Old Mill Corridor: Community continues planning
MONTGOMERY – Last Tuesday evening, Montgomery citizens had an opportunity during an open house at the borough office to meet with planning officials and design engineers to discuss future plans of the Old Mill Corridor.
Considered a blighted area or a brownfield corridor, partial funding was received through a grant by the State’s Department of Community and Economic Development.
Portraying a vision of revitalization and economic impact for the future of Montgomery and surrounding communities, a public meeting was given to divulge the findings of the feasibility study, what the Youth Ambassador Team came up with so far, and to get feedback from the public on the project itself, according to Rachelle Ricotta, Community Development Planner. “We need the input of the community and what they think of the project so far,” Ricotta said.
Adam Mook from Strategy Solutions revealed a marketing assessment in draft form with the final plans to be completed in a few weeks.
In November of 2008, the Lycoming County Planning Commission partnered with Montgomery leaders and authorized a contract with Mackin Engineering in Pittsburgh. They were selected as a subcontractor in the planning process along with Larson Design Group from Williamsport. The study began in August 2009 and research for the Corridor Plan started in January 2010.
“A community center with recreation opportunities seems to be a common concept with the residents in the area,” Mook stated as he showed attendees through a round of stations set up to guide them with maps and surveys.
Some of the findings in the study showed that employment in Montgomery is made up of 38% blue collar, 45.4% white collar, 16.6% service workers and 4% farm workers. Education summary showed that 29.44% did not graduate and 42.83% are high school graduates. 18.38% have some college while 8.85% have a Bachelor’s degree.
“This is our third round of public meetings,” added Ricotta. “It will be more concentrated and put on borough agendas before implementation. We want more input from the public and look at the initial concepts to make sure we are on the right track. This is something the public can get behind, give opportunities to the process so everyone has a say and feel more comfortable.”
Brandi Rosselli from Mackin Engineering Company explained that her company has experience with old vacant buildings. “We are familiar with working with these types of sites, and look at it as a pre-cursor to future development.” Her company will be looking at existing conditions and environmental issues before compiling information for the developer. Once a site for textile manufacturing, the Old Mill Corridor will be considered for pedestrian and rail connections. The feasibility study highlights land use, zoning regulations, subdivision, transportation, utilities, environmental constrictions, and parcel profiles.
“All of this data will be compiled and collected all in one place,” said Rosselli.
A large consensus of the public agreed on recreational activities such as walking trails and courts for tennis and basketball. Playground areas were also designated.
Other ideas included an indoor recreation center and senior housing with space for offices.
Fred and Joyce Taylor from Montgomery were concerned about flooding since the site is in a flood plain. “This is our first meeting. We are concerned about the flooding and what will happen if it does flood.” Joyce said she used to work at the textile mills and remembers seeing 3 feet of water inside the buildings. “There is a lot to learn,” said Don Feaster, Borough Council member.” Having recreational courts and playgrounds would be easier to clean up during flooding,” said Feaster.
Paul Roman, history teacher with the Montgomery School District, was also present representing the Youth Ambassador Team and their plans. They would like to see a retail strip mall with lots of recreation and a walking path, and a dog park and senior housing, Roman said. All agreed their input was relevant.
Mayor Andy Onufrak said, “I am thrilled with this project. Using the county’s strength and our momentum makes this one of the biggest things that has happened here in 30 years, since the mills moved out in the 70’s.”
For more information on the project site go to www.lyco.org and click on Corridor Plan.