“A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives” – James Madison, letter to W.T. Barry, August 4, 1822
“I have looked on our present state of liberty as a short-lived possession unless the mass of the people could be informed to a certain degree” – Thomas Jefferson to Littleton Waller Tazewell, 1805
Welcome to the Open Government Project at West Chester Town Hall
We have started Open Data West Chester which will be an open source for data files for the public to download and/or use in visualizations and apps.
Trustee Meeting Videos
Inactive or Completed Projects
Update: I’m happy to say we were able to pressure the Township to properly scan PDF’s. Now all documents are searchable!
Finding information on the Township run website is nearly impossible. When they do make it available, such as the meeting minutes, it’s an “image” based PDF. This affects us in several ways. Since as an image, the information is not readable by the search engines, an internet search will not show the document based on the text of the document. To Google, it only exists by it’s name. If you were looking for a specific issue but were unsure of the date, you would be forced to download dozens and read them all. This is just unacceptable. The township staff has this same information on their drives in the original, searchable electronic format. However, for no reason I can comprehend, many of these documents are printed from the electronic file to paper and then scanned into a PDF image for uploading to the website. Legally, all the information is available, it’s just not friendly. This is equivalent to a document dump tactic used by lawyers to hide requested discovery information in mountains of unrelated and unneeded information. I doubt this is due to a lack of understanding or software. For example, the Township Zoning Ordnance is in a searchable PDF with a linked table of contents. They obviously have both the software and the understanding of it’s use. Another example is the lack of information or documents regarding Trustee resolutions. On the Township website, you can access “Significant Township Legislation/Resolution” but there are just four (4) documents. One of them is a 1991 dog barking resolution. Surely, in 21 years there has been something done that would bump loud dogs off the “Top Four” Trustee accomplishments. We are locating documents and when required, fixing them. They will be made available as we acquire/repair them. When we exhaust all the available online documents, we’ll begin making document requests. I see no reason why this cannot (and should not) continue back as far as there are documents. In other words, we will over time move into the Union Township period. First, we are running the image PDF’s through an OCR scanning process to read the text, exporting to MSword, cleaning up the errors and then converting them back to PDF. We are starting on the most recent meeting minutes and working backwards. Second, since the Township file naming format seems arbitrary, we’ll stick to one file naming format. There will be name mismatches but the documents will be cross referable by date and document category. Lastly, these are the unofficial documents. While we are not altering the content, we have limited resources and staff to verify word for word and letter for letter what the OCR conversion does. Generally and especially for numbers (such as costs, spending or dates) the OCR scan can and does misread characters. Spell checker will usually identify the misspellings but we might not catch a digit error. You can and should verify the information with the Township’s scanned image files. Consider these files as a way to easily zero in on the location of the information. Accuracy is still important. If you discover a conversion error, please email us and we’ll verify and make the corrections.
The document types will be sorted by subject and when you click on the file, it will open in a new tab.
West Chester Township Legal Notifications
West Chester Township Trustee Meeting Minutes
West Chester Township Trustee Meeting Agenda
West Chester Township Board of Trustee Resolutions
West Chester Township Zoning Amendments