Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Murals, Parades and Pledges of Peace in Pottstown

One might think that after news of the potential for a 23 percent tax hike broke last week -- news which had the Internet commentariat slinging its most colorful empty threats -- that someone might have showed up to talk about at the next council meeting.

One would be wrong.

Nope, it was business as usual.

Which is to say the usual Pottstown practice of shooting ourselves in the foot.

Council once again held off on adopting new zoning rules governing murals -- working hard to prevent problems that don't exist -- after Council Dennis Arms pointed out that the borough planning commission had not yet had an opportunity to review the rules or comment on them.

One can see why Marie Haigh is upset.
Marie Haigh speaks against the proposal mural restrictions

during Monday night's council meeting.

A group of volunteers gets together; convinces a property owner to let them paint a "Welcome to Pottstown" sign on the property; gets council's endorsement to go ahead; gets sponsors and buys supplies; only to have the whole thing come crashing to the ground because someone in borough hall decides to solve a problem that does not exist yet and has never presented itself before.

Councilman Dennis Arms has a point, that the worst thing that could happen to the borough is not having to paint over a mural.

He pointed out that requiring an agreement by the property owner to maintain or cover up the mural doesn't mean it's going to happen any more than having an ordinance requiring people to cut their grass makes that happen.

What it does mean is that there won't be a "Welcome to Pottstown" mural.

Good job borough leaders.

Way to lead, encourage people to get involved with their community, try to improve or beautify it, then pull the rug out from under them for the flimsiest of reasons.

And you wonder why no one gets involved?

The Pottstown Rotary Club's giant duck makes its way down 

High Street during this year's July 4th Parade.
Next up in the wounded foot parade? Squabbling over the July 4th Parade.

Having failed once to raise enough money to stage a parade and twice to raise enough for fireworks, Independence Day Ltd. is now bucking for another bite at the parade after the Pottstown Rotary Club -- which has never failed to put on a parade -- did it this year and has already applied for permission to do it next year.

Last week Mayor Sharon Thomas said Independence Day Ltd. was treated poorly by the borough and other groups which stepped in to provide what they could not -- a parade and events in Memorial Park.

And Monday, Councilwoman Rita Paez, in the mayor's absence, tried to table a vote to close High Street for that parade. After Borough Manager Mark Flanders explained that the Rotary Club does not yet have the parade permit, the vote went forward.

(In the midst of this, Marcia Levengood, the titular head of Independence Day Ltd., has somehow emerged as the new spokesperson for the Human Relations Commission, which Paez once headed, but from which she has recently resigned. It's all quite puzzling.)
The pledge to Stand Against Racism with Pottstown signatures on it.

But before I am accused of being too negative, there was a bright spot at last night's meeting.

Stacey Woodland, CEO of YWCA TriCounty and Jonathan Corson, head of the Pottstown chapter of the NAACP, presented council with a mounted pledge to stand against racism, signed by the hundreds of people who attended a quickly organized rally in Smith Family Plaza in the wake of the events at Charlottesville, Virginia.

Corson said he was worried he and Woodland would be the only ones there, but Pottstown turned out in force and restored his faith in the town.

Let's hope it's well founded.

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