City Council tackles Park Avenue Plan

City Council approved a not-so-sugar-coated Park Avenue Plan on Thursday.

The work ahead for the neighborhood containing a mixture of institutions, lower income rentals and vintage mansions is going to require at least one possibly up to 15 years to complete, according to Matthew Ingalls, of Ingalls Planning and Design.

The consulting firm was paid $89,280 to develop the concepts the city and stakeholders must now incorporate.

From stabilizing and building upon housing stock, to opening up lots for residential and commercial purposes, to connecting to parks and downtown, the plan has a number of elements to it.

“The report is realistic,” Councilwoman Liz Miele said.

Miele and Councilman Don Noviello say it could serve as a model for other parts of the city.

Councilwoman Bonnie Katz agreed.

“It went to (the) whole city as well as the Gateway (East Third Street),” Katz said, adding it was not sugar coated.

The stakeholders already have put skin in the game. The state Department of Community and Economic Development provided a grant of $29,000, the city and River Valley have given a combined $35,000 and UPMC Susquehanna contributed $25,000, said Stephanie Young, city community development director.

The blocks around the hospital and YMCA have a variety of opportunities and challenges – not the least of which is the high density of low-income rentals and transient population, Ingalls said.

The area to be improved upon covers several blocks and runs south at Little League Boulevard, Park Court on the north (an alley near Brandon Avenue), and Campbell Street on the west, with edges at Market Street on the east, said Stephanie Young, city community development director.

Councilman Joel Henderson observed how much of the plan is what the city knows: the plan calls for a greater codes enforcement and neighborhood engagement with city officials.

When asked outside the hall, Young said the next step will be getting the Park Avenue Neighborhood Plan Coalition together and to have codes enforcement staff begin to follow up on many of the suggestions from the consultants and city residents.