Work­shop looks at cre­at­ing cen­tral down­town

News-Herald (Perkasie, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Meghan Ross

Perkasie is at the brink of a his­toric moment, said Stephen Barth, Perkasie’s new eco­nomic devel­op­ment di­rec­tor, at a work­shop at bor­ough hall Wed­nes­day, Feb. 13.

“You have an op­por­tu­nity that is com­pa­ra­ble to what the found­ing fa­thers of this com­mu­nity had here,” Barth said at the eco­nomic devel­op­ment meet­ing. “You have the op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate what­ever you want.”

What he’s talk­ing about is the com­pre­hen­sive plan process for the vi­sion of Perkasie years from now — a 100year op­por­tu­nity, Barth said.

Based on res­i­dents’ sur­veys that had a 32 per­cent re­sponse rate, as well as busi­ness sur­veys that had a 15 per­cent re­sponse rate, the ma­jor­ity of Perkasie com­mu­nity mem­bers would like to see a more cen­tral down­town area in the bor­ough.

Res­i­dents also wanted to main­tain a small-town char­ac­ter and mixe­duse devel­op­ment, mean­ing a mix­ture of res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial units.

David Se­bas­tian of the Bucks County Plan­ning Com­mis­sion re­layed to the crowd of peo­ple that Perkasie res­i­dents tend to shop for things like gro­ceries, pre­scrip­tions, gaso­line and hard­ware within the bor­ough, but they leave the bor­ough for things like cloth­ing, sport­ing goods, movie the­aters and restau­rants. This leaves the op­por­tu­nity for the bor­ough to en­cour­age more growth within Perkasie, as well as urge res­i­dents to shop within town.

The plan­ning com­mis­sion pre­sented sev­eral prin­ci­ples, based on case stud­ies of suc­cess­ful ar­eas, to en­cour­age eco­nomic devel­op­ment within the bor­ough. Some of th­ese prin­ci­ples in­cluded pro­mot­ing “walk­a­bil­ity,” pro­vid­ing a mix of re­tail ten­ants that UHflHFW PDUNHW GHPDQGV, VXSSRUWLQJ ar­chi­tec­tural features that mir­ror lo­cal styles and lo­cat­ing park­ing to the side or rear of build­ings in or­der to pro­mote uni­for­mity on the streets.

Based on the case stud­ies, the com­mis­sion also learned that ide­ally there would be no more than 10 per­cent non-re­tail use in the down­town area and no more than 20 per­cent va­cancy.

In ad­di­tion, some ar­eas’ down­town cen­ters could not thrive be­cause the town cen­ters were too large and sprawl­ing, which may be the case with Perkasie. What works LV D PRUH UH­fiQHG WRwQ FHQWHU ERXQGary, Se­bas­tian said.

Barth also un­veiled many ideas for how to cre­ate more eco­nomic devel­op­ment in the bor­ough, in­clud-

ing Vup­port­ing the 0om and Pop VhopV within the bor­ough in­Vtead of a na­tional chain like Walmart, aV well aV en­cour­ag­ing young en­trepreneurs to set up shop in PerkaVie — a trend Barth haV al­ready Veen oc­cur­ring in the bor­ough.

“,f ev­ery­one buyV from each other — if you try to buy ev­ery­thing you pur­chaVe within PerkaVie, it’ll make a dif­fer­ence,” Barth Vaid.

The new di­rec­tor said he thought the bor­ough’V own elec­tric de­part­ment, the bor­ough author­ity, the BuckV County Plan­ning Com­miVVion and the mo­ti­vated com­mu­nity would all be at­trac­tionV for po­ten­tial in­veV­torV.

PreVerv­ing the aeV­thetic char­ac­ter of PerkaVie, with its Vic­to­rian ar­chi­tec­ture, waV alVo Vome­thing that Barth en­cour­aged for the bor­ough.

Barth

and

the

BuckV County Plan­ning Com­miVVion VuggeVted a “Play/ Shop/Dine/8nwind” theme within the bor­ough, with a Vmaller, more re­fined town cen­ter that would be eaVily walk­a­ble and po­ten­tially two to four blockV long, in­Vtead of Vix to eight. Park­ing, too, could be added where it would be more con­ve­nient, and there could be more VignV like “Wel­come to PerkaVie,” which would grab the in­tereVt of driverV or passersby.

Barth alVo VuggeVted nur­tur­ing greater part­nerVhipV with placeV like BuckV County Com­mu­nity Col­lege, SellerVville Bor­ough and com­mu­nity bankV. $t the parkV, Barth saw op­por­tu­ni­ties for bike rentalV, boat­ing and fly fiVhing ac­tiv­i­tieV.

0any reVi­dentV Vaid they liked the idea of a down­town cen­ter but were con­cerned about how it would be ac­com­pliVhed and whether the devel­op­ment would kick peo­ple out of their homeV or cre­ate a prob­lem with park­ing.

Barth main­tained that the eco­nomic devel­op­ment planV would not cre­ate ur­ban Vprawl and would in­Vtead re­fine or tighten what iV al­ready the town cen­ter district.

“,t’V not ex­pand­ing it. ,t’V ac­tu­ally Vhrink­ing it,” Barth said.

-ill Strick­land, owner of Frox BoutiTue in PerkaVie, showed in­ter­est and sup­port of the down­town planV, Vay­ing many of her cuV­tomerV ex­preVVed that they would like to have an­other op­tion in town for VhoeV, for ex­am­ple, and they don’t want to go to a chain like Walmart.

“We need thiV. , need thiV,” Strick­land Vaid.

Since the meet­ing, PerkaVie 2ld Towne $VVo­ci­a­tion poVted Vome VketcheV of poVVi­ble devel­op­ment in town to get a re­ac­tion from reVi­dentV on itV Face­book page. 2ne pic­ture was an ar­chi­tect’V Vketch for de­vel­op­ing the area where the farmerV mar­ket iV cur­rently held on Sev­enth and 0ar­ket streets. The Vketch had re­ceived gen­er­ally poVi­tive c o mments and more than 50 “likeV” aV of 0on­day af­ter­noon.

2ne com­menter wrote, “, love the idea, and , like the deVign of the build­ing, eVpe­cially the tur­ret — it really helpV to fit in with the town.”

-oe Ferry, vice preVi­dent of PerkaVie 2lde Towne $VVo­ci­a­tion, Vaid the page haV Veen more ac­tiv­ity in the laVt cou­ple weekV than they’ve had in the laVt three yearV com­bined.

“,t’V great that peo­ple feel paVVion­ate about the town, and it val­i­dateV our be­lief that now iV the time for an eco­nomic de­velop- ment pro­gram,” Ferry wrote in an email. “, don’t look at com­mentV aV poVi­tive or neg­a­tive. Peo­ple have perVonal feel­ingV that they are ex­preVVing. That’V a good thing. We need a full diVcuVVion be­fore Vome­thing like thiV hap­penV.”

Luce Ar­chi­tects of Hat­boro de­signed this sketch for the empty lot at Sev­enth and Mar­ket streets where the farm­ers mar­ket re­sides.

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