Park Avenue Plan: The focus is simple but it is correct
There is nothing magical about the Park Avenue Plan approved by City Council recently.
It may take up to 15 years to complete and the goals are not grandiose.
But if the plan is accomplished to a significant degree, it will amount to a major step forward for the city of Williamsport.
Rather than bringing in a single, large, anchor tenant, typical of a commercial-retail plan, the focus on this plan is to get home-owners and property owners of rentals and owner-occupied structures to upgrade properties. Hand in hand with that, the plan also seeks to engineer the purchase of vacant lots for quality housing.
And that is the correct focus for the area encompassed by Park Avenue west to Campbell street and east to Market Street, south to Little League Boulevard and north to above the UPMC/Susquehanna campus.
The first visual impression of that area is housing that is dilapidated or at least in need of attention. The second impression is a rare one – vacant lots in a predominately residential district.
There is not much of that in the rest of Williamsport.
So, along with the need to improve both owner-occupied and rental properties, opportunities are there to develop housing.
The mission going forward is for the city to facilitate incentives that encourage property developers to invest in upgraded housing in the Park Avenue area. It is an area that has seen visual improvement in recent years with southward development of UPMC/Susquehanna and construction of the new YMCA building.
If nothing else but housing improvement occurs via the Park Avenue Plan over the next decade or so, it will amount to major revitalization in an area of Williamsport that desperately needs it.
Improvement of this area would vastly improve the overall tone and the quality of life in Williamsport.
And it will speak to the need to stem if not reverse a declining tax base that has been happening citywide for decades.