Gateway project plan may meet lofty expectations

Economic development and revitalization projects have a checkered track record, whether the plan is for New York City or Williamsport.

Oftentimes, they are long on flashy ideas but short on tangible results for a variety of reasons: an inability to secure funding, costs that outdistance plans or envisioned work that does not fit the project area.

Six years in the making, the East Third Street/Old City Gateway Revitalization plan appears to be at least on the correct path to realizing its designed dreams.

To start with, the funding element for the $22.8 million plan appears to be pretty much in place. Delta Development Group, the primary consulting firm in the project, has secured up to 10 grants for the project. And the line item bids on each phase of the project match up well with the available grants, according to a recent review before Williamsport City Council. That rarely happens.

The Lycoming College Gateway building is under construction and due for completion by the fall, giving the overall project a visual centerpiece that fits into the streetscape design and related highway plans.

Anyone driving in that area today can see the start of what will be.

And what will be includes the most underrated part of the plan — new traffic signals at Third and Mulberry streets, new land added to Basin Street and realignment of Franklin Street.

Finally, the Russell Inn Heritage Park at East Third and Mulberry streets will provided needed greenspace as well as an outline of the Russell Inn and historical markers to tell about the original part of Williamsport.

When those changes are completed, the Beltway, the city’s East End, the college and downtown all will be connected like never before.

And that, long-term, will hopefully spur related development.

That’s how a blank canvas is supposed to be filled. It just doesn’t happen that way very often. The Gateway project shows every indication of being the exception.

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