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Jeannette's revitalization strategy gets an update

| Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
This map depicts Jeannette's Downtown area. The CRSA is identified by the thicker black line with Clay Avenue to the north and Division Street to the south.

Jeannette's Community Development department will complete a five-year update to its Community Revitalization Strategy this year.

In 1998, Community Development reviewed census tracts and identified the Downtown and closely surrounding area of the city as an area with the most need. That area had considerable blight and the residents of the area where economically depressed. It was determined at the time that a Community Revitalization Strategy would be adopted for that specific area.

That strategy expired in 2003, but in 2008 the city designated a portion of the area to be a Community Revitalization Strategy Area (CRSA).

Urban Design Ventures has been involved with Community Development Director Diana Reitz in this process since the start. Katherine Baurnes is the consultant working with Reitz on the update.

“Having a designated CRSA relaxes the restrictions on federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds spent in the area to benefit low-income residents and address slum and blight,” said Baurnes.

Community Revitalization Strategies must address several areas and these areas must benefit low to moderate income residents of the designated locations.

Issues addressed by the strategy include job creation/retention and providing flexibility to carry out housing programs to revitalize a community, among other things.

“This is a strategy,” said Reitz. “There are milestones that you follow to try to correct and improve deficiencies. You can begin to identify the issues and then you can address them.”

Reitz stresses that this is not a plan.

“It is a study and review to identify issues.”

One of the larger projects that have come to fruition because of identification through this strategy is South Sixth Street Housing project.

According to Baurnes, part of the reason for an updated strategy is because over the past five years, things have changed. One example of a change to the Downtown area is the Neighborhood Partnership Program, which plans to do some beautification projects on Clay Avenue. Another major change is the fact that the Jeannette Glass factory is in the process of being dismantled.

To get the pulse of the community, Urban Design Ventures has been doing community surveys about Jeannette to understand what is happening within the city. The surveys have been distributed to the business community and to some residents.

A public hearing to address the issues in the strategy is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 10, at 3 p.m. It should be noted that residents do not have to be at the public hearing to voice their opinions. Residents can send a letter to city hall or call the Community Development office at 724-527-4000 and speak to Reitz.

Margie Stanislaw is a contributing writer.