Press Release: For Immediate Distribution 11/17/2010
An ad hoc group of residents, business owners and citizens have joined together to form a new group to promote the revitalization of Downingtown Borough. To be called “I.D.E.A.L.” (Invigorate Downingtown’s Economy and Lifestyle), the group seeks to support public and private investment in Downingtown which will help stabilize the tax base, support businesses and restaurants on Main Street, and increase long term property values, while promoting enhancements to the environment.
Over sixty people attended a meeting on Thursday November 12th held at Dane Décor on Main Street in Downingtown to learn more and express their support for an organized way to move Downingtown forward. Dane Décor co-owner Hank Hamilton was once a leader of the Downingtown Main Street Association, which was instrumental in getting projects such as Main Street Village redeveloped from a contaminated former industrial site to the beautiful townhome community it is today. Hamilton chairs the Downingtown Marketing Support Agency, a committee of the Downingtown Chamber of Commerce, which has lent its support to the I.D.E.A.L. group’s formation.
“I have lived in Downingtown’s Main Street Village for the past 10 years,” says Cara DeStefano, the chief organizer of the group and the evening’s event. “I want to see our property values and quality of life thrive here.” She cited the Philadelphia Magazine article which named Downingtown Borough one of the 10 best places to live in the region, and the fact that it is “totally ready to bloom.” “I share that vision for Downingtown as an excellent place to live, work, shop, raise a family and enjoy restaurants, parks and entertainment,” she said, “and I want to help make it bloom.”
One of the immediate areas of concern is to support Borough Council’s efforts to redevelop the contaminated Kardon Park site. “There are many people like my wife and I who use the Struble and Lions Trails regularly who favor improving the park with new trails and parking, and fresh running water to clean up those terribly stagnant ponds, comments Richard Bryant, a local resident on Washington Avenue. Bryant states that the proposed improvements would turn an underutilized resource into a visual and economic asset for the community.
“We are all dumbfounded by the Orphans Court Judge’s recent decision says Sean Lawrence, a resident on Buchanan Court. “The decision leaves the Borough having to maintain a contaminated site forever that it cannot afford to clean up. We wholeheartedly support Borough Council’s vote to appeal the decision.” Lawrence adds: “It is hard to believe that the Judge would allow a former landfill that has never been capped to be open for access by the public. It would be unthinkable today to acquire a landfill for a public park without capping or remediating it.”
Adds Bryant: “We really want to educate the public as to the facts about the contamination in the surface soils. There is a lot of misinformation circulating since the Judge’s decision that ‘the park is safe.’ The park is safe if people stay on the paved trails. We very much agree with Borough Council’s decision to post signs about the risks associated with going off the path at The Ponds.”
“This underutilized site just a couple of blocks from the center of town has tremendous potential to generate cash for the tax payer,” says Doug Castaldi, a business owner in the Borough. “I have reviewed the charts on the fiscal impact of the project and it will be a cash cow for the school district as well as the borough and the county – not to mention generating over $8 million for Borough residents that can be used to pay down some of the Borough’s debt and lower operating expenses. We need new residents and businesses coming into our town in order to stabilize taxes.”
Kevin Mathews, owner of Downingtown Running Company on Main Street, echoes the sentiment of many business owners and restaurants in town: "We care about character and environmental preservation. We can be environmentally conscious and have community growth at the same time."
DeStefano says that a key goal of I.D.E.A.L. will be to bring like-minded people together who share a common vision for moving Downingtown forward. “We have been a ‘Silent Majority’ but we will not be silent any longer,“ she said. “Our voices will now be heard loud and clear.”
IDEAL on Facebook Cara~contact person to join the cause.
I am glad to be involved with such a worthwhile group.