Going With Route 6

Warren City Council on Monday approved a resolution to officially designate the City of Warren as a Route 6 Heritage Community on Monday.

Two days of public hearings were held in 2012 to gather information for a work plan, that has since been completed. For Warren to formally be a Heritage Community, council had to pass a resolution accepting the plan.

According to the Pa. Route 6 Alliance website, “The Heritage Communities Program addresses the need to retain and enhance the small town experience by assisting communities in developing their own part of the Route 6 story. These communities benefit from heritage tourism that involves visiting important historical and architectural sites, enjoying the outdoors actively or passively, rekindling the spirit of road touring, and providing opportunities to purchase goods and services along the highway.”

The executive director of the Alliance, Terri Dennison, was on hand at Monday’s council meeting to present the plan.

“What it means to be a heritage community, (there is) a special attractiveness to the city” that the city makes an effort to maintain, she said.

Dennison said the plan, which was completed in 2012, places an emphasis on coordinating events as well as exploring the concept of a “trail town,” which Warren could possess on land and water, or through existing proposals such as “Walkable Warren,” which would link the Bike/Hike Trail with local transit and the Allegheny Community Center on Clark Street.

“This planning effort includes not only elements of conventional community planning, such as visioning, the analysis of how land is used or planned to be used, community facilities, transportation, demographics, housing and the economy, but also transcends this level to include sustainable heritage tourism and sense of place issues localized to the community level,” according to the website. “The program addresses the preservation and enhancement of the communities and resources making those communities a better place for residents to live and for tourists to visit.”

Dennison informed council that some of the benefits to being a Heritage Community include being “recognized as part of a special place along Route 6 to visit.” In addition, the designation would provide the city with the ability to coordinate with other Heritage Communities on common issues as well as be part of the overall marketing campaign of the Alliance.

“This plan has never been formally approved by council,” she said. “We require… that the city approves the plan. Being a Heritage COmmunity means you have pride in your area.”

Department of Public Works Director Mike Holtz suggested that the Planning Commission could oversee implementation of the plan in the city.

“Who pays for it and the maintenance of it?” Councilman John Lewis asked.

Dennison said that is “no cost, really” as the plan is already paid for through state and federal grant funding.

“As projects come up, we work with you to come up with funding for that stuff,” she said.

While acknowledging that the plan could be “a great community resource,” Councilman Sam Harvey expressed concern about potential zoning conflicts.

Lewis noted that “the city will need to invest time” and that this work could be “more burden of administration to our existing service.”

Dennison acknowledged the additional work, but emphasized that the Alliance will coordinate with the city.

Speaking generally of the plan, Councilman Gregory Fraser suggested that the plan projects are “things we can (examine) and do what is in the best interest of the city.”

The resolution adopting the plan passed 5-2 with Lewis and Harvey dissenting.