By Mary Spicer
MEADVILLE — Regardless of whether your thumbs are up or down about the current state of the City of Meadville — or whether you live within city limits or have chosen to reside in surrounding communities, for that matter — the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission wants to give you money to put where your mouth is.
Play money, that is.
On Oct. 30 — the last Tuesday in October — between the hours of 3 and 5 p.m. and again from 7 to 9, Meadville’s Planning and Zoning Commission is hosting the public’s final public opportunity to help frame a plan designed to guide the city’s path through the coming decade.
An open house-style workshop will provide an opportunity to stop in at the Douglas Conference Center in the Bessemer Building, 764 Bessemer St., pick up a supply of “money” and then make your priorities known by “spending” it on various projects or recommendations. The workshop is free and open to the public.
City officials, commission members and representatives from Mackin Engineering Company, the Pittsburgh-based team of consultants that has spent the past year facilitating the first update of the comprehensive plan that dates back to 1993, will be on hand to answer questions and gather feedback.
Based on extensive information-gathering including interviews, focus groups and a public meeting last January, a list of action items in eight basic categories has been formulated and will be available for public examination and comment. The categories and top items in each will be on display during the open house; participants will be asked to prioritize their importance.
According to information gathered so far, the city’s top priorities should focus on the following broad categories:
n Expanding economic development efforts by supporting existing businesses and increasing new business opportunities to strengthen the city’s tax base.
n Revitalizing the central business district by addressing aesthetics, parking and vacant/underutilized structures.
n Providing a diverse mix of housing options that appeal to all residents.
n Increasing rehabilitation efforts and code enforcement in targeted residential neighborhoods.
n Increasing communication with entities such as Crawford County, Allegheny College, Meadville Medical Center, adjacent municipalities and others to establish mutually beneficial partnerships.
n Encouraging development of a multi-modal transportation network that incorporates upgrades to transportation routes, public transit options and pedestrian and bike connections.
n Providing additional opportunities to provide social and recreational options for residents and visitors.
n Ensuring all municipal policies and ordinances are consistent with the comprehensive plan.
Specific action items include:
n Provide incentives to the owners of identified vacant and/or underutilized sites to revitalize their properties.
n Develop and coordinate a Main Street Model Program for the central business district.
n Continue efforts to enhance the downtown’s streetscape.
n Revisit the Business District Action Plan to implement existing projects and update as necessary.
n Create a housing roundtable, utilizing the Housing Focus Group created as part of the comprehensive plan update to discuss housing issues and potential opportunities.
n Work with Meadville Redevelopment Authority and local developers to acquire homes in need of renovation or demolition.
n Form a communication task force, comprised of the city, county and major institutional and business leaders.
n Designate a staff person to meet regularly with Crawford County planning staff to discuss issues specific to Meadville.
n Implement a sidewalk improvement including a strong inspection program.
n Work with Crawford Area Transportation Authority to provide their schedules at all bus stops and other locations throughout town.
n Work with the French Creek Recreational Trails Committee to bring the Ernst Trail into Meadville.
According to consultant Brandi Rosselli, the upcoming open house workshop will give the general public “an opportunity to provide their thoughts and ideas on what Meadville’s priorities should be over the next 10 to 20 years.”
“It is important to hear from the people who live and work here, said Lyle Mook, who chairs the city’s planning and zoning commission. “What are their priorities? What is important to them? We will need their support and help when it comes to implementing the plan’s recommendations.”
More information: Visit the project website at meadvillecompplan.com.
Guide the future of the city
Rank your priorities for the City of Meadville for the next 10 to 20 years during the final open house for the City of Meadville’s comprehensive plan review.
The sessions are Oct. 30 from 3 to 5 and 7 to 9 p.m., Douglas Conference Center, Bessemer Building, 764 Bessemer St. Both sessions are free and open to the public.