Blueprints Team Maps out Communities

By Kylie Hawn
Daily News Staff Writer

Juniata River Blueprint Community core team members Ilona Ballreich, left, and Bruce Richards worked on mapping properties in Mapleton Borough during a public meeting of the group Thursday at Bricktown Events in Mount Union. Photo by KYLIE HAWNMembers of the Juniata River Blueprint Community core team and folks from the community spent Thursday evening helping to define what assets the community has and what can be improved.

In an effort to do so, during a public meeting at Bricktown Events, the group mapped out properties in the three Blueprint communities, including Mount Union and Mapleton boroughs and Shirley Township, and reviewed what projects are in the works and how developing a community concept map for these plans will help people understand visually how it will help the community.

The core team applied for and received a grant to allow the Penn State Hamer Center for Community Design work on developing concept maps.“We spent a year putting together a plan, but it’s not great to use a spreadsheet,” saidHuntingdon County planning director and core team member Mark Colussy. “We wanted to figure out how to get these plans and make them into something that’s a concept to be able to take these out to neighbors and friends to see if these projects can come to fruition.”

“These maps would have projects located on maps, and we can also make them interactive and put them on a Web page that’s in development,” said Colussy. “We also want to take a rendering of these plans and make a booklet to use as a marketing tool. We need to do a better job of marketing these projects.”

Colussy said the Hamer Center for Community Design has the ability to make maps for different types of projects.

“They can do 12-14 projects we want to do, five or 10 intermediate projects with some plans or a map of one project that’s really developed,” he said.

Amy Wise, executive director of Huntingdon County Business and Industry (HCBI) and core Blueprint Community team member, explained how mapping out properties in the three municipalities relates to the concept maps.

“We can look at vacant properties and see what would be best for commercial development,” said Wise. “We can take these maps and show the longterm goal. We can make it more marketable and better than a spreadsheet. If you look at the projects underway or just starting to take off, we’re making progress.

“The maps tell us what places are there, but who better than community members to tell us what needs to be there or what needs to be changed,” she added. “Maybe there’s a sidewalk that needs to be fixed, or a blighted property we need to look at.”

The specific Blueprint Community projects include the communities connections concept map, art pool projects at the Mapleton Municipal Pool and the establishment of an entrepreneurial communities distinction, but those are just the beginning, as Wise noted without the Blueprint Community distinction, some other projects may not have gotten off the ground.

Some of those projects include the Linear Park and water and sewer project on Pennsylvania Avenue in Mount Union Borough and the construction of the boat launches in Mount Union and Mapleton.

“These projects are not directly a part of Blueprint, but Blueprint did have an influence on them,” said Wise. “If you think of the geographic area these projects cover, it’s quite impressive.

“Think of the Pennsylvania Avenue project, that’s a $2.5 million project,” she added. “If it weren’t for Blueprint, that project may still be sitting on a shelf.”

Other projects not directly affiliated with, but that will be supported by the Blueprint Community include the 9/11 Memorial Trail, water and sewer improvements in Mapleton Borough and the Mapleton Sesquicentennial.

“I’ve also noticed different partnerships forming within the three municipalities for projects that folks may be working on,” said Wise.

She also encouraged community members in attendance to fill out volunteer intake forms to help them know what organizations they’re involved in and what other projects the group can support.

“There may be things going on we don’t know about,” said Wise. “There also may be people you know who should be involved here, but you know are involved in many other things in the community.”

The next public meeting of the Juniata River Blueprint Community group will be held from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 8, at the Mapleton American Legion Post 322.

Kylie can be reached at khawn@huntingdondailynews.com.