Thursday, June 7, 2018

Candidates Advocate and 143% Parking Fee Hike

Photos by Evan Brandt

Although four people applied to be appointed to the Fourth Ward seat vacated last month by Dennis Arms, only two of them accepted council's invitation to appear at Wednesday's work session and introduce themselves.
Trenita Lindsay

Trenita Lindsay of Oak Street and Philip Smock of North Hanover Street both attended Wednesday's meeting and spoke up for why they would make a good Fourth Ward Councilperson.

Councilman Joe Kirkland offered the only question to the candidates; a question that got to the heart of the matter -- How would they deal with voting for something they know is good for the borough, but is unpopular?

Both offered a similar answer, but used different language.

Smock, who works for Vanguard and said he would bring financial expertise to the post, said he would try to educate the public about why its a good thing.

Philip Smock
Lindsay, who is a manager for Iron Mountain, said she would try to "sell it." Using the Safe Route to School initiative as an example, she said loves the program and would counter objections by residents by noting "don't you want your kids to be safe on the way to school?

The vote on which of the four candidates will be chosen -- the other two are Angela Kearney and Ken Supinski Jr. -- will occur at Monday's council meeting.

In other news, and there was quite a bit of "other news," the meeting was surprisingly newsy.

Among the news items was a letter from Phillies fire Company President Charles Pierce thanking council for supporting Fire Chief Michael Lessar Jr.'s volunteer incentive, but saying the money would be better spent on increasing the allocation to the four fire companies.

A public hearing cleared the way for an increase in fares on the Pottstown Arera Rapid Transit bus system. I don't have all the figures, but I can tell you the adult fare for a ride is increasing from $2 to $2.25.
Depending on Monday's vote, this long-vacant building

may soon be home to 27 market-range apartments.

The Hanover Square Warehouse project, or the shirt factory, or whatever you want to call the brick building at the intersection of Cherry and South charlotte streets, seems poised for approval.

To their credit, the planning commission stepped up after failing to muster a quorum for the final meeting with the developers and held a special meeting on May 31. There they recommended preliminary and final site plan approval for a project everyone seems to want accomplished.

That saved the developers, who are running out of time on a historic architecture tax credit, a month of building season and puts the matter on the agenda for a final vote on Monday.
You may see one of these soon in Maple Street Park.

Greater Pottstown Tennis and Learning surprised council a bit with the news that the second phase of the their court rehabilitation project in the Maple Street Park may include an inflatable enclosure to allow tennis to go on all year and make the project financially self-sustaining.

Council will vote Monday on a request to waive the land development process for the project which will, in the first phase, rehabilitate two existing courts, add a third and install a modular classroom adjacent to the courts.

But in keeping with the unprofessional tendency of this blog to save the best for last, Monday's meeting will include a vote that could revolutionize parking downtown.

Some may recall that in January that council considered voting on some of the parking rules for High Street and the borough lots but held off while the staff explored more about the ParkMobile phone app that may be the new way we pay for parking.
The parking drop box at the Trinity Lot on King Street.

That exploration done, Interim Borough Manager Justin Keller outlined last night that parking is about to get more expensive. While you can now park for free for three hours in the down section of High Street, that will be reduced to one hour under this proposal.

The idea, he said, is to drive more turnover with parking as many business owners take up their own parking by staying in one spot for three hours or more.

The pay kiosks and drop boxes in borough parking lots will stay for the foreseeable future.

Further, the use of the phone app, or phoning in to pay by credit card, will carry a 35 cent charge. Keller said the borough is trying to negotiate that fee, charged by the credit card companies, down somewhat.

The hourly fee in for parking in borough lots is currently 35 cents per hour. Keller said that will be increased to 50 cents. Add on the service charge and parking has just jumped from 35 cents to 85 cents per hour.

That's a 143 percent increase for customers and, thanks to the wonders of technology, no increase in borough costs.

I'll just let that sink in for a moment.

By the way, did I mention that public comment will be taken on this plan and anything else that strikes your fancy, at Monday's meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. in the third floor council room of borough hall?

And with that, here are the Tweets from the meeting ...

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