Neighborhood University-Stormwater

This post was originally published on the West Chester Borough Democrats website, www.wcborodems.org

West Chester resident Emily Pisano is kindly contributing her observations on the content of Neighborhood University, a good background for all interested in civic life. And as anyone reading this knows, “government is us!” For week 2 and a link to the more info about the program, see here.

Walking into the West Goshen municipal building for last week’s Neighborhood University, I must admit my expectations were rather low. The topic was stormwater and I don’t know about you, but the word stormwater doesn’t typically elicit feelings of fun or excitement.

We were greeted by our speaker for the evening, West Goshen township manager Casey LaLonde. Won over immediately with his snack selection (pretzels, candy, water, and soda), we grabbed us handout and sat down ready to learn.

Within the first five minutes of Casey’s presentation I realized I had been all wrong about the topic of stormwater. Well, almost entirely wrong. While not necessarily fun, it is a very exciting, interesting and stressful area to be a part of. Without getting into the nitty gritty of all the acronyms and definitions, I’ll share with you why the management of stormwater is essential to our community and environment.

First of all, decision-making surrounding the management of stormwater is left to your elected officials. So, here is yet another reason why voting is so important. November 7th, mark it on your calendars!

Recently, the DEP has had its focus on stormwater and has put pressure on PA’s municipalities to create updated systems for managing it. Unfortunately, PA is more than a little behind the curve when it comes to stormwater, the reason being, the DEP did not know how to handle PA’s many municipalities.

Putting the changes that need to be made into effect does not come at a low cost and funding the projects is left to the discretion of local elected officials. In West Goshen either a stormwater fee will be activated or federal tax money will be used.

To emphasize the importance of managing stormwater properly, just look at the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Houston. Houston’s reservoirs didn’t break and they weren’t in bad shape. They simply could not handle the fifty inches of rain dumped on Houston in a twenty-four-hour period. Meteorologists have referred to Hurricane Harvey’s effects on Houston as a 500-year flood. What that means is, a flood the size of the one cause by Harvey should only occur once every 500 years. But there has been one 500-year flood every year for the last three years.

In light of the collection of natural disasters that has affected the US and Mexico recently, we all need to come together and work as a team to help restore our environment. Part of helping to save our planet is electing those that understand how serious a situation we are in and keeping those that deny something is wrong out of the decision-making.

To learn more about stormwater management visit your townships website. West Goshen has a very detailed site dedicated to their recent projects including a plan to replace outdated systems across their township.

For those of that live in West Chester Borough, our Borough Council recently passed a resolution to use 100% clean renewable electricity by 2035 and 100% clean renewable energy for transportation and other uses by 2050. The Borough will also be testing a “green curb” extension plan. This will start on S. Everhart Street between Sharpless and Nields. The plan will help the ground to better collect and retain stormwater runoff.

While we can’t reverse the damage that has already been done to our environment we can and need to work together to prevent any more from occurring.

Neighborhood University-Public Safety

This post was originally published on the West Chester Borough Democrats website, www.wcborodems.org

West Chester resident Emily Pisano is kindly contributing her observations on the content of Neighborhood University, a good background for all interested in civic life. And as anyone reading this knows, “government is us!” According to its web site,

“Neighborhood University of Greater West Chester is a free program offered by the West Chester Area Council of Governments (see WCACOG map) to educate citizens about local government and increase awareness of available municipal services and resources. Our goal is to help citizens become more effective advocates for their community, which in turn helps local municipalities keep finding ways to improve.”

Neighborhood University – Public Safety
by Emily Pisano

Ever hear of Neighborhood University? Don’t feel bad if you’re shaking your head. Although the program is in its fifth year, I didn’t know of it until I saw a tweet from West Chester Borough regarding its 2017 session. The program teaches residents of the West Chester area about their local government and government programs and informs residents about how decisions are made in their community.

Neighborhood University runs every Thursday night for ten weeks and each class lasts about two hours. It’s an easy and interesting way to learn something about your home, meet people in your area, and get involved. Sometimes, the instructor even provides snacks and there are no tests to stress about. Your only objective is to listen and learn.

This past Thursday was our second class and the topic was public safety. Riding the elevator down to the very gray colorless basement of the Government Services Building, I was feeling pretty excited. Call me a nerd, but having graduated from college three years ago, I’ve really missed that back-to-school feeling.

Anyway, the instructor for the night was John Haynes, Deputy Director of the 9-1-1 Center. A kind man dressed head to toe in taupe, his passion for his career and his love for local government and helping people are heartwarming. If you want to see your tax dollars at work (don’t we all?), see if you can meet with John.

Under John’s leadership, the 9-1-1 Center of Chester County has become one of the top 9-1-1 centers in the country. Receiving roughly 300,000 calls each year, the men and women who work as dispatchers have one of the most stressful jobs you could possibly imagine. Those who make it through the rigorous training process have proven they can remain calm and even-keeled while helping people through what is probably the most traumatic moment of their life. The service these dispatchers provide is truly commendable.

Equally extraordinary are the programs they use to help people in crisis. When you call 9-1-1 from your cellphone, the dispatcher can instantly see where you are calling from even when the GPS on your phone is turned off. The text-to-9-1-1 capability has been a source of comfort to the deaf and hard of hearing. In cases of domestic abuse and situations where a child is in a vehicle with an impaired parent, the text-to-9-1-1 option has saved lives. Programs and features such as these provide efficient, fair and quality service to all people of Chester County. Our 9-1-1 center even has the ability to communicate with people in over 200 languages, ensuring no one is denied the right of receiving help in an emergency situation.

For those of us lucky enough to call Chester County home, access to emergency help is a guarantee for all, just as healthcare should be. That being said, do not forget to call your Senators and Congressional Representative and urge them to say no to Graham-Cassidy and any similar healthcare-reducing bills!

Stay tuned for next week’s post, the topic will be storm water management and our local environment. Important stuff!