“Placemaking inspires people to collectively re-imagine and reinvent public spaces as the heart of every community,” from the Nature Based Placemaking Handbook, published by the Pennsylvania Downtown Center in Harrisburg.
You know it when you see it.
That elusive it so compelling, so rich, it draws you to itself.
Maybe it’s a natural place lush with forest or woodlands, crystal clear springs, or sparkling water trails.
What about an experience? An annual festival, pumpkin patch picking as a child, or with one, a root beer float with foam on top or a shopping trip with your mother. Maybe it is a spectacular al fresco breakfast with a dear friend.
Nature-Based Placemaking is coming to the Quakertown area, and it’s meant to make us irresistible.
Along with municipal and community leaders, Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce and Quakertown Alive! are working together to ensure our businesses are poised to take full advantage of these economic opportunities. When residents and visitors enjoy our active recreational across the region, everyone benefits.
“We are excited to be the bridge between commerce and community, which leads to a better quality of life in Upper Bucks,” said Danielle Bodnar, UBCC executive director.
The pilot program through Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Pennsylvania Downtown Center is an initiative to showcase elements of a location while tying in commerce and the area’s community and civic culture.
Other Pennsylvania downtowns in the pilot program include Connellsville in Fayette County and Clearfield in Clearfield County, said Julie Fitzpatrick, executive director of PA Downtown Center, a state-wide non-profit organization.
“Revitalization is never done,” Fitzpatrick said.
She noted for communities to continue to thrive and remain relevant as business centers they must continue to advance their quality of life features and protect and promote their regional natural assets.
From taking stock and highlighting natural assets (nature) to showcasing civic and community culture (place) and ramping up business and economic activity (profit), the model aims to have tourism development combine with civic stewardship and business opportunity in concert with the community’s growth.
“Local leadership will work to reinforce the value of these assets and cultivate cottage industries to help them flourish and grow,” Fitzpatrick explained.
Leadership training and resources will guide the pilot communities toward bringing in needed services to support recreation and appropriate direction to gather up and establish a unique sense of place.
Asset and gap components will be identified. Plans to shore up retail or service gaps may be created to shape a unique destination where people want to live, work and visit, often.
Naomi Naylor, executive director of Quakertown Alive! said funding and planning resources of roughly $16,500 were already committed through the Harrisburg initiative, while a timeline was being prepared with plans to resource and apply for additional grants and funding sources.
She said the program extended beyond the borough’s two-square miles to include its near municipal neighbors, Richland, Milford and Haycock townships, also rich with cultural heritage and rich natural resources.
Discovering how to draw people to the larger region is among the top priorities of a leadership team assembled for Quakertown’s Nature-Based Placemaking program.
From attractive signage, street lighting and green spaces to functional additions to the downtown like secure bike racks and repair stations to attract cycling enthusiasts, the goal is to become “visitor ready,” Naylor said.
Developing prominence could mean promoting a moment in history, or a distinguishing trait. Maybe it’s the richness of precious resources, longevity, stewardship or devotion to a place – things ordinary and extraordinary; irresistible components.
“How do you draw people, that’s what we’re [tasked] with,” Naylor said.
Log onto https://padowntown.org/programs/nature-based-placemaking-program for more information on Nature-Based Placemaking.
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