Thursday, January 17, 2019

Clock is Ticking on West Pottsgrove Pool Resolution

The West Pottsgrove Community Pool has not been open for the last three summers.


The clock is ticking on the fate of West Pottsgrove's beleaguered township pool.

Two weeks ago, township commissioners said they are looking for a final resolution to the township pool, formerly the Colonial Pool.

A committee has been formed and input from township residents is being sought. However, Township Manager Craig Lloyd said Wednesday night to date, no public input on the matter has been received from the township.

In the meantime, Commissioner Charles Valentine said he met with Craig Colistra, program manager for the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation.

Valentine said he was told that the foundation cannot take over operation of the pool.

However, the township can apply for a grant for a feasibility study about pool options, or grants to pay for swim lessons, something that might help attract a potential operator.

Commissioner Mark Green, who sits on the committee with Valentine and Commissioner Pete LaRosa, the pool's most consistent champion, didn't see much benefit to that.

"We want someone to lease it or get rid of it," said Green. "Three years is long enough."

Valentine pointed out that a feasibility study might help the township find someone to take over the pool.

Operated since 1968 as a private, nonprofit community pool, the Colonial fell behind on its tax payments and finally fell victim to a combination of age, a slow economy and more homes with their own pools in their backyards.

The township paid $71,000 in back taxes and unpaid bills to take over the pool in 2010.

The township also put as least $250,000 into refurbishing the pool facility by the time it re-opened in August, 2011.

Here are the Tweets from the meeting:

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Limerick Vote on Truck Plan Angers Opponents

Photo from screenshot
The proposed truck manufacturing and repair facility, shown by the red marker, is opposed by residents of Bella Rosa Court, Parnell Lane, Perry Court and West Cherry Lane


Two controversial developments that drew a crowd of more than 70 to the Dec. 18 Limerick Supervisors meeting were back on the agenda Tuesday night for crucial votes.

But while those opposed to the TP Trailers and Truck Equipment plan on  10 acres of land at 181 Limerick Center Road, were out again in force, no one showed up in opposition to the Restaurant Depot proposal at the corner of Buckwalter and Township Line roads.
The Restaurant Depot plan.

More than a month ago, about half the crowd of 75 were there in opposition to the plan, saying it would add too much traffic to an already dangerous intersection.

But last night, no one spoke, no one objected and the board of supervisors quickly and unanimously approved the preliminary site plan for the project.

And although the end result for the TP Trailers project was the same -- a unanimous vote to approved the preliminary site plan -- the path to that vote was strewn with public objections and some spirited defense of the board by the board members themselves.

Township solicitor Joseph McGrory Jr. kicked off the deliberations by explaining as per instructions from last month, he had prepared two resolutions.

One approved the project without conditions, and another imposed the condition that the trailers (or shipping containers) be stacked no higher than two.

The problem, he said, is that the township has already determined that existing ordinances allow
The preliminary site plan for the truck facility approved last night.
structures to be as high as 35 feet tall and three stacked shipping containers are below that height.

In fact, it's the fact that the plan meets the zoning ordinance in every way -- no waivers, no variances -- that locked the supervisors into approving it.

McGrory said that despite "trying every trick in the book," he could not convince Tom Perkins, owner of TP Trailers and Truck Equipment, who owns the parcel with his sister, to agree to that condition.

To approve the plan and place those conditions, however "reasonable" they may seem, would simply result in Perkins lawyer, Mark Kaplin, seeking to overturn them in court, McGrory said.

Kaplin has said his client would accept those conditions if the township, and the opposing neighbors, were to back his client's intention to seek a zoning variance to allow him to sell vehicles at the Limerick Center Road site, which would allow the trailers to be stored at his other location on Ridge Pike, but the supervisors have not agreed to that.

As a result, they were left essentially with the option of voting to approve the preliminary plan without imposing any conditions. "If it were in my neighborhood, I would still have to vote for it," said Supervisor Elaine DeWan.

To vote against approving a plan that meets all the ordinances would not only open up the township to a legal action they would likely lose, it would also likely mean the township's liability insurance carrier would not cover legal costs, said Township Manager Dan Kerr.

It could even make the supervisors themselves personally liable, the supervisors said.

But for several of the project's opponents in the audience, that argument did not wash.

"You can never convince me your personal assets are at stake," said Bernard Enright of Bayberry Lane, who said he has worked in the insurance business for 30 years.

Preston Lutwiler speaks to the board about options after the vote.
Kevin Messerle of Hickory Grove Road said while he understood the position the supervisors were in, that voting against approving the plan would have been "the courageous choice."

"Breaking the law is not courageous," said Supervisor Kara Shuler. "I am not breaking the law for this township."

When resident Preston Lutwiler said the supervisors had taken the "path of least resistance," Supervisor Thomas Neafcy called the comment "a cheap shot."

At one point, resident Darren Thompson asked Supervisors Chairman Ken Sperring to recuse himself from voting because he has a business relationship with Perkins.

Sperring says as a business owner himself, he has purchased parts from Perkins but since, as McGrory confirmed, he has no financial interest in whether Perkins plan is approved or not, there is no conflict of interest requiring he recuse himself.

He said if the other supervisors want him to recuse himself he would -- they didn't -- and said it would not be fair to them to "escape" from having to take would looked like an unpopular vote.

ON  A HAPPIER NOTE: Girl Scout Zenia A. Masani was
recognized 
by the supervisors for achieving the
Gold Award, the highest honor 
available to Girl Scouts.
She organized a summer soccer camp for girls.
McGrory said residents have the right to challenge the approval in court, as well as the final site plan
approval, when and if that makes its way through the process, past the planning commission again and back to the supervisors for a final vote.

He and DeWan also suggested that residents show the same interest, and participate, in any hearings the zoning hearing board may hold if Perkins applies for the use variance which, McGrory said, "is very hard to get."

As the meeting wound down, Shuler said she and other supervisors were getting "brutally beat up in emails by people who don't understand our responsibilities. We have to think of everybody, not just the people who live on a particular street or development."

"Nothing about tonight made any of us happy," Shuler said. "We are the courageous ones sitting up here taking the beating. We get that you were upset about tonight's decision. We get that. Just cut us some slack. We have to take everything you throw at us and still try to protect you." 

Here are the Tweets from the meeting:

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Council May Allow Carousel to Run Mini-Golf Course


The news not yet reported to come out of last night's council meeting came, as is so often the case, from something not on the night's agenda.

After unanimously approving three re-developments and one major plan for the development of Keystone Boulevard which I'm quite sure you all read in Sunday's Mercury ..... right? .... the surprise was sprung.

Borough Manager Justin Keller brought up a new item and said he had just Friday been made aware of a vote by the board of directors of the Carousel at Pottstown.

They have agreed to the borough's terms for having the carousel take over the operation of the adjacent Manatawny Green Mini Golf.

Located on the High Street side of the parcel adjacent to the Carousel at Pottstown, Manatawny Green was first opened in 2014 and although it has lost money every year, "we were satisfied with the growth," said Parks and Recreation Director Michael Lenhart.

Satisfied, that is, until last year.

With one of the wettest summers on record, Manatawny Green had an operating loss of $26,000 in 2018, said Keller.

Much of that is due to the $42,000 in seasonal staffing costs. All of those hired for the season are eligible for unemployment benefits when the season ends, "and it can get quite expensive," he said.

Manatawny Green on it's first day of operation in 2014.
Lenhart said "when things are really humming," it takes three employees to run the mini-golf facility, one at the concession stand, one at the ticket window and one to police the course, pick-up trash and be available for breaks for the other two.

In 2018, Manatawny Green brought in $29,878," said Keller, $23,000 from golf and another $7,000 or so from concessions.

Under the three-year lease agreement council unanimously authorized Borough Solicitor Charles D. Garner Jr. to draft, the Carousel would pay the borough $3,500 each year to lease the space.

The borough would still remain responsible for cutting the grass, plowing the snow and paying utilities.

Board members take the first ride on the Derek Scott Saylor
Memorial Carousel in 2016.
Both the Carousel and Manatawny Green are on a set of parcels along Manatawny Creek and between King and High streets once occupied by an industrial use, the former Pottstown Metal Weld, which had closed by the time it was purchased.

The property was obtained through the support of Montgomery County's Open Space Program, the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation, and the PECO Green Region Program.

Two years after Manatawny Green opened in 2014, it was the Carousel at Pottstown's turn.

It opened in 2016 just in time for Christmas after 16 years of effort. Since then it has covered its costs and operated in the black.

The solid wood animals on the carousel were carved by Disney

carousel carver Ed Roth and painted and finished by volunteers.
Lenhart said although the carousel group and borough have always cooperated, having one entity oversee the whole site will make coordination easier and let the carousel consolidate ticket operations for both facilities.

Rides on the carousel are only $2, and it makes most of its money from hosting events.

The most recent was a "Noon Years Eve" for kids on Dec. 29, which raised money for a planned Pottstown Children's Discovery Center.

Last year, members of the carousel board told council they hope to add a catering kitchen to the facility in 2019, making it more attractive for events like weddings and parties.

Control of the concession stand at the mini-golf may eliminate the need to build a separate snack bar at the carousel facility.

Located across King Street from Memorial Park and just over a block from Riverfront Park and the Schuylkill River Trail, the site is also near to Pottsgrove Manor, the ancestral site of Pottstown
Concept design for the Pottstown station 

for the Colebrookdale Railroad in memorial Park.
founder John Potts, as well the Secret Valley Line, the tourist line of the Colebrookdale Railroad between Memorial Park and Boyertown.

Plans call for the construction of a Victorian period rail station in Memorial Park.

Taken together, the carousel, mini-golf, railroad, Pottsgrove Manor, Trilogy Park BMX track, River of Revolutions interpreative center in Riverfront Park and art galleries in the Montgomery County Community College comprise Pottstown's TRec district, which stands for tourism and recreation.

The concept was created with an aim toward attracting financing by demonstrating the cooperation between the government and non-profit entities and applying jointly.

Both Manatawny Green and the Schuylkill Greenway sites also provide free bicycles through the Bike Pottstown program. One is also planned for the colebrookdal Railroad station.

Most of the other matters at last night's meeting were routine.

Here are the Tweets.

Monday, January 14, 2019

West-Mont Students Mount Food, Toy Drive

The Jared Box Project results.








The Toy Drive 
Blogger's Note: The following was written by West-Mont Senior and Advancement Intern, Rachel Hetrick.

Students used the holiday season as an outreach opportunity in their community by organizing a food
drive as well as a toy drive.

Initiated by one can of corn, the food drive gained momentum over the course of December. The West-Mont family collected five large bags of food along with many boxes of canned goods.

The contributions were donated to the Boyertown Multi-Services Food Pantry as well as Kingdom Life Church in Pottstown.

West-Mont Senior, Nic Collins organized the food drive. “We are very thankful for all of the donations,” Collins said. “Let all the glory be to Jesus!”

West-Mont Christian Academy’s National Honor Society Chapter held a toy drive for the entire school community to take part in. Small toys were collected throughout the month of December.

The National Honor Society members packed containers with toys as a part of the Jared Box Project.

The Food Drive
The Jared Box Project consists of filling shoebox-sized plastic storage bins with small toys, games, and activities for children in hospitals. On Friday, December 21, National Honor Society Members filled 60 Jared Boxes with the many contributions from the West-Mont family. The boxes were delivered to Phoenixville and Grandview hospitals, where they are being distributed to children undergoing various treatments.

Students at West-Mont Christian Academy are eager to come together in outreach and West-Mont continues to provide opportunities for students to take initiative in service.

For more information call 610-326-7690 or visit www.west-mont.org.




Sunday, January 13, 2019

Nominate Exceptional Women for YWCA tribute

Two of last year's Tribute to Exceptional Women Winners












Blogger's Note: The following was provided by YWCA Tri-County Area.

Nominations for 2019’s Tribute to Exceptional Women, sponsored by YWCA Tri-County Area, are now open.

Community members are invited to nominate women for their achievements in leadership, service, and career in the following categories: Arts, Business, Education, Health, Racial Justice, Non-Profit, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), the Rising Star Award for women 18-30, the Coretta Scott King Award for an agent of change, and Sally Lee Lifetime Achievement Award.

Nomination forms may be found online at www.ywcatricountyarea.org

The 24rd annual Tribute to Exceptional Women will be Thursday, March 28, at the RiverCrest Golf Club and Preserve in Phoenixville. Tribute to Exceptional Women recognizes women for their ability to lead by example, embrace community responsibility, and excel in their careers. YWCA Tri-County Area has been proud to provide this opportunity for the community to recognize and celebrate the exceptional contributions made by women.

Tickets for the event will go on sale in February. The evening’s program includes cocktails and a popular silent auction and basket raffle, the Tribute dinner, and presentation of awards.

Proceeds from Tribute to Exceptional Women support YWCA Tri-County Area’s mission to eliminate racism, empower women, and promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. YWCA Tri-County Area is a leader in advocacy for women and girls, and educates children, youth, families, and communities through programming that empowers individuals to learn and grow across the lifespan, providing the foundation for a healthy and thriving community; empowers people to learn, grow, and take a stand; and advocates for the health and safety and empowerment and economic development of women and girls, and for racial and social justice.

Friday, January 11, 2019

New Year Finalizes Fire Company Consolidation





Blogger's Note: The following was provided by the newly formed Limerick Fire Department.

Effective Jan. 1, the consolidation of Linfield Fire Company and Limerick Fire Company into the Limerick Fire Department, Montgomery County Station 51 was completed.

This process has brought together two organizations with over two hundred years of fire and rescue experience into one department.

The department will operate out of two stations serving the residents of Limerick Township. The Limerick Station at 390 West Ridge Pike in Limerick and the Linfield Station at 1077 Main St in Linfield.

The new Administrative Officials of the Limerick Fire Department will be: 
  • President, Tom Walters; 
  • 1st Vice President, Rich Flynn; 
  • 2nd Vice President, Scott Miles; 
  • Treasurer, Don Andes;
  • Ass't Treasurer, Billy Rumler; 
  • Financial Secretary, Steph Rumler; 
  • Ass't Financial Secretary, Sandy Fota; 
  • Recording Secretary, Mike Lynch; 
  • Ass't Recording Secretary, Monica Lanigan.

The new Board of Directors will be: 
  • President, Tom Walters; 
  • 1st Vice President, Rich Flynn;
  • 2nd Vice President, Scott Miles; 
  • Treasurer, Don Andes; 
  • Fire Chief, Ken Shuler; 
  • Member, Denny Rumler; 
  • Member, Joel Saylor; 
  • Member, Ben Andes; 
  • Member, Steve Waldman.

The Fire Officers of the Limerick Fire Department are: 
  • Fire Chief, Ken Shuler; 
  • Deputy Fire Chief, Glen Russell; 
  • Assistant Fire Chief, Billy Rumler, 
  • Battalion Chief, Chris Miller; 
  • Captain, Mike Latshaw; 
  • Captain, Bob Brock; 
  • Lieutenant, Scott Miles; 
  • Lieutenant, Rich Flynn; 
  • Lieutenant Sean McCarraher; 
  • Lieutenant, Cameron Beebe; 
  • Lieutenant, Rickey Shuler, 
  • Chief Engineer, Steve Waldman; 
  • Fire Police Captain, Mike Machion.

The fire apparatus designations for response on Montgomery County fire radio and Chester County fire radio will be as 51 units.

A new website is in the process of being designed along with social media accounts which will be announced in the coming weeks.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

2019 Starts With Swath of Re-Development Plans



Three redevelopment projects received a favorable reaction from borough council Wednesday night with all three seemingly on track for final approval Monday.

The first and the one in the biggest rush were the representatives of Catalyst Commercial Development in Conshohocken.

Dollar General at Former Subway


They were before council with a plan to re-develop the property at 1432 E. High St., which many may know as the site of the former Subway restaurant.
Photos by Evan Brandt
Aaron Repucci, left, of Catalyst Commercial Development,
shows council a rendering of the upgraded High Street site.

Catalyst representative Aaron Repucci told council the plan is to demolish the portion of the building that once held the Subway to create more parking and create space for a Dollar General store.

The re-development will also allow for expansion of both King Pizza and the popular Three Brothers Grill Mexican restaurant there.

The developers were asking for council to waive the land development process, arguing that they are actually creating more parking and open space, as well as repairing and extending the facade to hide the utilities visible on the roof of the building.

Also, said Repucci, Dollar General is anxious to move in soon. "they want this lease signed yesterday, and they want to be in by August," he said, adding that any delay may cause them to lose the tenant, whose tenancy makes the project financially feasible.

Despite the fact that the borough engineer's review letter had only been received that evening, council seemed inclined to try to accommodate the project, particularly given that some of the elements sought by the planning commission, such as some brick and faux iron fencing similar to that along the Wawa and McDonald's, was added to the plan.

Burger King


Another re-development project calls for the addition of a play area and better driv-thru circulation at the Burger King at 1515 E. High St., which will result in the loss of 15 parking places.

Borough Manager Justin Keller told council the restaurant's business is changing and more of its customers want to get their food at the drive-thru so the proposed changes will allow the addition of a second drive-thru kiosk.

Council raised no objects to this plan and will vote on it at Monday night's meeting.

Creative Health


Over on the other side of town, Creative Health returned with its final plans for a "long-term structured residence" at 71 Robinson St.

Creative Health CEO Andrew Trentacoste, right, outlines
plans for the new structured residence facility.
This plan calls for renovating the former Palladino Roofing building into offices and six rooms with two beds each and construct a 1,600-foot cottage with two rooms, each with two beds, for patients of Creative Health.

The rooms will be used to prepare patients to be transitioned back into the community and is similar to the facility that Creative Health already operates at 11 Robinson Street, said Andrew Trentacoste, Creative Health CEO.

Borough Solicitor Charles D. Garner Jr. said although not required to, Creative Health has made a sizable contribution to a fund to pay for a new traffic signal in that part of town when it becomes necessary.

The planning commission has recommended preliminary/final site plan approval on which council will vote Monday night.

Expanding Business and More Plans


Peggy Lee-Clark, executive director of Pottstown Area Industrial Development, better known as PAID, also announced that the Robinson Street/Shoemaker Road area of town is about to become the home of a borough business that is expanding.

A business called Turn 5 is doubling its work force and, from 3 to 8 p.m. today is accepting applications for new part-time and full-time positions.

One potential development for the Keystone Boulevard area
near the intersection with Route 100 in the borough.
Starting pay is between $14 to $16 per hour, she said.

Lee-Clark is also shepherding the plan for the re-development of Keystone Boulevard, the strip of land between West High Street and the Schuylkill River, toiward approval by both the borough and West Pottsgrove township

First outlined in May, the Keystone Employment and Economic Plan for the area is now ready for adoption and calls for industrial, research and development, office and residential elements.

Monday night, council will vote on the plan which calls for specific pre-approved development.

The Mayor Looks Back at 2018


Before we move on to the Tweets of the meeting, take a few minutes to hear and watch Mayor Stephanie Henrick give a retrospective of the past year during her Mayor's Report last night.



And here are the Tweets: