What do residents of Ford City want their town to look like in 20 years?
That and many more questions will be the topic of future town hall meetings as Borough Council chooses a consultant that will lead these discussions.
At Monday night’s public meeting, Council President Carol Fenyes reported that a grant had been approved that will pay for something known as the Comprehensive Plan.
“Last fall, we applied for the Early Intervention Program Phase 2 funding to accomplish an update to our Comprehensive Plan and re-zoning on our zoning regulations and ordinances. I found out from (Department of Community and Economic Development) DCED that we were awarded the grant so we’re very excited to get moving.”
The State awarded Ford City $83,506 and they are required to match it with local funding of $9,279. The full grant that was proposed is $92,875.
“The grant will provide for a professional team to come in, review the vision that we as all residents of Ford City have for our future growth,” Fenyes explained. “They’ll accomplish that by having a ‘shareholder’s team’ who will be made up of businessmen, churches, some citizens as a primary group. But, eventually we’ll hold Town Hall meetings where the citizens can come and say this is how we would like to see Ford City in the future. And also, simultaneously, we will have a zoning expert come in and take a look at our zoning regulations within the context of the Comprehensive Plan and come up with a new zoning ordinance for us.”
Council Vice-President Tyson Klukan said that several potential consultants were interviewed. The completion time varied with each consultant, ranging from ten to 18 months.
“The process is that I have to sign the contract to get back to DCED,” Fenyes said. “We have to get the contracts back to them and then we get the contract back from them. Then we can contract the company that we would like to have – the consultant.”
Both Klukan and Fenyes pointed to development along the Allegheny River as one of Ford City’s assets that need included in the plan.
“One of Ford City’s best, natural resources is the riverfront,” Fenyes said. “And, that’s what’s driving this process because that riverfront is currently zoned all industrial. And, we need to change that zoning on the northern end so that we can develop that in a meaningful way to Ford City. We know what we think we would like it to look like. And, we want to see what the rest of the residents would like it to look like, but that’s not easily accomplished within the confines of the size of our town and the number of people on the Planning Commission and we’re spread thin. So, the consultant will come in and help us to do that.”
Fenyes said that Council has been working over the past several years to put the town in a position of growth and stability, beginning with updates to infrastructural items such as underground pipes for water and sewage.
“Last year, we had all of our storm drains (examined with cameras) so that we can see where the problems are and what needs to be addressed. And, we’re going to be writing a request to PennVEST for funding in order to finish our flood mitigation. The grant that we’re working on with the pump houses is not nearly enough and so we are being proactive (by writing more grants). All they can do is say “no”. So, you go and ask for as much as you can get and you know plan financially for that eventuality.”
Fenyes said she is optimistic and that a vision for the town is coming together.
“It’s limitless for us right now. It’s mind boggling because the scope and the possibilities for Ford City are just amazing.”