Where markets and trends can be detected before they arrive…
Good advice for those who find themselves guiding development and revitalization efforts in communities across the nation, no less vital to our own community of Pottstown.
In many ways, last night’s conditional use hearings at borough hall and today’s news about Family Dollar are about food and the trend toward better, healthier choices.
Americans are getting smart about the difference between quick, pre-packaged, sodium laced, sugary foods and fresh, healthy, wholesome meals.
That’s especially true when temps dip and the snow piles up, as it did in a large portion of the nation this past winter…
There’s nothing about a twinkie that can prepare a body for shoveling the walks or playing in the snow…
quite the same way as a steaming hot bowl of mom’s homemade vegetable soup goodness !!
Today, I shed a little tear for the Family Dollar Corporation who announced store closings and cutbacks in Today’s Mercury News <<click
FamD will forestall opening new stores in 2015 and, they will close 370 stores, a corporate decision that hinged on nose diving stock prices that took a 3% hit in today’s pre-market trading. The FamD Corp says the winter weather impacted their bottom line, uh…yeah. Rampant robberies, violence and changing food sensibilities have no impact on their earnings?
Good Ole’ Pottstown, ever on the “cutting edge” of public opinion and trends. Many insightful Pottstownians OPPOSED the impending development of a Family Dollar store in one of our town neighborhoods, late last year, but it was approved nonetheless. Talk about dynamic failures – if this one gets built then closes – Pottstown takes it on the chin – again.
If borough leaders had taken their time to look behind door #2, if they had done their due diligence, they would have found that another well-known chain store is opening neighborhood markets all over the nation, and…
I might add, doing very, very well. That would be Trader Joe’s <<click. Joe knows what Americans are really hankering for:
I like a corporation that recognizes who butters the organic, whole grain bread on their directors table, like Trader Joe’s Neighborhood Involvement Program << click
It can often pay off big to say “NO” to the first thing that comes along, just like finding a partner and falling in LOVE…
loving businesses that come into town because they have a solid plan, they are community oriented and they fill a defined need. I am weary of merely tolerating some businesses, watching many new ones fail, and worse, fending off the crime and loitering that some of them attract.
Exit Stage Left…
Here’s the setting: a couple new businesses were asking for council’s approval for “Conditional Use” permits, last night.
Two applicants want to open retail businesses in Pottstown. One gentleman spoke of taking over the old location of the Milkman Lunch Co’s shop on Charlotte St. (next door to the neighborhood nuisance mini-mart), where he’d like to sell water ice and other food stuff. He appeared unclear about what he would offer, his hours of operation and, most anything else that you would anticipate in a well thought out business plan.
Frankly, why would anyone refrain from shooting straight with the nice fellow who only stands to fail for lack of a strategy and a business plan? I’m guessing it would be a financial hardship for him. We’ve seen plenty of small retail businesses in Pottstown fail over and over and over again…
It’s always heart breaking to see them fold so soon after opening.
Why not encourage him to contact S.C.O.R.E. <<click for their website. Service Corps of Retired Executives, on High St. can work with him to help him develop a solid business plan. Not borough councils place to guide prospective business owners? Sure it is, when they recognize that failing businesses are a poor reflection on the borough. He can always come back with a plan and open a business that has a good chance to succeed.
The other applicant is a gentleman who would like to open – TA DA – ANOTHER MINI-MART – on the corner of King and Washington Sts.
There are no fewer than EIGHT stores in easy walking distance of this corner that sell exactly the same things. The closest of these shops is less than half a block away, around the corner on High St.
I couldn’t help but feel a tad sorry for this couple, it appeared that the new owner of 454 King St. (Loto’s aka the Dirty Bar), Edward Mitchell, is way too eager to pawn it off for profit, while taking no real consideration of Pottstown or the historic neighborhood.
The comments made by Mayor, Sharon Valentine-Thomas, at last night’s Committee of the Whole meeting…well, I’ll just post ‘em here, there’s really no need for commentary.
You can read Evan’s tweets from the meeting <<click
“Mayor Sharon Valentine Thomas said the businesses seeking conditional use permits are exactly the kind of businesses envisioned in the traditional town neighborhood zoning.”
“We hear a lot, sometimes on-line and sometimes face-to-face in person about the revitalization of Pottstown and bringing back the traditional things, and then when we’re presented with the traditional thing, we say we don’t want it,” Thomas said.
As a result, Thomas said, “it makes the situation that should be an easy call, a tough call.“
OK just one or two little questions and a tiny commentary from the peanut gallery, moi:
Since when has the “traditional thing” in Pottstown’s historical neighborhoods been mini-marts that dispense drugs, commit access card fraud, stores that exclusively pedal junk food and tobacco products?
WHY should determining the BEST future businesses for Pottstown’s revitalization ever be an “Easy Call” madam Mayor? It requires work and thoughtful consideration about what’s really best for the community.
When residents take time to familiarize themselves with proposals that will impact them and their neighbors AND they are given the opportunity, at public meetings, to share their opinions/comments, Ms. Mayor, it matters not if their observations jive with your personal agenda – whatever that may be – but to imply that residents “complicate” decisions is unnecessarily derisive. Good thing she doesn’t have a vote.
Community Organizers/Portlands Food Desert <<click here.
Read about a poor community in Portland, OR that said: “NOT IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD” to Traders Joe’s.
Can you hear the pounding of the tiki sticks in Pottstown?
Sheryl Miller, Ward Three and Ryan Procsal, Ward One are reaching out to their constituents and their community for your input and your involvement.
Sheryl is holding the first, of many, Ward Meetings for residents on Tuesday evening. See details here, on Evan Brandt’s Digital Notebook:
clik>>>> Third Ward Meeting Tuesday
On his facebook page Ryan has put up the call for a Ward meeting too…he’d like to know what times work best for you!! For those of you who are not on facebook, I’ll list contact information for council people, below this post. If you are on facebook “Like” Ryan and Sheryl’s pages to stay current on the happenings.
I am delighted that the new council mems are using social networking to stay in touch with the people of Pottstown, this is a fantastic opportunity for residents, unless, that is…
It takes just as much energy to complain, moan and nurture apathy as it does to get involved and work together toward common goals…
Things they are a changing in the Land O’ Potts !!
Citizens Action Committee for Pottstown is comprised of area residents and everyone is welcome.
They’ve recognized that apathy isn’t effective so they got together to explore solutions, to present ideas and to communicate with the borough officials. CAC also has a facebook page…
Last month, they presented the concept of the Better Landlord Program to the Infrastructure/Codes Committee …
Which is now being vetted for consideration by the new License & Inspections Director, Keith Place. Keith is open to residents, he listens as well as he communicates.
Refreshing & much appreciated.
CAC video tapes every council meeting so you will be inspired to get involved in your community, and…
WHY NOT, WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO LOSE ??
CRIME IS ON EVERYONE’S MINDS
With warmer weather comes the proliferation of drug dealers, strung out druggies, hookers and johns on our streets. Assaults, robberies, breaking and entering, theft and even arson are on the rise.
It’s difficult to understand why this continues to be a constant factor of life here, why there is no focus on behalf of officials to diminish the crime that profoundly impacts life in Pottstown - hence – contributing to the reputation that this is not a safe place to live or work.
In May, it will be a year since council appointed Rick Drumheller as the new Chief of Police. While a vast majority of people in Pottstown would have liked to have seen council do a nationwide search for a Police Chief, that’s not what they chose to do, nevertheless…
This community indicates in every way possible that they want to work with our Police Department and we want to see community policing become a priority. There used to be foot and bike patrols on the streets and nobody knows where they’ve gone.
People are left to draw their own conclusions. Communication with the public could do much to foster understanding and much needed goodwill. When residents comment on facebook that their reports to police about drug houses are met with the standard response: “there is nothing we can do about it” that’s scary and…
We want to know Why??
Pottstown has lost officers and recently gained new ones. We wonder if the goals and objectives of last year are being addressed? Is there a plan and a process?
clik to the Mercury News > > > New Pottstown police chief: Use increased patrols, social media to fight crime
Chief Drumheller is quoted:
“One of the first changes he wants to make as the new chief is creating a department presence on social media as a way to engage with the residents of Pottstown,” but…
We are still waiting.
In this April, 2013 Opinion Piece, the Mercury calls for:
We are still waiting.
The post below, was published on March 19th. This morning it has over 127 shares to other facebook pages and 5,810 people saw the post.
There is a growing problem of hookers and johns on the streets downtown, please report your experiences to police and if you’re on facebook, you can post photo’s, license plates and let people know how your report is handled.
SHARE THIS ON YOUR TIMELINE, THAT’S HOW YOU CAN HELP KEEP OTHERS SAFE.
Women of Pottstown HEADS UP. We’re getting a lot of complaints about “johns” lookin’ for a pickup. They’re taunting and circling females who walk downtown on High, King, Charlotte, Hanover St. on their way to work or church. In another post, we’ll put up some things you can do to stay safe but for now be aware and stay safe.
Skinny white dude sometimes wears a peace sign do-rag, drives a green Honda CR-V. He’s seen on King St. circling blocks when he sees women or girls on the sidewalk. He got out of his car to approach a woman. CALL POLICE IMMEDIATELY if you encounter this man. He’s been turned in, according to one complaint we got about him. Keep turnin’ him in and get his license number if you can.
You can contact your council people and paid officials by phone, email or snail mail. ALL official email addresses are the fist letter of their name and their entire last name @pottstown. org.
Stephen M. Toroney
Council President / Fourth Ward
833 Logan St.
Pottstown, PA 19464
Travis N. Gery Council Vice President / Sixth Ward
834 E. High Street
Pottstown, PA 19464
Joseph L. Kirkland Councilor / President Pro Tem, Seventh Ward
1115 Belleview Avenue
Pottstown, PA 19464
Ryan R. Procsal
Councilor / First Ward
352 Walnut Street
Pottstown, PA 19464
Carol L. Kulp
Councilor / Second Ward
344 West Chestnut Street
Pottstown, PA 19464
Sheryl A. Miller
Councilor / Third Ward
59 W. 9th Street
Pottstown, PA 19464
Councilor, Fifth Ward
1010 N. Evans Street
Pottstown, PA 19464
529 Butler Avenue
Pottstown, PA 19464
Mark D. Flanders
100 E. High St.
Pottstown, PA 19464
Illegal evictions in Pottstown are epidemic…
The following story is an example of 101 “tricks of the trade” from the how-to-manual:
(my new besty term for slumlords)
There is only ONE legal process for eviction<<<clik.
If you rent, get wise, your landlord CANNOT legally harass you, he cannot change the locks, he cannot enter your unit without 24 hr. notice, (unless it’s an emergency), and he cannot threaten to have your utilities shut off.
EVEN IF YOU ARE BEHIND IN RENT…
NEVER NEVER NEVER be conned by your landlord or property manager into signing an agreement to move out of your apartment without a legal eviction.
Your landlord MUST file for an eviction hearing in the courts to get you out of their property.
Can you be evicted for not paying your rent?
ABSOLUTELY. In my experience, it is the number 1 reason for evictions in Pottstown. Never mind that you may have put up with your landlord’s neglect of his rental property still…
YOU CANNOT WITHHOLD RENT without following this law: Implied Warranty of Habitability <<<clik. It’s up to you to understand your rights and the procedure for withholding rent.
A young woman was renting from Alan Kocotas, owner of eight units at 548 High St. She’d been having a tough time and had fallen behind on her rent.
In cordial text messages, late last year, Alan was reasonably gracious about working out a plan for his renter to catch up with her delinquent payments and she was eager to catch up.
But, when the renters same-sex partner moved in with her to help catch up with finances, Alan wasn’t so eager to keep the tenant in his apartment any more so the re-payment agreement fell apart.
He sent this text to the renter:
“Also, happy you and __ are having tons of great sex, but everyone else in the building doesn’t want to hear about it. Please try to keep it quieter, I could hear you at the front door downstairs.”
SO ALAN, WAS IT AS GOOD FOR YOU AS IT WAS FOR THEM??
(causing embarrassment in your text message by referencing their sex life, that is sooo NOT cool.)
The entire house has tissue paper walls – no one can even politely – pass gas – without everyone in the house knowing about it.
In a series of text messages, Alan pulled all the classics. Here’s a few snipettes from texts where he’s trying to scare her into moving out:
“You must vacate the premises by the end of December 2013, and the locks will be changed on January 2, 2014 and any and all remaining property inside disposed of.” ILLEGAL AS HELL^^^
Another attempt – Alan had this to say…
“If you do not for any reason make the $ 200 deposit on Monday during these next 4-5 weeks, then you ARE TRESPASSING and will need to remove yourself and your belongings by the next Friday of the week. If that happens I will be changing the locks, and disposing of anything remaining in the apartment on Saturday morning.” DAH^^^
I completely understand that property owners are inconvenienced when tenants don’t pay. Tenants can also be inconvenienced when necessary repairs are neglected.
More than just a simple inconvenience, renters are at risk when important safety codes regulations are ignored by the property owners, for example: dysfunctional smoke detectors and hot water heaters that self-switch from ice cold to scalding.
Alan Kocotas had been notified about the water heater and the smoke detector, spontaneously going off, (sometimes in middle of the night). It was extremely frightening and annoying for everyone in the rental house, because the interior walls are nothing more than painted paneling nailed to studs. No sound barrier for sure, maybe no firewalls either…not sure about that.
These were serious concerns to the renter who contacted the license & inspection department when she could not get Alan to take care of them.
In the process, she learned that the house and her apartment had never been inspected or registered with the Borough since before she moved in.
Alan ignored the Rental Registration Ordinance. That’s a “fineable” offense, up to $1000 and/or up to 30 days in jail. The rental was inspected in January, right after the renter phoned the borough, they didn’t waste any time.
But, nothing was ever fixed in the month to 6 weeks before she moved out, even though the rental inspector said he was concerned that the smoke alarms should be repaired immediately.
Alan could have received a fine and he could have also been required to put up a $500 deposit with the borough for one year. I don’t know if he was fined and reprimanded BUT HE SHOULD BE.
The question: is Alan ignorant of the law? Or, did Alan operate with the belief that he probably wouldn’t get caught and even if he did:
sa la vie
The renter watched the friendly handshake, and conversation between the codes inspector and Alan Kocotas. “Why so chummy all the time with slumlords”, she asked?
As the L & I department continues to “get up to speed” I expect this kind of fraternization with slumlords will not be acceptable.
Featured in this 2011 P.town Patch article, Investors Have Faith in Pottstown, <<<clik…
Alan’s association with the failed investment team of Doug & Deb Campbell (2012), who were/are affiliated with the Montgomery County Investors Group leads me to ask …
If an organization or individuals within an organization disseminate information about how to avoid complying with laws for financial gain – isn’t that akin to the federal crime of racketeering?
“A racket is a service that is fraudulently offered to solve a problem, such as for a problem that does not actually exist, will not be affected, or would not otherwise exist” <<<clik.
According to the article above: “Kocotas became a landlord with some coaching from his investment neighbor Doug Campbell and his wife Deb, real estate agents who own two apartment houses on High Street and several other properties in the area.”
I’d read this article when it first came out so when his name popped up on my radar, yo, it was not surprising that he was operating an illegal rental and trying to brow-beat the tenant.
Alan filed for eviction, the renter was advised by legal aid to cross-file against Alan after the cops had to come out once when he showed up acting like he was going to change the lock to her apartment.
Legal Aid felt the tenant had a good case against Alan and they were willing to represent her.
Oddly, notice from the court regarding the date of the hearing never made it to the renters mailbox -OR- did it ??
Alan retained a key to the tenants mailbox. Nobody knows what really happened to that document (mail tampering is a federal offense). It was the first time, since moving into 548 High St., that she’d ever missed getting her mail and, because of it, the renter missed her hearing…
She lost the case by default and Alan Kocotas is the BIG winner:
In the long run, he’ll be the bigger loser. His stoopidity will sneak up and…
Bite him in the ass (ets) one day, soon I hope.
Essam Schedid, who goes by “Sam” has quite a reputation in town, mainly for his disgusting, rotten business acumen.
Today a Facebook friend posted, beneath a complaint about his nasty renters, that Sam is the owner of the Sam’s Coventry Diner on Schuylkill Rd. Sam once owned the Classic V Grille at 1390 N. Charlotte St. and The Cup on Charlotte St.
Sam owns a slum rental and a slum boarding house that keeps popping up on everyone’s radar for the fact that they are Nuisance properties.
377 Charlotte St. is housing a well known Nuisance tenant.
You could say Sam is acting like a good ol’ Pottstown poverty pimp…
377 N. Charlotte St. houses a woman named Tracy Accor
Tracey Accor was the subject of a blog post, last year, when she took a good landlord to the cleaners, and surrounding neighbors lost their sanity.
Tracey laughed all the way to her next rental property at 377 Charlotte St., while the previous landlord had to repair the purposeful destruction of his property.
But Sam Schedid didn’t call her former landlord to check up and ask if she’d been a thoughtful, kind tenant, nope – he probably didn’t even check police reports – he just moved her in for the substantial government rent money.
The former landlord filed a complaint with Montgomery County Housing Authority, he tried to save future neighbors from this mess, he was pretty certain Tracey Accor would find a slumlord to rent to her, but …
Apparently, they were busy pickin’ lint from their belly buttons – because the Voucher Housing Office did zip/zero to put the skids to this diabolical renter. Obviously, they didn’t take his complaint seriously.
I saw the destruction to his property, first hand. when the landlord invited me to see what Tracey and her pack of miserable misfits had done to his nice rental home. It was beyond disgusting. Clik to read that post>>> Tracy Accor
Right after Tracey moved her clan into Sam’s House of Fun, someone in the house started a cooking oil fire that displaced 11 people, including the family in the twin next door, here’s the Mercury article about that event clik>>>
The only thing is…..
The neighbors aren’t having any fun and Sam is collecting a big fat government check to house a woman and her family that have used and abused the services of law enforcement, fire co’s, sheriff’s department, codes = dude didn’t bother to shovel his walks like the law and consideration for his neighborhood dictate.
Another FB commenter put up a photo of Sam’s boarding house/residence at 170 Manatawny St. with this comment:
“…check out the jaw dropping fix he made to his collapsing railroad tie wall last year lol .. nice cars though!”
On closer examination it looks like Sam put kitchen linoleum around the railroad ties. Now, I’ve seen it all, right here the land of Potts.
Is it any wonder the borough clings to solvency?? Our taxes keep going up and up but our return on investment in this community is tanking and tanking fast.
The really big losers are the homeowners and other good neighbors that have no choice but to live near Tracey Accor in Sam’s ghetto house. They are paying in aces for Accor’s devil-may-care behavior…
It’s like pouring salt in a wound.
Is it any wonder then, a neighbor of Tracey Accor left this message on Facebook yesterday, (one of many messages left on FB about this legendary welfare leech), **we KNOW there are good voucher tenants** and,
Tracey Accor is not one of them…
“Good evening GC. Can you please tell me the name of the slumlord who owns the property at 377 N. Charlotte Street? I know you gave his/her name before but I lost it. I had to call the police earlier this evening about the section 8 residents living at this address and I want to call the slumlord as well. I’m going to keep calling this bastard until he removes these people from the property. I’m sick of their behavior and their ‘don’t give a shit about any neighbors’ attitude. Thanks in advance.”
SO SAM’S COVENTY DINER IS OWNED AND OPERATED BY A SLUMLORD…WHO’S PROUD ENOUGH TO HAVE HIS NAME ON IT
Here’s a sample comment about why Sam’s Coventry Diner gets 2 stars out of a possible 5 on Yelp’s rate the dining site. If I can get my hands on the restaurant inspection later on, I’ll post it here:
“STAY AWAY. Food is gross, rotten and spoiled. Dead serious. And they don’t care. Even waitress advised against eating it. Can I do zero stars?”
Sam’s Coventry Diner
Pottstown, PA 19465
Read reviews on YELP <<<clik
Ethics and business acumen do not appear to be on this guys list of priorities. Here’s the complete list of property’s currently owned by Essam Schedid in Pottstown:
16 Beech St. – 377 N. Charlotte St. – 22 Chestnut St. – 170 Manatawny St. – 460 Spruce St. – 71 N. York St.
update: NEWS FLASH – THIS JUST IN – SAM’S COVENTRY DINER IS NO MORE, According to sources on FB who say nobody ate there any more. Now you just have to wonder where Sam will surface next?
SCRAP THE UPDATE ABOVE!! SAM IS STILL IN BUSINESS – SAME LOCATION DIFFERNENT NAME – THE DINER IS NOW KNOWN AS – CLASSIC GRILL VI – smh.
-BOYCOTT SAM’S COVENTRY DINER/CLASSIC GRILL VI (or whatever it will be called tomorrow)…
- Spend your money with businesses that share your values and have respect for the Pottstown taxpayers.
Why give this shyster a single penny more of your hard earned $$ while he screws Pottstown. Yet, he affords to drive around in his slick corvette and little Cadillac wagon on the taxpayers dime….like pharaoh’s on the Nile.
Listen Carefully ….
It’s the tapping of a new beat, weaving in and out of our collective conscientiousness.
It’s swirling above Pottstown and gently wafting through the hearts and minds of the people of Pottstown and borough officials too.
The beat is creative, it’s fun…
It is the light softly gracing the horizon of a new sensibility in Pottstown.
I’m encouraged and heartened!! Last Wednesday night the Committee of the Whole meeting at borough hall was filled with possibility, hope and the excitement of many creative proposals on the table, not the least of which is the Beech St. Factory arts destination and the promise of a plan to create an Artists Relocation Program for Pottstown.
On the horizon tonight:
School Board member, Ron Williams and a woman he referred to as “Grandmother” made a beautiful presentation to council about re-dedicating a sacred Indian site where bones and artifacts were once uncovered – traces of the Nation of Lenape American Indians who inhabited this area and lived as one with nature.
Grandmother told a captivating Indian story about the sun and why racoons come out at night which led to an equally captivating proposal from Ron and Grandmother to host a three day American Indian Powwow at Memorial Park. Here’s the agenda item that Council will vote on…
TONIGHT 7 pm borough hall 3rd floor 100 High St:
Motion to approve in concept the request of the Lenape Native Americans to conduct its Pow Wow event, May 2, 3 & 4, 2014 at South Franklin Street and Industrial Highway and for the use of Memorial Park, subject to approval of the Borough Manager, the Parks & Recreation Director and the Police and Fire Departments.
Make time to go to council tonight, rejuvenate your hopes and dreams for Pottstown !!!
What about this one Pottstown? Yet another well delivered, exciting proposal was made to council, last Wednesday and it will be voted on tonight…
Motion to approve in concept the Pottstown Classics Car Club proposal to conduct its four-day event, September 4, 5, 6 & 7, 2014, resulting in the closing of High Street on September 4, 2014, from York Street to Charlotte Street from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., and for the use of Smith Family Plaza and Memorial Park, subject to approval of the Borough Manager, the Parks & Recreation Director and the Police and Fire Departments.
Maybe neither one of these events “float your boat” so, just think about the REVENUE generating properties these kinds of things can bring to the borough. Think of these events as the life jackets on your boat. Everyone will benefit and the power of creativity that’s surfacing these days, along with the welcome receptivity of council, all I can say is…
POW POW POWer to Pottstown
It was a long harsh winter in Pottstown. It appears that more than a few Pottstown Peeps used that time to reinvigorate old and new ideas, to connect with one another and build morale through the dark days of the season, that has turned into MOMENTUM with spring in the air!!
Here’s a line up of links <just click on the headings> to go to the blogs & newspaper articles that cover all the good news. If you need a “feel good” moment, pop one of ‘em open and indulge yourself. THEN come to council and meet up with your friends and neighbors – we’ll all be there:
In other very good news, L & I Director, Keith Place, (becoming widely recognized as a solid leader), is following up on the Good Landlord Program presentation to gather additional information:
I hope I haven’t left anything out – my head is spinning with all the possibilities in Pottstown right now, AND a growing sense that Council is receptive to new ideas!!
“If you don’t like Change…
You’re going to like Irrelevance even less.”
General Eric Shinseki
Originally posted on Roy's Rants - For Your Information:
Pottstown has seen a cultural resurgence in recent years. Decades of hard work by organizations such as ArtFusion, Steel River Playhouse, the Pottstown Area Artists’ Guild, Montgomery County Community College, The Hill School Farnsworth Art Museum, and other arts-oriented organizations have highlighted the importance of cultivating visual, performing, and ﬁne arts in Pottstown. More recently, the formation of CreativeMontCo has solidiﬁed county-wide interest in the arts. And ongoing investment by Genesis Housing Corporation, Mosaic Community Land Trust, the National Trust Main Street Program, and the Borough of Pottstown have helped to strengthen the overall quality of life in in the Borough by…
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