Rebirth of a City - Downtown Connellsville
Design Committee
Chaired by Leo Rudnik and Michael Edwards
Downtown Connellsville
Design Committee
“Helping To Make A Brighter Future”
2018 - 2021  Work Plan
Overall Objective for Design Committee:
To shape the physical image of Downtown Connellsville as a place that is attractive to shoppers, investors, business owners and visitors, which maintaining its functionality and historical integrity.
Objective 1:  Provide design assistance and encourage building improvements.
a.  Offer at least one training on visual merchandising and storefront displays.
b.  Work to create window displays for empty storefronts
c. Continue and expand the holiday storefront decorating contest with prizes to include a customized plaque, free advertising, etc.
d.  Continue the Downtown Signage Grant Program as funds are available.
Objective 2:  Improve public spaces
a.  Make improvements to the Victory Garden at the Connellsville Canteen.
b.  Continue to oversee and implement the purchase and installation of the following streetscape amenities:  benches, trash receptacles and planters.
c.  Help coordinate at least one downtown clean up in the spring and in the fall
d.  Work with the Garden Club on the flower basket planter project
Objective 3: Encourage preservation of historic resources
a.  Investigate historic preservation ordinances and demolition ordinances from other communities and evaluate their relevance for Connellsville.
b.  Work with a consultant to nominate buildings to the National Register of Historic Places.
c.  Educate the public about the positive impacts of historic districts
d.  Highlight at least one historic building in the newsletter (use the Historic Walking Guide)
Objective 4: Encourage more interest in Downtown design issues.
a.  Recruit at least 3new committee members
b.  Send members to a Design Training class
The Design Committee tasked with exploration to be conducted within the downtown confines including: Education and Outreach; Regional Approach; State Role; Downtown Connellsville Property Inventories.
Extent of the Problem: Blight and abandonment is a decades old phenomena and a still growing problem in Connellsville.  Blight and abandonment is certainly not just an urban problem.  It affects almost all municipalities in the region. And it affects our regional economy as a whole.
Once seemingly limited to the stereotypic image of urban decay, blight and abandonment is now a contemporary problem common to all communities. Just as it's a new America where poverty is greater in rural than urban areas, our region is a study of changing socio-economics where pockets of pernicious decline are cropping up in rural, suburban, and urban forms alike. A perspective we partners share is that not only is blight and abandonment ubiquitous across our landscape, but it is recognized to be a marker of larger region-scale concerns. . .
In step with the Broken Window theory, blight and abandonment is appreciated to be both an outcome as well as precursor to a whole host of social, economic, and environmental concerns. As vacant properties manifest, so begets community withdrawal and the onset of loss of control thus inviting a whole host of ills to take hold. While that decaying property with its broken windows may seem to some to be a low civic priority, it actually stands as is either the neighborhood unraveling by blind-eye neglect or the diamond in the rough asset that cries out to be transformed into productive re-use.
As the Pennsylvania Statewide Blight Task Force noted in 2008, “Blight is an “economic crime” costing taxpayers and municipalities millions of dollars annually in lost property tax revenues, sewer and water fees, and increased municipal expenditures.”  Blight and abandonment is a tip of the iceberg issue that undermines and potentially exacts a downward spiral sentence on quality of life and prosperity across social, economic and environmental essentials for communities and the region.  There are real costs. Such conditions are linked to exacerbating crime, loss of property taxes, and decrease in property value and neighborhood and business decline.  Abandonment leads to population loss and negatively affects overall market conditions. Without mitigation, this problem will continue to grow and be a drain on Connellsville’s resources.
Studies show blight remediation triggers positive economic impacts for adjacent and nearby viable properties.  Targeted remediation is a win-win strategy that pays in stabilizing neighborhoods, increased revenue, increase in property values and lower crime.  Targeted remediation stands to buttress public and private investments being made in Connellsville’s weak and distressed market. It pays.