$1.5M grant to sup­port cen­ter

Bor­ough se­cures fund­ing to help fund planned com­mu­nity cen­ter

The Phoenix - - FRONT PAGE - By Evan Brandt ebrandt@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @PottstownNews on Twit­ter

PHOENIXVILLE » A prop­erty swap rooted in a dis­puted hous­ing project that goes back to 2013 re­ceived a $1.5 mil­lion boost from the state this week.

Bor­ough Man­ager E. Jean Krack in­formed Phoenixville Bor­ough Coun­cil Tues­day that a state grant from the Re­de­vel­op­ment As­sis­tance Cap­i­tal Pro­gram was ap­proved to help pay for the com­mu­nity cen­ter the bor­ough is aim­ing to build ad­ja­cent to Friend­ship Field.

It cost the bor­ough $1,500 to ap­ply for the grant, Krack said.

The prop­erty at 501 Franklin Ave., site of the old Friend­ship Fire Com­pany, was orig­i­nally slated to be a three-story “work­force hous­ing” de­vel­op­ment with 72 units — a project to which lo­cal res­i­dents stren­u­ously ob­jected.

As an al­ter­na­tive, bor­ough of­fi­cials, who were plan­ning a new bor­ough hall on Bridge Street, of­fered a site bet­ter suited for se­nior res­i­dents, 140 Church St., the site of the pre­vi­ous bor­ough hall.

The swap be­came of­fi­cial in June, 2014.

In July, a 5-1-1 vote granted fi­nal site plan ap­proval to what is now an “af­ford­able” se­nior hous­ing project called Bar­clay Gar­dens at the old bor­ough hall site, a five-story build­ing with 125 units for those 55 and older.

Res­i­dents there will pay a one­time $295,000 en­try fee and rent of $500 to $600 per month.

Although bor­ough of­fi­cials had orig­i­nally said they wanted to use the Franklin Av­enue site to “im­prove fields” at Friend­ship Park, that plan has mor­phed into a plan for a 38,000 square-foot com­mu­nity cen­ter.

Krack said the build­ing will not only house a gym­na­sium, work-out room, pre-school class­room, full kitchen and of­fices for the parks and recre­ation de­part­ment, but a ve­hi­cle bay with room for one fire truck and one am­bu­lance, to be used in cases of emer­gency or ex­treme weather.

“This is won­der­ful news for Phoenixville,” state Rep. Warren Kampf, R-157th Dist., said in a pre­pared state­ment an­nounc­ing the award.

“The down­town area is alive with re­tail, restau­rants and new multi-fam­ily de­vel­op­ments. What was once a strug­gling former man­u­fac­tur­ing com­mu­nity has been trans­formed. But with that change has come a need for an in­creased abil­ity to pro­vide the ser­vices this com­mu­nity de­serves,”

Kampf said.

Kampf said he worked with state Sen. An­drew Din­ni­man, D-19th Dist. and state Rep. Becky Corbin, R-155th Dist. “have been push­ing for this fund­ing since last Oc­to­ber,”

“As a thriv­ing town that draws res­i­dents from through­out the re­gion, cap­i­tal im­prove­ments are needed,” Corbin said in the same news re­lease. “The new com­mu­nity cen­ter is nec­es­sary to bet­ter serve our cit­i­zens. I want to thank the Wolf ad­min­is­tra­tion for re­spond­ing to our calls for help.”

Although he men­tioned the ex­is­tence of a price cap to coun­cil Tues­day, Krack de­clined to pro­vide Dig­i­tal First Me­dia with an es­ti­mate for the cost of the project and said there is no pub­lic doc­u­ment on which such an es­ti­mate ex­ists. He said with the bids for the project be­ing re­leased Mon­day, he did not want to re­veal the bor­ough’s cost cap to po­ten­tial bid­ders.

Pre­vi­ous re­ports had the bor­ough seek­ing grants for as much as $12.5 mil­lion.

It will ob­vi­ously cost at least $1.5 mil­lion and dur­ing the July meet­ing at which the Bar­clay project was ap­proved, Coun­cil Pres­i­dent James Ko­valeski said the bor­ough would likely have to take out a bond to pay for “a new civic cen­ter” that “will likely raise taxes.”

It is un­clear whether he was re­fer­ring to the com­mu­nity cen­ter that is the sub­ject of this grant.

Tues­day night, coun­cil voted to award the ad­min­is­tra­tion and con­struc­tion over­sight con­tract to the ar­chi­tec­ture firm of Carnevale/Eustis which also de­signed the project. No price for that con­tract was dis­cussed

Coun­cil­woman Cather­ine Do­herty voted against award­ing the con­tract and said she voted against it in com­mit­tee as well be­cause she is wor­ried the build­ing be­ing de­signed “is too large.”

REN­DER­ING COUR­TESY OF STATE SEN. AN­DREW DIN­NI­MAN

Ren­der­ing Cour­tesy of State Sen. An­drew Din­ni­manAn artist’s ren­der­ing of the pro­posed new com­mu­nity cen­ter in Phoenixville, ad­ja­cent to Friend­ship Field.

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