Thursday, May 7, 2020

Montgomery Elks Club Seeks Another Liquor License

Montgomery Elks Lodge Nor. 1271 is located at 605 Walnut St. in Pottstown.

The Montgomery Elks Lodge No., 1271 on Walnut Street is once again seeking a liquor license.

A public hearing on the transfer of a club license from Bridgeport that was scheduled for Wednesday was postponed until June 3 at 7:30 p.m. "when the applicant hopes we can conduct the meeting in person," according to Borough Solicitor Charles D. Garner Jr.

It was February of 2019 when the club last sought to transfer a license from the Gilbertsville Fire Company, and was rejected by a 6-1 vote of borough council.

During those hearings, several neighborhood residents turned out to complain about disturbances at the club, located at 605 Walnut St., which still rents out space for BYOB parties.

Others suggested that the opposition to the club was based more on race, as most of its members are African-American.

The club lost its license in 2015 when the high number of police calls to the 605 Walnut St. location led the Pennsylvania Liquor Control board to refuse to renew the club's license.

One incident involved someone being shot outside the club and police officers trying to aid the victim being assaulted.

Incidents since then have dropped, but began to rise again in 2017. Since no testimony was offered Wednesday night, it is unknown how many police calls were generated regarding the location in the last year.

Transportation Grants

Borough Manager Justin Keller reported that the federal government awarded the Pottstown Area Rapid Transit bus system a $750,000 grant to cover operation costs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Another $1 million capital grant will help with the purchase of two new buses.

Additionally, Keller said the Federal Aviation Administration has awarded the Pottstown Municipal Airport a $30,000 grant.

Another $48,536 grant from the Bureau of Justice has also been awarded to the Pottstown Police Department to help pay for personal protective equipment for officers to use during the pandemic.

Another Brew Pub

While businesses are struggling to make it through the diminished customers created by the stay-at-home order, one opened up.

Peggy Lee Clark, executive director of Pottstown Area Industrial Development -- the borough's economic development arm -- told council that Imprint Brewery opened at the Pottstown Terminal Market at the corner of South Charlotte Street and East High Street.

"They had a highly successful opening and the line from the entrance on Charlotte Street was around the block," Lee-Clark said.

Bad Behavior Unmasked

But not all businesses are thriving.

Sheila Dugan, who owns Grumpy's Handcarved Sandwiches with her husband Gene, expressed frustration with people who are not wearing masks in public, potentially extending the shut-down period.

A screenshot from Wednesday night's online council meeting.
"Grumpy's can hold on a little while longer, but I'm getting really nervous that this could happen again over Christmas," she said. She said the eatery, which makes much of its money through catering events, "has most of our bookings through September."

Mayor Stephanie Henrick echoed similar concerns about the behavior of customers in the Giant supermarket in the Upland Square shopping center.

"The store has done a really good job of putting markers on the ground, of making an in-door and an out-door, but people are not listening," Henrick said. "They are not practicing social distancing, they are fighting with the staff and dawdling in the aisles."

She also chided residents for not filling out the U.S. Census.

"I'm a little disappointed. I've seen one map that puts the borough at 35 percent response, and another at 45 percent," said Henrick.

"The Montgomery County rate is 57.7 percent and I would really like to see a higher number for Pottstown," she said, emphasizing that not filling out the form may short the borough out of both federal and state funding.

Tax Deadline Extension?

Borough Council, which already extending the 2 percent property tax discount period through the end of the month, will decide next month weather to waive the penalty for late payment.

There seemed to be little appetite for extending the discount period after Keller said it could have a serious impact on an already undermined borough budget.

"We'd be more comfortable with extending the face period rather than extending the discount period," he said.

"People aren't working, so I don't see how we can charge a late fee," said Councilwoman Lisa Vanni.

Parades Canceled

Both the Memorial Day and Fourth of July parades in Pottstown have been canceled, Keller said.

And the organizers of the GoFourth Festival in Memorial Park have announced they plan to move the event to Labor Day, when a reduced event will be held.

But they still plan on having fireworks.

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