The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

March 5, 2013

Portage to air 10-year plan

PORTAGE — Portage Borough Council is looking to make some major improvements in the community. And members have a plan – a 10-year comprehensive plan, co-drafted by the Portage Area Regional Planning Commission and The EADS Group of Johnstown.

But they’ll need the community’s support.

Council members will be hosting a combined meeting for Portage Borough, Portage Township, Portage Area School District and Cassandra Borough taxpayers to look at an overview of the plan and discuss community concerns. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on March 11 at the Portage Area Elementary School auditorium.

Borough Manager Robert Koban said he expects the council will refer to the plan religiously over the next several years, using it as the foundation for many future decisions. He said he feels it’s important that they start generating public feedback now.

“(This meeting) will be the final time for (community input),” he said. “So we really encourage the public to get out, making sure they’re at this meeting and reviewing the plan prior.”

A draft version of the plan is available for download on the borough’s website or at the links below.

A few of the main focal points in the borough’s 10-year plan:

  • Enhancements to the Main Street stretch: Rick Truscello, director of planning for The EADS Group, cited underutilized or vacant storefronts as an opportunity for redevelopment. Opportunities for heritage conservation and to entice new tourism business are also laid out in the comprehensive plan.
  • Tax incentives for new developers: LERTA, or the Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance Act, will play a big role in funding the upcoming projects. At their Monday meeting, council members said they were unaware of any other nearby towns or boroughs that have enacted LERTA, although its benefits to small municipalities seem obvious.

    "If these incentives are put in place in the county, school district and local levels, it can encourage private sector development and it doesn’t really upset the tax base,” said Truscello, adding that property taxes would be figured at their pre-renovation values.

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