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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.]

John Q. Public January 10, 2013 at 12:16 PM
Nothing is being done, and that attitude, 'you can do better?,' has been the excuse for many years. If it weren't for local residents, the SC Pool would have been filled in. However, the problem is most residents are transient, and rentals outnumber homeowners, and that can destroy any town. Section8 is the great destroyer of low-rent communities. Section8 renters have appeared everywhere in town, and bicycle thefts, drug trade, and break-ins soon follow.
4merLawMan January 10, 2013 at 12:37 PM
I have been a resident of Royersford for two years now. When I drive across the bridge into Spring City it's like driving from the Main Line into West Philly. I find it hard to believe how similar Spring City is to Philadelphia. Being a former Law Enforcement Officer I can speak from real life experience. If I were looking to open a business it would not be in Spring City.
jackaroe January 10, 2013 at 02:34 PM
hahahahaha. this is classic and i can't help but laugh. spring city residents voted these council members in. everyone pulls the lever but never checks the people they are voting for. rather than voting on a party line perhaps assessing the boys you're putting into office would go along way. council has egos that extend way beyond their importance in the real world. i have always regretted buying a home in spring city and look forward to the day i move out. perhaps taking some advice from how phoenixville did it would aid in our town's recovery. otherwise downtown is left for the meth addicts and drunks.
jackaroe January 10, 2013 at 02:37 PM
John Q Public... we have break ins every month... but its kept silent. when you go to council meetings they read what the police reported for a month. its not good. people have suggested re-zoning... and stopping landlords from allowing scum housing to exist. I recall in the last election 3 people running for office... willing to be in Petak's seat!
Spring City Resident 2 January 10, 2013 at 02:54 PM
This part made me laugh: "There's a head shop selling pipes and papers." Well of course that store is thriving. What do you think most people are buying pipes & papers for in Spring City...nicotine. I highly doubt that!
4merLawMan January 10, 2013 at 03:55 PM
They brag about having a head shop, lol unfortunately Spring City is the Darby of Chester County.
SpringCityPADemocrat January 10, 2013 at 05:16 PM
Thanks for posting this informative article :) My impression of the meeting can be found here http://springcitypadem.blogspot.com/2013/01/spring-city-council-meeting-first.html
Local Yocal January 10, 2013 at 06:18 PM
Services? Really? A guy with a truck and a broom picking up small piles of leaves, a pan at a time? How many street lights are burned out in town? We have a 24hr patrol and can't even see street lights are out.
jackaroe January 10, 2013 at 06:33 PM
I'll take Petak's seat, happily! turn it over boys ;). maybe get some educated people on council?
cbart164 January 10, 2013 at 06:55 PM
I opened a business some years ago in Spring City. When I had my opening, I invited the Mayor and councilpeople to come and how many showed up? Big fat zero. I called the Mayor for an explanation and got a lot of run around. The biggest problem with business in Spring City is that there is NO parking on Main Street. Mr. Big Shot who owns the Spring City hotel won't even rent spaces to business for parking, so what's to be done, the place is dead.
Ginny Jeffries January 10, 2013 at 08:39 PM
what's that "Gold" shop, dine & shine? What dining and shining?
Local Yocal January 10, 2013 at 10:09 PM
"supposedly" One mr. big shot is also one of the slumlords. I would love someone to investigate his building permits, pre-lease U&O inspections, and property violation history. Bet there are none to be found. GOLD? Good Luck. No parking and a building history of broken dreams. Location Location Location!
homeowner January 10, 2013 at 10:40 PM
I am all for seeing someone else take that seat off of his hands with an attitude as poor as that!
homeowner January 10, 2013 at 10:42 PM
you have my vote!
Local Yocal January 10, 2013 at 10:51 PM
On a positive note. The new police chief seems to care and has started taking control. Change is good. How about changing the rest of the old guard? We look uneducated and stoic as a community Maybe typing the minutes of the monthly meeting on something other than a 1977 Smith-Corona... then poorly scanning it? It is 2013. Time to find leadership outside the current box.
Kathy January 11, 2013 at 01:22 AM
Have local officials considered that touting the success of a "head shop that's doing well" might perhaps - just perhaps - be part of Spring City's image problem in trying to lure new businesses and professional development ? ...
Diane Crane January 11, 2013 at 01:30 AM
Glad to see this article got some response. It's a nice change from the typical apathy. Now if only some leadership can be found and followed, there may be hope. Spring City has a lot more potential than what exists. And if Mr. Big Shot is so big, let him spend some time planning for growth in the borough instead of serving on the East Vincent Planning Commission.
John Q. Public January 11, 2013 at 12:35 PM
Mr.BigShot had a long history of encouraging section8 rentals, as he owned a few of those run-down buildings on Main Street. SC's large transient population, aided by BigShot, is the root cause of all problems. Who wants to open a business with drug users and dealers hanging on your doorstep? Lured by the cheap rent, some business folks have tried, but the transients discourage - and lack of parking - eventually chase them out. Still, some folks continue to try, as we recently enjoyed another Music/Market fest downtown.
Local Yocal January 11, 2013 at 03:22 PM
The section 8 rental issue and money shortage could be corrected in one year with nothing more than a rental inspection ordinance. Annual inspections for safety and each turnover, pre-rental/lease U&O permits. Force rentals and owners with off street parking to use it. West Chester has a landlord ordinance which fines the landlord for bad tennants.
Local Yocal January 11, 2013 at 03:35 PM
How many SC renters pay the 1% tax? If you do not know whom is renting and whom the renters are, you will never know. Most only file Federal and State returns. There is money left on the table. Who is looking out for the complying taxpayers who carry these vagabonds? Who checks to see our renters are legal, taxpaying citizens? How about the "Too Fast, Too Furious" renters who live around town and attend auto schools in the area? Do you think they are paying local taxes? We have the ability to prosper with leadership asking the hard questions and responding accordingly.
Cake Couture January 12, 2013 at 01:38 AM
My sister & I own the cake business that is mentioned in this article. From the beginning we knew that we were in for a challenge, but still felt that it was worth the risk. There are a lot of great homeowners and families in this town. Unfortunately, the bad people that live here overshadow all the great ones. It was disheartening when our brand new awning quickly became the new hang out spot for smokers. It was disheartening when one our pumpkins from our front steps was stolen around 2am on a Sunday morning in October. (We know who stole it because we have it on camera.) Yesterday while delivering supplies I was disheartened yet again. I was welcomed by a smashed Snapple bottle by the front door of our shop. There was also graffiti on one of windows of Kelly O'Keefe's building. My young son was with me at the time, so I couldn't take the time to clean it up. Thankfully, a Good Samaritan removed it over night because it was gone today. We take a lot of pride in our business and in our building. We wish other building owners would follow suite and take some pride. Enough is enough.... If you own a building on Main Street, shame on you if you are not taking care of it. I agree with Local Yocal that there needs to be annual rental inspections. We will be the first building owners to happily open the doors of our two apartments and allow them to be inspected.
Paradise Gifts January 13, 2013 at 07:16 PM
As a business owner in Spring City I'd like to state a few things- when we opened our shop on Main Street, the smoke shop, the building was a mess as well as a public health issue. The interior from top to bottom was covered in mold, missing pieces of flooring, no usuable electric wiring, sewer lines in our basement were hanging off the wall and there was raw excrement on the basement floor. Against the advice of savvy investors we took a chance and invested in this town. Day after day residents throw trash, break bottles, and harass any normal looking people on Main Streeet. These aren't the people who come to town for our shop, they're RESIDENTS. Everyday for a year I swept the street in front of four abandoned stores from the trash residents left, swept the sidewalk, picked weeds up and down the street, and I know many of you saw me yourself. The mail man can't even put mail in our mailbox because people stuff their chip wrappers, water bottles, etc. in there. I know the cake shop feels the same way- we've both had to install exterior survelience systems because of the constant destruction! I hope you all understand that no other business had been willing to put out the investment capital to fix the shop we got in over 10 years! We have the same goals in mind for the town as you do, because it's ours too as it is yours. There is absolutely no way KATHY and 4MERLAWMAN are going to credit the state of this town on our business. We have multiple locations, in higher
Paradise Gifts January 13, 2013 at 07:18 PM
income areas such as Paoli, and people actually drive out of their way to other locations to avoid Spring City. I think it may also interest you to know areas such as Exton, West Chester, Paoli, Phoenixville, Collegeville, Ambler, Hatboro, Douglasville, Mt. Penn, Phila, ETC. all have the same type of retail estaishment- and this is just locally! We have done nothing but bring more traffic to town. I think the boro is doing as much as they can as well, it's not their job to solicit businesses. Businesses move into town if they see money in it, unfortuntely they don't at this time. What I will say is Chaplins, Cake Couture, Latshaws, Georges, Gold and the smoke shop are all great businesses- and Main St isn't all the way there but has come along way in recent years. Let's hope for the best in 2013 and try to revitalize our community. I find it interesting no one comments when the town has 4 tatoo shops which are constantly moving, getting raided, changing owners, yet our business gets singled out. I'd also like to note we have been an advocate of moving a grocery store into town for two years - If anyone is seriously interested in partnering and opening or investing in a grocery store in town at the old rite aid location or next door to my shop stop down and ask to talk to the owner. I have all the information on property, est. #'s, fixtures, etc. We can clean up this community and empower the locals who want to do good by providing places for them to work, shop, or own in
Paradise Gifts January 13, 2013 at 07:18 PM
Our community which will bring in more taxable revenue, more taxable income. In turn that means higher funding for libraries and schools, recreational areas, police, general town maintenance, etc. By doing so it raises the standard of living and creates incentive for businesses to come in and be a part of a thriving town, which raises home values, etc. Main St begins with you- the town people! Don't expect board members to solicit big corporations like wal-mart to come in and 'save' your town, come save the town yourself- open a business! Everyone wants a cut but no one will do the cutting!
Dynamo47 February 06, 2013 at 01:07 PM
As an outsider who calls Spring City my home (and intend to stay) I find it disheartening to see the Main Street area. Being unfamiliar with the area when looking for a home I was encouraged by the low price and condition of the home I first purchased. I had high hopes for the area and quickly grew to love the town. I sold my home and bought a larger home in Spring City. I am college educated, have small children and take pride in my home and it's appearance. Since that time I have noticed the quality of life in town slowly eroding. The main street area as you enter town has always been an eyesore but has gotten worse with time. Perhaps the borough could purchase the vacant lot for sale (Main and Yost) and clean it up and use it for public parking? For an outsider coming in down Main Street and seeing a trash strewn overgrown lot, it sends a negative message immediately. The other area that is part of the problems is rentals and slum lords. We have a code enforcement officer in name only. There are not only rental apartments in disarray but also plenty of rental homes in residential neighborhoods with cracked windows, trashed exteriors, peeling siding, etc. Any prospective home buyer would be leery to purchase a home in the neighborhood. It is not a cause without hope. Simply purchasing the vacant lot, resurfacing it and enforcing the code laws we already have would clean up the town. A clean town is a step in bringing in potential businesses.
SpringCityPADemocrat February 15, 2013 at 12:28 AM
To Dynamo47 - I highly recommend attending the Spring City Council Meetings (there is time allotted for public comment at each meeting). You bring up a lot of good points and valid concerns. I'm new to the area too and would love to see Spring City flourish.

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