Businesses Exiting Spring City Sparks Debate
Several residents aired concerns at Monday's meeting.
The public comment period during Monday's Spring City borough council meeting turned into a discussion of residents' concerns about the state of Spring City.
Virginia Metzger, a longtime borough resident, pointed out during public comment that with PNC Bank closing their Spring City branch and Rite Aid moving out, Spring City's residents are suffering from the lack of services in town.
"This council should be concerned about this," Metzger said. "I don't see anything worthwhile coming into town." She pointed out that there is also a lack of services such as doctors or dentists, no grocery store, and no place to buy cards or gifts.
"It seems like we get more apartments, more Section 8 [housing]," Metzger said.
Council President Louis DiGuiseppe agreed that it is a "very big concern."
"No one has made any effort [to open a new business]," DiGuiseppe said. "We have done nothing, created no laws, to hinder people coming in. There's just nobody interested in doing those things in Spring City."
DiGuiseppe did point out a few businesses that seem to be thriving. "We had the cake shop downtown came in to introduce themselves. Obviously people need pipes and papers, there's a head shop that's doing well. We had a new restaurant just open on the fourth."
DiGuiseppe said that most of the vacant storefronts seem to be turning into apartments, and Spring City is already over 60 percent rental.
"Until someone has the capital and wants to come in and do these things in town, there's very little we can do," Di Guiseppe said.
"What is council doing to actually recruit businesses?" another resident, Erica Weiherer, asked the group. "It seems like we're waiting for businesses to approach council, but what has the council done to recruit businesses?"
"We do our part to set a budget, but we're not really here being paid 24/7 to be recruiting to build the town," DiGuiseppe said. "We keep the town fiscally active so the bills are paid, the streets are swept, the snow's removed, the toilets flush, all the little things that people who live here need every day."
Councilman Michael Petak suggested that residents help look for businesses that might move into the vacant buildings in town.
"This is a volunteer group up here, you're also volunteers - this is your community. You have know people who might want to take a shot at doing something if this economy ever revives," Petak said. "This is your town."
"Let me just answer that also," Metzger said. "Yes, I do live in a community, but...you are elected by the Spring City residents to make our town more prosperous, to make our town grow and to keep people here."
"You want my seat?" Petak asked her. "You want my seat? If you can do it better than me, if you can do this better than any of us...I'm not saying that to be a nasty human being or be sarcastic, but if you have a better idea than I have or a better idea than anyone up here, I'll campaign for you."
"I didn't say I had a better idea, I just think it's your responsibility to at least be open and cordial when someone does address the quality of life in town," Metzger said.
"What's not cordial?" Petak said.
"Well, I guess I must have misinterpreted your attitude, and I'm sorry for that," Metzger said.
Councilman James Burns told the audience he had been on a committee for development that was working on a community center with a medical office and a daycare, but that plan had fallen apart. However, he said, there's still some interest in it.
"I just wouldn't want you to go away with the impression that nothing's being done," Burns said.
Following the discussion, council continued with some general normal business and a brief executive session before adjourning for the night.
[Editor's note: The article was corrected to correct the wording of a quote from Council President Louis DiGuiseppe. We regret the error.]