Council approves new consultant for Park Avenue neighborhood

City Council approved an $89,280 contract with a York-based consulting firm to begin working on improving the Park Avenue neighborhood.

But the unanimous 7-0 vote to hire Ingalls Planning and Design didn’t arrive before Councilwoman Bonnie Katz asked Chelsea Myers, city planner, for the rationale behind hiring an outside firm when the city pays its economic development consultant, Penn Strategies, $100,000 to do similar work.

In response, Myers said the York firm has expertise in the challenge ahead, transforming urban neighborhoods with high poverty rates and a high amount of rental properties, into better areas in which to live, work and play.

“We know the area has high poverty and rental rates,” Katz said, adding more studies aren’t needed but what is are developers interested in building homes and businesses.

Among the plans is to have Larson Design Group work on transit-related design issues in the target area from Hepburn to Campbell streets and from Park Avenue to High Street.

A separate company, called CZB, also wants to take part in the study because it has expertise in urban planning and development, Myers said.

The $89,280 cost of the study is covered through a state grant and donations from UPMC Susquehanna, the city and River Valley Transit.