ShareThis Page
Public input vital to New Kensington’s ‘SmartGrowth,’ officials say | TribLIVE.com
Valley News Dispatch

Public input vital to New Kensington’s ‘SmartGrowth,’ officials say

1283456_web1_vnd-newkenlights-061319
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
New Kensington is moving ahead with the installation of new LED street lights downtown. They plan to spread the cost out over five years. Wednesday June 12, 2019.
1283456_web1_ptr-amazon-092917-2
File photo
Schreiber Industrial Park along the Allegheny River in Arnold and New Kensington as photographed in September 2017. It was the site of Alcoa’s New Kensington Works from 1891-1971. The City of New Kensington bought it with the intent of making substantial upgrades.

New Kensington officials are steering the city on a course that not only will bring growth, they say, but do it in an intelligent manner.

That was the message Brian Clark, a consultant working with city council and the city’s redevelopment authority, had for city residents this week.

Clark gave an overview of the concept that city officials have been working on for more than a year.

He said the idea is to build upon assets the city already has to move the community forward.

“There are very few cities that have a short-line railroad, a barge-loading facility and access to a major highway,” Clark said.

He said there aren’t many intermodal transportation projects going on in Pennsylvania right now, which gives the city “a unique opportunity” to undertake one.

However, Clark did not specify what that might look like.

In regard to economic development, he said acquiring the Schreiber Industrial Park property “enabled the city to take charge of its own destiny.”

Clark said he receives calls daily from businesses interested in Schreiber as a location but did not cite any of them, saying that it is always up to the businesses if and when they make such a move.

“We have a lot more interest in investment from private sources,” Clark said.

One thing he emphasized as part of the SmartGrowth concept is the acquisition of data to use in creating analytics that will help the city not only develop, but make better governing decisions.

Gathering that data will be done, in large part, by the use of cameras and sensors placed strategically throughout the city.

“You’ll be able to monitor the entire city through gathering data,” he said.

That data can range from the frequency of accidents at a location to criminal incidents. That information can then provide city officials with information on where to allocate resources, whether it be traffic signals, an additional police presence or better lighting in a public area.

Data usage would not be limited just to public safety but would be multi-layered, with code enforcement as another area where it could help, Clark said. It can help track properties and neighborhoods in regard to code violations to give officials a better perspective on where, and perhaps how, to address violations.

“This will basically take us into the information age and allow us to provide services to city residents,” Clark said.

He said a big part of the city’s SmartGrowth plan involves cleaning up blighted structures throughout the city to provide room for growth. A $500,000 state Capital Program grant received last year is earmarked for blight.

“We’ve already developed a list of properties to be condemned by the city,” Clark said.

Councilman Doug Aftanas, who has been leading that effort, said the list is between 50 and 100 properties.

The process of getting rid of blighted structures is neither quick nor easy when using Capital Program funds, which carry restrictions.

“You have to be able to prove that every one of these properties is under your control, and they have to meet the criteria before they can be demolished,” Clark said.

Other goals include fixing streets and parks to make them accessible to all city residents. He said the streets would be configured so that they are friendly to everyone regardless of their mode of transportation, be it motor vehicles, bicycles or walking.

He said the city continues to seek input from its residents and what they would like the city’s plans to include.

He encouraged residents to attend public meetings on the SmartGrowth plan and fill out online questionnaires available at www.smartnew kensington.com.

“Once the plan is complete, you take the zoning ordinance and modernize it to give the residents what they want,” Clark said. “We need to share and obtain information from our citizens as rapidly as possible.”

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.