A public greenspace project nearing completion in downtown Meadville, funded in part by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA), has been named a 2023 Great Place in Pennsylvania by the state chapter of the American Planning Association (APA-PA).
In a recent Meadville Tribune article, project lead, Amara Geffen, credited investment by PCA's Creative Communities Initiative as the catalyst for the project's success. The project also is recognized as inspiring improvements to neighboring properties and strengthening relationships between stakeholders.
The PCA's Creative Communities Initiative provides multi-year funding for place-based, community-driven, arts-based projects that serve as catalysts for social cohesion, livability, and community and economic development. The Meadville greenspace project illustrates how PCA's CCI is helping PA communities re-envision their identities and develop new ways for their downtowns to be competitive, vibrant places:
Read more below.
Meadville Tribune: Arc Community Greenspace Recognized for its Transformation of Blighted Property
A community-oriented project nearing completion in downtown Meadville has received recognition as a "Great Place in Pennsylvania."
The Arc Community Greenspace was honored by the Pennsylvania chapter of the American Planning Association, which called the project a 2023 Great Transformation. The categories recognized this year were public spaces and transformations. The program, in its 10th year, honored four nominations this year, bringing the overall total of Great Places in Pennsylvania to 55.
Mark Weindorf, executive director of The Arc of Crawford County, called the recognition "awesome."
"This is going to be an exciting space for Meadville. We're really looking forward to getting it completed and getting people to use it," he said. "It's been a long time coming. The pandemic slowed us down. It's been four-plus years in the making and finally this fall it's going to be a great asset to downtown Meadville."
Geffen said that community buy-in and support from the state were instrumental to the project's success. An initial grant from Pennsylvania Council on the Arts' Creative Communities Initiative "really set all of this in motion," she said, leading to additional support locally and from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
"It's great for Meadville," Geffen added. "It shows we know how to work together and get things and how to make sure the community has input in those things."
The outcome is a vibrant community gathering place that incorporates native landscaping, streetscape improvements, a performance stage, benches, colorful shade umbrellas, solar-powered umbrella tables that provide free WiFi and evening lighting, and an Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible walkway. Unique to the design is that the painted walkway has the appearance of a stream to highlight historic Mill Run that runs underneath. It has also spurred improvements to neighboring properties and strengthened stakeholder synergies.
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