From our ability to adapt in a global pandemic, to the economic strength of our communities, Chester County’s ability to “prosper” can be seen in a number of ways.
While 2020 was a year no one could have anticipated, 2019 was a fairly successful year for Chester County overall, with a number of projects and initiatives that were completed to help implement Landscapes3, the county’s comprehensive plan.
In the fall of 2019, the Planning Commission presented “Your Town as a Destination,” at Victory Brewing Company in Parkesburg as an ongoing effort to support the county’s urban centers. The goal of hosting the annual urban centers forum is to promote revitalization in our downtown communities, and to assist with future growth and development initiatives. In 2020, the event was transitioned to a virtual forum and split into two separate sessions, with day one focusing on “main street recovery,” and day two focusing on “design” in our urban centers. See the recordings here.
In addition to the urban centers forums, the Planning Commission also released a series of design guides in 2019 and 2020. The Urban Centers Design Guide, which was released in 2019, serves to foster new development which is compatible with a community’s historic character, and to protect the residential neighborhoods within the community from any adverse effects. The design elements in the guide are focused on locations where new development is most likely to occur – such as downtown areas, older industrial properties, and parking lots. The Suburban Centers Design Guide, released in 2020, provides relatively similar information but instead focuses on the county’s Suburban Centers. Check out the guides.
Another recent accomplishment was the Oxford Borough Transit Center and Borough Hall, which was completed in December of 2019. The new multi-modal transportation center features 266 additional parking spots in the heart of Oxford’s downtown business district, along with 3,500 square feet of office space and Council chambers for the borough. It also includes blue call lights, cameras, sensors, and other safety features. In 2020, the transit center became an official SCOOT stop, and was widely used among residents and visitors for travel purposes.
The Chester County Department of Community Development plays an important role when it comes to the way we prosper in Chester County, along with the Chester County Economic Development Council, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, the county’s 73 municipalities, and many other partners. In 2019, the Department of Community Development provided construction grants for projects in the boroughs of Spring City, Oxford, and West Grove, and in 2020 they awarded just over $2.3 million in grants to Atglen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Spring City, and the City of Coatesville through the Community Revitalization Program.
“With the funding approved by the Commissioners in 2020, we’ve just pushed over 70-million dollars that has been awarded to the City of Coatesville and our 15 boroughs since 2002,” noted Pat Bokovitz, Director of the Department of Community Development, during the 2020 Urban Centers Forum. “It’s been very rewarding over the years to see our towns come alive and become what their local leaders envision them to be, and then really make it happen.”
The county also worked to implement the Restore Chester County initiative shortly after COVID-19 became a reality back in March of 2020. The initiative included a robust website which provides resources and information to assist businesses and residents throughout the pandemic. In 2020, the program included a series of telephone calls and webinars on various topics, as well as surveys, online guides and toolkits, funding and grant programs and assistance, promotional items and materials, and action steps for businesses to follow, broken down into 21 industry sectors.
The information on the website is being updated regularly, and reflects information being provided at the county, state, and federal levels – but with consideration to Chester County’s specific business and resident needs and interest. Visit the website.
To learn more about how we prosper in Chester County, along with the five other goals in Landscapes3, check out some additional success stories: https://chescoplanning.org/Landscapes3/6-SuccessStories.cfm.
And be sure to check back next month to learn how we “connect” in Chester County!