Our opinion: It’s the east side’s turn

The east side of Warren – and for those readers from far away, that’s everything east of Conewango Creek – has been largely ignored by city planners and official forward thinkers for a long time.

The time has apparently come.

Impact Warren is in the rear view mirror, and while the aggressive, ambitious and grotesquely expensive project was not without its problems, the result was an improved appearance and more consumer-friendly environment.

The City’s Planning Commission is now looking at the Pennsylvania Avenue corridor on the east side of town with the idea of improving that artery into the city and important commercial zone.

Nothing they have been batting around in their meetings on the subject are nearly as ambitious as Impact Warren, and we can breathe a sigh of relief that they’re not.

However, there are things that can be done to promote the area’s improvement without millions of dollars in grants and loans, onerous regulations and restrictions.

Some low-interest loans to businesses interested in improving their facades, some landscaping and natural screening of industrial areas can go a long way.

The key to the success of the Eastside Gateway Renaissance project is to build partnerships with residents and business people in that area, make them part of the process, not exclude them from the decision process; solicit their ideas, not dictate to them; make this their project, not an edict from local government.

If we could offer one piece of advice to the members of the Planning Commission who are planting the seeds of the Eastside Gateway Renaissance it is this: Go slowly and seek out public participation in every step of the process. Beware of grand plans.

We wish you well.