South Bethlehem’s ‘Front Door’ To Get Makeover

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan announced Thursday the design of several grant-funded projects aimed at sprucing up the “front door” to southeast Bethlehem.

Those projects will include building a gathering space at the popular SkatePlaza, an economic analysis of how to redevelop properties, wayfinding signs and connections from the rails-to-trails park to neighborhoods.

The profiles of the neighborhoods near E. Fourth Street and Daley Avenue are quickly rising as the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem continues to draw visitors and Route 412 expands to accommodate more traffic.

“With changes that have taken place here, the eastern gateway is the new front door of Bethlehem,” Mayor John Callahan said at a news conference at the Forte Building.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/local/bethlehem/mc-bethlehem-south-side-projects-20130124,0,701344.story

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Scranton Parks Slated For $400,000 Boost From Community Development Block Grants And State Funds

Downtown Scranton, looking East from West Moun...

Image via Wikipedia

Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty is a man on a mission in 2011.  His goal is to make improvements at two existing city parks and create a new pocket park.  Doherty hopes to use Community Development Block Grants and a $50,000 state grant from the governor’s office, which was verbally committed to by Ed Rendell.

1700 Perry Avenue was formerly the site of a school and is now a vacant lot.  Doherty thinks this site would be ideal for a pocket park.  Scranton City Council eliminated funding for the proposed park from the 2011 budget.  Undeterred, Doherty is seeking other funding as listed above and additional grants through Lowe’s, Home Depot and Kaboom.  The mayor estimates he needs $75,000 to complete the North Scranton pocket park, which will feature a swing set, playground area and bike path which will also include a small BMX trick park.  This vacant lot is a blighted property.  Creating the park will clean up blight, add more recreation and improve property values in the neighborhood.

The Clover Field Park is next on the agenda.  The Mayor hopes to add a playground area to a section of the park.  The playground area would serve neighborhood children and the children who take part in the West Side Jets junior football program. The West Side Jets use the park as their home base.  The cost for these improvements will be $135,000 and funded through the Community Development Block Grant program.

The third project will impact the Novembrino swim complex, 10th Avenue, also on Scranton’s West Side.  The deep water pool is going to be eliminated and a splash park added in its place.  Adding a splash park eliminates the need for lifeguards and cuts down on the city’s water bill.  The splash park is expected to cost $183,000.  The city is looking at their pools, which are all around 40 years old.

Doherty said “We have an obligation to reinvest in neighborhoods, stabilize them and maintain property values.”  Mr. Mayor, we could not agree more!

Quakertown Takes The “Rebranding” Plunge

The next town in my series of redevelopment success stories in Quakertown, PA.  Pottstown area residents are all familiar with Quakertown.  We even share Route 663. 

Quakertown has benefited over the years, to some degree, by their proximity to the big cities in the Lehigh Valley.  They are part of suburbia on heavily traveled Route 309.  What many people think of when they get a visual of Quakertown is the “Big Box” sprawl on 309.  However, there is more to Quakertown.

Quakertown Borough is 2.0 square miles and contained 8,931 residents according to the 2000 census.  A 2009 estimate put the population of the borough at 8,672.  The estimated median income for Quakertown in 2008 was $53,340.  The 2008 estimated per capita income was $27,000.  The City-data crime index for Quakertown in 2009 was 258.0, which is considered low.

This all sounds rather idyllic.  Why not roll with it?  However, the status quo was not good enough for Quakertown officials who felt they needed to get people excited about their downtown and what it has to offer.  Honestly, I never thought there was much more to Quakertown than Route 309, if the truth be told.  So now I am excited too!

Quakertown has come up with the all important “tag line” which is “Explore The Possibilities”.  Kind of peeks your interest further, doesn’t it!  I enjoy exploring!  Now I feel the urge to drive up to Quakertown and venture into their downtown to “explore” the possibilities!  Local officials want to make Quakertown a destination.  To that end, they hired Delta Development Group of Mechanicsburg, PA to help lead them to the promised land of redevelopment.  In addition, Quakertown has hired Marketing Solutions of Quakertown to help them identify and market their borough.

The $64,000 question:  What kind of destination does Quakertown want to be?  The winning answer is recreation, culture, shopping and dining.  To that end a logo was carefully crafted incorporating these elements.  Because Quakertown is strategically located on the edge of the Lehigh and Delaware valleys, they are marketing themselves in both areas.

Quakertown was once a manufacturing and commercial center.  With the decline of industry, Quakertown is now a bedroom community and regional shopping destination.  Quakertown has decided to work with the assets they have and improve upon them.  Instead of crying over what once was, they are embracing what is.

Click here to check out the Quakertown development organization’s website – Quakertown Alive! http://www.quakertownalive.com/

Hat tip to readers Katy and Andrew for bringing this story to my attention!

Demographic data from Wikipedia and City-data.com