One person who's 'all aboard' the local rail restoration initiative, economic development and eco-friendly measures for the Borough of West Chester is the city's Interim Mayor Jordan Norley.
"West Chester's always led as a regional Green Team with achievable environmental goals. We want to continue to be on the forefront of future sustainability, quality of life, mobility and overall growth," he proclaims.
With a 5-2 vote during a Feb. 18 virtual special meeting, Jordan was appointed by Borough Council members to serve the final 10 months of former Mayor Dianne Herrin’s term when she became the 156th District state representative. Jordan formerly served the West Chester community as mayor in a previous interim capacity in 2017. Preceding this experience, he presided over the Borough Council, was vice president of the Borough Council, chaired the finance committee and chaired the public safety committee.
As a retirement plan specialist and business consultant, Jordan is a certified plan fiduciary advisor. He also is a certified fund specialist, an accredited investment fiduciary, and a registered representative with LPL, the nation’s largest independent broker/dealer. Specifically, he specializes in defined contribution plans, executive compensation plans, private wealth management, group benefits, financial planning and insurance.
This interim mayor says managing the city's post-COVID budget is essential to coming out of the pandemic with a strong plan that gets funding to the businesses and residents who need it the most. He says West Chester is expected to receive more than $1.9 million in federal pandemic relief through the American Rescue Plan's State and Local Coronavirus Fiscal Recovery Funds.
“West Chester residents and businesses have weathered a tough year fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, but we’re going to rebuild stronger than ever before,” assures Jordan. “With these funds, we can invest in our community and highlight our resilience. If allocated properly, this relief can help lead to a stronger than ever West Chester.”
Jordan says the time has never been better to re-establish rail service between West Chester and Philadelphia, for example. Rail transit was dropped in 1987 due to low passenger/financial issues. In 2014, he and the city's borough members appointed a committee to investigate options. He adds that a $450,000 SEPTA study in 2018 showed that 70% of passengers would be new, and cost-per-passenger is within line with the Southeast Pennsylvania region. "The project would enhance local and regional connectivity, serve as a cost-effective alternative, increase transit ridership, support economic development, and would have positive effects on the environment," he summarizes.
"The stars have aligned now. With the federal government's priority on infrastructure and President Biden's plan to allocate more than $80 billion to passenger rail to the Northeast, we hope to tap into that funding. We've also applied for some grants," he says.
Another main goal on Jordan's radar is public safety and ensuring the borough's police staff racially represents the diversity of citizens. While the borough's police force is still understaffed at 41 given its target of 44 personnel, he says testing, recruitment and policies are being analyzed to ensure they are balanced and progressive. He adds that current plans are to hire another officer this summer.
To ensure the police force reflects the population of West Chester, Jordan recently launched the West Chester Police Department Diversity Task Force. In addition to Jordan, task force members are Lt. Josh Lee, Lisa Dorsey, Karina Gonzalez, Chris Green, Cassandra Jones, Michael Stefano and Karen Armstead.
"When law enforcement officers have a personal understanding of the common experiences of members of a community, it helps to promote trust between law enforcement officers and the community," Jordan asserts.
At press time, Jordan says plans were underway to again open the city's Open Air Marketplace on Gay Street this summer. A reported 80% of businesses support the endeavor, and he says many residents enjoyed having that family-friendly atmosphere specified on a main street last year.
"We're exploring the possibilities and costs of more permanent solutions, such as retractable bollards for the intersections, while still being safe for emergency access," he explains. "This year, we'll have a closing ceremony for the area. Imagine how nice it will be to have a walkable, pedestrian- and bike-friendly gathering area."
Jordan says this winter he felt refreshed and re-energized for the mayoral role, so now is focused on West Chester's guiding principles of collaboration, trust, inclusion, dedication and excellence.
401 E. Gay St.
Interim Mayor Borough of West Chester | February 2021 for 10-month term
Chester County Mayors Association Chair | October 2017 to January 2019
Mayor | President Borough of West Chester | Administrative Head of West Chester Police Department | January 2012 to January 2018
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On March 28, 1799, West Chester was incorporated as a borough from Goshen Township land by an act of state legislature.
As of the 1800 census, West Chester had a population of 374.
Did you know the first biography of Abraham Lincoln was published in the borough?
Thanks to the Sharples Separator Works, West Chester became a major industrial town at the turn of the 20th century.
During World War II, West Chester produced more penicillin than anywhere else in the country.