Muncy residents discuss resiliency

MUNCY — Muncy area residents got the opportunity Monday night to give their feedback to the proposed resiliency plan that is being formulated for the borough.

“We’re requesting your feedback,” Josh Schnitzlein, hazard mitigation planner with the county, said to a group of about 60 people who attended the town meeting. “It’s really your plan as a community.”

According to borough council president, Edward Feigles, the meeting was billed as an opportunity for the public to have their chance to provide input with the plan.

“This is where the public comes in and informs the committee of the topics they feel are important to Muncy moving forward,” he said. “Some of the things we’ve identified, we will verify here. We’ll get some new ideas. Things that bother people. A lot of it’s about how you prioritize. What do you value most? Such as, ‘I care about this, but I care about this not as much.’ “

Billed as the first of two meetings, Monday’s began with a presentation by John Mizerak, the consultant hired by the borough to write the strategic plan. The larger group then broke into smaller groups to discuss the various topics included in the resiliency plan.

Mizerak stressed that resiliency is not just concerning flooding.

“When we look at community resilience, I think it’s important to remember this as you’re looking at it,” he said “This shows a complete holistic approach to resilience. A lot of people look at resiliency and think it’s just flooding and how we are going to stop it. But a strong community has a strong economy, it has strong housing. It has strong infrastructure. It takes and capitalizes on your natural, cultural and historical resources.”

Using those resources, a plan like Muncy’s makes sure all future projects have a lot of co-benefits from all those different areas, Mizerak said. “So that they can leverage off each other so that they can turn the community in a right course of action to continue to improve and reinvest and really make themselves more resilient,” he said.

Mizerak noted the communities that are able to be more resilient when there is flooding are the communities that are strong when they aren’t dealing with flooding.

The borough hired the consulting firm to formulate a resilience plan, which could then be taken to different funding sources to seek the grants needed to implement the plan.

“This project doesn’t just end with a plan and then everyone just walks away from it and it just sits on a shelf,” Mizerak said. “It’s actually going to involve building that relationship with those funding agencies. I can tell you there’s a lot of buzz about this project in Harrisburg. They are looking at it and want to use the process this community is going through and use the methods you use to get the projects. They want to use it as an example around the state.”

As the people broke into groups, they could meet to discuss the various areas which the consulting firm had identified, such as economic development, quality of life, housing, stormwater management and how to develop the vacant lot at the corner of Main and Water streets as an asset for the community.

At one table a couple could be heard talking about their home, which is located in the severe floodplain at the north end of Muncy. They were sharing that they didn’t want to move, but would rather raze their home and build a new home elevated to mitigate the flooding. Around the room people were discussing the various aspects of the plan and how it affects them.

“One step at a time,” Fran McJunkin, from the county’s planning office said. She added it was an opportunity for local residents to let the people in Harrisburg know what they think.