Views of the Valley: Carbondale begins ‘outside’ journey | Group Columns

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Everyone sees the excitement of Carbondale and Forest City completing our Outdoor Town plans. Well, we’re very excited to update everyone.

With the conclusion of 2021, the City of Carbondale Outdoor Town Team consisting of John Gorel, Judy Gretzula, Jason Mackie, Lee Ann Cerra, Stephanie Spaid, Cindy Klenk, Mayor Justin Taylor, Brian Durkin, Owen Worozbyt, Ramon Vila, Luis Guzman and I myself have completed our plan of action. Eastwick Solutions provided guidance and support throughout the year and a half process. The team presented the action plan to the mayor and city council in December. The Council and Mayor are very excited to begin our “outdoor” journey.

Outdoor Towns is a revitalization process using nature-based assets. This 12 month pilot program is a collaboration between the City of Carbondale and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The process is driven by an action team made up of residents, non-profit organizations and the government. We work with other initiatives including Carbondale Heart and Soul and the City of Carbondale Strategic Management Planning program.

The objectives of the program include:

  • Making a community more attractive and welcoming to visitors to outdoor recreation.
  • Bringing people together through nature and outdoor recreation.
  • Connect adventure seekers with retail, restaurants and local culture.
  • Improving health, economic activity, access to nature and the quality of life of the community.

Carbondale is a vibrant, welcoming city that celebrates our extraordinary history while providing authentic experiences, fun and hospitality for users of the area’s hiking trails, the Lackawanna River and other outdoor recreation spots.

The steps of the action plan include:

Improved the appearance of Main Street Carbondale. We do this by improving building facades, repairing Main Street sidewalks, developing a program to encourage business owners to keep sidewalks clean and welcoming, and painting murals on empty facades.

Strengthen revitalization by attracting new businesses and expanding existing businesses to fill the gaps in the goods and services that would benefit an ‘outdoor city’ atmosphere. We will do this by recruiting and retaining businesses that support trail activities and making the businesses more trail-friendly.

Initiating a plan to enhance existing and introduce new events, festivals and cultural activities to our community. We will create new events in 2022 and coordinate with existing events including music, bike and family events.

Established a marketing and communications program and created a marketing strategy for downtown and local businesses.

Improving walkability, cycling and river access. We do this by providing creative visual and physical access to the river, constructing bike lanes, enhancing signage for trail access, installing marketing and signage to connect the “On-Road” portion of the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail, and create and install signage for downtown attractions.

Developing a community of residents, businesses and outside partners who recognize the natural value of our area, share the vision for Carbondale’s future and are committed to supporting the implementation of the Action Points. We do this by forging new partnerships with companies to support Outdoor Town’s efforts.

Recently, the Outdoor Town Team held a ‘Progress Celebration’ event with our local business to discuss the steps of the action plan. Hotel Anthracite hosted the event and treated everyone to a champagne toast to celebrate the tenacity of our companies. We were able to recognize our business as a significant contribution to our community.

During the event, we asked our companies to share their thoughts. This information will be processed into a comprehensive sheet and we will start implementing these ideas as soon as possible. Earlier this month, several companies came forward with additional ideas, resources, and suggestions.

Michele Bannon is the Carbondale City employee and a member of the city’s Outdoor Town Team. The Outdoor Town team is always looking for people who are full of energy and enthusiasm to drive the plan forward. For more information, call Bannon at 570-282-4633 or email [email protected]