Coatesville, Chester County, residents will be treated to a Light Up the Night Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Gateway Park on Dec. 12, but a divided City Council did not agree to give up to $500,000 in mortgage relief to Crosby Woods and the Downtown Revival Limited Partnership.
In their first remote meeting incorporating live public comment Oct. 26, council opted not to loan up to $500,000 to Downtown Revival — in effect excusing its mortgage — while turning leases and rental income over to the city.
“It would be a bad decision on the city’s behalf,” council member Nydea Graves said. “A half a million is a lot to take off the table.”
Council discussed the matter of the six commercial and 22 residential apartments at 200 to 260 Lincoln Highway East during executive session prior to the meeting. Council members Graves, Carmen Green and Khadijah Al Amin cast no votes, while Ed Simpson, Donald Folks and Linda Lavender-Norris voted yes. With council member Carrie Arvilla-Hunt absent, the motion didn’t carry.
Woods told council in October he was seeking additional financing and mortgage relief to improve the downtown development.
Paul Evans of the Coatesville Housing Association said such a deal would be cronyism, granting economic favors to friends. He said Simpson has a separate business relationship with Woods, and Lavender-Norris sits with Woods on the board of the 2nd Century Alliance, a public-private partnership working to improve the city.
City solicitor Anthony Verwey said Simpson would derive no financial benefit from an agreement.
“To question my integrity because I serve on another board is offensive,” Lavender-Norris said. “I vote for residents, for the betterment and good of the city.”
The Christmas tree and event, with social distancing and live music via a movie screen, is being sponsored by a $500 donation from Elite Therapy and the city Parks and Recreation Committee.
In other matters, council opted to postpone considering hiring four part-time police officers until they can take a closer look at the 2021 budget. Chief John Laufer said the city currently has 27 full-time and five part-time officers.
Council members also congratulated Sgt. Rodger Ollis for being chosen the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 287 Officer of the Year, and thanked Coatesville fire Chief Garry Alderman for his decades of firefighting service. Alderman, a firefighter since the early 1970s, is retiring in January.
In other matters, Council heard a resident’s concern about stray cats and also noted it is looking into ways to protect the city’s budget from abandoned animal fees. Council member Al Amin said one month’s animal control bill was nearly $5,000.
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