Facts About Why the State Should Invest in Main Street Programs

On April 8, I attended my first “legislation day” in Harrisburg and it was a very worthwhile experience to see how legislators are bombarded with various interest groups and very difficult decisions.  I was there to encourage legislators to increase the Keystone Communities Program line item in the DCED budget to $15 million.

The Pennsylvania Downtown Center, (PDC), works for the PA Department of Community and Economic Development to provide administrative oversight of the Main Street and Elm Street Community programs.  The Keystone Communities Program is the funding source for the Main Street, Elm Street, Enterprise Zone and Accessible Housing Programs.  On Legislative Day, Main Street and Elm Street Managers met with their legislators and provided important information to request a partial reinstatement of funding that had been cut in the previous administration.  Following are important facts that PDC published about the return on investment that Main Street and Elm Street Programs provide to the local and state economies.

“In 2009, these programs had $56 million available, or roughly $5.00 for each person in the Commonwealth.  Today, before supplemental appropriations, the Keystone Communities Program has about $6.5 million, or roughly $ .54 for each person in the Commonwealth – a decrease of almost 90%.

Area Development Magazine, a major national publication for site selection firms, lists “quality of life” as the fourth most important factor that corporations, developers and site selection consultants are looking for when making investment decisions.  This places “qualify of life” before factors such as tax exemptions, corporate tax rates, low union profiles and training incentives.  The second most important factor in the same survey is the availability of skilled talent, which is directly related to quality of life.

The Keystone Communities Program is the Commonwealth’s primary quality of life program.  Pennsylvania is not investing sufficient funds in enhancing the quality of life in Pennsylvania communities, especially small town and rural communities, to make them competitive in a 21st Century knowledge-based economy.  In the 2018-2019 Commonwealth fiscal year, the demand for funds from the Keystone Communities Program is $20.2 million from 103 applications, meaning requests exceed funds by almost $14 million.

A study conducted by Stover and Associates for the National Main Street Center, indicated that in 2016, the direct return to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania  for each dollar invested in Main Street community initiatives resulted in a return of $7.87 back to Commonwealth coffers.  ($1 to $7.87)

Since 1980 when PDC began collecting data, there has been over $1.43 BILLION invested in Main Street Community improvement projects.

Revenue options that could fund an increase in the Keystone Communities Program line item are:

·         New gambling/gaming (sports betting) revenue or medical marijuana revenue

·         A dedicated portion of the hotel tax revenue

·         A slight, dedicated increase in the cigarette tax – major litter generator in downtowns”

Gettysburg’s Main Street program has leveraged private, county, state and federal funding to achieve more than $55 million of improvements that otherwise could not have been achieved.  The revitalization of Steinwehr Avenue and many of the refurbished historic buildings in town are examples.  The Baltimore Street Revitalization project will depend on state financial support.

Please share these facts and your support with your state legislator because investing in Main Street programs maximizes state funds in multiple ways to support our local, regional and state communities.

Keystone Community Main Street Designation --What does that mean for the community?

On December 3, Main Street Gettysburg, (MSG) received a letter from Richard Vilello, Deputy Secretary of the Office for Community Affairs and Development that stated “On behalf of Governor Wolf, I am pleased to inform Main Street Gettysburg, Inc., that your application for designation as a Keystone Main Street has been approved……….This designation provides the added benefit of priority consideration under several Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) programs including the Keystone Communities Program.  The designation also qualifies (your designated area) as a “distressed area” under the Neighbor Assistance Program (NAP).”

So what does this mean?  MSG was able to illustrate to the state agency, DCED, that MSG’s designated area in the Borough and the work that MSG is doing meets exceptional expectations and criteria to be state designated. There are currently only 30 designated Main Streets in the state, out of approximately 100 Main Street organizations. As a designated Keystone Main Street Program, MSG will get higher priority status for various funding applications it submits to DCED.  This includes planning funds, soft cost implementation grants, façade renovation grants, and public space improvement grants.   All of these grant types will be required for MSG’s Ten -Year Economic Plan, and in particular, the Baltimore Street Economic Revitalization Plan. Main Street Gettysburg will also be eligible for free technical assistance from the Pennsylvania Downtown Center over the next 5 years.

The eligibility for the Pennsylvania Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP) is another opportunity for MSG to seek and attract more investment into downtown Gettysburg.  The NAP program is administered by DCED and is intended to foster collaboration among business firms, neighborhood organizations, local government entities and residents to encourage high-impact, long-term investment through tax credits.  The tax credit value is business firms that contribute to neighborhood organizations to improve distressed communities receive a 75% tax credit.  There is no minimum dollar commitment or donation.  Now that the Main Street designated area has been approved, we are hoping to qualify the Baltimore Street project for this program. 

DCED offers communities the opportunity to designate areas of a municipality or region for targeted investment and development for a period of five years. Designation includes the identification of specific needs for investment and/or development and the design and/or implementation of a strategy to address those needs.   To receive the designation, MSG completed an application process that was very demanding. For example, MSG had to demonstrate that the Gettysburg area is in need of revitalization, how the community assets contribute to the region, create a formal 5-year strategy that emphasizes opportunities for business growth, downtown revitalization and effective ways the local government intends to assist in improving the downtown.  MSG had to demonstrate financial sustainability of the organization and conduct an “Image Development Report” based on results of a survey that MSG was instructed to conduct.  The process of the application was labor-intensive, however, MSG met the challenge.

Going forward, there are several conditions for MSG to continue to qualify for the designation.  For example, mandatory managers meetings, training, detailed quarterly reporting and annual DCED assessments.

MSG is very proud of this designation because it automatically demonstrates “best practices” achievement in the economic development world.  MSG is confident that it will help us reach that $11 million goal for Baltimore Street more expediently.

The Bar is Set for 2019 Gettysburg Christmas Festival

The feedback is in from every perspective, (attendees, hotels, community, businesses, sponsors and organizations) and the overwhelming majority felt that the 2018 A Gettysburg Christmas Festival (AGCF) exceeded expectations in attendance, sales and fun.  The Main Street Gettysburg (MSG) team used many sources to gather this feedback including:  requesting comments from Facebook followers, talking to festival sponsors, businesses and community residents.  An MSG Community Economic Development Advisory Committee meeting garnished feedback from volunteers, residents, businesses and some festival planning individuals.  The input began the day of the festival with MSG staff and volunteers going into shops and talking to owners.  Unsolicited comments were sent to MSG after the festival with 4 common themes. 1) I have never seen so many people in downtown. 2) Everyone was happy and smiling. 3) I had record sales with many sharing that sales were up 3, 4 or 5 times compared to previous years in December.  Finally, the most important to me personally, was the sentiment of The community united with pride and put on their Sunday best.

More importantly, beyond the compliments, the MSG team worked hard to solicit and understand how to make the festival better for 2019. While the 2018 AGCF Facebook followers totaled more than 100,000 before the festival, no one was prepared for the huge crowds.   Staffing, products, traffic management, parking and just plain space were all at a premium.  Some shops had lines outside and restaurants had 2 hour waits.

 The bar for the 2019 festival was set extremely high in 2018 and will be difficult to reach. Planning is already underway.  The 2019 AGCF will span 3 days, beginning on Friday evening, December 6 and ending on the afternoon of Sunday the eighth.  It will require our community to unite, invest their time, participation, and funds to achieve the 2019 expectations. 

Effective communication is the heart of any successful initiative.  Getting the right information to the right person at the right time is a daily challenge.  Everyone is very busy and seeks information from various sources.  MSG will have a communications team to help get information out in various ways.  A festival preparation public meeting will be held to prepare the town within a month of the event.

Likewise, MSG is looking for volunteers for planning, preparation, day-of and post event activities.  MSG is currently recruiting volunteers to participate on event planning teams with event planning, marketing, communications, signage, programming and design skills. 

We are also asking the businesses, especially those who fared well in 2018, to invest a bit and help with the cost of the festival.  Please set aside a contribution in your 2019 budget and you will be contacted to ask for your support.   What most people do not realize, when you include the value of in-kind services, as well as the hard costs, the total cost to put on the 2018 festival was approximately $40,000.  Based on the sales feedback that MSG received from the hotels, businesses, and non-profit activities, the economic boost in Adams County was an exceptional return on vestment.

Let’s make the 2019 event exceed the extraordinary bar that was set in 2018.  Please contact MSG at info@mainstreetgettysburg.org to offer your skills, time and/or financial support for the 2019 AGCF.

Walking the Talk of “Partnerships”

There is a vibrancy and energy about Gettysburg that’s growing and contagious as our community works together as a strong team.  In 2018, Borough Staff, Council, and Main Street Gettysburg (MSG) demonstrated how this exceptional teamwork brought additional funds, efficiency, economic health, beautification improvements, safety, and more to our community.

To date, the Baltimore Street Revitalization Project (BSRP) has raised $81,000 of non-governmental funds towards the pilot and planning for an $11 million 5 to 10-year project that will improve the safety, beauty and livability of our main corridor in town.  Charles Gable, Borough Manager, Becky LaBarre, Planning Director and Chad Clabaugh, Borough Engineer have been instrumental in creating the Master Plan.  The Borough Council unanimously approved the Master Plan in February 2018. The Borough staff have been strong advocates for this project at various state and municipal meetings that helps with future funding. In 2019, the Borough will be hosting the Pennsylvania Municipal League’s Annual Conference and jointly, the Borough and MSG will showcase the BSRP.  Key state legislators will spend several days in downtown Gettysburg to learn more about “Walkable Communities,” the heart and soul of the BSRP.

In December, the Borough installed 8 new bike racks, a “sub-project” of the BSRP.   Tom Jolin of Healthy Adams Bicycle Pedestrian Inc. (HABPI), spearheaded this project, with the HABPI team ensuring bike safety and convenience, and the Baltimore Street Executive Committee ensuring the bike racks met their vision of the corridor.  The bike plaques were designed by well-known local artist Wendy Allen, showcasing Abraham Lincoln and the words “all are created equal.”  Thanks to the Borough’s Becky LaBarre who oversaw the Borough’s planning requirements and Rob Harbaugh’s facilities team, 8 new bike racks were installed quickly and easily.  Sponsors of the bike racks included the Regimental Quartermaster, Gettysburg Foundation’s Rupp House, McDonald’s, Blue & Gray, Adams County Library and the Gettysburg Borough office.    With the collaboration and working relationship of the Borough, HABPI, Baltimore Street residents and businesses and MSG, this project is well on its way to making our community a better place to live, work and play.

As the Borough’s Community Advocate, MSG has a daily responsibility to share what they hear from the community and assist on problem solving with Borough Staff.  MSG hosts two Community Advisory Committee meetings a year for the business community and keeps a dialogue alive with the Borough Manager and department heads.  During Borough staff meetings, MSG shares thoughts on community priorities based upon their many interactions with the community.

The first Gettysburg Christmas Festival, chaired by MSG Director Roger Lund, also exemplifies the importance of this partnership.  Businesses, non-profits, community members, sponsors, hotels and visitors have indicated that the festival was a success and an economic boost to the county.  This success could not have happened without the teamwork between the Borough and MSG.   Charles Gable was on the Festival Steering Committee and recognized when the Facebook activity grew to more than 100,000, that the festival was turning into a community-wide opportunity that the Borough needed to support, and that they did. 

The growing relationship between the Borough and MSG has produced undeniable results in 2018.  You cannot quantify the value-added that working as a team offers.  The intangible benefits for our community are priceless.

The Gettysburg Community “Daring Greatly”

As President of Main Street Gettysburg (MSG), I often say, MSG is the community.  It sounds so trite.  The overwhelming success of A Gettysburg Christmas Festival (AGCF) speaks specifically to this point.

Post festival, MSG has gathered a whole host of feedback from guests, hotels, businesses, community members, volunteers and Borough staff members.  There are several improvements to be made, however, consistently we hear that the festival was a fun day for the community and a huge economic success for everyone.

On the night of the festival, I walked into Lord Nelson’s and George Lower said, “I have never seen so many people in downtown Gettysburg in the 30 years that I have been here. Well Deb, what was done differently?”   

As I reflected, I realized the true recipe for the success was the overwhelming commitment of so many who “dared greatly” as Theodore Roosevelt put it, to have the courage to invest and make this festival happen. Many had talked about a Christmas festival over the years, but no one took the leap of faith to take action.

In 2015, the Steinwehr Avenue BID created the Victorian Christmas on Steinwehr with an annual budget of $5,000 that has continued to be invested to expand the event.

MSG realized a town-wide event would be more attractive to both the town and attendees so in 2017, MSG invited non-profits to form A Christmas Committee.  They were Olde Getty Place, Stephanie McIllwee, GARMA, Kathy Gilbert, and the Gettysburg Borough, Becky LaBarre.  This group focused on including and promoting existing non-profit Christmas events as a Gettysburg Christmas experience.

The downtown merchants inquired about joining the Christmas initiatives, so Deb Adamik approached Roger Lund, the owner of The Christmas Haus, about taking the lead for the downtown merchants.  Agreeing to start small, he immediately connected with the shop owners.   Through these discussions, Roger created the name A Gettysburg Christmas Festival, and found block leaders to implement themes in their area.  Roger created the “buzz” and enthusiasm among the merchant community.  His hard work and timing was key to the festival’s success.  Given we had -0- dollars for a budget, the merchants festive participation and activities became the festival.

Seeking donors was a priority, so the MSG Board of Directors agreed that MSG would be the fiduciary agent and official host of this event. 

In July, Annie Frazee, VP of MSG, created a Facebook event and it went viral.  No one was prepared or ready for this level of response.   Between July and December 1, 2018 Annie Frazee hosted, reviewed and managed 110,000 Facebook event followers.

When MSG called the hotels in August, it was confirmed that people were not just talking about the festival, they were scheduling rooms during a tourism season that typically is slow in our area. 

AGCF Committee knew they had to take planning to a higher level.  The MSG Executive Committee approved a new MSG AGCF Steering Committee, chaired by the newly appointed MSG Director, Roger Lund.  In addition to Roger, Charles Gable, Borough Manager, joined to plan for operations, security, parking and infrastructure in the Borough.  Of course, the staff of MSG rounded out the team.

As the numbers of interested people grew, the event planning responsibilities had to be shared.  Roger Lund not only provided enthusiasm and direction, he was hands-on with program planning, signage planning and execution, event set-up, PR/Media in collaboration with Destination Gettysburg, budget development and oversight, sponsorship planning, and leadership role for the merchants.  Roger was a very critical leader of the team.

Charles Gable, realized that the festival had now grown to community-wide and needed the borough’s help and sponsorship.  More than 18 Borough staff members participated in setting up and tearing down signs, stages, barricades, overseeing parking and banners. Included were the police in planning and covering the event.

The MSG staff (Annie and Deb) went to work finding sponsors, event planning, developing communications with visitors through Facebook management, hotels and community partners through emails, setting up the necessary accounting, recruiting and overseeing volunteers, arranging portapots, arranging free hotel shuttle, and tapping into the many MSG partnerships such as HACC, Gettysburg Tours and Gettysburg College for in-kind services.

AGCF Committee expanded with 6 block captains responsible for creating area themes and experiences and so many businesses participating and having fun.  Partner organizations held wonderful events like Breakfast with Santa, Gingerbread Competition and many more.

There were 20 financial sponsors and in-kind contributions for free carriages, portapots, free shuttles and signage. (agettysburgchristmasfestival.com)

In-kind contributions included Max Felty who sponsored the shuttle from HACC and Shannon Harvey and staff at HACC who allowed for MSG to use the lot and charge for parking.  Chris Berger was the official host on the hotel shuttle, Rabbit Transit provided signs and shuttle service, Destination Gettysburg provided assistance with designing the logo and brochures, as well as paid for the event shuttle.  The Majestic Theater had a free movie showing.

There were more than 55 volunteers that set up, provided information services, parking and clean up, including the From the Ground Up Team, an MSG volunteer group led by Susan Naugle and Nancy & Kurt Kramer.

I’m confident that I missed many.  So I send a blanket thank you to all of the community, merchants, residents, sponsors and volunteers.

So to answer George Lower’s question?  What was different?  Many things, but most importantly the readiness and willingness for our community to work as one and “dare greatly.”

As Marty Mummert, a sign shop owner in town, said, “I saw faces with wonder and happiness……It was a whole new proud moment for Gettysburg and it shined.”

Success Is Being Prepared For Unexpected Opportunities

On September 18th, Main Street Gettysburg (MSG) hosted a discussion with 18 community and business people to discuss the “state of the economy” in 2018.  Perspectives were varied from “business is booming” to “business is slower than last year.”  The views about why were diverse.  Common themes included considering new parking scenarios such as increasing 2-hour parking, employee permitting, and better long-term signage. 

The most common theme centered around creating memorable experiences for customers.  Some business owners talked about in the past, sales occurred by standing behind the register while people browse and purchased your product.  Things have changed.  It’s now about creating interactive experiences with customers.  This is not only creating an environment that attracts people to town, but also using your ingenuity to make your business unique to bring patrons through your door.  Targeting the 5 senses of a customer helps envelop the customer into the atmosphere of your store.  The smell, sound, view, feel and if possible, taste, of products make people want to stay and shop.

On December 1, downtown Gettysburg has become the place to be with thousands of Facebook followers planning on attending A Gettysburg Christmas Festival event..  There is an old saying that “Success is being prepared for unexpected opportunities” and December 1 will be that unexpected opportunity for our community.  Hotels are filling and inquiries about parking, festival activities, etc. indicate people are coming.

How can we prepare for this opportunity of excited festival attendees? 

1)      Commitment. The festival hours are December 1 from 10:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m.  People are traveling to come to this event and want to have things to do to make their trip worthwhile.  We ask everyone to have their businesses open the hours of the event.   We know people will be in town to provide you the opportunity to get them through your doors.

2)      Fun.  Gettysburg is special in and of itself.  The festival is a community-wide event and if the community is engaged and having fun, it will be a memorable experience for everyone.  With our community spirit and cheer, we can all have a great time. 

3)      Stay informed. To keep up-to-date on the event, please go to the website.  Since this is a grassroots initiative, there are a lot of moving parts.  There are 6 themed areas with block captains coordinating the activities.  As new ideas arise, they are added to the website.  A parking strategy is underway thanks to HACC and Gettysburg Battlefield Bus Tours.   As things are finalized, we will add information like parking to the website.  We need everyone informed to ensure we can answer questions for the attendees.

4)      Volunteers/Sponsorships.  Roger Lund, owner of The Christmas Haus, is leading this event, and notes that volunteers and sponsorships are necessary for this Festival to work.  Anyone interested in volunteering please contact Main Street Gettysburg  at 717-337-3491 or info@mainstreetgettysburg.org. We are also looking for sponsors for signs, port-a-pots and other amenities to make the festival happen.

For years, people have talked about resurrecting a town-wide Christmas event such as the Yuletide Festival that occurred in the 80’s and 90’s.  To do this has required the willingness of a united team to pull the community together.  Here is the opportunity to make this festival a tradition.  We need your help.  Thank you.

Build it and they are coming: A Gettysburg Christmas Festival

The Main Street Gettysburg (MSG) Board would like to welcome Roger Lund, business owner of The Christmas Haus on Baltimore Street and in New Oxford, onto the Main Street Gettysburg Board. Roger’s enthusiasm and leadership skills have already made a very positive impact on our community. Roger has taken the lead in developing a community-wide Christmas event. Please see Roger’s official announcement of what is happening Dec 1.

A Gettysburg Christmas Festival

An exciting new event is coming to Gettysburg on Dec. 1 of this year, A Gettysburg Christmas Festival.

The festival is a blend of traditional activities in the borough and new ideas to help support and build a sense of community for local residents and grow the tourism industry at a time of the year when tourists are not normally flocking to Gettysburg.

The idea for the festival started with the successful Victorian Christmas event on Steinwehr Avenue. Our team took this concept and expanded on it as there will now be six regions of fun and activities for the entire family.

Those regions and themes are:

* South Baltimore Street, A Civil War Christmas

* North Baltimore Street, Our Christmas Heritage (International)

* York Street, A Colonial Christmas

* Chambersburg Street, Roaring 20s

* Carlisle Street with Christmas in Film, Theater and the Arts

These five regions will join Steinwehr’s Victorian Christmas to round out A Gettysburg Christmas Festival.

Each of the regions will have their own themed activities and the merchants in those regions will sponsor their own decorations, costumes and entertainment.

Traditional activities are being incorporated in this event such as Breakfast With Santa hosted by the Gettysburg Hotel to benefit the United Way. The Adams County Arts Council is moving its Gingerbread Celebration to the Grant Building with the generous support of Open Minds. Another tradition that is incorporated in the festival is the Christmas Parade sponsored by the Gettysburg Eagles and coordinated through the Gettysburg Times at 1 p.m.

Carolers are scheduled to roam various streets in the shopping district and other entertainment is also scheduled. “It’s a Wonderful Life” will be offered free at the Majestic Theater after the parade. Horse drawn carriages, sponsored by PNC Bank, will take visitors from Steinwehr to the Majestic Theater. In addition, Destination Gettysburg is sponsoring a shuttle bus to ferry people back and forth between Steinwehr and Carlisle Street the entire day (10 a.m. - 9 p.m.).

The organizing committee is looking for people to help volunteer that day in many different capacities. You may volunteer by contacting Annie Frazee Letendre at Main Street Gettysburg (info@mainstreetgettysburg.org).

In addition we will be looking for sponsors for everything from signage to portable toilets. If you are able to help financially, contact Roger Lund (rogerlund17350@gmail.com). Checks should be made payable to Main Street Gettysburg (59 E. High Street Gettysburg, PA 17325) and in the memo line, please write A Gettysburg Christmas Festival.

In less than one month, more than 89,000 people have shown interest in the event on our Facebook page. In addition, 4,600 people sent online invitations to friends to come to the event. Many hotels and B&Bs are already sold out.

More information can be obtained via the festival’s website at www.AGettysburgChristmasFestival.com. Come join us!

Roger Lund is the chair of A Gettysburg Christmas Festival.

Invitation to Discuss Gettysburg’s Current Business Environment

As the Gettysburg Borough’s economic development arm, one of Main Street Gettysburg’s roles is to stay connected to the community, especially the business community.  On September 18th, from 9:00 until 11:00, Main Street Gettysburg will be hosting a conversation with downtown business representatives to discuss the current business environment in our area.  We invite business owners to attend and ask that you contact Main Street Gettysburg (717-337-3491 or info@mainstreetgettysburg.org)  to let us know if you plan to attend.  We are meeting at the Gettysburg Heritage Center, 297 Steinwehr Ave. 

The purpose of this gathering of Main Street Community Advisory Committee on September 18 is to listen to the “feet on the ground” downtown business owners and better understand the current local business environment.  If there are issues that negatively impact the business community, we want to define exactly what these issues are, exchange ideas and learn from other businesses about what is working and what is not. The discussion will include brainstorming new ideas and looking for ways to turn ideas into action.  Possibly by encouraging businesses to share their own experiences and general trends, we can find ways to make improvements that will benefit the broader economy in town.

Another way that MSG stays connected to our community is by talking directly with individual business owners as Annie Frazee, MSG’s Business Liaison and I visit with the businesses.  In some cases businesses come to us with updates. This year has been an interesting year because there have been a variety of perspectives.  Some businesses are doing better than last year.  Some are not. There are many opinions about what the current state of our local economy is and why it is.   However, Annie and I are beginning to notice more consistent feedback from various types of businesses such as the restaurants, history related industry, hotels and a variety of shops that business is declining from year to year.  This is why MSG decided to host the Community Advisory meeting.  Hopefully, business owners will take a few minutes to attend so MSG and Borough staff can carefully listen and interact with the community that lives and works in our local day to day business environment. From there we will be better informed to take the right action for future improvements.

MSG’s direction and priorities are guided by the MSG Ten-year Economic Development Plan. This plan was created and approved by various community stakeholders in 2014.  In August the MSG Board will be reviewing and updating this long-term plan.  The Community Advisory Committee meeting will also be an opportunity for MSG to share the most current version of the MSG Ten-year Economic Development Plan and seek input from the businesses.  The Gettysburg community’s needs are constantly changing, and it is imperative that MSG stays current with these changes. 

We hope you will mark your calendar for Tuesday, September 18 from 9:00 until 11:00 at the Heritage Center, Steinwehr Avenue.  If you could contact either Annie Frazee or myself, Deb, at 717-337-3491 or info@mainstreetgettysburg.org.  It would be greatly appreciated.

Sister Organizations Working Together for the Community

The question of “What is the difference between Main Street Gettysburg and Olde Getty Place (an Elm Street Program) is asked often.  The answer includes locations and targeted focus – residential and commercial.

The Pennsylvania Downtown Center (PDC), the Pennsylvania State’s administrator for both Main Street and Elm Street Programs, provides the following explanation of Elm Street Programs on their website:

“Inspired by the widespread, positive impact that the Pennsylvania Main Street program has had in revitalizing the commonwealth's downtowns and urban corridors, in 2004 Representative Robert Freeman's proposed the Elm Street Program, a similar, integrated approach to revitalization of Pennsylvania's older residential areas bordering Main Streets and central business districts.”  His reason was…“Too many of the nation’s urban neighborhoods have fallen into disrepair.  Disinvestment, outmigration and aftershocks of urban renewal have left many of these history-rich communities battling for survival.  In these “core communities,” Pennsylvania has a major untapped asset, and with help from an Elm Street program, these historic, authentic and unique neighborhoods can once again thrive, supporting the downtowns and commercial districts that they surround.”

The Olde Getty Place Elm Street area of Gettysburg, one of the most historic areas in Gettysburg, has been successful at improving their community and continues to work towards this opportunity.   

The MSG and Olde Getty Place districts, are adjacent to each other and it is important that they work together for the betterment of the broader community.   Main Street Gettysburg’s mission is similar; “To work with community partners for the preservation, revitalization and improvement of the Historic District of Gettysburg.  MSG preserves the towns’ historic assets and stimulates economic growth.”  The difference is that Main Street programs focus more on the commercial downtown areas versus Elm Street’s residential, however both organizations seek to improve the livability of the community. 

For example, currently, MSG is working on an $11 million project, the Baltimore Street Economic Development Historic Pathway Revitalization Project, that directly connects with the lateral streets of Olde Getty Place. The plan includes slowing traffic, wider and safer sidewalks and improved school crossings that directly impacts the residents of Olde Getty Place.  In addition, supporting Olde Getty Place’s future initiatives to revitalize Breckenridge Street is also in MSG’s Ten Year Economic Revitalization Plan.  This helps to strengthen any revitalization grant requests that either MSG or Olde Getty Place seek.

When looking at the goals for the Olde Getty Place neighborhood:  increasing community pride and sense of place, creating a positive image of the neighborhood, improving police-resident relationships, educating the public about the historic importance of the neighborhood, and allowing the residents to revitalize the physical aspects of the neighborhood through façade and sidewalk improvements, you can see common community values shared by the sister organizations  and how important it is for the two small organizations to work together.

On Tuesday evening, August 7, from 5:00 until 8:00, MSG will have a table at Olde Getty Place’s National Night Out community event on Breckenridge Street.  Everyone is invited to come and have fun with the family.  Help us all make Gettysburg the best place to live, work and play.

How do you raise $12 Million?

Yes, I said $12 million.  That is the estimated cost to implement the Baltimore Street Historic Pathway and Revitalization Master Plan that was unanimously approved by Borough Council in February.   

The Master Plan was developed by more than 80 residents, property owners, business owners, and stakeholders in the community.  The objective is to expand our economy by attracting more residents, businesses, investors and visitors to downtown. 

Safety and lighting united the Baltimore Street community as they created a Master Plan to make the Baltimore Street corridor more pedestrian-friendly.  This includes wider sidewalks, safer crosswalks, additional lighting, bike amenities and a “collective strategic parking” approach.  Public amenities will address improved infrastructure, storm water management, and ADA compliance.  Visually, adding flower baskets, heritage lights, and highlighting the history of Baltimore Street with sculptures and a pathway lined with the Gettysburg Address is planned.  The most important pedestrian amenities will be public bathrooms and multi-modal means of traveling.  New bike racks have already been designed and Tom Jolin, spearheading this initiative, has already received several requests from property owners to purchase the $300 racks.

There are often assumptions that Main Street Gettysburg (MSG) receives money from the federal or state government because of their association with Main Street America or the Pennsylvania Downtown Center program.  This is not the case.  Consequently, a lot of time is spent communicating the needs of the community, the importance of the projects planned and frankly, the valuable leadership role that MSG plays in developing the master plans and seeking funding.

For example, on May 18th, MSG hosted a meeting that gathered representatives from the Federal Highway Administration, National Park Service, PA Department of Community and Economic Development, Adams County Planning, elected officials from Congressman Perry’s office, Senator Bob Casey’s Office and Senator Toomey’s office and the Borough staff to jointly discuss how to create a strategy to raise $12M to achieve this project.  The meeting was successful and the first step in many discussions that will follow.

On June 14, MSG hosted their annual meeting for corporate donors.  Fifty community leaders, Senator Alloway, Representative Moul’s assistant, Acting Superintendent of the Gettysburg National Military Park, Chris Stein, Gettysburg Foundation’s Dr. Matt Moen, and Deputy Secretary of DCED Rick Vilello joined this community discussion that showcased the need for $12M for this important project. 

Deputy Secretary Rick Vilello provided closing remarks at the breakfast meeting and conveyed that he understood the funding challenges outlined in the presentation.  As prior Mayor of Loch Haven, Rick knew that government funding streams have dried up.  However, he reassured us that while it might be complicated and difficult, if this community continues to unite, as he was witnessing at this meeting, he was confident that we could create a successful funding strategy.   He also acknowledged how impressed he was with all of the diverse representation of the community attending the meeting.

MSG, the Borough’s economic development arm, is the only non-profit whose sole purpose is preserving, maintaining, and revitalizing downtown physically to make it more attractive to its residents, businesses, investors and visitors.   The answer to raising $12M; continue the hard work of gathering the experts and the community to remind them that we need their financial help and together we can raise $12 million.