Progress: Muncy, Montgomery, Hughesville
Tri-town communities see changes, hope they lead to increased tax bases
By DEREK DANNEKER
The Muncy area is going through several changes which may present difficulties but also enhance the potential for new business, said officials.
“We’ll endeavor to manage growth responsibility while maintaining the classic rural character of the area we live in,” said Thomas Scheach, Muncy Township supervisor.
The Lycoming Mall has lost its largest stores and others, such as Hot Topic and Kay Jewelers. However, as one opportunity dims, others begin to shine.
“I think the future looks good,” said Scheach. “One of the things we need to come to grasp with is the advent of the northern portion of the (Central Susquehanna Valley Thruway). It’s going to present us with some challenges and opportunities of business.”
Estimated for completion in 2022, the thruway will shift traffic from Route 15 to Route 180.
Though Scheach said the state Department of Transportation studies on traffic changes haven’t been completed, the new segment of highway will undoubtedly increase the number of vehicles traveling the route.
“That’s going to put some pressure on the township but also Muncy Creek, Muncy Borough,” he said. “We don’t know what that’s going to bring. We need to keep our minds open.”
Geisinger is also set to come into the area and scheduled to break ground on the new facility in April or May, weather depending.
The site, located in a field along Route 220 near Interstate 180, is slated to include orthopedics, pediatric primary care, ophthalmology, general surgery and infusion labs.
“I think we’re taking a cautious, wait-and-see approach, because it has been a long process for the development, as it is anytime you plant an institution of that magnitude,” said Scheach.
Muncy Township is also consolidating its services to one building, he said.
We are in the process of repurposing and renovating our township building, consolidating all of our operations into one structure to allow better community access,” he said. “Other land will be returned to the private sector on sale and provide residents business interests.”
The renovation is slated for completion in August.
Rick Smith, mayor of Hughesville, said his borough is doing well with “thriving” restaurants and a tax base that increased slightly more than expected last year.
Although Hughesville is landlocked, or boarded by other townships, which leaves little room for expansion, some lots have subdivided every year and some new houses have sprung up where there previously had been a vacant lot, he said.
The state Department of Transportation’s project at the intersection of Race Street and Route 405, at the south of the borough, required the destruction of a gas station and a house, however, he said, which did slightly lower the tax base.
East Lycoming School District is a large pull, and what originally drew Smith to the area in the 70s, as well as the opportunity for recreation.
“The property taxes that came in for 2019 were slightly above what came in for the previous year, and it came in over what we thought the budget should be,” said Smith. “Everything is holding steady at the moment.”
Meanwhile, Fae Herb, mayor of Montgomery, said she is working to attract new families to her area.
A factory, which employed several people in the area, moved out and a pharmacy closed, she said, however a new coffee shop has opened and is attracting new clientele.
The programming at Montgomery Area Public Library has done well to bring families to the area and the area’s historical society is attracting new membership as well, said Herb.
The council is also working to bring a park back to the area, which will allow people to have an open space to enjoy the outdoors, she said.
“Sometimes you get frustrated, but we have hope that we can get things built up,” she said.