By: Stan Huskey
The next Norristown Rising Roundtable discussion will focus on two key elements to revitalization: keeping the town clean and safe.
For the past nearly two years we have taken a hard look at the county seat in an effort to identify areas that are holding the town back from revitalizing itself as so many other county seats in the region have already done. We published a number of articles in 2015, and this year we have been holding the roundtable discussions, hosted at the Centre Theater on DeKalb Street, to give residents a chance to directly connect with their elected officials and other municipal leaders.
We will once again be at the theater on Oct. 24, beginning at 5 p.m., to take on the latest topic, which is twofold, but certainly comes hand in hand in making Norristown a destination for visitors. The event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited to 110 audience members.
The Norristown Project, headed up by Shae Ashe, will share the discussion through Facebook Live on their page, and on The Times Herald’s Facebook page, for those unable to attend.
Just in case you’re not familiar with the roundtable discussions, I’ll give a brief recap of the first one, which was a wide-ranging conversation about the state of the county seat and included comments on education, housing, business opportunities and infrastructure. The second roundtable, at the encouragement of county Commissioner Val Arkoosh, focused on what is needed to attract new businesses, and to retain those already here.
This will be the third in the series, and some would say one of the more important discussions on what is needed to bring the town back to its once proud position in the region.
A basic premise is that any town must be clean and safe to attract visitors, and to keep them coming back. I’ve written on a number of occasions that the cleanliness of the town is really up to the residents and business owners, with a helping hand from the municipality. Norristown could make a huge leap forward in this department if people would simply stop littering.
Seriously, how hard is it to hang on to that empty cup, gum wrapper, whatever, until you find a trash can?
And if you’re downtown, they’re everywhere!
The responsibility of keeping the town safe also falls on the shoulders of the residents and those who work here. A vigilant eye, with a quick call to police, could go a long way in forcing those with nefarious intentions to find another town to terrorize, or better yet, could get them off the streets and behind bars, where they most likely belong.
We have Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh, Montgomery County Sheriff Sean Kilkenney, Norristown council President Sonya Sanders, Norristown police Chief Mark Talbot, Norristown Fire Chief Tom O’Donnell, Municipal Administrator Crandall Jones and Town Watch representative Doris Starks on the panel.
What I would like to see us come away with is some action items that are measurable, and that residents are able to point to as clear signs that Norristown is indeed becoming cleaner and safer as we head into 2017.
The final Norristown Rising Roundtable discussion for 2016 will be held in early December and focus on image. Norristown’s image has become tarnished for a number of reasons, and we need to define those reasons and work very hard to eliminate them as soon as possible.
What I wrote to the first roundtable participants in October 2015, exactly a year ago yesterday, still stands today. Norristown has struggled for far too long. It is well past time that we see to it the county seat, in one of the wealthiest counties in the state, no longer looks as if it is a struggling steel town in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains while countless other towns continue to pass it by.
Show up, speak up and make your position clear (in under a minute, please), and we will drive the conversation forward and continue to question our elected officials and those who hold the power to make the necessary changes to lead Norristown into the future.