Randy Patterson on going multimodal, embracing failure and the catalytic exec you’ve never heard of

    “Five Questions with …” is a regular Keystone Crossroads feature where we seek to glean wisdom and ideas from some of Pennsylvania’s top urban thinkers and doers. Randy Patterson is Director of Economic Develompent & Neighborhood Revitalization for the City of Lancaster.

    Q: Tell us about an amenity or service that you’ve seen in your travels to other places that you wish you could bring back to Lancaster.

    A: A more bicycle friendly city or light rail. We continue to work on a plan that will enable the city to be more bicycle friendly despite relatively narrow streets to accommodate parking and two lanes of traffic. We have examined the possibilities of light rail and while there are challenges, we would like to continue to see if a small system could be built that would at first run from the train station to the core of the downtown.

    Q: What’s one urban improvement idea that you could categorize as “nice try but didn’t work”?

    A: I’m not sure I could say that we have found one yet in Lancaster. Adequately financing an idea is often the bigger challenge.

    Q: Describe a person in your community who is a “spark” — someone who seems to get things done and inspire people.

    A: Marshall Snively, COO of the Lancaster City Alliance, and principal staff for the Lancaster Downtown Investment District Authority. Marshall has played a key role downtown in organizing and energizing merchants, working with developers and businesses, and encouraging the development of market rate housing. While Marshall would be the first to say that it took the work of many individuals to accomplish what has been done over the past five years or so, his excitement about the city’s potential and his leadership have been key elements to our success.

    Q: What flaw or habit does your city/community have that you would like to see  change?

    A: The willingness to be a little more acceptable to change and experimentation. Our conservative nature can prevent us from being able to implement a new idea or program that may not have yet proven successful in similar size cities. A community can often learn from its failures and even improve upon an idea as a result of those failures. But reluctance by a community to risk dollars on a program that may not have yet succeeded in a community our size can prevent us from implementing a new program or being innovative.

    Q: Tell us about a movie or book that depicts, in a way that grabbed your attention, how a city can thrive or fail.

    A: “Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step At A Time” by Jeff Speck.


     Is there someone you know who thinks hard about cities and knows how to get things done? Someone whom Keystone Crossroads should spend “Five Questions with …” Please let us know in the comment sections below or viaFacebook or Twitter @Pacrossroads.

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