City seeks blueprint for future

By JOSH COTTON

jcotton@timesobserver.com

“Revitalizing communities in Pennsylvania is both essential and difficult.”

That’s from the proponent of the Blueprint Communities Pennsylvania program, an initiative “targeted to helping community leaders plan and carry out effective and comprehensive revitalization efforts.”

The City of Warren is hoping to be a recipient of the help.

Warren City Council authorized city administration to prepare an application for the program.

City Manager Nancy Freenock said that the program “seeks to revitalize older, small communities…. This is a prime opportunity for the city to obtain valuable training and plan for city sustainability.”

If accepted to the program, Freenock said that the cost to the city would be $2,000, half of which would be reimbursed at the completion of the program.

A host of entities facilitate the program, including the Federal Home Loan Bank Pittsburgh and the Penn State Extension program, which has a three-pronged mission fostering strong local leadership, collaboration and development capacity, serving as a catalyst for revitalization based on sound local and regional planning that includes a clear vision for the community and a comprehensive implementation strategy and encouraging coordinated investments in targeted communities by public and private funders.

According to the program website, the application deadline is April 25 with the training to start next month. “As many as eight new Pennsylvania communities will take advantage of the enormous benefits Blueprint Communities offers,” the website states.

Freenock said that applications are limited to cities with less than 10,000 people that are located north of I-80.

“Northwest Savings Bank will be the city’s sponsor,” said Freenock, noting it is a member of FHLBank Pittsburgh.

“They have an excellent working relation with that organization,” Mayor Maurice Cashman said.

“Councilman Sam Harvey asked if the city would be obligated to anything more than $2,000.

“This also encompasses 16 public meetings,” Freenock said, noting that a local committee will be developed to facilitate the process. “The committee is not going to training with the idea we have a problem.” She explained the program would help identify community strengths and shortcomings.

She said the “hope is a plan would be implemented,” after participation.