HONESDALE, PA — How do you feel about the tagline, “Honesdale Has It”? What do you think about parking garages just off Main Street? How should Honesdale redevelop its residential …
HONESDALE, PA — How do you feel about the tagline, “Honesdale Has It”? What do you think about parking garages just off Main Street? How should Honesdale redevelop its residential apartments?
While the Park Street Complex in Honesdale is many locals’ polling place, last weekend, it hosted a different kind of voting. Residents were asked to come and provide their input on what incoming downtown revitalization efforts should look like.
At the end of last year, the Greater Honesdale Partnership (GHP)—the economic arm of the borough—received a $90,000 LSA-Monroe grant to develop a plan for the reinvigoration of Honesdale’s downtown. The GHP began working with Derck & Edson, a civil engineering, planning and design firm, to complete a study and survey to identify what aspects of the borough need the most immediate attention. On October 31, the GHP unveiled the results of its study for the first time and asked fellow Honesdalians where to go next.
“As a community, it’s good to digest these ideas and come up with a direction so we can go forward and have some positive change,” said Brian Wilken, GHP’s president. “It’s not about what the GHP wants to do, it’s about what we want to do as a community.”
Through a listening session held earlier this year, GHP identified six main themes to focus on: make Honesdale more welcoming; create places and promote events to draw both locals and visitors; attract more businesses, hotels and retail; reconnect downtown via trails, sidewalks and the Lackawaxen River; make parking more convenient; and encourage downtown living.
Later, a 280-person survey of residents provided further insights: around 70 percent of respondents felt that enhanced pedestrian crosswalks and well-maintained sidewalks were priorities, 59 percent wanted more and improved places for outdoor dining, and 60 percent felt that the downtown area is not vibrant during the evenings, while 43 percent felt that Main Street businesses were not open during convenient hours and that Honesdale generally did not have the right mix of businesses.
The project’s design committee is made up of chairperson Patti Bursis of Quality Printing; Mary Beth Wood, executive director of WEDCO; Holly Prysnanski, executive director of the Chamber of the Northern Poconos; Jeff Hiller of Historic Honesdale; James Jennings and Jared Newbon from the Honesdale Borough Council; Judith Poltanis, borough secretary/manager; Brian Wilken, GHP board president; Mike Frigoletto of DeLuca Frigoletto Advertising; and Jim Gershey, a Honesdale resident.
“It’s all about partnerships and making sure we figure out where there’s shared interests, common ground on what’s best for Honesdale,” said Marc Evans, director of planning at Derck & Edson.
To address “priority one” of making Honesdale more welcoming, Evans said that the design committee is interested in creating new “gateways’’ and finding more diverse ways to utilize Honesdale’s streets.
“Between Ninth Street and Seventh Street, there could be this shared street plaza... there could be events 12 or 15 times a year where you could close the street temporarily, open it back up during normal weekdays,” Evans said. “It could be a multi-purpose plaza, event space halfway between Main Street and Central Park.”
Evans also said that the committee is considering turning Torrey Lane, a mostly gravel road near the town’s train tracks, into a more attractive, welcoming area for visitors getting off the train or going to the nearby visitors center.
The committee is also recommending that constructing two two-level parking garages near the railroad, with “better pedestrian connections” could address a range of priorities, including creating more accessible parking and allowing for the development of downtown apartments—something that has been stunted by a lack of off-street parking.
GHP’s executive director Lisa Burns said that the project is seeking as much of the Honesdale population as possible to provide input on how the committee should move forward with its plan.
Residents who didn’t make it to the open house have another opportunity to vote at the GHP’s annual meeting on Thursday, November 5. Scheduled for the Honesdale High School Auditorium at 6 p.m. on November 5, the evening’s speakers include Jeff Abella, CEO and co-founder of Moka Origins and Paul Macknosky, regional director of the Department of Community and Economic Development. Attendees are asked to RSVP to Lisa Burns at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 570/840-0267.
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