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Streetscape design plans underway for Muncy Business District

By Staff | Jun 7, 2011

Rich Cihanowzy from Carrs Rentals & Supplies speaks strongly to business members about working together to address truck traffic during the Streetscape Master design planning meeting held Thursday evening at Orlando's with SEDA-COG and the County Planning Office.

MUNCY – With a standing room only crowd, an open discussion led to an overwhelming majority that agreed to do something to address the growing problem of truck traffic, as well as making other enhancements to the downtown business district of Muncy.

Hosted by the Muncy Professional Business Association, members from the SEDA-COG Community Resource Center and the Lycoming County Planning Commission assured business owners, borough council members, community residents and property owners that funds were available to come up with a master plan to improve the infrastructure of the Muncy business district. Rachelle Ricotta from County Planning said that most likely the funding sources will come from block grants in addition to a grant from DCNR.

Rich Cihanowzy from Carrs Rentals & Supplies addressed the group strongly and applauded, “This is a perfect opportunity – what we need to do now, and what we can’t do with all of these people here to work together. If we don’t do something now, what will our historic town look like ten years from now?” he asked in regard to the increasing truck traffic of 1,000 trips a day or more. “Don’t settle for less,” he implored. “Let’s not just paint it. Give it the WOW factor!”

Three district areas are to be addressed according to Brian Auman from SEDA-COG. “Green Street Park, the downtown business district and the 6 or 7 FEMA properties on the northeast part of town are areas to look at first,” he said. “We have some real challenges with vehicular congestion,” explained Auman. There are ways to calm the traffic and change driving behaviors. Physical techniques can be set up to influence traffic movements in neighborhoods.

Comments were made to improve the narrow streets, the short-timed traffic lights, overhead wiring, raised and cracked sidewalks and a monument that sits way back hardly noticed near Lafayette Street. Adding trees, community plantings, median strips and widening curbs were suggested by many. “Property owners need to get involved,” said Dave Smith from the Bodine House. “There are a lot of rentals.”

“There needs to be change,” said Curtis Pusey from the Muncy Zoning Hearing Board. “As a unified membership, we can make more of an impact,” said Keri Krause from Robin Real Estate and President of the MPBA. “Lighting can be much better – streetlights that make it more inviting,” commented Chris Johnson from Brick House Advertising.

“When I came here in 1983 many of the houses were restored, so we are not necessarily starting from zero, but the downtown looks decayed,” said Wayne McPheron. “Although some of the business owners have fixed up buildings such as Wayne Oden and Bennardi Dentistry, the potential is there for the rest.”

Auman further explained that once a master plan is in place to look at these areas, it will be easier to address the funding sources and maintain the business district. Three sub-groups were broken down into work sessions to address the following:

What’s needed to improve the downtown? What specific programs or elements are needed? And how do you calm the traffic and improve safety for pedestrians? The ideas kept flowing: local contractors working together, forming community gardens, planting beds, posting speed limit signs, addressing right-of-ways, detouring traffic to I-I80, adding crossing guards and bike lanes, more unified street lighting, new sidewalks, speed control for narrow roads, rumble strips, speed bumps, better parking, more trees, ADA ramps, remove overhead wires, put up welcome signs and banners, restricted hours for trucks, brick pavers, median strips, re-addressing street ordinances, replace damaged trees, put up decorative fencing, bury the wires, use pavers that absorb water, add seating, and lower speed limits.

“We need to address the truck situation first. Let’s not make them dictate to us what our town is going to look like,” added Cihanowzy. Mike Longstreth from Alpaca Meadows said he is concerned about the diesel fuel and the fumes and dust exposed during the day. “I have layers of dust on my windows by 4 p.m. and I clean them every morning,” he said. “There’s lots of black smoke. We need to re-route the trucks without turning Muncy into a ghost-town.”

All agreed that if something isn’t done soon, property values will go down, tourism will drop, and industry and business won’t want to come anymore. “A lot of design will come from this project,” said Auman. “We will try to get to the next level of planning.”

“Public investment will be the catalyst for private investment and Muncy’s signature streetscape project will draw people to this town,” Ricotta said. Members and businesses owners will be advised of a future planning session for the master design.