Welcome to the County of Berks
Elm Street

Elm Street, West Reading, PA Redevelopment Project

Mission Statement: To preserve and improve the Elm Street Neighborhood Improvement District as a viable residential environment. The vision for the area is: (1) preservation of residential structures; (2) increased home ownership; (3) increased opportunities for nearby employment; (4) reduction of vehicular traffic; and (5) improved and maintained infrastructure.

History and Description

West Reading Borough’s Elm Street Area Plan and project was developed with considerable input from area residents involved in the Neighborhood Area Committee (NAC). Through their continued attendance at twice monthly neighborhood meetings and their response to the included questionnaire, neighborhood assets and challenges were able to be identified. These have been translated into goals, objectives, strategies and actions by Main Street District interests, County Community Development Office input and their community development consultant.

The Plan

The Elm Street Plan for neighborhood improvement includes the following goals and objectives. A copy of the complete Plan can be obtained a the West Reading Borough offices or the Redevelopment Authority offices.

Sustainable Organization Goal: Legitimize the Neighborhood Advisory Committee (NAC) as the continuing sounding board for all neighborhood projects and concerns.

Objectives:

  1. Continue twice monthly meetings of the NAC at the Borough Building. Convene additional meetings as necessary.

  2. Establish a mailing and telephone list of all Elm Street District property owners and residents.

  3. Prepare quarterly newsletter for above list highlighting the activities and concerns of the NAC and neighborhood.

  4. Distribute annual newsletter throughout the Borough.

  5. Conduct annual homebuyer/neighborhood fair.

  6. Attend training courses/seminars on neighborhood planning.

  7. Continue to work within the successful framework of the successful Main Street District.

Clean, Safe and Green Goal: Create an aura where every man, woman and child can feel safe on neighborhood streets in a well maintained environment.

Objectives:

  1. Improve neighborhood street lighting.

  2. Maintain a clean environment through the cooperative effort of residents and a public service group to “sponsor” regular clean up of trash.

  3. Improve curbs and sidewalks.

  4. Provide tree planting.

  5. Improve the local transportation and circulation system through devising strategies to mitigate the impacts of the traffic in the neighborhood, securing safety in the movement of people and goods.

  6. Establish a block watch.

  7. Devise improvements to the transportation and circulation system in coordination with the highly developed neighborhood minimizing conflicts and disruption to the neighborhood's existing land uses.

  8. Form a comprehensive transportation and circulation system in the neighborhood which coordinates land use planning and transportation planning with capital improvements programming.

  9. Seek cooperative strategies to provide ample public transit to the neighborhood supporting the efficient movement of the population and further economic development for the neighborhood.

  10. Consider traffic calming methods at critical intersections in the neighborhood.

Design Goal: Encourage an organized land use pattern in harmony with the existing character and natural constraints of the neighborhood providing for a safe, attractive and economically viable community for its residents.

Objectives:

  1. Preserve the established land use patterns of the neighborhood and encourage redevelopment appropriate to the scale and character of the established and highly developed nature of the neighborhood.

  2. Promote opportunities for development of open space to reduce overall density in the neighborhood thus contributing to the visual character of the neighborhood.

  3. Continue recently enacted and successful Borough-wide housing inspection program which requires inspections when a property is sold and at the time a tenant vacates the property.

  4. Preserve architectural integrity and scale of the neighborhood.

  5. Diligently enforce property maintenance code.

Neighbors and Economy Goal: Preserve the Elm Street District as a viable neighborhood in which to live with access to employment opportunities.

Objectives:

  1. Continue to ensure the opportunity for the perse population residing in the neighborhood through encouraging the provision of a range of housing types, where appropriate.

  2. Seek preservation of the residential neighborhood and its housing stock through expansion of homeownership opportunities. (link to program description).

  3. Assist property owners with their on-going efforts to maintain the aged housing stock in the neighborhood. (link to program description).

  4. Ensure standards of health and safety in housing and property through uniform and aggressive enforcement of codes.

  5. Seek opportunities to relieve the negative impacts of very high density residential land use in the neighborhood.

  6. Promote the efficient delivery of services ensuring the neighborhood is adequately served.

  7. Plan for changes in land use and demographic character which may require change in services and their delivery.

  8. Provide the opportunity for varied recreational activity serving a perse and changing population, convenient to the residents with recreational activities also appropriate to their location.

  9. Acquire and demolish vacant building(s).

  10. Image and Identity Goals: Raise the level of social conscientiousness within the Elm Street District and project neighborhood pride to the remainder of the Borough beyond.

Objectives:

  1. Seek opportunities for continued partnering and leveraging of scarce resources with existing groups, associations and businesses, to further economic development opportunities in the immediate area.

  2. Integrate and work with the large-scale non-residential adjacent uses to mitigate any negative impact they may have on the neighborhood.

  3. Encourage feature stories in the local newspaper about neighborhood successes and changes.

Current Status (as of June 18, 2008)

  • West Reading awarded official designation as an Elm Street Community.

  • Berks County Redevelopment Authority was awarded a $250,000

  • Residential Reinvestment grant to be used in the Elm Street Area.

  • Authority awarded $125,000 Residential Reinvestment grant to be used for de-conversion of multi-family housing to single family housing

  • Authority received a $100,000 grant from Berks County's federal Home Investment Partnerships (HOME) Program to be used for de-conversion of multi-family housing to single family housing.

  • Authority purchases first property for de-conversion.

For more information, contact Ken Pick at 610-478-6325.

Budget *

Acquisition $10,000 Demolition & Site Preparation $10,000 Design $4,500 Playground Improvements $45,000 Homeowner Rehabilitation $500,000 Rental Rehabilitation $375,000 Homebuyer Program $80,000, $54,000 & $306,000 Tree Program $5,000 Density Reduction $270,000 & $75,000 Training Courses $1,375 Homebuyer/Neighborhood Fair $7,500 Traffic Calming Devices $85,000 and $100,000 Infrastructure Improvements $60,000

* Review the detailed budget as a pdf document here, which includes details on uses, source of funding and time span on each of these items listed.