Em­maus sees wider vi­sion in 10-year plan

The Morning Call - - LOCAL NEWS - By Hannah McMul­lan

Em­maus can set the tone for the Le­high Val­ley’s bor­oughs over the next 10 years.

That was the message Michael Gib­son, the leader of the Plan­ning Com­mis­sion’s new Vi­sion­ing Com­mit­tee, gave bor­ough lead­er­ship in a spe­cial pre­sen­ta­tion this week. He points to the bor­ough’s as­sets — such as a di­verse econ­omy and lead­er­ship that is open to de­vel­op­ment — as key.

“We are in a po­si­tion to be a leader amongst bor­oughs to de­fine what the fu­ture of bor­oughs should look like,” Gib­son said.

Gib­son gave the coun­cil a “Christ­mas wish list” to work through to ben­e­fit both short­term and long-term res­i­dents.

Some of these goals in­cluded work­ing on hous­ing, trans­porta­tion and sewage.

The com­mit­tee’s ini­tial fo­cus is at­tract­ing more de­vel­op­ers to the area. Gib­son said de­vel­op­ers are no longer seek­ing to work in the Le­high Val­ley’s cities, but are mov­ing to­wards the area’s cen­tral bor­oughs.

He said these de­vel­op­ers would find op­por­tu­ni­ties in a com­mu­nity that em­braces growth by reusing va­cant in­dus­trial prop­er­ties. The com­mit­tee also wants the bor­ough to re­use old build­ings in highly pop­u­lated ar­eas, such as on Main Street.

The com­mit­tee has ten­ta­tive sketches of what these de­vel­op­ments would look like over the next 10 years.

A lot of re­search has gone into the project, in­clud­ing traf­fic stud­ies and en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts, Gib­son said.

Bor­ough Man­ager Shane Pepe promised to use the con­cep­tual draw­ings to start piec­ing to­gether a bud­get for the project.

“To me, this vi­sion is very im­por­tant,” he said.

“What they have done with work­ing with the Plan­ning Com­mis­sion and try­ing to cre­ate a real di­rec­tion for the com­mu­nity is big. Coun­cil re­ally ap­pre­ci­ates it.”

The com­mit­tee will also of­fer more op­por­tu­ni­ties to en­gage with the com­mu­nity, and hold pub­lic fo­rums to an­swer ques­tions from the com­mu­nity.

Gib­son plans to of­fi­cially sub­mit the project’s plans to Bor­ough Coun­cil by the be­gin­ning of next year.

Hannah McMul­lan is a free­lance writer for The Morn­ing Call.

HARRY FISHER/THE MORN­ING CALL

Em­maus has key as­sets, says a Vi­sion­ing Com­mit­tee leader.

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