Thursday, September 17, 2009

You can take your revitalization and ...


It seems that a good number of Mt. Pleasant Township residents aren't taking too kindly to a proposed "revitalization” of Hickory’s main drag, and who can blame them? Someone got the bright idea to pursue a Main Street project in Hickory, and township supervisors held a meeting to discuss the proposal Wednesday night. About 20 residents turned up to tell supervisors they don't want it. They cite concerns about safety and are worried about the effect on their homes if planned 5-foot-wide sidewalks are installed along a section of Main Street that includes just a few more than two dozen properties. One concern is that the proposed creation of eight on-street parking spaces would cause a visibility hazard along that stretch of Route 50. According to an O-R report, the residents heard from Mark Paluso, executive director of Town Center Associates, who outlined the plan to "establish a vital village center for the community." That plan includes – and I kid you not – the aforementioned 5-foot-wide brick sidewalks, floral gardens, old-fashioned light posts, trees and "a life-sized bronze sculpture of a farmer, honoring the area's agricultural roots." Are you kidding me? Paluso, who by his remarks quoted in the O-R story sounded almost shocked that anyone would oppose his plan, said it would be unwise to do away with the on-street parking spots, unless a clear hazard is proven. "The attempt is to create a mixed-use village center,” he said. "That's where you get life, vibrancy and continuity. You are dramatically hurting your ability to make a village center." Did he ever think that maybe most of the folks who live in that area aren't interested in what he's selling? Hickory is a farm town, and I could be wrong, but I'm going to venture a guess that Paluso is a "city fella." If he's not, he sure has lost touch with his roots. I'm not sure how much money – and you can bet that at some level, it'll be the people's tax dollars – is supposed to be spent on this plan, but do they really think people are suddenly going to be flocking to Hickory, and for what purpose? The proponents of this project should look to Washington, where $15 million was spent on such things as new sidewalks, planters and trash cans. Has anyone seen the fruits of this investment? All I've seen are the same dead downtown and some fancy streetlights that don't work. Mt. Pleasant Township (that's one of its "residents” shown in the above photo; he's "on the fence" about the project) has been around since 1788. It seems to be doing just fine without a "revitalization." Perhaps Town Center Associates should peddle its wares elsewhere. I hear Taylorstown and Sparta don't yet have "vital village centers."

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17 Comments:

Blogger MJ said...

The bronze statue of a farmer with a calf is already there... They dedicated it in early June. Check the O-R archives and you might be able to find it.

September 17, 2009 at 3:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Washington has hurt its financial viability for the future with their last three plans. Each time city services decreased, more employees were laid off and overall debt increased. Now they want the central planning ideas to spread to smaller communities like Hickory. Great commentary Brant and sorely needed. These groups are just trying to deal with the loss of revenue from the troubles in the real estate market. They create consulting groups to make money from government because the private sector is hurting. You deserve a medal for bringing the stupidity of this to light.

September 17, 2009 at 3:59 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

Mike, I just found that photo. Wow, what a great addition to the quality of life in Mt. Pleasant Township. (Please insert sarcasm). I think farmers are great. I come from a long line of farm people, and I love living in the country. But they spent $60,000 on that statue. SIXTY THOUSAND DOLLARS. Sure, it was in private donations, but does anybody else think SIXTY THOUSAND DOLLARS could have been put to much better use than erecting a statue and enriching a sculptor?

September 17, 2009 at 4:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who was the sculptor?

September 17, 2009 at 8:24 PM  
Anonymous the anonymous one said...

You get them Brant!!! Don't forget the money pit of all times.. Johnny Murtha Air Port! (insert back slapping motion here)

September 18, 2009 at 2:19 AM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

I'm curious as to why a small town's main street needs to be transformed into, well, a small town main street.

These mixed-use village centers are the hot housing thing in many parts of the country, including Richmond. Recently opened here is one called West Broad Village. It's supposed to give the feeling of being in a small-town neighborhood where you can walk anywhere...restaurant, bank, grocery store, etc.

There are several problems with this development and even as completion nears, people are still scratching their heads over what the planners were thinking. First, it sits along an 8-lane stretch of road that handles one of the most congested and busy traffic areas in the area. Oh...the grocery stores are on the opposite side of the 8-lane road. No crosswalks, either.

Condos start at $300,000 and overlook a Home Depot, a Kroger, a Best Buy and a McDonald's. Wal Mart and Lowe's are just up the street. I grew up in Taylorstown and spent a lot of time in Claysville and West Alexander. Those are small towns with a small-town feel. Those developments are a joke. West Broad Village, by the way, is only about 20% occupied.

September 18, 2009 at 8:08 AM  
Blogger MJ said...

I think the sculptor was Alan Cottrill?

Any thoughts of uploading the photo of the sculpture (plus cutline) at the bottom of the post? It didn't get a lot of attention on B3 or wherever it ran.

September 18, 2009 at 10:07 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

The United States has turned into a low price addict. Regardless of how good the service or goods,unfortunately, people these days just look at the lowest price when making purchasing decisions. that's why the poor small town and downtown vendors can;t make a living. Higher rental costs and taxes bring higher costs. And, that's not even counting the already lower prices that big box stores can leverage from manufacturers.

The only way for small businesses to exist in small downtown areas is to specialize and be "the" place to pick something up, or be "the" place to be. What the public sector needs to do is create a gentrified area with lower taxes and rent, so that small businesses can innovate more, and worry about paying their bills less. Washington has done the former with the revitalization, but messed up the latter with higher taxes and a lack of cracking down on absentee high rent landlords.

September 18, 2009 at 11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People have always looked at the lowest price, then considered other factors. Roads and easy travel plus now the internet have improved commerce. Times change. Few businesses survive thru decade after decade. Progress cannot be stopped or legislated to stop. Just the way things are, fighting it or complaining about it does not work.

The waste of even private donations of $60,000 for a statute like that is unbelievable. Brant is dead on right that $60,000 could have been spent on things that matter more for a community. As a son of a farmer, I see it as a monumental waste and an insult to the frugal life that most farmers live. I could not have imagined spending that type of money on a sculpture. He reeks of the type of thinking that we always made fun of growing up.. in others "big city thinking". Shame that Hickory is falling for such silly ideas.

September 18, 2009 at 12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The discussion about the $60,000 is yet one more example of everybody else telling others how to spend their money. All the suggestions about how better the money could have been spent are bogus. Probably, at the heart of the matter, is envy and jealousy.

Let others decide how to spend their money. Statistics and reports show that many of our citizens do a poor job of managing their own money (e.g. $7K, $10K? average balance on credit cards). These folks are in no position to tell others how to spend their cash, no matter how great the need elsewhere.

September 19, 2009 at 7:21 AM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

I didn't say anything about how to spend the money. I just said on the other post (with the photo) that I don't see $60,000 worth of art here. No envy, no jealousy...just a critique. I thought that art was supposed to be interpretive.

Thanks for the lecture on finance, though.

September 20, 2009 at 7:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First, your statement that others have trouble managing your money infers that I as the poster have trouble, I do not.
Given that a public effort was done to solicit funds for this effort, it becomes worthy of discussion about whether the effort was worth it. It also becomes part of the issue about money that is available to be raised should have been spent on such a project.
It is illogical to say the least to argue that people waste their money and hence that no one can discuss the merits of whether this project makes sense.
There is no envy of a statue of a man holding a pig. To suggest that borders on the ludicrious. I would not want such a statue in my yard for free, let alone in my township for $60,000 in private donations.
Statues are luxuries. If Hickory is in need of revitilization, the statue continues to be a luxury that is wasteful.
In addition, what is it is purpose?
Will it draw people to Hickory? Very few if any.
Will it honor farmers?
Yes, but few farmers are interested in such things, instead being concerned with their animals, crops and most importantly their land. My father and grandfather would have looked at that and stated "nice, but waste of money" and both were farmers as was every male until myself in my family.
A better use for revitalization for example would be to solict funds to create small business grants for the town. Give a helping hand to those ideas that could promote growth.

September 20, 2009 at 10:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A better use for revitalization for example would be to solict funds to create small business grants for the town. Give a helping hand to those ideas that could promote growth.

....

Sounds good. When are you going to start the drive? I didn't know Hickory wanted to grow. It seems to be the same now as 30 years ago. With the rebuff of the residents for change, I'm doubting that they want to grow.

"... worth the project ..." is not meaningful. Some folks wanted to make a statement, and give honor where they thought it was due. I think PNC Stadium has some statues in front of the entrance. Somebody felt it necessary to give honor to ball players for their efforts. Since agriculture is the top industry in Pennsylvania (thanks, in part, to your family), they seem more worthwhile that somebody who can hit a ball with a wooden bat. I agree, the farmers might think it a total waste. Others, such as some of the posters here who are not farmers, believe it to be a total waste as well. Does this make it a bad project for those wishing to bestow the honor? I don't think so. Would I contribute to such a project? No. But, I certainly wouldn't be critical of those who choose to do so. Would I contribute to sculpture for the Andy Warhol museum in Pittsburgh? No. I wouldn't walk across the street to see the stuff in there (seen pictures on TV). But, I certainly don't begrudge anybody for spending their money there.

Funny thing about people dropping far more than $60K per day at the Meadows Casino. In fact, the amount of money that people daily "donate" to the cause at the casino exceeds the $60K by many, many times. Are the citizens riled about how that money is wasted? I don't think so. Rather, it is celebrated as a great thing for the region, to be enjoyed by all. Let's build table games for even more donations to the "cause."

September 20, 2009 at 2:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just let Main Street Hickory turn into Main Street Avella, Main Street Burgettstown, McDonald, etc.
A few good people try to mkae things better and people can't see
the point. Thanks Frank Hnat and John Benard for all your hard work.
To the complainers, it is easy to complain and do nothing to make thigs better. Question: How do John and Frank benefit personally
from all this???

September 21, 2009 at 8:57 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

I don't think anyone is suggesting that those gentlemen are trying to enrich themselves in this process. It's just a question of what real purpose is served by the expenditure of a relatively huge amount of money, when the whole project is taken into account.

September 21, 2009 at 9:28 AM  
Blogger mes said...

It is time to update the information about this ridiculous project. The cost is now up to 750thousand TAXPAYER dollars. The lastest seems to be a Safe Schools grant and there is no school in Hickory. What a waste of money when the state is stuggling to find a way to prevent a tax increase. Maybe they could toll Main Street?

March 14, 2010 at 6:54 PM  
Anonymous CW said...

According to Township Talk (summer 2008) http://www.mpt-pa.com/docs/tTalk_summer08.pdf
Rep. Jesse White got $10,000 state grant for the statue (which did not even match the previously rendered pictures also in the previous leaflets). My farming grandparents would definitely put $60,000 to better use.

This is farming country, a rural area. Most of the residents told these folks "no" when they took a survey, yet according to the township secretary and the MP board of supervisors (BOS) a 100% approval rating was turned in to the board! Apparently, they lied to the board. Why, when most residents don't want it? What's up?

At the Sept 2009 residents complained of ongoing harassment, and more lies. One lady said they'd reduced her to tears in trying to get her to sign. Two other residents said they told them not to trespass on their property anymore because of their harassment.

Now, even though over ½ of the residents in "phase one" have not signed and others want their papers back claiming misrepresentation (more lies), the two men pushing for this project have gotten permission from the MP BOS to apply to for financial assistance through the
2010 Washington County LSA in the amount of $23,500 for revising the initial plans (engineered drawings). Mt. Pleasant Twp. Board of supervisors’ mtg of Nov 18, 2009. http://mpt-pa.com/boards.php?id=supervisors

According to 2010 budget listed on http://mpt-pa.com/docs/budget_2010.pdf
$550.00 is being paid out in taxes for Township Talk, which presents a one sided view of this unwanted project. Of course, it’s also printed by the head of the revitalization push.

Add that to the $750,000. And if the project goes through the residents will keep paying more tax money for the unnecessary extra lighting, upkeep, etc.

It's no wonder our state is broke with unnecessary drains on our citizens wallets like these.

March 19, 2010 at 1:55 PM  

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