The Chester County Commissioners, joined by SEPTA General Manager Jeff Knueppel, have announced details of major investments that will boost public transportation, economic development, and community services in the City of Coatesville.
At a briefing held at the location of Coatesville’s proposed new train station, commissioners Michelle Kichline, Kathi Cozzone, and Terence Farrell noted the many city, county, and state initiatives and efforts that have been coming together – and will continue to come together – to strengthen Coatesville’s neighborhoods and its downtown.
“Partnerships are paramount for the growth and development of Coatesville, and we are pleased to be part of that,” said Kichline. “What I see is a movement where we are all working together in a direction that is revitalizing Coatesville and that, importantly, is enabling the residents and businesses of the city to take advantage of the revitalization.”
Headlining the list of the commissioners’ announcements is Chester County’s agreement with SEPTA to bring back the regional rail service to Coatesville that ceased operation in 1996. The proposed new service will extend SEPTA train operations beyond the current terminus in Thorndale to a new station in Coatesville. Service will begin when construction of the new train station is completed by PennDOT.
“Coatesville’s population has grown 20 percent since just 2000, and Chester County’s as a whole has nearly doubled since 1970,” Knueppel said. “Given this growth, we believe the time is right to take a fresh look at SEPTA service here.”
“We cannot stress enough how important the SEPTA regional train service will be to the people of Coatesville,” Cozzone said. “Each train coming into the new station will bring with it developments and businesses offering more jobs and more opportunities. And each train leaving the new station will give access to regional jobs and greater economic opportunities for those living in Coatesville. A restored regional rail service will go a long way in restoring Coatesville’s strength.”
The design for the new Coatesville Train Station is under way, and PennDOT is anticipating that the project will be completed within three years of the start of construction.
As a major gesture of confidence in the return on investment in Coatesville, the commissioners also announced $1 million in community revitalization funds for the city, to be used to kick-start the parking garage project that is part of the train station development.
“SEPTA’s commitment to restore the regional train service is exciting, but hinges on the completion of the new train station complex,” said Farrell. “This check for $1 million shows that we are very serious about getting this project started, and we now turn to other partners, including PennDOT, for a firm date for completion of the train station. It’s what the Coatesville community deserves.”
The commissioners also noted further commitments that confirm their desire to remain fully engaged in the success of Coatesville, including funding for infrastructure improvements, affordable housing projects, education, training and job creation opportunities, and access to community programs and services.
Work on the 1st Avenue and Lincoln Highway intersection is just beginning through $1.7 million in Chester County Community Revitalization Program funds, and $750,000 was provided late last year by the county to purchase the new Chester County OIC offices and to make major renovations to the Coatesville Library.
Beginning later this month, a Coatesville Community Connections service will set up shop in the Coatesville Library with a “community connector” who can help all individuals and families to find crucial services, such as food, rental, and utility assistance; housing; childcare; jobs; transportation; health and dental programs; and CHIP information. The service is administered by the Maternal & Child Health Consortium and funded by the Chester County Department of Human Services.