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Council approves city’s comprehensive plan, Destination Lock Haven

LOCK HAVEN – After a year of meetings, surveys and planning Lock Haven City Council approved the city’s Comprehensive Plan Monday night.

This is the city’s first comprehensive plan – titled Destination Lock Haven – in 15 years and will outline how the city can improve various aspects of life for residents, visitors and those who work in the city over a 10-year span.

City Planner Abbey Roberts worked approximately a year and a half with city-hired contractors Barb Hauge of Upstreet Architects and Mark Lazzari of The EADs Group.

A final virtual public hearing was held before council’s regular meeting Monday to give the public one last chance to offer any changes to the final draft.

Roberts took time to thank all those who participated in public meetings, surveys and reached out to her to offer comment during the planning process.

“There’s been so much involvement in this plan. I can’t be more grateful to the public, city council, the planning commission, the Clinton County Commissioners.. on the second page of the plan there is an acknowledgement page and it takes up the whole page,” she said.

City Manager Gregory Wilson echoed Roberts statements.

Wilson spoke about the early process of planning, noting that city staff wanted to make sure to include not only city residents, but those who work and visit the city.

“Seeing everyone gladly participate was really heartening because we knew that whether you were a resident or not, it took into consideration the thoughts and ideas of individuals that may not call this community home but refer to Lock Haven as their downtown… or as the place they work,” he said.

Wilson further noted that beginning May 3, any item that may come before council must show how it will positively impact the community based on Destination Lock Haven.

Destination Lock Haven outlines 18 priority goals and is broken down into 60 action strategies which can be taken into consideration in the future.

During the public hearing, Lazzari said the final draft had changed since the first version was made available to the public in February.

“The draft plan was a bit lengthy and a little wordy so we went back to the drawing board and… we decided to separate the plan into two volumes,” he said.

Volume one is the main part of the plan. “It’s concise and to the point. It’s graphically and visually oriented, Kasey (Campbell) did a tremendous job with the design and the style guide so it’s a well looking plan,” Lazzari said.

Volume two includes more detailed information such as notes on the public meetings held during the planning process along with other conditions and information.

“So you can look at volume two at your leisure and you can hit volume one for what the plan is all about,” Lazzari.

Hauge offered comment on why the plan was given the name Destination Lock Haven and its theme which focuses on rediscovering Lock Haven.

“The name emerged as we were gathering input from the public. It was the perfect way to summarize the Lock Haven experience with its characteristics and the assets that are here,” Hauge said.

“The idea for the Lock Haven brand and the Destination Lock Haven conjures an image for people that Lock Haven is a growing community and it’s not just a gateway to someplace else,” she continued.

She further explained that the theme is meant to capture the renewed enthusiasm to continue improving the city that was witnessed during the planning process.

Lazzari said the branding offers guidance and a game plan for city staff moving forward. He noted that, as long as a project or activity follows the criteria in the plan, it is worth considering since it still contributes to the end goal of improving the city.

The plan includes five action strategies – housing, business, service providers, recreation and sustainable community which Lazzari called “real, to the point and understandable overall action strategies.”

Within these are ways to implement the strategies. “A plan without implementation is just words on a page,” Lazzari said.

He further stressed that community engagement won’t end with the plan’s adoption. The plan includes check-ins throughout 10 years to ensure residents, business owners and others will be involved in the process.

It was noted by Lazzari and Hauge that the involvement of stakeholders such as the Clinton County Commissioners and Keystone Central School District is a rare and good sign.

Before adopting the plan, many members of council offered their thanks for Roberts work.

“She hit the ground running when she came to the city and we have kept her running ever since then,” Councilman Richard “Rick” Conklin said. “Abbey, this would have been a whole new experience for you so thank you for your hard work and all the team that put this together.”

“What a great job. What a great plan. Abbey, job well done,” Councilwoman Barbara Masorti said.

Wilson applauded Roberts, Lazzari and Hauge for their ability to engage with the community even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We wanted to know what everyone in this community felt was the goal and the objective (of the plan). When faced with a pandemic they were able to find creative new ways to get that feedback,” he said.

Roberts thanked council for their kind words as well as Wilson, Campbell and many others for their help in creating the plan.

“It’s easy to listen when everyone comes out and participates so they really made the plan the community’s. I’m very happy with the results,” she said.

She noted that the final adoption doesn’t mean changes can’t be made. Anyone who still has a comment about the plan, even noting a typo or other minor changes, can contact Roberts.

Destination Lock Haven was approved unanimously by council via livestream on the city’s Facebook and YouTube pages.

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