COATESVILLE -- City officials frequently talk about their vision for a "new Coatesville," though getting residents to echo that rallying cry at times has been challenging.
But one prominent Chester County official appears to be a believer.
District Attorney Joseph Carroll this week finalized the purchase of a home in the city, and it's not one of the shiny new residences constructed along the hillsides near Coatesville's edges.
According to documents filed Tuesday at the Chester County Recorder of Deeds office, Carroll is moving downtown to North Eighth Avenue, a neighborhood with a tough reputation.
On Thursday, Carroll was not talking about his recent land acquisition. He declined to comment on his motives for purchasing a home in Coatesville or confirm that the transaction took place.
Public documents filed at the county's deeds office showed Carroll paid $35,000 for the home situated on a 2,400-square-foot plot. The sale was finalized two days after the double homicide of a couple inside a home at the other end of the city, on the 200 block of Charles Street.
It is located in Coatesville's Fifth Ward, which is represented by Democratic City Councilman Martin Eggleston.
Eggleston said he had not spoken with Carroll before or after the district attorney bought the property, but he enthusiastically welcomes him to the neighborhood.
"The more the merrier," Eggleston said. "I love when anyone decides to move into Coatesville. I think that's great."
Though he said Carroll's experience as crime fighter would help the surrounding blocks, Eggleston bristled at the suggestion that North Eighth Avenue was a bad part of town.
"I wouldn't characterize it at all. I think that's part of the problem, when we characterize this as a good street and that as a bad street," the councilman said. "I just hope the neighborhood welcomes him."
All city officials contacted said they were unanimously happy to hear about their new neighbor.
City Manager Harry Walker simply offered, "Welcome to the neighborhood."
And Police Chief William Matthews called the district attorney a welcome addition to the community, as did Forth Ward City Councilman Kurt Schenk.
"He's always supported the efforts I have initiated to make Coatesville a safer place to live, work and play," Matthews said.
About a year ago, Carroll was pitted against Matthews and Walker in a debate about the number of police needed to patrol Coatesville's streets. At the time the chief and the administration were considering reductions, while Carroll had argued the department's manpower was inadequate.
Schenk, a supporter of Matthews and Walker, said he is not concerned Carroll will be looking over his shoulder, or other officials' shoulders, as the department heads and council run the city.
"My personal opinion is that we all need to work together," Schenk said. "He has a heart for the city, and he wants to do the right things. I think nothing but positives can come out of it."
But First Ward Councilman Ed Simpson -- who said he was "honored" to share Coatesville with Carroll -- predicted the police department would feel some added pressure with the district attorney around.
"Here you have the top law enforcement officer in the county, and he knows the law," Simpson said. "When he sees that things aren't being addressed, now as a resident of the city of Coatesville ... you're forced to listen to what he has to say."
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