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

     New Year's Eve in Pennsylvania. In Bethlehem, an 85-lb Peep is dropped at the end of PeepsFest. (Image courtesy of DONNA FISHER/THE MORNING CALL)

    New Year's Eve in Pennsylvania. In Bethlehem, an 85-lb Peep is dropped at the end of PeepsFest. (Image courtesy of DONNA FISHER/THE MORNING CALL)

     What we’ve learned about Pennsylvania cities in 2015. A hint: we share a lot of the same challenges and opportunities.

    Smart Growth

    Smart growth — creating more dense, walkable communities — is a goal for many cities. The problem is that outdated zoning laws require parking minimums for new development, and that inhibits smart growth.  Pennsylvania cities are working on eliminating parking minimums and providing more space for biking and walking.

    Lancaster is applying for grants to create a more bike-friendly city, including additional bike paths “for commuting and recreation.” (Lancaster Online)

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    Madrid is expanding its bike network in an effort to fight air pollution (CityLab

    Playing “nice” in the sandbox

    With the exception of our capital, most Pennsylvania cities met budget deadlines without using temporary measures.

    In Allentown and Reading, “Pay to Play” has resulted in corruption charges. This story is far from over.

    Harrisburg has had its share of 2015 drama. Budget impasse, gridlock, stalemate and indictments. Former Mayor Stephen Reed is heading back to court January 6 for his corruption trial. Embattled Attorney General Kathleen Kane promised other arrests, but none have been made.


    This week’s Idea Worth Stealing looks at how different cities have used marketing and increased efficiency to make more landlords open to accepting tenants for Section 8 housing.

    In Reading, 120 shelter residents enjoyed an evening of music and a hot meal at a local hotel ballroom. (The Reading Eagle)

    Rather than the common practice of burying them in an anonymous plot, Copenhagen designated a portion of a cemetery to memorialize the homeless population. (CityLab)

    The drop

    Depending on where you live, the ball drop and fireworks bit are so last year. From anchors to wrenches, Pennsylvania cities had some creative objects to drop on New Year’s Eve. Hershey’s tradition is to drop an over-sized foil-wrapped Kiss. (Pennlive)

    Bethlehem drops a giant Peep. (The Morning Call)

    Dillsburg, York County will hold its 23rd annual Pickle Drop. (

    The population of Kennett Square mushrooms by the thousands for the third annual lighting, raising and dropping of the favorite fungi. (

    Auld Lang Syne

    In 2015, Keystone Crossroads traveled from Hamburg (Germany) to Harrisburg, Altoona to Erie to cover concerns shared by all Pennsylvanians. How can we solve our pension problems? Can industrial and recreational waterfronts co-exist? What is the formula for funding our schools? Is there enough affordable housing for everyone? Through blog posts, audio, a “then and now” photo series, videos and interactive maps, we have created multiple ways for you to explore these issues.

    We’re looking forward to finding more about what we have in common in the commonwealth in 2016.

    Wishing you and yours a Happy New Year.

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