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Fallowfield supervisor argues for economic development plan

| Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, 1:27 a.m.

“The township is at a crossroads. We can either do something dynamic and progressive or we can be status quo.”

With those comments, Fallowfield Township Supervisor Wilber “Web” Caldwell made a pitch for the township to create an economic development plan.

Caldwell made his comment Wednesday during the supervisors' regular monthly meeting. Then Michael Pehur of Duane Morris Governmental Strategies gave a presentation on such a potential plan.

Caldwell cited development at Alta Vista business park, the school district and housing opportunities as assets in the township.

“We need to look at going forward and being progressive in this township,” Caldwell said. “We have two interchanges on (Interstate) 70 and little or nothing on them.”

He also touted improvements to recreational facilities and even the possibility of retail development.

“We need to put together a five-year and 10-year plan for growth in this township,” Caldwell said. “What would we like to see in this township?”

Pehur spoke about community revitalization planning. He said his firm helps create funding strategies for developers looking to move into a community, helping them to seek public funding and other incentives for development.

Pehur said the township's assets include quality of life, access to I-70 and the Mon/Fayette Expressway, close proximity to the “energy capital of the east” created by Marcellus shale and a concentration of horse farms that would attract visitors.

He suggested the township consider improvements to recreation. He said the township should also consider an economic development strategy that looks at creating growth, sets a priority for areas in the community for growth, marketing opportunities and land use consistency.

Caldwell asked the supervisors to consider using some of the funding it has received from Marcellus shale fees as follows: $20,000 for seed money for park and ball field renovations; $5,000 for architectural costs related to those im-provements; and $20,000 to fund an economic development plan. Supervisors Earl Sadler and Olga Woodward said they would discuss his suggestion at their work session meeting next month.

Pehur's presentation was met with mostly favorable comments from residents in attendance.

Sam Pager of the Charleroi Youth Baseball Association welcomed the recreational facility improvements. Resident Gary Ainsley called the report “a breath of fresh air.”

“I think we're on the right track,” said resident Larry Ambrose. “We have to move forward rather than remain static.”

But resident Joe Zippay said the township does not need retailers.

“A lot of the older people in this community want it laid back,” Zippay said.

“It's opinions like that which have kept growth down,” Caldwell responded.

In other business, the supervisors voted to post a tentative budget which holds the line on real estate taxes at 18 mills.

The $1,093,987 budget includes general services/road, $372,300; $140,200 for general government; tax collector, $25,000; fire relief fund, $22,000; zoning, $11,530.

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or cbuckley@tribweb.com.

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