Historic district seen as boon for West Newton
Part of West Newton's downtown business district could be recognized as a historic district, a designation that state and local officials say might help the community attract businesses and development, rather than restrict it.
“There is no downside to this for West Newton. This is an opportunity for downtown (West Newton) to make a strong connection to the (Yough River) trail ... to make downtown an experience,” Bill Callahan, Western Pennsylvania community preservation coordinator for the state Bureau of Historic Preservation, told borough council on Monday.
The Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission last month determined that West Newton is eligible to apply to have a section of its business district on the National Register of Historic Places, Callahan said. The commission made its determination based on a historic survey that The Progress Fund, a Greensburg-based financing agency, conducted two years ago, Callahan told council.
The proposed historic district on the east side of the Youghiogheny River covers 46 properties, said Will Prince, manager of The Progress Fund's Trail Town Program. The area deemed to be historic is bounded by the West Newton Bridge and continues along East Main Street to Third Street. It covers parts of Second Street, the former Baltimore & Ohio train station and North Water Street to the former U.S. Radiator Co. building.
“I'm all for it. I just want to do it the right way,” council President George Molovich said.
A historic district designation for West Newton “becomes a powerful promotion and marketing tool for a town like this,” Callahan said.
The borough is situated along the Great Allegheny Passage, the recreational trail that connects Pittsburgh with Cumberland, Md.
“It will bring in people who want to live in a historic town and push out some of the problems,” said Aaron Nelson, president of Downtown West Newton Inc., a community improvement organization.
Molovich said he was concerned that a historic district designation would restrict property owners.
“There's no restrictions on the properties that are in the historic district,” Callahan said. Property owners in the historic district can expand, renovate or demolish their properties, Callahan said.
Local ordinances can place zoning restrictions on historically designated properties, but the ordinances can provide “investment protection,” Callahan said.
The Trail Town Programs or another entity could apply for a historic district designation, Callahan said. Typically a consultant is hired to complete the complex application. The state provides matching grants from $5,000 to $25,000 to hire a consultant, he said.
Molovich said he wasn't certain the borough could afford the money needed to match the state grant for hiring a consultant.
Callahan and Keith Heinrich, a state historic preservation specialist, plan to walk through the proposed historic district on Oct. 22 to study it.
Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Over the falls — Cucumber Falls that is — go 3 kayakers in Ohiopyle
- Greensburg man charged with gun, drug violations
- Ligonier-based group sponsors rafting adventures to help ease veterans’ anxiety
- Scottdale man charged with raping child in 1990s
- Westmoreland County recorder of deeds seeking 2nd term
- Hempfield man charged with giving gun to teen girl
- Derry Area adds instructor for agriculture, horticulture
- 11 Ligonier Township residents rescued by boat from floodwaters
- Southmoreland could get state subsidy boost
- Westmoreland historical society holding antiques appraisal
- North Huntingdon man accused of road rage altercation in Westmoreland