Sunday afternoon when we gather to celebrate the 140th anniversary of Parkesburg’s designation as a Borough by the State Legislature, our thoughts will naturally turn to the individuals, families and business that put our town on the map.
We’ll hear about the railroad coming through town midway through the 1800’s and the Parkesburg Iron company being established in the late 1800’s.
We’ll talk about lamps, bottles and tubes, about movies and plays, about buildings, houses and churches, about charity balls and parades, about cars, buses and trolleys.
Names like Beale, Smith, and Parkes will be tossed about as if they were old friends and then mixed together with more modern family names like Hery, Varnes, Glenn, Mullin and Hagan.
We’ll have a great time, no doubt, remembering those who shaped Parkesburg and laid the foundation for the town that we have today.
But as we leave the celebration at the end of the day we’ll drive past present day Parkesburg and realize today’s Parkesburg is a shadow of the town it once was. Our sidewalks are broken, our streets pocked and patched, our train station run down and our store fronts empty.
In some way or another each one of us is responsible for Parkesburg’s decline. If we didn’t cause it directly by our individual actions, we sat around and watched it happened.
To be sure, we all complained about the trash, the streets, the taxes, the uncut grass, the graffiti, etc. The list of things we complained about goes on and on and on.
We could argue all day about who is responsible for Parkesburg’s decline. But the question is not so much who caused the decline but rather who will rescue, rebuild, restore and revitalize Parkesburg to its rightful place as the hub of life in western Chester County.
The federal government can’t; in case you haven’t heard, Washington is broke.
The people in Harrisburg won’t; they’re too distracted restricting voting rights and passing antique car legislation.
The County won’t; Chester County has 73 municipalities in as bad or worse shape as Parkesburg.
Parkesburg’s business community can’t; they’re already doing all they can, besides have you ever tried to run a business and have a life? Damn near a mission impossible to ask them to rescue Parkesburg too.
Parkesburg’s Borough Council won’t; they’ll participate perhaps but they’ve got their hands full taking care of the West Bridge Street project and working to balance the town’s budget.
The only group left to turn Parkesburg around is us; the people who grew up here, who live here, who work here, who shop here, who pay taxes here.
So how do we turn around several decade of decline and ensure another 140 years of prosperity?
On Sunday morning on these pages I’ll lay out a modest five point plan which, when taken together, will put our Borough (and region) on a the path towards a revitalized and flourishing Parkesburg.
See you Sunday morning.