Pottstown is a compact town of 22,000 along the Schuylkill River in southeastern Pennsylvania, about 35 miles northwest of Philadelphia. It is lovely and historic, with tree-lined streets and a distinctive downtown
Although the town is not as financially healthy as it once was, it has the potential to become one of the most livable communities in Pennsylvania. Pottstown Citizens seeks ways we can best manage our resources for the common good.
The following essays have recently appeared as paid advertisements in the Pottstown Mercury:
Holiday House Tour this Sunday
This year’s Historic Pottstown Holiday House Tour, scheduled for 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, will feature homes around the “Chicken Hill” section of town featured in James McBride’s new novel, “The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store.”
Most of us spend a significant portion of our days sitting in cars going from place to place. At work and at home, we spend much of our time looking at television screens, smart phones, and computer monitors.
Rational people must wonder if all this commotion is really progress.
Pottstown success story
D.J. Pallets is setting up a wooden pallet manufacturing and reconditioning business in the former Pottstown Plating Works at South Washington Street and Industrial Highway. The works complex was vacant for nearly 15 years, contaminated and decaying, until Pottstown entrepreneur John Jones invested millions of dollars to clean up the property and transform it into a modern facility.
Demolition by neglect
Perhaps the most visible blighted building in Pottstown is 542 High Street, on the same block at the Pottstown Regional Public Library. As buildings deteriorate, they become prey to vandalism and even arson. They become far more expensive to rehabilitate. They often end up being demolished.
Democracy is more than voting
Today is Election Day, and if this day is anything like the most recent general election for local government offices, in November 2021, about 2,800 Pottstown residents will cast a vote. That’s out of some 14,000 registered voters.
Trees Inc. 2023 report
For 40 years, Trees Inc., a non -profit incorporated in 1983, has done almost all the tree planting and maintenance in Pottstown.
More than two-thirds of Pottstown’s current street trees were planted by Trees Inc.
Flexible sidewalks work best
At his 2024 budget presentation to Pottstown Council at its October meeting, Borough Manager Justin Keller suggested establishing a $100,000 grant fund to help Pottstown homeowners repair sidewalks damaged by tree roots.
Pottstown streets before and after trees
Trees Inc. marks 40th anniversary
Today marks the 40th anniversary of the incorporation of Trees Inc., the Pottstown non-profit that has planted 2,816 new and replacement street trees in Pottstown and trimmed thousands more (many more than once).
Montana students protect the environment
Edgewood walking tours set
Fix the outside as well as the inside
Developers, especially rehabbers, have greatly improved the quality of life in Pottstown. Many magnificent homes have been restored, and former factories repurposed, to become great places to live.
Trash collection expands
Street paving: 5 miles done, 25 to go
Retail moves to your door (1)
Retail moves to your door (2)
Pottstown needs investors like Jones
Can we make this happen?
Pottstown zoning needs flexibility
I can speak with some authority on the zoning issue, because I wrote Pottstown’s current zoning and subdivision ordinance with borough solicitor Chuck Garner in 2003. Right from the get-go, we knew a lot of variances would be needed to make it work.
Rich man’s epiphany
Rich man’s epiphany (p 2)
On Tuesday we published excerpts from a multi-millionaire’s essay in The Atlantic magazine regarding public schools and children in poverty.
He made (to him) the startling discovery that schools can’t solve inequality in America.
Schools can’t do it all
Consider the Farrell Area School District, which serves a small steelmaking town, Farrell, and Wheatland Borough, in northwest Pennsylvania along the Ohio border. For decades, Farrell has been one of the state’s most economically depressed communities.
How to uplift Pottstown
What is the Pottstown School District? Some people think the school district is its students and staff. But they are all temporary. People come and go. What does have staying power is geography.
Vouchers will degrade public schools
PAED starts downtown street cleaning
LERTA helps fund two projects
Pallet factory proposed for plating site
KEEP land offers new opportunities
Nearly 50 years ago, in 1976, a panel from the Urban Land Institute identified about 100 acres of mostly vacant land along the Schuylkill River in Pottstown west of Route 100 that provided excellent opportunities for development.
Five acres of blight — gone
For years, the decaying relics of two Pottstown industries — Pottstown Nipple Works and Pottstown Plating Works — constituted five acres of blight between Laurel Street and the Industrial Highway.
Pottstown Plating still a work in progress
PAED reorganizes with its own director
In 2010, as recommended by the ULI, a memo of understanding was drawn up between Pottstown Council, the Pottstown School Board, and the Montgomery County Redevelopment Authority to designate PAED as the “single authoritative entity” to “facilitate, manage, and implement” Pottstown’s economic development initiatives.
Anchor bank building restored
TOP THREE FLOORS of the original First Federal Savings and Loan building at High and Hanover streets were vacant for decades because of asbestos contamination.
With the assistance of PAED, April Barkasi, CEO of Cedarville Engineering Group, bought the building with partners and remediated it with low interest loans from Montgomery County.
PAED saves historic bank building
PAED closes bars, attracts playhouse
PAED brings ULI to Pottstown
Employer, employee listings for 2022
PAED’s role grows in Pottstown
The closures of Bethlehem Steel and Firestone cost the borough more than 3,000 good-paying jobs, and Pottstown began the difficult transition from a manufacturing powerhouse into an agglomeration of small, widely diverse industries.
Foundation boosts college-bound
Before “fair funding” — “costing-out”
Education spending perspective
Our wealth in perspective
Is there ever enough?
“In America I have seen the freest and best educated of men in circumstances the happiest to be found in the world; yet it seemed to me that a cloud habitually hung on their brow, and they seemed serious and almost sad in their pleasures,” because they “never stop thinking of the good things they have not got.”
Tax subsidies help wealthy homeowners
Should tax payments be public?
Government at all levels requires money to operate, and every citizen is expected to pay his fair share. Income taxes are a major revenue source for both states and the federal government, so why shouldn’t individual payments be made public?
It’s not going to stay this way
America’s income inequality
Demographics changing the world
Immigration brings change
Problems of the affluent and the poor
Homelessness has been much in the news. Pottstown’s North End residents have been complaining to Borough Council about a temporary homeless shelter for 30 persons in the basement of St. Paul’s United Church of Christ.
LED lights a small, easy step forward
New state grants totaling more than $1 million were announced this month to pay for replacing all the borough’s street lights with LED bulbs.
This kind of sustainability initiative was easy because it didn’t cost any local dollars and didn’t ask people to accept change.
Homelessness touches North End
Pottstown has numerous churches with excess capacity because their congregations have dwindled as parishioners of means moved to the suburbs in recent decades. Many of these churches have become havens for the poor to receive food, clothing, and other necessities.
Open space, covert decision- making
Pottstown housing prices higher than ever
Excessive compensation stains Tower Health
Quoting a lower court decision, Commonwealth Court stated “[the CEO] and the Board of Tower Health were no more tha[n] corporate health care raiders . ... The goal as evident from the financial documentation offered at trial was simple and direct—drain the juice out of the hospitals until there was nothing left but a dried-out husk and then leave, close the doors, or sell what was left.”
Challenging tax exemptions
The recent Tower Health ruling shows the court’s willingness to rethink which organizations are truly non-profit and which ones have been categorized more by past practices than logic.
In an age of increasing income inequality, why is a poor town expected to subsidize a school with a $188 million endowment and lavish facilities that primarily serves the national and international moneyed class?
Pottstown housing now integrated
Pottstown is one of the most integrated municipalities in Pennsylvania. Pottstown has 20 census blocks, as shown in the map above. The racial demographics of each census block are shown in the chart. It’s clear Pottstown is integrated in all its neighborhoods.
Pottstown area highly segregated
On Tuesday, we published a chart of all 20 census blocks in Pottstown demonstrating that Pottstown is integrated at a neighborhood level. But the Pottstown area, encompassing the borough and its surrounding municipalities, is highly segregated.
Elementary schools desegregate in 1980
In 1978, The Mercury published a 16- page special edition suggesting the district could desegregate its elementary schools and reduce excess classroom capacity by closing Jefferson School and redistricting the remaining schools.
Demographics have dramatically changed
Racial segregation redux, 1963
Nine years after publishing a weeklong series of articles in 1954 about racial discrimination in Pottstown, The Pottstown Mercury ran an even longer series of articles in 1963 about what progress had been made.
Committtee on Human Relations formed
In 1954, following a week-long series of articles in The Pottstown Mercury about racial discrimination in Pottstown, a group of concerned citizens met at a local restaurant to form a Committee on Human Relations.
Mercury confronts segregation in 1954 (2)
Mercury confronts segregation in 1954 (3)
1954 court ruling leads to Mercury series
Mercury confronts segregation in 1954 (1)
Broadening school district's mission
The library: education for all
Books, videos, internet resources — everything’s available at the public library. You can go on-line from home and browse the entire collection — not just Pottstown’s, but almost everywhere in Pennsylvania
Thoughts for 2023
New epoch in world history
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