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.

Investing in Gettysburg in Many Ways

Everyday activities are underway to make our town a wonderful place to live, work and play thanks to many people donating their time, talents, money and skills.  On May 5, Jenn Vinitigni, Community Pastor for the Intersection Church, spearheaded a team of 20 volunteers as they took to the streets of Gettysburg and cleaned 43 wayside signs that tell our town’s history. Jenn had contacted Main Street Gettysburg’s Vice Chair, Susan Naugle looking for service projects for her volunteer group during “Love Week,” April 30 through May 3rd.  Susan Naugle coordinates Main Street Gettysburg’s volunteer group, “From the Ground Up.”  This group picks up trash weekly on Monday mornings during the main tourist season, often around the wayside signs.

In addition to cleaning the waysides, a total of 317 volunteer hours of community service was invested by more than 80 Intersection Church volunteers during “Love Week” that included projects with SCCAP, Adams Rescue Mission, Shining Stars therapeutic riding arena, Gettysburg Senior Center and Gettysburg area soup kitchen.  “Love Week” has become an annual event since 2016 for Intersection Church and has totaled more than 700 hours of community service. 

Friday, June 15, 2018 from 4 – 6 p.m., the Baltimore Street District’s Executive Committee, another community volunteer group, is hosting a public event at Unity Park to celebrate the completion and approval of the Baltimore Street Historic Pathway Economic Revitalization (BSHPER) Master Plan. The free event will recognize both the financial donors and more than 80 people who volunteered their time and talents to complete the plan.  The community is invited to enjoy music by the Gettysburg Brass, light food and an opportunity to mingle.

The BSHPER Master Plan, prepared by Borough Engineer, C.S. Davidson, was made possible by the financial support of these major donors:   Adams County Community Foundation, South Mountain Partnership, Borough of Gettysburg, The Robert C. Hoffman Charitable Endowment Trust, Destination Gettysburg, Adams County Historical Society, Gettysburg Tours, Open Minds, Healthy Adams Bicycle Pedestrian Inc. and Lincoln Into Art.  

The Master Plan lays the groundwork for funding and grant requests to revitalize Baltimore Street with $11M of improvements in three phases that stretch between the southern Borough line with Gettysburg College the northern anchor of the plan.  It includes new infrastructure, beautification, pedestrian and bicycle amenities, improved safety measures and historic features focusing on Abraham Lincoln.  

Another example of a group of volunteers is the newly created “A Gettysburg Christmas” group. This group is looking to expand Steinwehr’s successful “Victorian Christmas” event throughout the commercial area of town.  Roger Lund has enthusiastically taken the leadership baton from MSG as a volunteer and has found block captains for 6 areas of town that will creatively present a theme for their area of town.  Themes are still being confirmed as the enthusiasm spreads throughout town.  Mark your calendars for the weekend of December 1 and 2, 2018 to enjoy a fun community driven holiday weekend in downtown.

These are just a small sample of the many community initiatives that help our town stay vibrant.  Clearly our town is blessed to have a local culture that begins with a giving spirit for our community.

How Do MSG Practices Compare to National?

Main Street Gettysburg (MSG) is one of 828 accredited Main Street Programs nationally.  The National Main Street Center is a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  MSG is proud to have a strong 34-year relationship with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Too often we all focus on current situations in our own home, business or town and forget to assess our longer-term goals and accomplishments.  Main Street revitalization programs are multi-year programs that require multiple organizations and entities to collaborate.   A difficult task that can yield much success.

A recent Main Street America publication, “State of Main,” states that “The national network of over 1,000 Main Street America programs reached a ten-year high for community reinvestment.  In 2016, these communities reinvested $4.65 billion from public and private sources, created 5,616 new businesses, and rehabilitated 8,042 buildings.”  There were 27,462 new jobs filled and 8,042 building rehabilitations completed.  These statistics illustrate how Main Street programs improve the economy and leverage funding to improve the quality of life in small towns. MSG has contributed to this success.

Both the local and national MSG organizations have evolved over the years, but the MS model of the program has not waivered.  Economic vitality, design, organization, marketing and safe clean and green, make up this model.   MSG has consistently used this framework to achieve revitalization projects such as Steinwehr, Baltimore Street, and the creation of the Ten-Year Economic Development Plan.

In the MSA article “Leading Main Street,” the writer Norma Ramirez de Miess, highlights the most important leadership characteristics necessary for successful revitalization programs.  These characteristics include leaders who: value people, build capacity, lead through strategy, stand on solid ground, and never stop learning.  At MSG, the Board exemplifies these characteristics, along with the staff and volunteers.  They are baked into the organization’s culture with documented values that include; serve the community, partner and collaborate, provide leadership, facilitate, responsible fiscal coordination, flexibility and professionalism. 

With only two staff, MSG “builds capacity” and takes pride by including as many people, businesses, stakeholders and peer organizations as possible in revitalization projects.  This team approach honors the talents and skills offered by all involved.   More than 80 community representatives were involved in the Baltimore Street project to date, and this number continues to expand daily.

“Leading through strategy” is an important distinction about the work that MSG achieves.  The revitalization projects in the ten-year Economic Development plan, require vision and direction.  It takes engaging visionary leaders to achieve projects such as Steinwehr Avenue, a $7.5 million multi-year investment in our community.  The entire community benefits long term from this type of project.

The 4th characteristic is “Stand on solid ground.”  MS leaders have an important role to seek a consensus and common vision for the future of the community and then the commitment to “stand on solid ground” as they advocate for this vision.  This occurs locally as MSG Board members and community representatives give passionate presentations at many community meetings such as Borough Council meetings.

The final characteristic is “never stop learning.”  Change is our constant in today’s technical world and what might have failed in the past may just work today.  Who would have thought the Baltimore Street community would want parking kiosks on their street ten years ago?

It's More than Bingo

On February 10, more than 225 people in the Gettysburg Fire Hall intensely monitored their bingo cards in anticipation of shouting “bingo.”  The Polish Pottery Bingo event, a fundraiser for the Baltimore Street Economic Revitalization Project was underway.  But this was more than just a bingo fundraiser.  This was an illustration of how working together as a united community can work toward bettering the community in enormous ways.  The fundraiser brought together Borough decision-makers, Borough staff, event volunteers and community to work toward a common goal, seeing that the Baltimore Street Economic Development (BSED)Master Plan becomes a reality.

This was only the second time that the Baltimore Street Economic Revitalization Executive and Event Committee (BSEREC) had held the event, and they were pleasantly surprised when it sold out a week prior to the date.  The energy in the room was positive and exciting.  Groups of community folks grabbed tables together to enjoy the evening.  Charles Gable, Borough Manager was the official emcee and there was a rotation of “number callers” among the Gettysburg Borough Council attending.  Susan Naugle, Council President, Chris Berger, new Councilman, Wes Heyser, Councilman and Mayor Ted Streeter all participated.  Becky LaBarre, Planning Director and Charles Gable were very familiar with the revitalization project, as they participated on the project team.  There were also a full table of borough staff who had purchased bingo tickets to join in on the fun and to support the cause. 

There were beautiful Polish Pottery prizes, as well as door prizes from many business sponsors supporting the project and event.  At one time there were 8 winners at the same time for one game.  You talk about working together toward a congenial resolution!  But Annie Letendre, MSG’s coordinator for the Event Committee had that all worked out. 

The BSEREC consisting of Wendy Allen, Tim Woodward, Nancie Gudmestad, Jesse Coulter, Lynn Chronister, Sarah Kipp and Nancy Kramer have become the heart and soul of the Baltimore Street project.  MSG was seeking to create a community rooted group who would commit to a multi-year project to improve Baltimore Street.  It is this group that took on the task and has coordinated two bingo fundraisers, “Steppin’ Out in Lincoln’s Footsteps” events, provided presentations to many groups, and also created the visuals such as the artistic rendering and endearing Baltimore Street logo of Lincoln, both by Wendy Allen.  The BSEREC has also engaged groups like HABPI, South Mountain Partnership and Adams County Community Foundation.  

In 2017, the BSEREC was the core group that ensured that a BSED Master Plan, valued at $50,000, was completed.  This plan outlines $11-million-dollars of borough enhancements that will  improve the safety and lighting on the streets, update the infrastructure, and redesign the sidewalks with amenities to make Baltimore Street more pedestrian-friendly.   By working with MSG as the official non-profit, more than $60,000 has been raised to date.

On February 12, appropriately the anniversary of Lincoln’s birthday, the Borough Council unanimously voted to support the  Baltimore Street Master Plan.  There is no question that the unity and commitment of the BSEREC, the Borough Council and Staff, and MSG will make this community dream project a reality!  The February 10 bingo event was more than a social event; it was a community illustrating their power to get things done together.

Polish Pottery Bingo 2018 Kicks off $11 million Campaign

Save the date!  February 10th for a fun “Polish Pottery Bingo” fundraiser at the Gettysburg Fire Hall. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. with Bingo games starting at 7:00 p.m.  Free parking, BYOB, and delicious food.  Tickets are $15 and “pre-purchase” is preferred.  Contact Main Street Gettysburg at 717-337-3491 or info@mainstreetgettysburg.org or purchase them directly at the Gettysburg Polish Pottery store, 102 Baltimore Street.  This will be the first of many fundraising initiatives and grants to raise $11 million toward a whole new look for Baltimore Street.

Raising $11 million dollars usually raises some eyebrows because it sounds impossible but the Baltimore Street District businesses, community and Main Street Gettysburg are up for the task.  Just look at the successful $7.5 million revitalization project completed on Steinwehr Avenue.    It is possible.

In 2016, Main Street Gettysburg gathered a small group of Baltimore Street businesses and residents to spearhead an economic revitalization initiative.  The purpose was to improve the economy, create jobs, and enhance the quality of life within the Baltimore Street District.  From a broader community perspective, the objective was to build upon the success of the Steinwehr Revitalization Project and improve Baltimore Street so it would connect the Lincoln Square and Steinwehr Avenue commercial areas of Gettysburg in a way that would attract more residents, businesses and patrons/visitors to downtown.

Once the Baltimore Street community started working together, they agreed that the specific objectives of the economic plan should capture and showcase the history, stories, beauty, culture, arts and authenticity specific to the Baltimore Street District.  They want to creatively blend the nationally recognized history of this street, with the 21st century amenities.  Additional objectives are to balance and incorporate the “green” approach with technology, more restaurants, artistic creativity and historic authenticity.

More than $60,000 has already been raised to pay for some new lighting on one block, and the services of C.S. Davidson to oversee and create a comprehensive Master Plan by year-end 2017.   With the Baltimore Street Community’s commitment, this goal was achieved.  The planning process involved more than 80 community residents, businesses and stakeholders who wanted to make Baltimore Street more pedestrian friendly, safer and attractive for the community to enjoy, as well as visitors.

MSG works with Steinwehr Avenue as this area of town continues to attract more businesses and investments daily.   Using Steinwehr as a model, Main Street Gettysburg will be applying the many lessons learned as they embark on grant funding for the $11 million project goal.  The task of seeking this level of funding is complicated and involves many hours of research, relationship building, schedule and contract coordination, and just plain luck!  Once approved by the Borough Council, MSG will be focused on finding these grant opportunities in 2018 with the newly documented Master Plan necessary for any grant.

So please help us take the first steps to achieve our goal.  Invite a group of friends and family to a fun night out and buy some  bingo tickets for the Saturday night, February 10th event.  Another way that you can help is to become a sponsor of the event.  Contact Annie Letendre for more information.