HONESDALE, PA — The COVID-19 pandemic changed the ways people relate to the places around them. Rounds of mask mandates, business shutdowns and work-from-home requirements made formerly …
HONESDALE, PA — The COVID-19 pandemic changed the ways people relate to the places around them. Rounds of mask mandates, business shutdowns and work-from-home requirements made formerly everyday activities difficult or even impossible.
The impact of the pandemic could have sidelined the formerly everyday spaces of local communities. Instead, it made more important those spaces that people call home, according to Rick Vilello, deputy secretary of community affairs and development with the PA Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED). “Places that we call home became more important; places where we could walk to recreation became more important; places that we could walk to church and walk to the grocery story, making investments in our downtown became more important.”
Vilello was speaking at an August 30 event celebrating Honesdale as one such community.
Honesdale has earned a designation from DCED as a Keystone Communities Main Street. Viello joined representatives of Honesdale’s government and the nonprofit Greater Honesdale Partnership (GHP) to announce that designation.
The Keystone Communities program, which is operated by DCED, supports public-private partnerships that strengthen local communities. As a designated Main Street—one of only 11 statewide—Honesdale will receive priority status when submitting applications to DCED, will be eligible for tax credits to support private businesses, and will receive technical assistance from the Pennsylvania Downtown Center (PDC), a statewide nonprofit dedicated to community resiliency.
“This Main Street designation means Honesdale is getting the additional tools they need to make their town a better place to live, work and play for many years,” said Vilello.
Those tools will help Honesdale improve its public spaces.
PDC executive director Julia Fitzpatrick explained that the center would help support Honesdale’s revitalization plans over the next five years, provide training, help with traffic-calming projects and downtown events, and support local businesses.
Concept renderings presented at the press conference showed sidewalks improved with benches and trees, a beautified river-access point and a shared-street plaza.
“Our street scope project and the donations and the grants that support it will allow us to honor everything along Main Street before us and everything yet to come,” said Honesdale mayor Derek Williams. Williams made improving Honesdale’s walkability a keystone of his pre-election platform and post-election work.
“We want everyone to see Honesdale as a place to live and raise their families,” said GHP executive director Sandi Levens. “We want new developers to come in and build and invest in Honesdale. We want businesses to thrive in Honesdale.”
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