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Board reviews Comprehensive Plan

December 5, 2012
By MICHAEL ANICH , The Leader Herald

JOHNSTOWN - The city Planning Board on Tuesday conducted its first review of the city's Comprehensive Plan since it was approved in 2008.

Board members agreed minor modifications need to be made to update the plan with the city's 2010 U.S. Census data. The board also felt the city needs to start following some of the plan recommendations, especially as they relate to Johnstown's Central Business District.

The board slated another meeting for 4 p.m. Jan. 8 at City Hall.

Article Photos

The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich
The Johnstown city Planning Board reviews the city’s 2008 Comprehensive Plan on Tuesday at City Hall. Speaking at the center is Fire Chief Bruce Heberer.

"I'd love something to be done to promote the downtown area instead of thinking of more parks," board member Fredrick Franko said.

Also, Franko said the plan doesn't carry any financial "incentives" to promote more commerce or growth in the city.

"Without that, it's a two-legged chair," he said.

City Engineer Chandra Cotter said she will more-closely research what grants are available to the city.

Goals of the plan include: strengthening the city's Central Business District, developing a new Center City Park near the old Karg Bros. tannery site; protecting, preserving and promoting the city's history and heritage; promoting a variety of affordable housing choices; and diversifying and strengthening the city's economy by attracting new, clean businesses to the city. The plan can be found on the city's website:

Board member Lori Salamack said "simple things" can be done to update the plan, such as including newer maps. But she said she will attend a city revitalization forum Thursday and will come back in January to "suggest a way forward" with the plan.

"We are not unique," Salamack said. "I do think we have an extremely rich downtown area. With some effort, it could be better."

Recommendations in the plan for the Central Business District include seeking state and federal funding for rehabilitation of second- and third-floor spaces in useable downtown housing, and maintaining an adequate supply of off-street and on-street parking.

Mayor Sarah Slingerland, who was in attendance, said she's counted only about three or four vacant downtown buildings, including the former Rainbow Restaurant on East Main Street. She said there are many attractions, even if some of the businesses close early, such as martial arts, dance, and arts and music classes.

"There's a lot of night activity related to kids," Slingerland said. "It's not totally dead downtown. It's different."

City Attorney Susan Palmer Johnson said that Johnstown - the county seat - remains a "busy" place in the daytime, with many places to eat. But she asked, how can city officials "rejuvenate it" at night?

Fire Chief Bruce Heberer said the Comprehensive Plan is "written very well," but the hardest part is securing private investment for the city. He said the city has many attractions such as the Rail Trail and being 3.5 miles "from the largest public park in the country."

Franko said the city needs to reach out to businesses and ask: "What can we do for you?"

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at



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