City’s quest to update its ‘vision’ must bring robust public engagement

How about a zip line across the West Branch of the Susquehanna River, connecting Lock Haven’s pavilion above the public swimming beach to Woodward Township’s Riverview Park, allowing people to “fly” (zip) over the river?

Zip lines are a growing trend across America, attracting many tourists and outdoor enthusiasts.

Wouldn’t that be something?

OK, so we’ve started off this “Our View” with what some would call a wild-eyed idea because of the cost and liability.

But we have your attention.

Lock Haven City Council recently hired the Pennsylvania Economy League to provide recommendations for a five-year financial management plan and to offer suggestions on “operational strategy.”

Put into simpler terms, PEL — well known for its significant consultation expertise to municipalities statewide — will get the ball rolling on the city’s need to update its comprehensive plan and, in the process, develop new ideas for growth.

To help fund PEL’s work, the city will receive a $30,000 grant from the state Department of Community and Economic Development. PEL’s cost isn’t to exceed $56,250.

What city facilities and infrastructure need attention? What additional streetscapes make sense?

Triangle Park. Hanna Park. Hoberman Park, etc.

Recreation in general.

The business district. Specifically, what more (or less) should the city do attract private investment and jobs?

More housing for seniors?

What, if anything, can be done to tackle the city’s high poverty rate?

Programs to help homeowners improve their properties.

The Fallon Hotel. (Enough said.)

Values, visions and goals … three buzzwords that stakeholders must give meaning to through this process.

The last time the city updated its comprehensive plan was in 2005 (too long ago.) We suggest it should happen more frequently. The plan is a guide to future growth — and change — involving development, land use and community character.

Community character … an interesting phrase.

Perhaps it’s something many from The Haven take for granted, don’t think about … or rail against.

No complaints, please, if you’re not part of the solution. This process involves the “entire community” through public meetings and a visioning process.

Indeed, the process will rely on input from interested citizens. If you live in the city, work in the city, do business in the city … or just care about the city, you are a stakeholder.

The meetings are a key part of a visioning process that looks at policies and strategies for the community to work together to improve the quality of life here.

Ultimately, there must be an action plan with timetables.

As we wrote when reporting this initiative, it is always best to face the future.

Let the planning begin.