I've always felt that the role of county government should be two-fold: First, they should serve as a safety net for residents who need assistance. Second, they should attempt to coordinate regional efforts in areas where our boroughs, cities and townships need assistance. I am pleased to say that both counties have made remarkable strides in the past couple of years towards fulfilling these goals, and in particular, in caring for the urban cores of the Lehigh Valley.
This year, Lehigh County has greatly expanded their Main Street program. In addition to having a full-time staffer dedicated to Main Streets and downtowns (Virginia Savage, Director of Main Streets Initatives), they have given out over $130,000 in grants towards Main Street communities.
- $24,000 for a Downtown Master Plan in Catasauqua
- $24,000 for a Streetscape plan in Macungie
- $11,212 for a Streetscape plan in Alburtis
- $8,000 for Streetscape amenities in Slatington
- $37,500 for an Urban Core Strategic Plan in Allentown (which will focus on housing)
- $30,000 for a Bethlehem Streetscape plan
Meanwhile, Northampton County is quickly moving towards implimenting a similar grant program, as they are in the process of confirming a funding source to enact similar planning and streetscape grants.
Good to see that both counties care about Main Street.