What does downtown revitalization look like? It’s a topic that’s been discussed in The River Reporter, and one I could continue in length about since this particular organic variety is …
What does downtown revitalization look like? It’s a topic that’s been discussed in The River Reporter, and one I could continue in length about since this particular organic variety is my* favorite. Those flavors, reflecting individual actions within an ecosystem, supporting a collective network of resources and exchange, all exist in abundance throughout Honesdale. But how about at the organizational level?
It’s here where a new development is unfolding—one with $90,000 worth of state grant support. The Greater Honesdale Partnership (GHP) was recently awarded this sum from Pennsylvania’s Local Share Account (gaming funds distributed by the PA Department of Community and Economic Development) to create a Downtown Revitalization Plan.
This type of comprehensive planning has not been explored in recent history. The process includes massive amounts of community input to define goals, objectives and individual projects. Steps beyond that include enhanced resource support for any future expressions aligning with what’s in the plan. Past work and fresh ideas become the blocks in the plan’s foundation, atop which an assortment of new life can grow. That’s cause for celebration.
Celebrating here isn’t caused by a need for vast amounts of improvement or because the incalculable positive things already created were somehow lacking. It’s the opposite. We can celebrate because we’re presented with new opportunities to make improvements we always have potential for and because everything we’ve already created has seeded a landscape with even extra potential. Now, for the fun ahead.
No one organization, business, or individual could ever summarize the complexity of a city, town, or neighborhood. Likewise, marketing a town to the outside world will always have the same limits. The beauty of the GHP’s shifted focus toward local things for local people, as seen through this plan’s inherently local scope, is that it double counts for what/who is here now and the same in the future. A downtown revitalization plan doesn’t need to look out to pull growth back in; it can look in to grow back out, as part of a natural evolution. All the places people care about can stand on their own. When they do, new arrivals will have a more balanced footing. This is a local plan of action, which means it’s for maximum feet.
With that in mind, all of our voices should be heard during a planning project like this. Start jotting down notes and keep an eye out for public meetings and other ways to get involved. Your reflection of diverse interests is a gift to your future neighbors.
Are you happy with the new nightlife, businesses and cultural offerings Honesdale has expressed in recent years? How can we build a plan to support past, present and future creators who live, work and craft these new traditions here for everyone’s benefit?
Are you excited by the new mural colors that have bloomed in Honesdale? How can we make more of that happen, while continuingly allowing artists and building stewards to create public art on the most basic of conversational terms?
Are there some infrastructure improvements that’d make it more comfortable to cross the street or some facades you’d like spruced up? How can we resource improvements by supporting those who work on these very things, every day, without adding the weight of too much oversight?
Similar questions and all types of answers are always on the table for community discussion. These discussions have been going on for ages, have increased with direct, recent action, and will be amplified again during this planning process. Honesdale’s downtown revitalization plan, while a new thing on eventual paper, isn’t a new thing in practice, but it is a great reason to have more discussions about items we share in common.
These plans collate where we’ve come from and spin those stories through a matrix of what we imagine together. We’re moving forward because there’s nowhere else to go, but what does it look like out there in five years? In 50? That’s a worthwhile thought experiment. Think about it and talk with your friends so we can all wonder “What if Honesdale...?” this year, over a local bar beer and fries or a planning committee coffee and doughnut.
*Jane Jacobs, one of Derek William’s many pseudonyms, makes maps, movie festivals and other things under the project umbrella of Canaltown. You can find more H’dale stories at www.canaltown552.com or social channels @canaltown552.