LETTER: Time to embrace that we are Pottstown!

As PDIDA (Pottstown Downtown Improvement District Authority) continues to reach out to our community at large, our first focus group met on March 29, 2018, in the PDIDA Office to discuss the next five years in the downtown district. Thirteen community members from various walks of life joined us for about two hours of discussion.

As the dialogue began, as usual, the question arose, “Why can’t we be like Phoenixville?”

So, let’s start with why do we want to be like Phoenixville? Why don’t we want to be Pottstown? A town with beautiful architecture, several great restaurants (and more on the way), new brew pubs, an awesome community theater, and beautiful natural recreational resources? What about Pottstown’s amazing community art center, great tourism train, mini-golf, beautiful carousel, and events including our First Vegan Fest, Open Air Farmer’s Market, Downtown Arts Walk and upcoming Pottstown GoFourth Festival, most of which have been created through the generous equity of local volunteers who are passionate about Pottstown? All of this has been achieved with assistance from PDIDA’s modest annual budget of around $34,000.

What is most interesting about this question is how folks dwell on the past and on negatively slanted statistics rather than looking at all the progress Pottstown is making toward being an even better place to work, play, and live. For example: Many people are not aware that there is an incredibly low inventory of commercial and residential properties in Pottstown due to demand and that renovations are happening all over town. Why this activity and growth? Because people from outside Pottstown (in addition to informed current residents) realize that our town has many amenities and that we are an “up and coming” place to work, do business and live.

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Also, based on considerable research conducted by PDIDA, we are proud and happy to report that not only has Pottstown had less crime than Phoenixville, but crime is down 19 percent in recent years. Between March 19 and March 29, there were 176 reported police instances in Phoenixville. In that same time frame, Pottstown saw less than 75 reported police instances. There is almost no downtown district crime, with none of the reported incidents being gun-related or otherwise violent crimes.

We believe it is time to start talking about why PDIDA wants to just be Pottstown — and why this perspective is incredibly positive and empowering. It is time to embrace that we are Pottstown — and that is more significant and meaningful than attempting to be like any other town.

We want to shout about the arts, the restaurants, and, especially, to welcome new community neighbors to our town! So let’s be us! Be a part of the change, be a part of the solution, and join us as we shout about the positives in our town and work to expand the revitalization and engagement that is occurring! Let’s take our social media, print media, and vital word of mouth, and make these tools work in a positive direction for our town. If Pottstonians want to see Pottstown be a better place, we all need to put naysaying and negative comparisons aside. If you hear someone citing negative and perhaps unfounded perceptions, please don’t be silent: Step up and point out positive things that are happening. Let’s all celebrate being Pottstown!

Our next Focus Group is on Thursday, April 26, at 6:30 p.m. at 238 E High St. Please RSVP to sheiladugan@comcast.net or call 610-323-5400.

— PDIDA Board

Sheila Dugan, Main Street Manager

Burke Meyers, Chairman

Joe Cavallo, Treasurer

Bill Robertson

Vicki Giammarco

Erin Hein

Supreme Williams