Main Street Program Encourages Property Owners to Apply For Funds
Hughesville, Montgomery and Muncy have all been designated as official Main Street sites according to Rebecca Fought, regional Main Street director. These areas are coordinated with the program through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. The organization recently issued $30,000 for improvements in these three communities. She is encouraging as many businesses and property owners to apply for these funds as soon as possible. This money is available to clean up empty store fronts, improve signage and revitalize downtown areas. “They must provide a dollar-for-dollar match for the funds they receive,” she said. This is the first time these funds have been made available and qualified businesses can receive up to $5,000 for a project. To apply for this money and for application guidelines, go to “http://www.mainstreetslycoming.com”>www.mainstreetslycoming.com“ “http://www.mainstreetslycoming.com”>www.mainstreetslycoming.com or call 570-447-6252.
Since the 1990’s over sixteen hundred communities nationwide have adopted the ‘Main Street’ Approach. That is, going back to the heart of the community, looking at its downtown areas and historic buildings, and bringing back a sense of pride and community life to America.
[insert photo of revitalized building in Hughesville}
The Regional Main Street Program is the result of a partnership among the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Lycoming County and the Our Towns 2010 board. It is financed partly through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. Coordinated through the efforts of Faught boroughs and city councils work together with the county to achieve common goals. These goals include ecotourism, heritage tourism, agriculture, sustainable communities, and a creative economy.
Many people pass through our towns daily viewing heritage treasures and outdoor beauty. “It is our vision to combine 19th century architecture with hometown atmosphere along the Susquehanna River where a high quality, rural life style is still valued and celebrated ,” explains Fought. Through united efforts, funding is available to help keep communities and downtowns together.
Rebecca Fought, a Hughesville resident for 35 years, coordinates five Main Street communities within Lycoming County. In addition to East Lycoming communities, she also works with Jersey Shore and Montoursville. She was formerly the borough manager of Hughesville and came to Main Street with the working knowledge of how boroughs work, getting funding and maintaining city preservation.
Local Partnerships work on a four point approach.
Some of the local groups involved with the Main Street Program are the Greater Hughesville Business Association, the Muncy Professional and Business Association, and the Montgomery Historical Society. Working and partnering is the first step, then designing, planning and making physical improvements is next. The third step involves economic restructure, business recruitment and retention, and establishing community links.
Point four is promotion. Having a Main Street image means drawing investors, new businesses and visitors. Such events include the Lycoming County Fair in Hughesville, the MPBA car show and business expo in Muncy and the DARE Fair in Montoursville. Other events for promotion include parades, events, and festivals.
Each town is a destination.
Hughesville Streetscape in Hughesville started in 2005 with new sidewalks, curbing, street lights, trees, and underground utilities. The town clock, a local landmark, is currently in storage and will be placed in a new location across from its former sight on Main Street. The Main Street Program and the Hughesville Rotary plan to beautify a small park and sitting area around the clock for local citizens to enjoy. Other projects they did together were flower plantings and putting up new Christmas decorations.
Muncy A possible mural project is in the works to promote the artistic talents of many local artisans. Main Street Program is encouraging the Borough Council to do streetscapes and move forward to help occupy some empty storefronts. There is currently a lot of planning and designing and a possible grant from DCNR to help with parks and a walking path.
Montgomery – May 1 will be a kick-off for a county wide event working with two volunteers, David Morehart and Peggy Yohn, to develop land usage as part of the Montgomery Corridor Project. They will be part of a steering committee representing Lycoming County. This will be a foundation for improving vacant buildings.
The National Main Street Program began in 1977 and evolved into a national network of local Main Street programs across America. Main Street is a preservation-based program whose purpose is to incorporate existing economic development infrastructures into community planning. Since the creation of interstate highways and strip malls, communities would travel distances to shop, work and spend leisure time. Soon downtown areas showed signs of neglected buildings and boarded up store fronts. They were no longer the hub of commercialism. The public’s perception needed to change and efforts were soon made to preserve the historic buildings that reflect each community’s local heritage and sense of pride. Statewide grassroots organizations, private citizens, and local organizations were formed with help from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. Pennsylvania is one of few states that funds administration costs for Main Streets and facades. Many other states do just projects. Efforts have been coordinated county wide to provide action and support to the programs on all levels. Everyone works together to support each other in planning, development and sharing information.
Fought explains that she needs to keep the revitalization process going in all regions and works with the boroughs to keep the process going. Currently volunteers are needed in all five areas. “We rely on other local and civic organizations such as STEP, Habitat for Humanity, bankers and local citizens. It is very regional, ” she adds. There are about 45 dedicated volunteers to help with coordinating projects.