When State Senator Andy Dinniman spoke to a gathering of Chester County residents and civic leaders last week about state plans to upgrade the county’s five Amtrak stations he had good news for residents of Coatesville and western Chester County Amtrak riders.
Saying that since receiving the new Senatorial district last year, he had met with federal and state officials, including the new Governor-elect Wolf and the former chief of staff of Vice President Joe Biden, the Chester County Democrat laid out a vision of revitalization and renewal for the beleaguered City of Coatesville centered around a new train station and a revitalized 3rd Avenue corridor.
According to the Senator, PennDOT shares his vision that a new train station is essential to the Coatesville’s revitalization.
“PennDOT leadership,” according to Dinniman, “understands a train station has the potential to change a community, bringing energy and people to a community. Coatesville is a community that very much needs that.”
PennDOT announced in October it had set aside $26 million refurbish and upgrade Coatesville’s long shuttered Amtrak station.
According to Dinniman, the state is also considering adding an additional $2 to $8 million to the project over several phases to create both an entrepreneurial, educational and job training center attached to the new train station.
The entrepreneurial center, modeled after West Chester’s Walnut Street Labs would be a magnet for young entrepreneurs giving them a place to congregate, work and network while their ideas and businesses developed.
The training center envisioned by Dinniman would be used by local unions and businesses including Sikorsky Helicopter, two miles west of Coatesville, to train city residents for high-skilled, well paying jobs and professions.
Dinniman said PennDOT is also considering the potential of integrating arts, tourism, back office development and proximity to the county’s affluent horse country into the new train station. Introducing one or all of these themes, according to Dinniman, would attract even more people and money into Coatesville and the western Chester County region.
Even area churches, Dinniman noted, are playing a role in the new train station-centric revitalization initiative,
Reminding listeners that Coatesville, “has more churches per person than any other community in southeast Pennsylvania,” Dinniman pointed to the active participation of key Coatesville pastors in the redevelopment initiative and to prayer meetings to pray for Coatesville’s future hosted every two months by those same pastors as a sign of progress.
“I don’t hear anyone praying for Tredyffrin’s future,’ laughed Dinniman, referring to the township where the Paoli train station sits.
Dinniman, who used the analogy of a bulldozer to describe his own role in the Coatesville train station project, saying he is both clearing the path for the station to happen and bringing everyone affected by a new station together.
“The people of Coatesville had to have a say in what happens in their community and jobs have to be created for people who live there.”
Dinniman alluded to additional development around the Coatesville train station being considered but shied away from making an announcement.
“They,” referring to the organization considering building a new facility near the train station, “have to make the announcement, not I,” Dinniman said.
On Thursday and Friday of this week, VISTA Today will have Senator Dinniman’s comments on planned upgrades to Amtrak’s Parkesburg, Downingtown, Exton and Paoli train stations as well as Chester County Planning Commission’s Executive Director Ronald Bailey’s enthusiastic support for Senator Dinniman’s work nudging revitalization of the county’s Amtrak stations forward in Harrisburg.
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