York and Adams Smart Growth Coalition

Downtown Revitalization Efforts Turn to Strategies

8/20/2012
 

Downtown Revitalization Efforts Turn to Strategies

By CRAIG K. PASKOSKI
The Evening Sun


After three work sessions and hundreds of suggestions, the Hanover community has a plan, or "vision statement," to collectively guide its downtown revitalization efforts.
More importantly, though, residents, business leaders and officials have begun to build a network of support and enthusiasm for remaking the downtown into a destination for both Hanover area residents and tourists.
"This is the beginning of the next phase. This is a working strategy for how you're going to get there," Hanover Area Chamber of Commerce President Gary Laird told participants Monday night. "I've heard lots of conversations here tonight. We'd like to expand on that."
"We have a tremendous amount of work to do," said Laird, who called the evening a "milestone."
Sponsored by Main Street Hanover, the Borough of Hanover and the Chamber of Commerce, the work sessions were intended to jump-start the downtown revitalization process. Meeting participants actively looked at the downtown's strengths and weaknesses, its image and area demographic information, while offering ideas on what needs to be done to draw more businesses and visitors.
A steering committee crafted the Hanover-specific vision statement, using that input and feedback from an online survey that drew more than 320 responses.
The six-paragraph vision statement focuses on Hanover's livability, economic and industrial hub, its history and food. It emphasizes such strengths as architecture and snack food businesses,
and sets the goal of creating a walkable and thriving downtown streetscape with diverse shopping.
"We believe this is a snapshot of where you want to go. This is not saying this is where you are," said Pennsylvania Downtown Assistant Director Julie Fitzgerald, who has been working with Hanover officials and coordinated the three sessions.
The process quickly shifted from the vision statement to four core approaches; organization, economic restructuring, promotion and design. Under those parameters, participants Monday night again broke into groups, what leaders hope will be the beginnings of committees.
Those groups began looking at specific goals and objectives, on areas such as safety, parking and new business recruitment, that could be accomplished in both the short and long term.
Fitzgerald and Laird emphasized the role that volunteers will play in the revitalization process, helping with everything from planning activities and initiatives to working events.
"We need to bring more people in. We need to be looking for the talent out there and bringing it to the table," Laird said.
Local consultant Matthew Jackson said he was impressed to see county economic development officials involved in the process.
"It's going to take a collective effort. That teamwork has to be internal, within the borough, and outside the borough," he said.
Hanover businessman Scott Roland said the vision and strategies for achieving the goals puts "everybody on the same sheet of paper. This brings everybody together around them."
It's that collective approach that community leaders hope will lead to a thriving and prosperous downtown 10 years from now.
"We'll never bring our downtown back to what it used to be," Laird said. "But we can create a sense of home.

 

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