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Main Street initiative

Published July 28. 2010 05:00PM

Two Panther Valley communities will work together and try to capitalize on the state's "Main Street" program.

Borough councils in both Lansford and Summit Hill gave approval to community organizations to participate.

Mark Sverchek, of Lansford Alive, and Debra Ranck, president of the Summit Hill Community Improvement Organization, both assured their respective borough councils that participation would not come from tax dollars.

Lansford Alive has $26,000 in grant money that must be used for a job's project or it will be forfeited. SHCIO will use some of its funds to participate.

The program will involve the hiring of a Main Street manager.

Ranck said the Main Street program is designed to help communities develop their main streets, assist businesses and non-profits, and create jobs.

It was noted that both Lansford and Summit Hill don't have the population to qualify for individual participation in the program, but by working jointly they meet the population criteria.

Robert Gaughan, president of Lansford Borough Council, said he supports the venture, stating, "The Main Street program has been effective in many towns."

He said he's pleased with various joint efforts of the two communities including shared services and working on a Comprehensive Plan.

"Quite frankly, yes, I would be fully in favor and endorse the program," he said.

Lansford council member Mary Kruczek said the council would have to be informed before any decisions occur.

In Summit Hill, councilman Michael Alabovitz said he is concerned all the emphasis in the program will go to Lansford, but Ranck assured, "I'm not going to let that happen."

The approval of the councils was the first step in establishing a Main Street program. The second step will be a joint meeting between Lansford Alive and SHCIO to agree to do matching funds.

The third step would be putting together a joint agreement which will be presented to the councils. After that, a full-time, professional downtown manager could be hired.

Ranck said initially the program would last one year and both towns would benefit equally.

She said among some of the Main Street program goals are:

• To preserve and strengthen the existing retail, local government, and business centers of Pennsylvania's communities.

• To improve residents' quality of life by making the traditional downtown more attractive as a place to live and work.

• To act as a catalyst for small business development; thereby, increasing employment and tax revenues in traditional downtown locations.

• To formalize a connection between established residential neighborhood areas with downtown revitalization areas.

• To assist municipalities in preparing and implementing a revitalization strategy for established residential neighborhoods either in the vicinity of a Main Street Program project, or in proximity to an existing commercial district.

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