Thursday, April 23, 2009

E-town wins Governor's Award for Local Government Excellence

Elizabethtown recently won a 2009 Governor's Award for Local Government Excellence for the public-private partnership between the borough and Mars Snackfood US to extend West College Avenue and the $70 million expansion of the chocolate factory's manufacturing plant.

The borough picked up the award at the 13th annual Governor's Award ceremony April 15 at the Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg. Elizabethtown was one of 11 government entities from across the state to be recognized for their foward-thinking approaches to revitalize towns, create jobs and improve the quality of life for residents.

Elizabethtown's award came under the category of Promoting Community and Economic Revitalization. The program for the ceremony indicates that the borough supported the expansion at the chocolate plant for the following reasons:
  • To maintain a major employer in the borough and secure the most-productive use of a large, low-impact industrial facility in downtown Elizabethtown for generations to come.
  • To create a new entrance to downtown Elizabethtown and a "second square" that serves as a conduit to Mars Snackfood US, Elizabethtown College and Masonic Village.
  • Spark the beginning of major economic development efforts in downtown Elizabethtown
This project is one of the most significant for Elizabethtown in recent memory, especially given that Mars' main competitor nearby announced last year that it is moving chocolate manufacturing out of the United States. For a major corporation to make such a significant investment in this community is a boon to our tax base and our efforts to boost the local economy.

As noted in other posts, the second phase of the West College Avenue project, which will include the construction of a bridge and connect with Market Street, is on target to go out for bids this summer. When that is complete, and the renovations of the Amtrak train station are done, expect Elizabethtown to become a force to be reckoned with in western Lancaster County.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Community survey sheds light on what residents are thinking

Residents of Elizabethtown and its surrounding municipalities gave the northwestern area of Lancaster County high marks in a survey conducted last fall as part of a strategic comprehensive plan for the region.

The communities -- Conoy Township, Elizabethtown, Mount Joy Township and West Donegal Township -- conducted the community survey to determine public opinion on a wide range of local issues. Elected officials and administrative staff from each municipality will use the results to put the comprehensive plan together, which will guide planning efforts and priorities for the area for the foreseeable future.

You can find the full report on Elizabethtown's website. Although not scientific, the survey does shed light on what residents in the area are thinking.

Overall, more than 90 percent of residents said the quality of life in the Elizabethtown area is "good" or "excellent." Despite more than 31 percent who said taxes are very high, other numbers bear out the quality of life:
  • 83 percent rated the schools in the Elizabethtown Area School District as either excellent, very good or good.
  • 74 percent rated police protection as either excellent or good.
  • 87 percent rated fire protection as either excellent or good.
  • 84 percent rated the libraries as either excellent or good.
Speaking as one member of Borough Council, and only one elected official in this region, I am proud that our community recognizes the efforts we put forth on behalf of residents. At the same time, this does not mean we can sit back and relax. As I have indicated in other recent posts, much is happening in Elizabethtown, and we will be working hard to ensure that the community and region remains viable well into the 21st century.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Poplar Street closed while bridge repaired

Last week, the borough closed Poplar Street between Winne More Alley and Hummelstown Street so repairs can be made on the bridge there (the bridge is behind Rita's Italian Ice). The street is expected to be closed for a week, as long as the weather cooperates.

This bridge repair is the first of several Elizabethtown will be undertaking over the next several years.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Work on train station could begin by summer

Renovations to the Elizabethtown Train Station likely will begin this summer, with the project ready to go out for bids by early May at the latest. Once started, construction will take about 15 months.

Borough Manager Pete Whipple provided an update on the project last week and said that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation wants the project to move quickly. He said borough staff will do "six months of work" in the next 30 days to ensure everything is in place for the project to go to bid.

PennDOT and Amtrak held a news conference at the train station Friday, April 2, to announce $9.3 million in funding to renovate the station.