EMMAUS BOROUGH COUNCIL
It was first announced at the Emmaus Borough Council meeting Oct. 7. The Emmaus Creative Arts & Innovation Center will be arriving to the borough in the foreseeable future.
The proposed center will occupy the 35,000 square foot vacant warehouse building on South 10th Street, located directly across from Phoebe Ministries new senior living community Chestnut Ridge at Rodale.
The ECAIC group, which received 501(c)3 nonprofit status from the Internal Revenue Service in August, is led by local investment advisor Jim Baker.
“We had a vision, and the vision was to place visual arts, performing arts and culinary arts all under one roof,” Baker said. “We thought magic could happen, that’s our vision.”
The ECAIC’s vision is to encourage a “thriving creative economy and inclusive community that fosters collaboration, creativity and entrepreneurship.” The center will provide cross generational, traditional and emerging arts education for the community as a whole.
The board has assembled more than 40 interested stakeholders and have started the project’s first phase. Tentative plans for the facility include having a space for the following: arts instruction and pop-up artist gallery space; rehearsal, instruction and collaboration space for performing artists such as musicians and dancers; a black box theatre; a culinary arts and local farm connection including a shared use commercial kitchen and Maker spaces for the creation of both soft, hard and digitally fabricated items.
The center plans on addressing the needs of all ages including after school, weekends and summer time frames.
Audrey Gardner Racines, local attorney and vice president of the ECAIC board of directors, said over the years she thought of two things Emmaus was lacking – a senior living community and an arts center. “I think that having this center in Emmaus will help to keep Emmaus an exceptional place to live,” she noted.
Chief Operating Officer of Phoebe Ministries, Lisa Fichera, expressed Phoebe’s excitement to develop this partnership with the ECAIC. “We could not possibly think of a better use for the warehouse on the beautiful campus,” Fichera said. “I think most importantly, we believe this will greatly benefit the residents of Chestnut Ridge in the future, but equally as important it will benefit the citizens of Emmaus.”
“Being a lifelong resident, this is by far one of the most exciting things happening in this borough in a long time,” Borough Council President Brent Labenberg said. “It’s definitely going to bring the community together.”
Borough Manager Shane Pepe, who actually was the one to let Baker know about the warehouse, said how excited he is to see this happening. “This is a community that prides itself on all of those things that are on that board [floor plan] and I really think that this is a great next step for our community.”
The committee has launched its capital campaign to renovate the building and is in the process of designating use of the space. They plan on holding public forums where residents can weigh in to ensure the project meets the needs of the community.
The board and stakeholders are currently in the process of securing funds and exploring partnerships with other organizations, individuals, businesses and government entities.
In other business, the borough’s first Dumpster Day was a huge success.
Councilman Jeff Shubzda, head of the health, sanitation and codes committee, thanked Pepe and the borough’s refuse and recycling collector Whitetail Disposal for pulling it all together.
Shubzda said 558 vehicles showed up, which was much higher than the guesstimated 300 they were originally hoping for. He said they only had to turn six vehicles away because they were not Emmaus residents.
Shubzda listed the following items dropped off: 300 tires, 32 car batteries, 306 Freon® items, over 300 television sets, 337 electronic waste items and miscellaneous items including metals and couches.
The event was originally scheduled to take household hazardous waste items, but was postponed at the last minute.
Household hazardous waste pickup will now occur 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 26 at the Emmaus Fire Training Grounds off Klines Lane.