The good and the bad

Sur­vey re­sults re­veal peo­ple’s thoughts on Pottsville’s strengths, weak­nesses

The Republican Herald - - FRONT PAGE - BY AMY MARCHIANO STAFF WRITER

POTTSVILLE — The re­sults of a city sur­vey were re­vealed Tues­day at a pub­lic meet­ing at Hu­mane Fire Com­pany.

Con­ducted ear­lier this year, the sur­vey had 268 re­sponses — about 60 per­cent of which were from peo­ple who lived in Pottsville. The sur­vey is one of the first phases of a joint ef­fort be­tween the Pottsville Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion, Pottsville Area De­vel­op­ment Corp. and the City of Pottsville for a com­mu­nity-based vi­sion, mar­ket anal­y­sis and strate­gic plan for the city.

“Down­town is not as strong as it should be, but we see a lot of po­ten­tial for down­town,” Steven Nel­son, East­wick So­lu­tions, Doyle­sown, said.

East­wick So­lu­tions part­nered with Bergmann As­so­ciates, Con­shohocken, for the sur­vey, which looked at strengths, weak­nesses, op­por­tu­ni­ties

and threats in the down­town district. More than 100 peo­ple at­tended Tues­day’s meet­ing to see the re­sults.

The high­est num­ber of votes in the strengths cat­e­gory, 75, went to the his­tory and the historical as­pects of down­town Pottsville. Yuengling was sec­ond with a score of 74, fol­lowed by restau­rants at 65, build­ings at 61, lo­ca­tion at 59 and rent at 55. Weak­nesses in­cluded park­ing with 124 votes, loi­ter­ing at 101, empty build­ings/ store fronts at 76, lack of clean­li­ness at 61, blight at 41 and drugs at 39.

“Park­ing is clearly an is­sue. We heard that,” Nel­son said.

How­ever, Pat­tie E.B. Gut­ten­plan, project plan­ner with Bergmann, showed a col­or­coded Pow­er­point dis­play with ar­eas to park in Pottsville.

“There is a lot of park­ing in down­town,” she said.

Gut­ten­plan said per­haps there is not enough in­for­ma­tion out there about where to park.

“I don’t have any num­bers at­tached to that,” she said about how much park­ing is pri­vate ver­sus pub­lic.

In the sur­vey’s op­por­tu­ni­ties sec­tion, 62 votes were cast for build­ing stock, and ex­ist­ing small busi­nesses and restau­rants had 48 votes. They were fol­lowed by Yuengling at 27, tourism/vis­i­tor/des­ti­na­tion at 15, movie theater at 13 and his­tory at 8.

Drugs and crime are seen as the big­gest threats by re­spon­dents with a score of 59, fol­lowed by low in­come poverty at 44, park­ing at 33, blight at 15, land­lords not main­tain­ing prop­er­ties at 13 and high taxes also at 13.

Nel­son said the threats that Pottsville faces are real.

“I don’t think you see any sur­prises in that col­umn,” Nel­son said.

How­ever, the out­look is not as bleak as it ap­pears.

“Pottsville is one of the safest ci­ties of its size in PA,” Nel­son said.

An anal­y­sis of the down­town area found sev­eral things “not-so-good,” in­clud­ing too many va­can­cies and of­fices on the ground floor; ap­pear­ance/per­cep­tion (but not re­al­ity); com­mu­ni­ca­tion; co­or­di­na­tion and lead­er­ship; and park­ing.

Sev­eral po­ten­tial paths to a re­vi­tal­ized Pottsville in­cluded tourism, liv­ing down­town, arts and en­ter­tain­ment, health care sec­tor and lever­ag­ing lo­cals.

Peo­ple in at­ten­dance were asked to put red stick­ers on the ar­eas they liked the most. Tourism had the most stick­ers with 70, fol­lowed by arts and en­ter­tain­ment with 68, liv­ing down­town with 55, lever­ag­ing lo­cals with 21 and health care with 14.

A pub­lic meet­ing is planned for early Jan­uary as part of the joint ef­fort. De­tails are not yet fi­nal­ized.

Savas Lo­go­the­tides, vice pres­i­dent of Pottsville Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion and in­terim di­rec­tor of the Pottsville Area De­vel­op­ment Corp., said there will be more meet­ings.

JAC­QUE­LinE dOrMEr / StAff PhOtOgrAPhEr

Al­fredo Mer­curi, Pottsville, cen­ter, and Al­bino Mer­curi, co-owner of Juli­ette Bri­dals by Ivana, Pottsville, look over the re­sults of a city sur­vey

Tues­day at Hu­mane Fire Com­pany, Pottsville.

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