Letter to the Editor: Support of the Willow Street Project

Dear Editor,

I was encouraged to write this letter in support of the Willow Street development project after reading Nancy Unger’s letter that appeared in the Patriot two weeks ago.

Nancy’s argument makes perfect sense to me and to other senior citizens of the borough and surrounding area who must consider “down-sizing” in the near future. If we want to remain in Kutztown, “this most agreeable town” there is only one choice for us who do not qualify for subsidized housing—Devonshire—that is if we could get in.

But waiting lists are long and living out there would require more frequent driving for any kind of shopping. The point is we need more apartments and we need choices. Many of us will move away, and that will be a lost to the Borough. There are more of us than Council realizes and I ask my friends to speak up and urge the Council members to vote in favor of the redevelopment.

What is there now is an eyesore. It could become a more beautiful, economically vital, usable space where some of your productive citizens could live, enjoy, pay taxes, and SPEND MONEY.

We are not just looking for “housing.” We are seeking a quality of life in our senior years, where we could still walk to near by shops, socialize, eat at local restaurants and remain in a familiar place with our friends. I would like to remind those who oppose the project, that one day, they might have to make the choice of down-sizing and finding an agreeable place to live.

My husband and I have lived in Kutztown since 1972, and I realize that does not make us natives, but we love the town. The University has brought in people of diverse backgrounds. Along with its colorful indigenous population, Kutztown is a culturally interesting place to live. We have seen many changes over 42 years in the diversity of its population. Change is inevitable in a small progressive University town. One has only to look at and read Brendan Strasser’s excellent histories to understand how much has changed.

Now to the argument about students: I also realize that not all of the potential apartment dwellers will be senior citizens. I expect that there may be other adults (young professionals, newly arrived professors, people not associated with the University or businesses in the area) AND possibly students, if they or their parents could afford the rent.

By the way, age diversity is also good. My experience tells me that students surrounded by adults behave better. As former teachers, we know that not all students are rowdy vandals. We have had more experience with good, responsible students than the exceptionally bad ones.

Also I expect that the rents will not be competitive with cheaper rents around town where occupancy may not be limited. I know that if I were a student bent on making trouble, I surely would not want to be located so close to the borough police station. I would more likely choose the new luxury dormitories being built with an in-door swimming pool.

Finally, the University, its staff, its faculty, its retired faculty, and its students have contributed to the economic life of this “most agreeable town.” Yes, there are problems with students in every university town. But the fact is, we have students living all over the borough and its surroundings with our area residents, (constituents) accepting their money in rents, in taxes, in restaurants and in local stores. Let’s not forget their help with shoveling snow.

I also know a critic of the project who currently rents to students. Fear that a few students may inhabit a new apartment complex that will also benefit many other citizens and the town as a whole, is at best, a retrograde argument, and at worst, a hypocritical one.

Angela M. Scanzello, Ph.D

Kutztown