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Mayor's Report to City Council 09/14/15

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Executive Office of the Mayor
Vaughn D. Spencer
Administrative Report
September 14, 2015
Fire Department
Fire Activity
On Thursday August 27, units responded to a fire in a rear wall at 1643 Cotton Street. While the fire was brought under control within minutes and there were no injuries, the damage did cause the structure to be uninhabitable and the occupants were assisted by the Red Cross.
On the same day, units responded to 547 Tulpehocken Street. On arrival, there was fire on all 3 floors of a vacant end of row structure. The 2nd Alarm called in for additional personnel and the fire was placed under control within an hour. There was some extension to the structure to the south which displaced the occupants of that structure. One Fire Officer was treated and then transported to the hospital for a medical problem.
On Labor Day, units responded to 309 Schuylkill Avenue for a fire in 3 story end of row structure. The 2nd Alarm was called in to provide additional personnel due to both the fire conditions and the weather. The fire was placed under control within an hour and caused extensive damage to the structure as well as the attached exposure building to the south. The occupants were not home at the time of the incident and there were no injuries.
Other Activity
On Friday September 11th, the Department held a Service in City Park to remember those lost in the September 11th Attacks fourteen years ago and they would like to thank all that attended.
On Saturday 9/12 The Department worked in a unified structure with The Reading Health Care Systems to establish the Emergency Medical Branch for the Reading 120 Bicycle Race.
Mayor’s Office
Complete Streets Executive Order
On August 11, 2015, I signed the Complete Streets Executive order that meets the US Department of Transportation’s challenge to mayors and local officials to take significant action to improve safety for bicyclists and pedestrians of all ages and abilities over the next year.
This order provides the City of Reading guidance to design and maintain a public right of way that safely and adequately accommodates all users and all modes of transportation. Benefits include increasing public transit use; the potential for a healthier citizenry, cleaner air, reduced traffic congestion, and economic development offered by walking and bicycling; more livable neighborhoods; less reliance on fossil fuels and imported sources of energy; and more efficient use of road space and resources.
Penn Street Market
In August, the Market gave $850 in matches for the SNAP program and $2,624 in matches for the Berks Farm Bucks program. To date $1825 in matches for the SNAP program and $5135 in matches to Berks Farm Bucks have been share with patrons.
In addition to fruits and vegetables, the market has providing local fresh dairy products, flowers, and artisan food crafts including breads, cheeses, honey and honey products and more. There's free entertainment, cooking demonstrations, educational outreach, and community programs. There are only two weeks left to patronize this season’s Market.
Robin Flowers & Co
Education Hour:
Guts & Glory w/Aparna Mele & Gutsy Girl
Community Hour:
BCHC-Guacamole demo
Open Hour:Tia’s daughters dance school


9/24 Kick off Hispanic Heritage Month with DJ Chamo King/Rumba & El Palo

J.P. Bailey
Education Hour:
Master Gardner’s - Berks
Community Hour:
JROTC- Reading High School
Open Hour:Nadia- RiverView nursery- Demo Fall Pumpkin Decorating
Also, Penn Street Market debuted its Farm-to-Table “Pop-Up” Bistro; an innovative farm-to-table venue, Urban Bistro. At the close of each Thursday market day in September, a fresh air, outdoor dinner feast will be sourced by local vendors and presented by Adam Cocuzza, co-founder of a local restaurant and Neil Patel, owner of Momma Patel’s, a current vendor at Penn Street Market.
Reservations can be made online on the Penn Street Market’s home page on Redesign Reading’s website. They must be made by midnight on the preceding Wednesday.
National Citizenship Week
The City of Reading and the Reading Public Library announced their participation in the first annual National Citizenship Week - September 14 through 18, 2015.
To commemorate Citizenship Week, the Reading Public Library unveiled the newly established Citizenship Resource Center at their Main Branch located at 100 S. Fifth Street.
With the support of my office, the outreach center has been created to tap into the expertise of the many local direct service organizations that work primarily on a grassroots level with those seeking citizenship. Materials available include naturalization resource guide brochures, citizenship tool kits, and information about local ESL and high school equivalency classes as well as local legal assistance for citizenship and naturalization issues.
Interfaith Meeting
I will be hosting the quarterly interfaith meeting later this month. Agenda includes an update from members of Faith Communities regarding their presence at Reading Intermediate High School, an update on the City of Reading’s progress on Michele Obama’s Mayor’s Challenge to End Homelessness, information from Chief Heim regarding recent street violence, and a roundtable of congregation initiatives.
Clean City Initiative
Reading Beautification Inc. was awarded a $5K grant from Santander to fund necessary clean up supplies that are then given as in-kind contributions to the Clean City Initiative.
To date we have completed 73 projects, utilizing 2,513 volunteers who have donated 6,909 hours worth of volunteer time with a cost avoidance value of $155,797.95.
Public Works Department
ADA Compliance Update
The first part of the 18th Ward Strategic Phasing plan for prioritizing curb ramps was received from our consultant last month. This included preliminary construction drawings and specifications for the ramps. The Strategic Phasing Plan rates all of the intersections in the 18th Ward so the City can direct their construction efforts where it is needed the most. The City will use this information to prepare construction contracts to install the highest priority curb ramps first. The installation work is anticipated to start this year beginning with Kenhorst Boulevard.
2015-16 Repaving Project
The City’s construction drawings and specifications for the repaving of North 6th Street, South 9th Street and Hill Road are currently in review by PennDOT. The project is scheduled to be bid this month with most of the construction work to be completed next spring. New federal and state regulations require that all of the intersections affected by the repaving work must be upgraded with ADA curb ramps and crosswalks. 48 curb ramps at 14 intersections will be installed with this project. The designs for these curb ramps will be prepared by the contractor this winter.
Penn Street Lighting Project
This project is the second phase of the Penn Street Lighting project which began a few years ago when improvements were made to the pedestrian lighting in 800, 900 and 1000 blocks. The construction work for this second phase of the project started last month at the 700 block, in coordination with the DoubleTree Hotel. New lighting will be installed along that block as well as along the 200 and 300 blocks. Also, upgrades will be made to the existing pedestrian lighting fixtures along Penn Street between 2nd Street and 7th Street. Funding is being provided at the 100% level from PennDOT through a federal Traffic Enhancement grant. The work is scheduled for completion next spring.
Tree Trimming Update
Public Works has met with 3 separate contractors to get estimates for tree trimming on South 5th Street from Canal to Pine in regards to school safety. The projected start date is the end of September.
Community Events
I have attached the Center for Excellence in Local Government’s Fall 2015 Schedule of Events.
Two local landmarks are receiving national recognition.
Go Greater Reading announced last week that the American Bus Association recently selected the museum’s annual World War II Weekend as one of the Top 100 Events in North America. I have attached a press release.
Also, the Reading Leiderkrantz Oktoberfest has been nominated by USA Today as one of the best Oktoberfest events in the nation. According to its website, travel experts at USA Today have selected the 20 top nominees and will leave it up to readers to make the final selections. You can vote for on the Reading Liederkranz’s home page once daily through Sept. 28. The OKTOBERFEST Kickoff Party, Friday, September 18th, 5:00 p.m. The public is invited.
The Centre Park Law Offices & Swanona (606 North Fifth Street) are having their grand opening on Thursday, September 17th from 3:00 – 7: 00 PM, with a ribbon cutting at 5:30. Please respond to Jeannette at 610.374.5841 if you plan to attend. Tours of this historic building will be provided.
Berks Manufacturing Day
Manufacturing Day is a nationwide event aiming to bring awareness to training and careers in the manufacturing industry. The Greater Reading community is participating in this initiative by hosting Berks Manufacturing Day on Saturday, October 3, 2015 from 8 a.m. to noon.
Participants in Berks Manufacturing Day will begin their day at Reading Area Community College (RACC) Schmidt Training and Technology Center (STTC) to meet with local companies and learn about the manufacturing training offered there. They will also get to tour Greater Reading manufacturing facilities and hear from employees about their experience in manufacturing. The companies touring include American Crane, Brentwood, Cambridge-Lee, East Penn Manufacturing, and Remcon Plastics.
Registration for Berks Manufacturing is free and open to the public and can be done on Go Greater Reading’s website. Registration will close Saturday, September 19. For more information please contact Deb Heffner or call (610) 376.4237. There is room for more Reading manufacturers to have tables at STTC. If anyone has a suggestion, please contact Deb.
The Reading Regional Food Policy and Action Council meets every other month, with subcommittee meetings on the off months to form goals & action plans. Please contact Brian Kelly at Redesign Reading for more information.
The Olivet Boys & Girls Club Mentoring and the Arts Program will be hosting a dedication of the mural honoring the life and legacy of Mr. Harvey Kimble on Thursday, September, 17, 2015 at the corner of Hollenbach Street and Schuylkill Avenue at 6:30 PM. All are invited to attend.
Chief Heim and the Reading Police Department, as well as Senator Judith Schwank, will be honored with the Voices for Change Awards at the Berks Women in Crisis Celebration of Peace on December 14, 2015 at the Reform Congregation Oheb Sholom. Invitations will be mailed in mid-November.


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