In case you missed it: This week’s good reads about Pennsylvania cities

     Erie has plans to give grants for home improvement (Rachel McDevitt for Keystone Crossroads)

    Erie has plans to give grants for home improvement (Rachel McDevitt for Keystone Crossroads)

    “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry 

    A comprehensive plan

    Although it has a reduced population, Erie is the fourth largest city in the Commonwealth and the only large city without a comprehensive plan. Until now.

    Erie’s highways cut off waterfront access. Like Philadelphia, the city is working to change that. Starting with a new hotel

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    Plans for a new home

    A majority of governors who are against welcoming refugees are in states that have the highest concentration of federal refugee resettlement programs. Keystone Crossroads spoke with the chair of Refugee Council USA to explore how the resettlement process works.

    Preservation plans

    Philadelphia’s Department of Licenses & Inspections has new technology to identify unsafe and vacant properties. Determining the identity of property owners and helping them make repairs them may postpone the wrecking ball. (Newsworks)Some Pennsylvania theaters defied the wrecking ball. The key to preservation has been repurposing the theater as another type of venue, something that is financially viable.A combination of community support, funding and a strategic plan for reuse can help to save a theater. But “the stars don’t align to save everything.”

    Recovery plan

    Colwyn is a tiny borough but it has $1.2 million in debt. The borough has adopted a recovery plan and is the latest municipality to enter Act 47 for financially distressed municipalities. (Newsworks)

    As Colywn enters Act 47, Nanticoke and Clairton became the first two cities to exit the program.

    “Everybody’s got plans… until they get hit.” – Mike Tyson

    In July, federal officials raided city offices in Allentown and Reading. In the most recent chapter of the ongoing FBI probe, two former officials from both cities pled guilty to conspiracy charges in a “pay to play” scheme. (Associated Press)

    Allentown residents packed city council budget meeting expressing their frustration with Mayor Ed Pawloski and concerns about the ongoing FBI investigation. Budget bills were tabled after residents demanded that city contracts be examined to determine if they were negotiated “in good faith.” (The Morning Call)Way

    Map out your plan

    This summer, we explored the German-Pennsylvania connection and how Germany’s wayfinding systems could translate to Pennsylvania cities. Pittsburgh has experimented with ways to improve wayfinding for bus riders, including schedules posted at bus stops and future plans for digital signs. An Altoona-based software company is taking wayfinding to a new level: indoor GPS for large, complex buildings, including malls and hospitals. (WESA)

     Plans for safe streets

    Vision Zero has determined the two main causes of car crashes: poorly enforced traffic laws and poorly designed streets. (

    Leah Shahum, the executive director of Vision Zero, was surprised at how quickly the program has taken hold. “We can make changes that save people’s lives, and offer them greater mobility without fearing lack of safety.” (PlanPhilly)

    Philadelphia is joining New York, San Francisco and Boston in adopting Vision Zero. A conference this week covered infrastructure, engineering and traffic enforcement changes to make walking and biking safer in the city. (Newsworks)

    Would laws banning earplugs and headphones make cyclists safer? The results of studies are mixed. (CityLab)

    The number of distracted pedestrians injured while using their cell phones more than doubled from 2004 to 2010. (Newsworks)

    Pittsburgh joined San Francisco, Nashville and Seattle in contracting with the Complete Streets Coalition. A series of meetings was held this week to discuss better street design, followed by a public forum to address community questions about the project. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

    We’ve got plans for a new series on housing. On Tuesday, December 8, Keystone Crossroads will debut  “Locked out: Pennsylvania has a housing problem.”

    Hope you have plans for a good weekend.

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