Meeting of minds shares goal of revitalizing Brownsville
By Liz Zemba
Published: Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
A meeting to gather community input on the future of Brownsville on Monday attracted some two dozen people who discussed current initiatives and ideas for new projects.
The open forum discussion was organized by two Americorps workers, Jamie Brackman and Sara Goots. The two are working with the nonprofit Brownsville Area Revitalization Corp.
Brackman and Goots said they organized the event to give residents an opportunity to air their ideas regarding the direction the town should take and to encourage volunteers to join groups that are already working toward various goals. They said they chose to have it on the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday because of its distinction as a national day of service.
“It's a day on, not a day off,” Goots said. “It's a time to have events in the spirit of Martin Luther King, and what he wanted was a beloved community where people were actively engaged.”
Among those who spoke was Christian Sesek, a junior at Brownsville Area High School and member of Students in Action. Sesek noted the student group is continuing to work on a project to build a park downtown. The group, he said, has collected $20,000 toward the $100,000 cost and is seeking donations.
The park will be a green space to be used for community events, he said, similar to Storey Square in downtown Uniontown.
Lester Ward, Brownsville's mayor, said the park will give the 3,000 to 6,000 vehicles that pass through the town daily a reason to stop.
“Rather than seeing an empty lot, that will be a focal point,” Ward said.
Ward said efforts are ongoing to bring more businesses to the downtown area, as well as improve streets and other infrastructure.
Longtime resident and businessman Frank Ricco said the borough needs to focus on more than just demolishing dilapidated buildings.
“I have a dream,” Ricco said. “My dream is to tear the old Brownsville hospital down on Church Street so we can build some homes there. We can't keep tearing buildings down.”
Others who spoke said they would like to see the town develop into an arts community, build an indoor aquatics center, sponsor car shows or promote tourism with its rail history.
Liz Zemba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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