Educating citizens about local government

Neighborhood University

West Chester Area Council of Governments (WCACOG)

Educating citizens about local government

Neighborhood University of Greater West Chester is a free program offered by the West Chester Area Council of Governments (see WCACOG map) to educate citizens about local government and increase awareness of available municipal services and resources.

Our goal is to help citizens become more effective advocates for their community, which in turn helps local municipalities keep finding ways to improve.

Neighborhood University has ended for 2018. The next session will be held from Sept. 12-Nov. 21 of 2019. Registration will begin in the summer.

Sessions are offered free of charge to the residents or business owners in the participating communities. Classes begin at 7:00 p.m.


Participating Communities

➤ East Bradford Township

➤ East Goshen Township

➤ Thornbury Township (chester County)

➤ West Chester Borough

➤ West goshen Township

➤ West Whiteland Township

➤ Westtown Township

The program is open to any resident or business owner of one of the participating communities who is age 16 or older.

2018 Course Content Overview

PA Local Government Structure

Students will gain a greater understanding of the organization and various structures of local government in Pennsylvania and how this impacts decision making at all levels.

Zoning and Land Development

This session will provide students an in-depth overview of the land development process.  This session will cover the process of land development and the role of zoning in Pennsylvania in great detail.  Additionally, students will gain a greater understanding of the role of their municipality's planning commission.

Public Works, Infrastructure and Public Utilities

This session will focus on the duties and responsibilities of the Public Works Departments. Participants will see the various types of equipment used to maintain roads, parks and the public sewer system and see how municipalities use technology to improve their productivity.

Fire Company

Tour and overview of Fame Fire Co. (West Chester) as an example of volunteer fire department services.

Public Safety

Presentation about and tour of the Chester County 911 Communications Center at the Government Services Center in West Chester. (New location due to construction at the Public Safety Training Campus in Coatesville).

Multi-Modal Transportation

A discussion of comprehensive, coordinated, and effective approaches to roadway mobility and safety in the West Chester area.  Speakers will discuss existing and proposed multi-modal transportation programs aimed at safely and efficiently moving people and goods throughout the area.  Topics include local and PennDOT roads, traffic signals and traffic control signs, pavement maintenance and markings, street lighting, intersection improvements, bridges, traffic calming and guiderails.

Public Finance and Taxation

This will provide an understanding of the statutory basis for, and overview of, municipal financial practices and revenue generation.  Topics will include Accounting & Financial Reporting, Budgeting & Financial Planning, Capital Improvement Planning, Debt Management, Financial Management, Pension & Benefit Administration, Treasury Management and Taxation & Fees.

County Services

This session will provide an overview of county services and the role and responsibilities of county government in relation to municipal and state government.

Stormwater Management

Stormwater is the term used to describe runoff from anything from a light rain to flooding due to a hurricane.  Municipalities are required under the 1972 Clean Streams Act to manage stormwater, reduce pollutants entering streams, control or eliminate sediments and reduce flooding.  As stormwater regulations increase, municipalities look to new technologies and best management practices to meet permitting standards and to provide clean streams.


This session will include a presentation about police services at the local level as well as a tour of the West Goshen Police Department.