During the Monday night Candidate Forum gave the Borough Council candidates for Phoenixville a chance to talk about the issues effecting the Borough.
Candidates for Mayor of the Borough are current Mayor Leo Scoda and republican Lou Amici. Scoda has been the mayor of Phoenixville Borough for the past 12 years. Prior to public service, he taught biology at Phoenixville Area High School. He has been the boy tennis coach at the high school for that past 46 years and has run the summer tennis program for 44 years. He also mentioned that, if elected this year, it will be his last term serving Phoenixville as Mayor.
Amici has been a resident of Phoenixville since 1971 and has served on Borough Council from 1991 to 2000, and prior to that was appointed to Phoenixville's Civil Service Commission.
Both candidates were asked about the crime, drug and violence problem in Phoenixville. "One of the keys to solving crime...is drugs," said Scoda. Scoda said that solving the drug problem in Phoenixville will lessen the crime and violence problem in the Borough. The police have been working diligently to clean up the downtown and are doing as good of a job as the Borough possible can. He finished that "solving the drug problem is a problem of education."
Amici answered the same question with a focus on giving young people positive alternatives to engage in to keep them off the streets and out of trouble. He suggested increased involvement of the Borough police department and seeing what other boroughs are doing to combat the drug and violence problem in their towns.
Democrat Henry Wagner and Republican Mark Reber answered a question on the proposed library expansion project. Wagner read a letter from the Library Board regarding the Library Board withdrawing the proposal. He said the library is a "Jewel of our community" but "change always comes with controversy."
Reber said the citizens he spoke with along Main Streets and Second Ave. thought their concerns were not being listened to and that they generally expressed that the residents were not in favor of the expansion. "Public should drive policy," he said.
Democrat Erin McDevitt and Republican Dave Gautreau answered in regards to the Borough budget and the potential deficit. McDevitt said the Borough needs to recognize the difference between what they want and what they need. She suggested reevaluating the CDC and careful auditing of the Borough legal fees.
Gautreau agreed that the Borough needs to evaluate what are necessities and what are luxuries. He also suggested eliminating staff that are no longer needed. He also suggested going through the budget and seeing what there is grant money available to cover the cost.
Richard Kirkner and Bob Tigro were asked about what is needed at the steel site. Both men agreed that the site needs a proven developer that wants to work with the land to create commercial and retail space and not more townhomes.
Kirkner said that the vision should be to use the space as a mixed use building. However, BOB said that the original master plan for the site needs to be reevaluated before going forward with anything.
Dana Dugan and Joe Schwartz, who was absent but had a write-in answer, answered a question about the traffic problem through the Borough. DANA said the new traffic system is not online yet so the Council cannot go to the next phase of fixing the traffic problem through the Borough because they are not ready to complete this phase yet. However, she said, "Have to look that the umbrella of the budget before going after the subsets below it."
Schwartz said all major roads through the Borough are state roads and have to work through traffic problems with PennDOT.