Measuring Up: How we “Live” in Chester County

Among the six goals in Chester County’s comprehensive plan, Landscapes3, measuring how we “live” is one of the most important aspects when it comes to the day-to-day lives of the county’s 525,000-plus residents. Our neighborhoods, schools, community services, parks, and recreational facilities help us determine how we spend our days, and often times, where we want to spend our future as well.

Chester County’s dedication to “nurture diverse and well-rounded communities with a balance of residential opportunities and convenient access to community facilities, services, and amenities,” is evident in a number of ways throughout the county. In fact, there were a number of projects and initiatives that were completed in 2019 to support this goal, as well as many ongoing efforts.

In September of 2019, the Chester County Housing Choices Committee held their first meeting to begin the process of promoting affordably-priced housing on a larger, county-wide basis. The 19-member committee is made up of municipal representatives, land use professionals, housing advocates, and developers from around the county. Their goal is to provide guidance to municipalities, partners, and the public on development of tools and materials, as well as public events and initiatives that support affordably-priced housing efforts, such as the A+ Homes initiative.

In November of 2019, the Planning Commission hosted “Creating A+ Homes,” a housing forum in partnership with the Department of Community Development and the Housing Choices Committee. The forum highlighted information on affordably-priced homes, new residential design, and housing tools for municipalities. A virtual forum was held in November of 2020, which was split into two separate sessions focusing on housing for an aging population on the first day, and housing construction costs on the second day. Learn more about A+ Homes.

The Borough of Phoenixville saw an addition of 48 affordable workforce housing units with the development of SteelTown Village in 2019. The development, which sits on 3.2 acres of land and helps to accommodate the area’s lower income residents, includes a mix of one, two, and three-bedroom units to serve a diverse population such as senior citizens, veterans, and those with disabilities. The development cost a total of $12.6 million, which included contributions from both the Chester County and Phoenixville Community Health Foundations. The efforts to create affordably-priced housing throughout Chester County have continued in 2020.

“The Foundation has made a commitment to improve the availability of healthy, safe, and affordable housing opportunities for low-income populations in the greater Phoenixville region and have supported numerous efforts and developments such as SteelTown Village,” noted Tamela Luce, President and CEO of the Phoenixville Community Health Foundation. “We are active members of the Phoenixville Affordable Housing Council, a cross-sector collaboration raising public consciousness about the urgent need for affordable housing in Phoenixville and Chester County.”

In addition to these projects, the county has various ongoing activities and initiatives to support the way we “live” in Chester County.

East Goshen Township’s Director of Parks and Recreation, Jason Lang, has been instrumental in helping to advocate for park improvements and other community upgrades, such as upgrades to East Goshen Township Park and the new Paoli Pike Trail, which have become increasingly popular during the COVID-19 pandemic. “East Goshen Township’s parks have been bedrock therapies for our residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. They have become the coffee shop, outdoor movie theatre and meet up place for our families, and our trails specifically have seen a huge surge in usage,” Lang noted. “It is with this in mind that the Township is pleased to have recently opened the Paoli Pike Trail, a multimodal trail that connects the various land uses along Paoli Pike and supports long term Township sustainability.”

To find out more about how we “live” in Chester County, along with the other five goals in Landscapes3, check out the 2019 Success Stories: https://www.chescoplanning.org/Landscapes3/6-SuccessStories.cfm

And stay tuned for next month as we highlight how we “prosper” in Chester County!

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