lots in urban areas. They are viewed not only as a way for people who have limited access to full-service supermarkets for fresh produce to improve their nutrition, but also as a way for neighborhood residents to reconnect. Residents pay a small annual membership fee and are given a small plot in which to grow vegetables and flowers. Educational workshops will teach members how to garden and what tasks need to be completed throughout the entire growing season. Jackson noted, “Some of the additional benefits of a community garden include: improving the quality of life for neighborhood residents, stimulating social interaction, beautification of the neighborhood, and improving opportunities for recreation, exercise, therapy, and education.”

A key to the success of a community garden is the development of partnerships. Jackson includes as Mosaic’s partners for this project: Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation, Borough of Pottstown, Pottstown School District, Genesis Housing Corporation, Susquehanna Bank, Lowes, Davey Tree Experts, Lointerhome, and many individual donors and volunteers.

The Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation enhances the health and wellness of area residents, providing education, funding and programs that motivate people to adopt healthy lifestyles. The Foundation was formed in July 2003 with the proceeds obtained from the sale of the Pottstown Memorial Medical Center. Non-profits interested in learning more about the Foundation’s grants program and application process should visit their website at www.pottstownfoundation.org. For great ideas on how to create a healthy lifestyle for you and your family, check out their online community, Mission Healthy Living, at www.missionhealthyliving.org

National Night Out this Tuesday

Below are details for National Night Out, America’s night out against crime. Events are taking place in different locations around Pottstown. I’ll be at Washington/Chestnut Street Park with my sister, Michele Dunleavy, the girls’ varsity basketball coach at Phoenixville. We’ll be running some passing and dribbling games with the younger kids. There are lots of activities planned to bring the community together around crime prevention.

See you there! 

J.O.B. Design & Construction hosts Positively!Pottstown happy hour this Thursday

In the case of J.O.B. Design & Construction headquarters at 64 N. Hanover Street, you’d do well to “judge a book by its cover.” Their historical renovation of the former Dr. Frederick Van Buskirk home is testament to the quality craftsmanship that is standard for J.O.B, which is owned and operated by John and Pam O’Boyle.

The building was on the “Historic Pottstown by Candlelight” house tour last December, but I missed it. I finally got a chance to stop by a couple weeks ago and get a tour from Pam. I was just blown away by the beauty of the original hardwood floors, moldings, trim, stair rails and shutters. For other examples of the extraordinary work of J.O.B, click on the “Portfolio” button on their website. They also own a green subsidiary – Halo Energy – that can help you harness solar power and make your home or business more energy efficient.

Johnny O’Boyle has been working in construction and remodeling since 1977. For nearly 24 years, he had his business on East 7th Street in Pottstown before re-locating to N. Hanover Street about a year ago, further cementing his commitment to Pottstown. John currently serves as President of the Building Industries Exchange of Pottstown and Vicinity and has donated J.O.B.’s services for construction of the World War II Memorial in Memorial Park.

We’re really pleased that John and Pam have opened up their business to host the next happy hour, which is this Thursday, May 19 from 5-7:30 pm. Food will be provided by Positively Pasta of 115 E. High Street. You can expect mouth-watering savory-filled puff pastries, potato skins, mini-meatballs and pizza bites. As always, there’s a $5 cover charge for appetizers; beverages are complimentary. If you haven’t done so already, please RSVP to positivelypottstown@gmail.com.

And please check out J.O.B. Design & Construction Co. Inc.for your next construction or re-modeling project!

Neighborhood Watch: Find out what it’s all about & take back your streets

This just in from Citizens for Pottstown’s Revitalization:

There’s no time like the present to take back our neighborhood! The message must be loud and clear that VIOLENCE, CRIME and DRUGS will not be tolerated in our community. Please join us at the PAL Bldg. (146 King St.) @ 7PM on Friday-2/18/2011 to discuss the following topics on the agenda:
1. Pottstown Crime Statistics
2. Organizing a Pottstown Court Watch
3. Collaborating with the Pottstown Guardian Angel Chapter

All are welcome and participation is not required, you get credit for just showing up! So, tell your friends and we hope to see you there..

Please respond if you plan on attending…

Vivapottstown!!
Anna Johnson

Tentative Neighborhood Watch and Events Schedule 2011
Link to Neighborhood Watch Calendar

Friday, February 18, 2011
7:00pm – 7:45pm
Neighborhood Watch Meeting (45m) | PAL Bldg (146 King St.)

Sunday, February 20, 2011
1:00pm – 2:00pm
Patrol Training by Guardian Angels (1h) | 21 N. Hanover (Pottstown Karate Club)

Friday, March 18, 2011
7:00pm – 8:00pm
Witness Training by Pottstown Police (1h) | Borough Hall (3rd Floor Council Chambers)

Friday, April 15, 2011
7:00pm – 7:45pm
Neighborhood Watch Meeting (45m) | PAL Bldg (146 King St.)

Saturday, June 4, 2011
12:00pm – 4:00pm
Science in the Park (4h) | Washington/Chestnut St. Park

Friday, June 17, 2011
7:00pm – 7:45pm
Neighborhoo d Watch Meeting (45m) | PAL Bldg (146 King St.)

Friday, August 19, 2011
7:00pm – 7:45pm
Neighborhood Watch Meeting (45m) | PAL Bldg (146 King St.)

Friday, October 21, 2011
7:00pm – 7:45pm
Neighborhood Watch Meeting (45m) | PAL Bldg (146 King St.)

Friday, December 16, 2011
7:00pm – 7:45pm
Neighborhood Watch Meeting (45m) | PAL Bldg (146 King St.)

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.

Maple Street Park: Vibrant neighborhood spot in the East End

Health & Wellness Foundation Sign

After Riverfront Park and Memorial Park, Pottstown’s next biggest recreational space is Maple Street Park, which encompasses 6.3 acres in the East End. The facilities are in excellent condition and offer a good mix of active and passive recreation for all ages. As seen in the sign to the left, the Health & Wellness Foundation, the sponsor of this blog series, also funded the playground equipment at Maple Street Park through their grant program.

The two ball fields are used by the Pottstown Little League for baseball and softball. In addition, there are bike racks, two tennis courts, picnic tables set amidst large trees, and a large playground area that has all kinds of equipment for swinging, climbing, crawling and sliding. I did NOT try this slide. When I call 9-1-1, it’s going to be for a good reason!

Children only!

On one of my visits to Maple Street Park, it was the early afternoon and the man in this photo could be seen doing lap after lap of moderately-paced walking around one of the ball fields. It just goes to show that you can make a workout happen anywhere if you’re determined to do it.

Mid-day Walker

Inside sources tell me that Maple Street Park is truly a neighborhood, family hang-out. Across the street are the Maple Court Apartments, and its residents, who don’t really have backyards, can be found using the park for exercise, dinner and relaxing. On summer evenings, the park is filled with adults and children of all ages. And the Walking Club at nearby Rupert School holds their end-of-year picnic there, making this East End gem the kind of place that just about does it all, giving residents of all ages opportunities for physical activity, social connections and contact with nature.

Maple Street grove

MAPLE STREET PARK
Location: On Maple Street near the intersection with St. Clair St. Use 1431 Maple Street, Pottstown, PA 19464 if you want to find it on a GPS. That’s the address of Maple Court Apartments, which are across the street.
Size: 6.3 acres
Suitability: Active and passive recreation for all ages.
Facilities: 2 Little League fields, 2 well-maintained tennis courts, playground, swings, small and large multi-purpose open space, benches/sitting areas, picnic tables, mature trees in park and along edges.
Activities + tips: To see this neighborhood park come alive, check it out on a summer evening.
Hours: Dawn until dusk.

Contact regarding any park rentals:
Pottstown Parks & Recreation Department
Borough Hall, 100 E. High Street, Pottstown, PA 19464
610-970-6500
Click on the Department’s “Special Events” tab to learn more about upcoming events.

Follow the parks series at Mission: Healthy Living, Positively!Pottstown, Twitter (PositivelyPtown), Facebook, and The Mercury.

PHOTO GALLERY

Maple Street Ballfield
Maple Street Tennis Courts

The Richard J. Ricketts Center: The heart of a community

Richard J. Ricketts Center, since 1971
The Richard J. Ricketts Center has been a hub of athletic, educational and wellness programming for nearly thirty years, and the Borough of Pottstown contributes substantially to its operations even though it became an official club of Olivet Boys & Girls Club of Reading and Berks County in January 2009. The Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation, sponsor of this blog series, has awarded a grant to the Club in support of the Foundation’s “Reduce Behavioral Risks” goal.

Olivet Boys & Girls Club started in 1898 and is one of the original founding members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America movement. It serves thousands of youth in Reading and Berks County and operates in four locations in Pottstown. In addition to its activities at The Ricketts Center, the Club partners with the Pottstown School District’s 21st Century Program to offer afterschool programming at Edgewood, Franklin and Lincoln Elementary Schools.

On a recent visit to the Ricketts Center – my first ever – I was surprised at the breadth of the programming offered by the Club. It was hard to keep it all straight! In general, the Club serves youth ages 6-18. Annual memberships, which coincide with the school calendar, are $15 per child.

The Club runs indoor basketball leagues, in-house flag football, VILLA Blacktop Basketball League in the summer, a “Smart Girls” program and “Passport to Manhood” program. They provide an afterschool “Power Hour,” which includes homework help in their computer center and a healthy “Super Snack,” which has been provided by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Students from the nearby Hill School are volunteer tutors at the Center on Monday – Thursday afternoons.

Olivet Boys & Girls Club summer camp runs for 8 weeks, from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., costs just $25/week in Pottstown, and includes breakfast and lunch, one swim outing and one field trip each week.

The Club also offers fitness programs for adults. Adult membership for the Fitness Center and gym allows access Monday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 7:30-9:30 p.m. Adults (with guts!) are welcome to join certified personal trainer and weight-loss coach Paul Winterbottom in his “Boot Camp,” a program to get you in shape in no time. They’ve got a well-stocked weight room, and the indoor basketball court had just been re-finished, so it was all shiny, and had that brand-new, shellacked smell that all of us ballers love! For $10/month or $100/year, this deal can’t be beat.

THE RICHARD J. RICKETTS CENTER
Location: 640 Beech Street, Pottstown, PA 19464 (at the corner of Grant & Beech Streets)
Size: 0.5 acres
Suitability: Membership required for youth 6-18 years old and adults (fitness only.)
Facilities: Fenced-in tot lot & outdoor basketball court; indoor gym, teen center, weight room, community rooms
Activities + tips: Ricketts Center is home to Head Start & Olivet Boys & Girls Club, which provides varied year-round programming for children, teens and adults.
Hours: Open daily, includes after-school & evening programming.
Membership Fees: Youth & Teen – $15 for Sept.-June; Adults – $10/month or $100/year.
Contact: Jannie Harrison, Unit Director (484-945-1020)
Website: Olivet Boys & Girls Club at The Ricketts Center, Pottstown

Follow the parks series at Mission: Healthy Living, Positively!Pottstown, Twitter (PositivelyPtown), Facebook, and The Mercury.

PHOTO GALLERY

Getting back on track

I don’t know about you, but I have not forgotten about the tail end of the planning series, which was started on August 5th with “How one planner thinks.”

Here’s what we’ve covered so far:

How one planner thinks
The work of the community
Beyond the Borough’s borders – Part 1
Beyond the Borough’s borders – Part 2
detour… US 422 Corridor Master Plan
The regulatory framework for land development – Part 1
The regulatory framework for land development – Part 2
detour… Process in the public sphere: It matters

Here’s how I would like to finish this series to bring us up to date:

The regulatory framework for land development – Part 3
(Land use ordinances, HARB, codes, approvals, inspections. The Borough already has a committee reviewing most of these; I just want to offer a quick explanation to readers who may not be familiar with some of the stumbling blocks.)

Current planning documents
(The reports that everyone needs in front of them if they want to talk about revitalization & development in the Borough.)

Here’s the thing: Positively!Pottstown is teaming up with the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation to run a 6-week series about parks & recreation opportunities in Pottstown and surrounding municipalities, and I am feverishly pulling that together. It launches this Sunday with links/coverage graciously provided by The Mercury.

So… I’ll be keeping the last two posts in the planning series short & sweet, and will try to get them up on Friday and Saturday. I’ll also be keeping my fingers crossed that we will all be (mostly) on the same page as we continue talking about what the future may hold for comprehensive planning, land use and economic development in the Borough. Thanks for coming along for the ride so far. 🙂