Weekend Dish Joey's II cheesesteaks

Staff Photo by Emma Ward The staff at Joey's II on Nutt Rd. in Phoenixville

PHOENIXVILLE -- Borough council's Community Development Committee took a fresh step toward resolution of downtown parking woes Monday evening, by setting the borough's solicitor to work.

Council unanimously directed borough Solicitor Andrew Rau "to prepare documents" and "suggest directions" for the establishment of a Phoenixville Borough Parking Authority.

Barry Cassidy, director of the Main Street-Community Development Corporation, re-introduced material he had submitted earlier to council, saying that "We [the CDC] don't have decision-making power. This [material] is only an outline of how we might go. What we need is a parking authority to analyze this stuff.

"The parking garage [proposed in his material, in the 300 block of Bridge Street] was viable 18 months ago. It may be a stale project....What we want is your instruction to the solicitor" to begin to move ahead with required paperwork to establish the Authority, Cassidy said.

Finance committee chairman Jeff Senley, R-North, said that he was aware of "conversations months ago" with the 2006-07 Council, and that he'd be enlightened by a summary of those talks "to see what we may be getting ourselves into."

Council President Henry Wagner, D-Middle, asked Rau for a timeline: "What time would it take to establish it?"

In response to both questions, Rau said, "We assembled something like a 'cookbook' on this issue for council last year. We will recirculate those documents and set up a time frame."

"Should we establish this without some education on the process?" asked Kendrick Buckwalter, R-West. "This may be premature. I'd like it to be a little slower, with information coming in [for] a full discussion."

Wagner thought it better to push ahead. "The reasons I favor it [are] that an Authority"

would be "a group focused on one particular problem," that it would be "self-sustaining, broken out separately" from other budget areas, "and [would have] powers that we as a Council have not."

Council Vice-President Rich Kirkner, D-North, echoed Wagner's comments. "We're not voting to establish an Authority [tonight], but voting to put it on track. It's been two years and Council hasn't done anything. We need to put this back on track, then push."

Rau cautioned that the lesson of the year-old exercise was "that there is no free lunch, that, for instance, if you were to build a garage, it is ultimately the borrowing power of the Borough, not an Authority, that backs that."

Council directed that Rau's material be prepared for discussion at its next regular business meeting February 12. CDC President Robb Frees will serve as the CDC's contact with council on parking issues, and will join that discussion.

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