Shippensburg Borough Council members this week said they’re ready to move forward with a collaborative community improvement plan that promotes greater connectivity between the borough, Shippensburg Township, and Shippensburg University.
At a borough council meeting Tuesday, planner Mark Evans, of Derck & Edson, presented a finalized Shippensburg Revitalization and Connectivity Plan, a year-long collaboration between community and Evans’ “team.”
A copy of the complete community revitalization plan was expected to become available later this week for public review at the borough’s website: https://borough.shippensburg.pa.us/
“I think this board is very interested in working together for this,” borough council member Kathy Coy said Tuesday. “Maybe nothing will happen (from the plan) in a year, but I think in the next five to 10 years, the transformation you see around here will be remarkable.”
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The project’s purpose and goals, Evans said, include revitalizing the Shippensburg area through such means as attracting and supporting new businesses and “figuring out what businesses fit.” For example, Shippensburg currently lacks a nearby grocery store, while existing downtown businesses counter empty storefronts.
“A lot of your money is now leaving town to go to shopping centers to other areas like Carlisle,” Evans said.
Likewise, the community’s downtown needs a heightened blend of entertainment venues to draw Shippensburg University students from campus activities. The plan also proposes an expanded community trail system to promote connectivity between sectors, while expanding the borough’s existing Library Square to serve as a central community meeting point.
“Right now, there’s kind of a no man’s land between the campus and the community,” Evans said.
Other considerations include additional downtown crosswalks, shared bicycle lanes, streetscape beautification area, and incentive programs that promote new development. The plan also proposes an expanded community trail system for greater connectivity between local sector areas.
The plan also suggests that the borough creates a new downtown manager position to coordinate grant writing, recruit businesses, and tweak municipal zoning and codes “to realize plan action ideas.” A professional planning consultant also is recommended for the borough.
“We, as a community, have been working with Mark Evans of Derck & Edson, along with his team, to develop a plan to bring out Shippensburg area together to work toward a more vital and connected community,” borough council vice chair Sandra Mailey told The Sentinel Wednesday. “Mark and his firm were engaged by the borough to work toward a more vital and connected community.”
“Both the borough council and (Shippensburg’s) mayor have been aware of the need to work with the surrounding townships and Shippensburg University in order to be better able to solve the problems of the community as a whole. This is the reason we felt that necessity to bring members of the community together to work toward our shared goals,” said Mailey, who co-chairs Shippensburg’s Revitalization Task Force with Shippensburg University history professor Allen Dieterich-Ward.
Three committee groups working under auspices of the borough’s long range planning committee each hold separate focus on downtown beautification and greening, trails, greenways and civic spaces, and recruiting new businesses and implementation of downtown enhancement initiatives.
Although the revitalization plan suggests a six-year time span for project completion, Mailey said community organizers “do not have a timeline set in stone.”
“However, this plan will help us to set short and long-term goals in order to make improvements to our downtown,” she added.