Saturday, February 26, 2011

110 Ways For York To Go To China: Principles Of Counter-Programming

The following pertains specifically to the City of York, Pennsylvania, a place near and dear to my heart, but principles of counter-programming can be applied to cities and towns throughout Pennsylvania and beyond. 

Further, many of the 110 proposals and initiatives can be applied to such municipalities. York has been labeled as a "hard-knock river town", "hardscrabble", and a "red-brick, Mason-Dixon line factory town" by the national media.  It has been called worse in a song by the Platinum-selling, internationally popular rock band, Live, whose members are native sons of the city.

When national economic development and tourism development consultants came to York in recent years, they often asked what is going on here, because when they researched York or visited newspapers online, race riots and trials for a racially charged murder emerged.     

In 2008, based on York’s troubled history of racial relations, National Public Radio did a series on York in advance of the presidential elections. 
Compounding and contributing to the outsider views is our chronic suffering from a type of civic or communal schadenfreude, a twist on the German tradition of one taking delight in somebody else’s failure or downfall. 
Civic schadenfreude includes taking delight in our moral lapses, failures, stalled projects, and mediocrity as a community, but it takes this concept one perverted step further. 
It includes actively hoping for or going out of our way to malign, lambaste, or slander an individual, organization, or effort.  If someone achieves something or works hard to achieve something, cut her or him down to size, which, if you are an anonymous blogger, is really, really small. 
Our Pennsylvania Deutsch D.N.A. often seems to compel us to doubt compelling news or some historical facts that shed a good light on us. 
We routinely like to cut off the noses of our core communities to spite our faces. 
We have met the enemy, and it is us.
If one needs any proof, read the online comment sections attached to online articles published by our county’s three daily newspapers. 
There, many posters, most hiding behind anonymous names, routinely spew vile, sexist, racist, classist, homophobic, hate-filled, and blindly ideological rants, attack other posters, hope for people in positions of authority to be hurt, to fail, or to die, hope for and predict business failures, express boorish sexual desires and innuendo, and spread flat-out lies.  
Even recently deceased, local citizens are not immune from the half-baked judgments, jealousies, and condemnations of online anonymous cowards. 
Are these our true colors as a community? 
I thought that I was born and raised in a Christian community that stressed the Golden Rule and a live-and-let live philosophy.
Mired often in equal opportunity negativity, tearing others down, and self-loathing, York and its fellow forgotten cities that are searching for their self-esteem, moral bearings, and a newfound position of strength should go to China.

It took a president who spent most of a professional lifetime railing against and earning a reputation as staunch foe of Communism and Communists – real and alleged – Richard Nixon -- to go to the People’s Republic of China, led by Chairman Mao, to normalize diplomatic relations. 

Nixon was the first president to visit China, which, until then, 1972, had seen the U.S. as a bitter enemy.

Only the bold, calculating Nixon at the height of his power could have pulled off something so impressive. 

It’s called counter-programming.

Our forgotten cities with sullied reputations and self-esteem and identity issues should go to their own Chinas. 

They should do exactly the opposite of their negative reputations, insecurities, and self-loathing. 

Think of blue collar Steel City, Pittsburgh, reinventing itself over the last three decades as its manufacturing base collapsed.  In the 1990s, it emerged as a humming hub of healthcare, higher education, high-tech companies, including a Google campus, arts and culture, robotics, and financial services and the setting for Showtime’s ground-breaking series, “Queer as Folk.” 

In 2009, Pittsburgh was the host of the G-20 summit – an unfathomable possibility two decades ago.  

Today, Pittsburgh does not have one steel mill within city limits and regularly is ranked as one of the nation’s most livable cities by Forbes, The Economist, and other respected journals. 

The City of Pittsburgh’s reinvention was conscious, collaborative, programmatic, and relentless.  It did not happen on its own.  It was willed by the private and public sectors working together, creative public-private partnerships, and massive private reinvestment.

Civic counter-programming can be defined as a vigorous, often counter-intuitive pursuit and implementation of policies, programs, or projects that dissipate or eliminate negativities associated with demographic and socio-economic realities, or transform confirmed negatives or blights into confirmed positives or assets.

In terms of competitiveness, reverse programming for York and other, largely forgotten metro areas in the “T” of Pennsylvania are in order.  Do the opposite of what you are known, embark upon cutting edge, push-the-envelope initiatives that make your community stand-out and be economic competitive.

This is especially important for York, which is obscured and squeezed by the state capital, Harrisburg, and Hershey, a world class resort and theme park, to the north, Gettysburg, the crown jewel of the National Park Service, to the west, Lancaster, a premiere tourist destination for Amish culture and retail, to the east, and “Charm City,” Baltimore and its world famous inner-harbor, to the south.

If one is known, if it is indeed known at all, as a cultural backwater with a history of racial intolerance, moral ambivalence on social issues, intolerance of outsiders and outside ideas, fear of change, and racial violence, segregation, and tensions, do the exact opposite. 

And do it with gusto, ambition, and flair. 

In York’s case, counter-programming should be done for moral and economic reasons.   And this approach fits perfectly with “Pennsylvania’s Industrial Arts And Design Capital,” “The Creative Capital Of The Mid Atlantic,” and “Creativity Unleashed,” brands suggested for York by national urban destination expert Roger Brooks. 

Below are 110 ways for York and burgs like them to go to China.

Ideas are easy compared to implementation.  The 110 suggestions and proposals are intended to credit and celebrate the great efforts of the wonderful entities and people who already are working on some of the initiatives while recruiting consistent champions to the lonely initiatives – the majority of them. 

Plenty of work abounds. 

To paraphrase a great man, our community needs at least one passionate leader or entity who or that is almost willing to stake his or her very existence to accomplish one ambitious civic goal for success to be realized. 

The list also is intended to allow believers to continue to be inspired and to aim high in hope and in work for what is best for our community. 

To paraphrase the great Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, some people see the world as it is and say “Why?”  But let’s see our community as it could be – an American Lazarus and one of the nation’s great, resilient small cities – and ask “Why not?” 

*  *   *  *  *   *

In 2008, I had the pleasure of talking with long-time Mayor of Charleston, Joseph P. Riley, Jr.  One of America’s most visionary and effective chief administrators, he has served at the helm of Charleston for 35 years. 

Charleston is known as one of America’s grandest cities, with beautiful architecture, inviting waterfronts, lush gardens, and authentic southern hospitality. 

I was surprised to hear his answer to my question, “What was the major turning point in Charleston’s journey toward becoming a world class city?” 

He didn’t cite an election.  He didn’t cite an economic or community development project.  He didn’t cite a transit program.  He didn’t cite a major historic preservation effort, even though he is a pioneer and expert in historic preservation.

He said that there were two major moments when he knew that the city could and was turning the corner. 

First, there was a crystallized moment of understanding that Charleston was losing its homegrown talent.   He was at a dinner party with his wife, where they met all kinds of great professionals – doctors, lawyers, executives, researchers, professors – who grew up in Charleston but who moved away. 

They all were people of color.  His heart was broken, but, at the same time, he knew that Charleston was onto something.  

Charleston had great homegrown talent, and its native sons and daughters were doing great things, in other cities, some of them thousands of miles away.  Charleston at that time didn’t embrace its own native talent. 

From that moment on, Riley worked extra hard to make Charleston a community that embraced all of its talent, regardless of race and arbitrary birth characteristics.   He knew that Charleston was its own worst enemy in terms of retaining its own homegrown talent.

Second, he said that the city’s renaissance was best shown in the city hosting its outdoor arts festival, Spoleto, starting in 1977.  Founded in 1977 by Pulitzer-Prize-winning composer Gian Carlo Menotti, the Charleston festival is a counterpart to the Festival dei Due Mondi  (the Festival of Two Worlds) in Spoleto, Italy.  The annual 17-day event features established and emerging artists in over 120 performances of jazz, dance, theater, classical music, and opera.  

Charleston initially was chosen because of its charm and its wealth of theaters, churches, public spaces, and performance venues. 

Riley said that a group of powerful business leaders took him aside and forcefully warned him that it would not be a good idea to start this event. 

The event, the skeptics said, would attract all types of artsy types, mimes, weirdoes, people with berets, eccentrics, homosexuals, people from outside of Charleston, even Europeans.

Heaven forbid. 

Mayor Riley wisely ignored their advice.  Since 1977, the festival, one of the world’s premiere festivals, has expanded to 17 days, attracts thousands of tourists from throughout the world, electrifies and ennobles Charleston and its citizens, and brings in millions of dollars in tourism revenue. 

What is more, it speaks to more than tolerance and acceptance, which are no longer enough for a city to thrive.  It demonstrates a newfound openness, a celebration of and an embracing of diversity and creativity. 

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *
Here are 110 ways for York to go to China.

Number one, even if you can’t hit Steve Perry’s high notes, don’t stop believing.  That’s the number one priority.  It’s easy to be negative, especially in our local culture when bad-mouthing and denigrating the city and its citizens is favorite past-time.  And cynics and jaded, former city supporters will says “It cannot be done”, or “You cannot do that”, or “Yorker’s will never support that” or “York isn’t even a city, so don’t even try.”   They will come with all sorts of excuses, deflections, and rationalizations to defend mediocrity. 

They will say, “York is no Pittsburgh; look at Pittsburgh’s hospitals and colleges.”  “York is no Charleston; Charleston’s MSA is much larger than ours and it’s on the coast.”  Of course, York is very different than these larger cities.  That was not the point of the earlier illustrations, which were to show the principles of civic counter-programming at full force. 

Civic counter-programming is not relegated to larger cities.  Any community can practice it with the right mix of political, civic, and private will.  But when practicing counter-programming, have realistic models in mind based on your demographics. 

When people say that it – whatever the Holy Grail issue may be -- can never happen in York, keep similar sized models of success at the forefront.  It’s important to always strive for the very best keeping models of excellence in mind and as reference points will help keep your eyes on the prize and motivate you. 

If 25 other places can attain excellence and objective perceptions of distinction, then York can, too.

Below are the names and populations of 25 thriving mid-to-small size cities (i.e., urban populations of less than 80,000 and more than 20,000) throughout the nation:  Asheville, NC (76,636), Iowa City, IA (67,830), Portland, ME (62,875), Greenville, SC (61,782), Frederick, MD (59,644), Franklin, TN (58,481), Dubuque, IA (57,222), Cheyenne, WY (57,618), Casper, WY (53,569), Beaufort, SC (48,875), Midland, MI (41,685), Salem, MA (40,407), Quincy, IL (40,366), Columbus, IN (39,059), Bozeman, MT (39,282), Burlington, VT (38,647), Leesburg, VA (37,476), Minot, ND (36,567), Manitowac, WI (34,053), Helena, MT (29,939), Ithaca, NY (29,287), Northampton, MA (28,978), Paducah, KY (26,307), Stevens Point, WI (25,327), and Portsmouth, NH (20,784).

As the numbers in the above parentheses show, all of these distinctive places have populations that are similar to or less than the City of York’s population of a little over 40,862 residents.  Metro York has 100,000 people.

When people say “it will never happen in York,” say “I beg to differ, my friend; look at (pick your exhibit), just as one example.”

Define and work towards the elusive “critical mass” or “tipping point” for city-wide renewal.  Keep your eyes on the prizes.  Here is my ten-part definition.   The actual answers may not be as important as the conversation themselves.  What is your definition of critical mass or the tipping point?  Keep people engaged in forward thinking based on your own definitions of critical mass and tipping point.

·       Constructing or rehabbing structures to fill a market niche for market-rate housing – market-rate single-family homes, condos, and apartments -- to add at least 80 new professionals or families per year for the next ten years, with the goal being to add 800-1,000 new city residents.
·       Attracting an average of at least $20 million in new investment each year for the next ten years.
·       Implementation of "10-10-10" destination consultant Roger Brooks plan: 10 restaurants, 10 retailers, and 10 destination venues all open after 6 p.m.
·       Central Market open at least 40 hours per week.  Currently, the market is open three days per week for a total of 24 hours per week.  
·       Sustaining 20-in-15 on George Street (i.e., 20 restaurants for all budgets and tastes within 15 contiguous blocks primarily on George Street).
·       At least 7 live music or disc jockey music venues open at least 3 consecutive nights of the week (e.g., Thursday-Saturday) each week.
·       Objectively measuring and consistently touting City of York has York County’s #1 visitor destination. 
·       Attaining a city population of at least 45,000 and growing to about 50,000.
·       Achieving a city-wide homeownership rate of 50% and growing and having all census tracts with a homeownership rate of at least 20%.     
·       Decreasing York's poverty rate to at least 20% and going downward.
·       City of York high school graduation rate of 75% and beyond.

*  *  *   *  *

Do everything you can to stabilize and gradually increase one’s middle-class population by improving curb appeal and providing new market-rate housing opportunities – single-family attached and detached homes, trendy downtown apartments, and condominiums in all neighborhoods – all over the city. 

A stable base of residents with disposable income creates a captive critical mass of shoppers, procurers of services, market and restaurant patrons, and arts and culture aficionados -- an essential requirement to having a vibrant downtown economy.  

Retail follows residential.  

A gradually increasing population also creates excitement, builds civic morale, spurs new private investment that begets more investment, and increases property values.

3.)  So, three, vigorously market and, if possible, strengthen the city’s robust residential tax abatement program, which provides 100% ten- year tax abatements for county and city taxes on the value of residential improvements or the value of new construction.  This is one of the most dynamic tax abatement programs of its kind in the state.  Trumpet it south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

Residential owners of Victorian buildings struggle to preserve and paint their facades and maintain their homes while paying school and city taxes.  
So, fourth, joining 31 other states, the Commonwealth should enact a historic preservation tax credit program. The state also should pass enabling legislation to allow counties and/or cities to enact their own historic preservation tax credits.
In the absence of state funds, a locally funded, historic neighborhoods facade improvement revolving loan program should be launched. 
Since the city has a homeownership rate of 47%, launch a broad-based, privately funded initiative to increase homeownership, literally and figuratively, in the city.  A 2009 study by Crispus Attucks shows the transient nature of many residents in the southeast end – census tract 7 -- of the city.  The vast majority – 75% -- lived in the neighborhood for less than six years.  High transience leads to neighbors not knowing neighbors and not having a vested interest in improving their neighborhoods.   Sadly, many city neighborhood census tracts have homeownership rates less than 25%.  

Low homeownership rates, coupled with high poverty and high transient rates, is a recipe for neighborhood apathy, disinvestment, blight, and crime.  Those areas need to be targeted for more homeownership.    Increasing homeownership, especially in census tracts with low homeownership rates, leads to long-term commitment, neighbors knowing neighbors, better community policing, neighborhood stability, and civic pride. 

Years ago, a visiting national expert on urban homeownership was surprised that not one major regional employer or institution of higher education offers a city-wide employee homeownership incentive to increase ownership, literally and figuratively, in our neighborhoods.  Even today, not one major employer or institution of higher education has an effective city-wide homeownership incentive program whereby the closing cost or a sizable forgivable loan is offered upon an employee closing on a city home.  

So, fifth, launch Live York, a new public-private program to develop and market broad-based employer assistance housing incentives – all privately funded -- offered by dozens of employers.

6.)  As a companion program, launch a new Back-to-the-City Loan Program where a participating lender or lenders provide set-aside funding with exceptionally competitive interest rates for new city homeowners. 

7.)  Launch Home Owners Maximizing Equity or HOME program.  After years of work at the local level and legal approval at the state level, this program never got off the ground because not enough funds were raised for a risk pool.  The concept is that new city homeowners or existing homeowners could enter the HOME program, which would compensate the homeowners only if the equity in their house would decrease after they live there for a certain period of time (e.g., at least ten years).  This program would give confidence to new and existing homeowners in the city by protecting their long-term equity.    It would have been one of the only such programs in Pennsylvania.  After 20 years, when the program sunsets, the dollars in the risk pool could be used for a second HOME program or to fund a neighborhood improvement endowment, managed by the city redevelopment authority, to fight blight throughout the city.

8.)  For cities like York to right their financial ships, urge the state to approve a comprehensive Core Communities legislative agenda for the 21st century to enable, ennoble and empower mid-to-small size cities throughout the state. Comprehensive state reform of local pensions and arbitration process, 50-50 earned income tax reform (so 50% of your earned income is paid to the municipality in which you live and 50% is paid to the municipality in which you work), 1% county option sales tax for public safety, and 1/3 fair share minimums from tax exempt charities and non-profits are needed for cities to be fiscally sustainable.  

9.)  Engage in widespread municipal fiscal education and fiscal literacy efforts to educate citizens, investors, stakeholders, and the media on the dire financial situation facing third class cities in Pennsylvania because of skyrocketing pension and health care costs and creeping expansions of tax exempt properties.  The message desperately needs to get out and discussed before it’s too late.

The fiscal literacy of those opining on city finances is inadequate at best, and, at worst, abysmal and downright scary.  Host a series of forums in front of editorial boards and reporters, CEO round tables, economic development organizations, civic organizations, and neighborhood associations taught jointly by the state Department of Community and Economic Development, Pennsylvania Economy League, Pennsylvania League of Cities and Municipalities, York’s esteemed Business Administrator, Michael O’Rourke, and others with financial acumen.   Third class cities in Pennsylvania are fiscally dying largely through no fault of their own, but, for whatever reason, very few are accurately and consistently telling this story, which affects all of us in the geographic “T” of Pennsylvania. 

10.)  For cities like York to jumpstart their local economies, urge the state legislature to approve a comprehensive range of tools for mid-to-small cities to incent massive new development.  Five examples include CORE (“Comprehensive Opportunities for Revitalization”) Corridors program; REV: Revitalize for Equity and Value program – double cap for 20 years; comprehensive carrots and catalysts for Cultural Arts Districts; new state historic tax credits for historic commercial and residential properties; and Core Communities’ Parcels for Progress.  

11.)  Urge newspapers and watchdog groups to add a Core Communities criterion to their General Assembly candidate checklists for when they interview, evaluate, and endorse candidates.   Cities like York and their borough brethren cannot succeed and create new economic opportunities without a General Assembly that is pro core communities.  The writing has been on the wall for years now. If our local newspapers are not supporting candidates who are pro core communities and reporting on comprehensive reform measures to save cities and towns, then they unwittingly are supporting the decline of many of our cities and towns.  

12.)  Launched by the Ridge administration, the Keystone Opportunity Zone program had much success in spurring new development, such as York’s Susquehanna Commerce Center.  If the General Assembly will not get behind a comprehensive range of tools advanced above, urge for a new KOZ program for York, especially targeting the 100-plus redevelopment authority-owned parcels that already are off the tax rolls.  

13.)  Approve CoRTA or Codorus and Rail Trail Abatement program.  If your city is known as a place with high property taxes -- all Pennsylvania third class cities are, provide very aggressive, performance-based tax abatement programs for the added value of construction in designated areas.   Enveloping the Codorus Corridor and consistent with the York County Economic Development Corporations’ River of Opportunity, CoRTA would provide 100%, ten- year abatements for the full increased value of assessments based on construction throughout the Codorus Corridor and all city rail corridors.  In and outside of the city, this corridor has higher than normal poverty rates while having fallow land that could be used for job creation and to strengthen our tax base.  Do this for commercial as well as residential construction to revitalize neighborhoods and create jobs.

14.)  As a companion piece of CoRTA, work on a long-range plan to acquire, through quit-claim deeds, all “no man’s land” parcels outside of the rail right-of-ways throughout the city.  Accumulate hundreds of these oft-neglected “no man’s land” parcels for development, job creation, and pocket parks.  Since the ownership of such areas is in dispute because deeds do not show the true owners and since they are outside rail right-of-ways, they have no value for rail companies.   Acquisition of such parcels by the city can help to groom and spruce our rail buffers by making it clear, once and for all, who owns such parcels.

*  *   *   *  *

Embrace and engage quirky, creative types of all stripes through live-above-work and other incentives to make visual, musical, performing, and culinary artists, as well as industrial artisans, art teachers, architects, photographers, writers, and graphic designers welcome and to give them opportunities to share their talents and imaginations and ply their trades with receptive audiences. 

15.)  Start a downtown artist-in-residency program for artists from New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, D.C., New Hope, or abroad.  Artists from big cities marvel at York’s incredible amount of raw space.  Raw space is like blank canvasses or wet clay for visual artists.   York has tons of it, meshed with authentic Victorian architecture.  Start a program where, for free lodging in the Arts and Market District, free publicity, and a modest stipend, the artist-in-residency will be required to host an exhibit in the district and teach a class at the new F.O.E. arts center.   Great artists love to travel to find new places for inspiration.  York is conveniently located within driving distance of New York City, Philly, New Hope, Baltimore, D.C., and within millions of people.    

16.) Launch Artist Homestead 2.0.  Recapitalize the Artist Homestead Program to encourage more artists and artisans, broadly defined, from throughout the Mid-Atlantic and beyond to make York their home.  Add a rental subsidy complement to the program for artists who rent and put a shingle up here for the long-term.   Add a program for existing artist homesteaders for exterior signage and improvements to retain the best-and-brightest already here and as a gesture of thanks.  

17.)  Launch a separate live-where you-work program for all areas that are zoned as such.  This program could have forgivable loans less than the Artist Homestead program but still appealing to new homeowners.  Live-above-work residents tend to have more neighborhood connections, better lighting, and more “ownership” of the block in which they live and work.  

18.)  If your public school district chronically under-performs with high truancy and drop-out rates, come up with an aggressive comprehensive plan to change the tide. 

The high school drop-out rate exceeds 50%, and the school district has not passed minimal federal test standards for six straight years.  Something has to change.  Here are several approaches, but, as a caveat, no panacea exists.  York must find its own mix of carrots, standards, and sticks to work for it.

·       Taking a cue from the YorkCounts-inspired international baccalaureate school at Smyser-Royer in the heart of the Northwest Triangle, explore other advanced secondary school programs in the city, such as a  Governor’s School for Industrial And Fine Arts magnet school, a Health and Human Services magnet school, and a Science and Technology magnet school to complement the William Penn magnet school.   Such schools would combine city students with suburban students who want specialized, advanced track programs.  This may be the best option because it attracts suburban students into the city because of excellent education options, thereby creating highly competitive, diverse environments.

·       As frequent critic of school funding, Warren C. Bullete, has suggested, if the state board of education allows you to do so, and adjacent school districts are well-versed and accepting of the challenge and moral responsibility, divide the quadrants of the city into the school districts of adjacent municipalities.   This would be an equitable and effective reform, but also the most difficult one – legally and politically -- to achieve.

·       As a last resort, seriously explore disbanding most of the York City School District into charter schools, as the City of Philadelphia has done with its underperforming schools.  But do this with eyes wide open and reading the national data. The problem with this approach is that, in national studies, students in charter schools actually perform worse on standardized tests in city public schools.  The jury is still out on whether this approach will work in York.  It better work because more and more charter proposals have been approved in recent years and more and more parents have demanded charter schools.  Keep an eye on the test scores, though, and demand accountability and results.

19.) Insist Upon Getting One’s House In Order.  The City of York, as a government, is known as physically fragmented with a little physical presence to visitors and even residents.  Its buildings are barely A.D.A.-compliant.  Mayor Bracey’s proposal to consolidate city services in a new, conspicuous City Hall on South George Street makes sense in terms of efficiencies and long-term cost savings.   The new footprint for a City Hall also has ample handicapped parking and the entire building is ADA-accessible.   A city government working on improving curb appeal must ask no more of its citizens that it asks of itself.

20.) Apply For Act 47.  This should not be done cavalierly, but the writing has been on the wall.  If the state does not give third class cities the tools that they need, York should join a host of cities who have applied for and been accepted into the state’s Act 47 program.   Currently, 20 Pennsylvania municipalities are in Act 47.  This program will give York the means and programs to right its financial ship over the long term, although the program has no guarantees of success.  Real solutions are needed from the General Assembly so cities can mitigate skyrocketing pension and health care costs and creeping expansions of tax exempt entities.   Note that being in Act 47 does not mean that an urban economy will stall.  The cities of Pittsburgh and Scranton, both in Act 47, continue to progress, and there is little, if any evidence that Act 47 has hurt the economic development within these cities.  

21.)  In the Commonwealth of Complication that confounds commonsense, continue the tough work to smartly share services and consolidate functions to save tax dollars and realize efficiencies.  Pioneers in the state, YorkCounts and the York area have a great track record of studying the cost and other efficiencies merged services, especially police and fire, and of implementing shared services.  Pennsylvania law makes it very difficult – legally and politically -- to merge municipalities, but sharing services can be done more easily.  As of 2011, the City of York’s Fire Chief now will serve in the same capacity for North York Borough.  In many ways, York is a model for the entire state, which has more municipalities with taxing authority than any state in the nation.   More can be done to reduce duplicative services and realize cost, management, and other efficiencies.  Although mergers are difficult to accomplish in Pennsylvania, a good first place to look would be merging North York Borough and the City of York.  It just makes sense in terms of public safety, streetscaping, economic and community development, gateway development, and civic morale and recognition. 

22.)  Continue Zero Tolerance for Blight efforts. The city has done a great job in recent years of working with planning commission, vacant property review board, and redevelopment authority to tackle blight as it occurs in an effort to get properties back to productive uses and on the tax rolls.  Eternal vigilance is needed to stop blight in its tracks.

23.)  The perception is that urban cores are mired in poverty, and, therefore, have little economic opportunity.  Re-capitalize and launch a flurry of programs to provide low-interest loans for business start-ups and capital improvements, with loan preferences given to graduates of the York City Business Academy -- a collaboration of the City of York and York College.

24.) Host a city-centric Job Fair on every Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at Crispus Attucks, Sovereign Bank Stadium, or William Penn Senior High School, reaching out to all city residents within walking distance.  Work intensely with Dentsply and other city employers to adequately advertise open positions to city residents.

25.)  Recapitalize a novel Fresh Foods Revolving Loan Fund that provides low-interest loans to restaurants, cafes, and market vendors for capital improvements to their facilities.  This includes loans for hood-and-vents, restaurant equipment, floor repair, window-work, historic preservation, brick-and-mortar upgrades, and signage.  Preferences should be given to graduates of the York City Business Academy – a collaboration of the City of York and York College.

26.) Launch a Capital Arts Revolving Loan Fund.  Perhaps name it the Rudy Fund after noted York sculptor Charles Rudy, the namesake of Rudy Art Glass.  Such a fund would provide low-interest loans for capital improvements to arts and artisan-related businesses, with preferences given to graduates of the York City Business Academy – a collaboration of the City of York and York College.

27.) Create a Leader Endowment to take a bite out of blight.   An under-utilized tool in redevelopment is the city redevelopment authority, which keeps a keen eye on blight.  If the authority were equipped with a Leader endowment, named after long-time authority Chair, Henry Leader, it would be in a much better position to acquire properties that are backsliding before demolition becomes inevitable.  In this way, York could preserve more of its historical architecture while encouraging market-rate, single family homes and mixed-used projects. 

28.)  Since York has tons of raw, but largely lifeless space, tap ArtSpace, the nation’s leading nonprofit real estate developer for the arts, to create affordable, live-above-work spaces for professional artists.   York could have one of only three ArtSpace properties in all of Pennsylvania.  ArtSpace owns and operates 27 projects in 19 cities and 13 states. Many of its live/work projects also include non-residential space such as studios, offices for arts organizations, rehearsal and performance venues, and space for arts-friendly businesses.

A “live/work” project is a residential building in which each unit has extra space that the artist can use as a studio. Other design elements, such as high ceilings, large windows, durable surfaces, and wide doorways, accommodate a wide variety of creative processes. Artspace live/work projects also include common spaces that encourage cooperation and community involvement.

As a nonprofit developer, Artspace assembles the requisite financial resources from a variety of public and private sources. This is a time-consuming process, but it has an important upside: Artspace projects are fully funded when they break ground.

Artspace buildings provide live/work spaces that are significantly larger and usually less expensive than other comparable spaces. And Artspace buildings remain affordable in perpetuity.

Residents have included clothing designers, weavers, and even a canoe maker. All applicants are interviewed by a Selection Committee. The committee looks for evidence that applicants are seriously committed to their art and that they will be good neighbors.

Artspace projects are financially self-sustaining through tenant rents, which are sufficient to meet mortgage payments and operating costs. Revenues in excess of expenses are set aside for preventive maintenance, commons area improvements, and building upgrades. To date, ArtSpace never has had to ask a community for support for an operating project.

29.)  Perpetually put a really good face on it.  Become obsessed with clean, green, and pristine.  Have zero tolerance for trash, cigarette butts, broken or deteriorating tree wells, sidewalk bubble gum stains, or out-of-order vintage streetlights. 

So much depends upon attractive municipal buildings, curb appeal, freshly paved streets, brick-stamped sidewalks, metal halide vintage streetlights, pocket parks, attractive median strips, and a rediscovered waterfront with native flora and fauna.

A recent survey of 2,837 city residents asked them what their top priority was out of five options.  Reducing crime was number five.  Lowering taxes/reducing spending was number four.  Creating jobs/economic development was number three. Revitalizing neighborhoods was number two.  Repairing city streets was number one.   

30.)  Launch ReBuild York, Version 2.0.  Citizens have spoken. They want repaved streets.  Using Section 108 CDBG dollars, ReBuild York could be re-launched to keep streets in quality condition and to give citizens what they want.

31.) Find private resources or grant funding for a street sweeper and sidewalk sweeper cleaning the central business district every day. 

32.)  York is known as having scattered social services throughout the city, and some of these facilities are in main commercial and retail corridors that otherwise could create jobs to help struggling people to get back on their feet.  Relying on best practices from other cities, develop and implement a plan to consolidate some homeless and social services to provide one-stop shopping for clients’ nutritional, educational, medical, mental illness, substance abuse, housing, and job search needs.  This would be a more humane, holistic, results-oriented approach whereby service providers can share information with each to comprehensively understand and treat clients’ needs to prepare clients for productive citizenship and self-reliance.  It also would result in cost and service efficiencies so more clients can be effectively served.  It also has the added advantage of opening up more space in commercial and retail corridors and niche districts for job-creation for the very same clients. 

33.)  Double, triple, or quadruple the size of your tiny gems.  The problem with Cherry Lane and East Locust Street is that they stop.  Working with Central Market and commercial tenants within Cherry Lane, develop a plan and funding sources to extend one of downtown’s most charming locations, Cherry Lane, to Gay Avenue to the north and to King Street to the south.   Look into re-positioning the concert stage farther north so that traffic is restricted and extend the look and feel of Cherry Lane east-to-west, from George Street to Pershing. 

Apply the same concept – doubling what is excellent -- with East Locust Street, another hidden gem off of South Pine Street in Olde Towne East.  

34.)  Launch Spaces With Faces, 2.0.   Empty storefronts hurt the downtown’s reputation.   Using private dollars or transaction fees from sale of redevelopment authority-owned buildings, re-launch Spaces with Faces, 2.0, which engaged many local artists in bringing color and life to downtown storefronts.  Work with teachers and students at Art Institute of York to create compelling interior designs.  This also adds to curb appeal while helping to market these properties.

35.)  Launch a Victorian signage program for downtown restaurants and shops.   Several national experts have suggested this.  Perhaps a matching grant or forgivable loan program could be launched.

36.)  Eliminate visual blight.  The City Zoning Ordinance outlaws external vending and soda machines and commercial boxes and bins, so widespread enforcement is in order.  Also, work with billboard owners to eliminate commercial billboards in the central business district to replace them with pocket parks that allow visibility of downtown’s Victorian architecture. Eternal vigilance is needed to halt creeping visual blight and clutter that cheapens our charm. 

37.)  Develop Victorian newspaper and periodical condominiums.  Downtown York’s variety of newspaper and periodical bins, of different colors, shapes, sizes and disparate locations, speak of clutter and disarray.  Do the opposite. Consolidate them in jet black Victorian newspaper and periodical condominiums.  

38.)  If you are known as a hard-knock rail and river town and a place dominated by rail, trucks, fumes, and scrap yards, make it walkable and recreational.  Throughout the downtown, add count-down timers to all LED corner streetlights. Create colorfully stamped crosswalks and pedestrian-first zones, where pedestrians have priority over vehicles.  Prune and groom the rail and rail trail corridor throughout the city so that rail and rail trail buffers are attractive and welcoming.  Add a suspension bridge over the Codorus ala Greenville, South Carolina

39.)  Nothing bespeaks a community's embrace of diversity like a dynamic human relations commission with a broad mission of protecting all people and of vigorous outreach and education.  

It’s a moral imperative and plain smart economics for York County to enter the 21st century global economy and signify to all – creative workers, young people, business prospects – that we are open for business because we are open to people.   
This is not just about civil rights and doing what is right, which should be compelling enough.  It’s about attracting and retaining talent and about economic productivity.  According to a University of Michigan study, York County is one of the most residentially segregated counties in the nation.  That is not a good reputation when we are trying to attract the best, brightest, and most creative.

40.)  Add gender identity and transgender rights to York’s protected classes to keep up with other model human rights ordinances.

41.)  Amend Existing Minority-Owned Business ordinance to bring it into the 21st century.  The terms of the existing ordinance are outdated, making compliance with the ordinance’s intent difficult.
Specifically, make York one of only four municipalities in the entire state that provides certification for bona fide Minority/Women-owned business certification. 
The City has made great strides with its City Business Academies over the last eight years, and the partnership with York College in teaching these classes is paying dividends.  Perhaps the program could be taken up a notch so that it or otherwise the Community and Economic Development Department provides certification for bona fide Minority/Women-owned business certification. 
Procurement outreach consists of matching procurement opportunities with available Minority Business Enterprises/ Women Business Enterprises (MBEs/WBEs). The department would provide support in the following areas: business start-up and management counseling and seminars; obtaining financing through various public and private institutions; and, meeting business insurance needs.
Ensuring that more city-based MBE/ WBE firms are bona fide entities gives such firms competitive advantage when bidding on government work and contracts with MBE/WBE participation goals.

42.) Develop a City Parks Conservancy or Endowment.   In the meantime, continue the excellence Bring-on-Play initiative, which targets a new city park each year for renovations.

43.) Restore York’s Memorial Park to its former glory. The Memorial Park Task Force released an ambitious, excellent report in the 2000s calling for public art, fountains, upgraded softball fields, and new amenities.   Funding always will be an issue, but Memorial Park is a proven recreational tourist attraction, and it is the crown jewel of the city parks system.

44.)  Since the perception is that the city and even Metro York  are lacking in higher or specialized education within its core and inner-ring neighborhoods, so add a Harrisburg Area Community College-York downtown center such as mid-town Harrisburg’s remarkable HACC center.   Note that this is a perception, not reality, as Metro York has over 10,000 post-secondary students.  Also, explore downtown Harrisburg’s SOMA or South of Market District, which has furnished a quaint neighborhood for international, post-secondary students. 

Create a Governors’ School for the Arts Magnet School for all of Metro York.   With a new commercial kitchen at Central Market, is there an opportunity for York’s School of Culinary Arts to have a permanent location downtown?   Also, a branch campus or visible downtown center of any of the following institutions would be a major shot in the arm:  York College, Art Institute of York, and York Technical Institute.

Carve districts with cross-fertilizing winds of productive activities and foot traffic. 

45.)  Continue Roger Brooks’ 10-10-10 plan to build a thriving Arts and Market District through a critical mass of 10 restaurants, 10 retailers, and 10 venues open after 6 p.m. within three contiguous blocks.  This is a great start.

But don’t stop there.  See #46!  

46.)  Embellish, enlarge, and market an Arts District on Philadelphia Street and beyond.  Make the first block of North Beaver Street York’s quirkiest by peeling away asphalt and allowing fire brick to shine on the whole block. Explore other physical signifiers (e.g., banners, lights, sidewalk art) that clearly signify that this is an arts district.  Keep in mind that York would have the only Arts District in south central Pennsylvania.  This would make us distinctive.     
Extend the district from Duke to Newberry and encompassing Artist Homesteaders Pete Richards and Lindsey Keeney’s Victorian home at 154 East Philadelphia, a combination performance space and art gallery, the Goodridge Freedom House, Rudy Art Glass, Strand-Capitol, the F.O.E. Artist Space, a host of studios and galleries, Gear Garden at Foundry Park, and a renovated Newberry Street across from the Jacob Devers mural at the YMCA. 
To maximize the district’s walkability and to help venerable organizations find new members and appeal, search for new homes for York Little Theater and perhaps the York Art Association as well as a satellite facility of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftspeople within the district. 
Strive for an Artist Homestead destination on South Newberry Street, and explore further links westward to Buchart-Horn Engineering and Salvaging Creativity, gallery, workspace, performance space, and home owned by Artist Homesteaders Patrick Sells and Casey Tyrrell. 
Explore linkages northward on Beaver, such as creating a small, clustered Artist Homestead Village or Keystone Colorworks Village as part of the North Beaver Street residential section of the Colorworks Neighborhood (Northwest Triangle) so that it percolates with energy, artisans, merchants, and modest pedestrian traffic.  

47.)  Cultivate an iconic Colonial Commons on the first block of South Pershing Avenue, with a consolidated Heritage Trust museum and archives and Lafayette Plaza converted into a cobble-stone laden cultural heritage center with free parking every weekend and always after 5 p.m. Make Colonial Commons the number one tourist destination in York County.  

48.)  Make George Street gorgeous – the entire way from Route 30 to I-83 – and call it and sign it as “Gorgeous George.”  Make it York’s grand boulevard and gateway with a critical mass of restaurants and destinations between Sovereign Bank Stadium to the north and Granfalloons and Tanzania on East Princess Street to the south.   Work to sustain 20 restaurants and destinations for all tastes and budgets in the roughly 15 blocks from Central Family Restaurant and the PennSupreme building on North George to Tanzania and Granfaloons on East Princess – 20-in-15?  We already have 13 (i.e., Central Family Restaurant, La Casa Tapas, Valencia, Left Bank, Strand-Capitol, Maewyn’s, Subway, Bistro 19, Keo Asian Grill, Quizno’s, McDonald’s, Tanzania, and Granfaloons). 

49.)  Working with merchants and landlords, such as the YMCA, brand the 300-400 blocks of West Market Street, connecting Murphy & Dittenhafer Architects and Sam & Tony’s Ristorante to the east to Penn Street Farmers Market, York County’s oldest market, to the west, as “Market West,” “Penn West,” “Penn-Grant,” “West With Zest,” or some other moniker that the merchants approve.  Note that unanimity rarely happens with initial appellations.  Arrive at a consensus and run with it. 

These blocks hold much potential as a thriving retail and commercial destination and deserve their own brand, but a sustained, strong identity has yet to emerge. 

Formerly, these blocks had several antiques shops and the area was marketed as York’s “Antique and Market District,” acknowledging the Penn Street Farmers Market as the anchor.  As antiques retailers left behind empty storefronts, the antiques theme no longer works.  

50.)  If known as place with bland and limited culinary tastes and social outlets, add ethnic dining and fill market niches.  Downtown could use the following storefront restaurants and venues: a diner, western theme steakhouse, sit-down Mexican, high end Chinese, high end Italian, southern theme barbeque rib joint, Cajun-inspired, family friendly sports and recreation complex, jazz and blues club/restaurant, German brewpub and restaurant ala Hofbrauhaus, Indian, bakery, organic juice bar and café, candy and ice cream shop, and gay-friendly venue, perhaps a piano bar, cabaret, and/or dinner club.  

Regarding an organic café, Deron Schreiver and others have introduced an ambitious and creative business plan for Healthy World Café, a not-for-profit restaurant.  The Café will serve only healthy meals, and part of the Café’s mission will be to rely heavily on food obtained from local producers.  Healthy World Café is modeled after similar projects in Denver, Colorado, Spokane, Washington, and Salt Lake City, Utah.  Visit for more information.

As a suggestion, this group might want to consider teaming up with York Rescue Mission, the Salvation Army, Helping Hands for the Homeless, and/or other social service agencies.  The food industry provides a good way for getting people back on their feet while learning important skills that can lead to financial self-reliance.   Yorkers value self-reliance, and, if they see people working to get back to productivity, they tend to support such efforts.

51.) With York’s amazing architecture, balcony dining should be encouraged.  York does not have any outdoor balcony dining or leisure spots.  Some of the best views of the city are from the top of the parking garages or in the upper-levels of the courthouse.  Let’s make such views part of our appeal.  Think of Perry’s in Adams Morgan in Washington, D.C. 

52.)  Build a new garage at the location of the Central Market parking deck.

53.)  Lobby the General Assembly to add liquor licenses to restaurants in the downtowns of third class cities.  Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have more liquor licenses than they know what to do with them.  But liquor licenses in York County routinely cost $200,000 or more.  At this price and because of challenges of clustering restaurants and entertainment venues in general, it is incredibly difficult to create restaurant districts in mid-to-small cities throughout Pennsylvania.  In light of the state’s financial woes, it could approve the offering of 300 new licenses statewide at a cost of $100,000 each with the conditions that the licenses must be used for a restaurant in a downtown business district for of a third class city or borough for at least five years.  That would bring in $30 million to the state coffers at a time that it needs a shot in the arm while targeting our oft-neglected main streets for clustered development.

54.)  If you are not known as not family friendly, do the opposite. Add more family friendly attractions, such as a version of Dave & Buster’s or Chuck E. Cheese near Sovereign Bank Stadium.  

As the National Trust for Historic Preservation has suggested, incorporate “Please Touch” technology into a consolidated Colonial Commons of the venerable York County Heritage Trust’s assets near the corner of Pershing and West Market. 

Upgrade the Downtown Visitors Center into a state-of-the-art visitors center with a documentary viewing room.  Open the Goodridge Freedom House on East Philadelphia Street with surround-sound features in the basement’s hiding place, which shows images of freedom-seekers. 

A great group already is working on developing an 18,000 square foot children’s museum in downtown York.  Its idea involves bringing a hands-on kids museum to inspire creativity and an interest in science.  Modeled after the Whitaker Center for Sicence and the Arts in Harrisburg and Port Discovery in Baltimore, this concept certainly would fill a market niche. 

Here’s another family-friendly concept.  An accurate, working replica of "The Codorus" would be manned by a living history guide (i.e., Phineas Davis) inviting aboard families for a tour and a ride down the Codorus.  The Codorus is the first iron steamboat and the first ship that successfully navigated the Susquehanna River from Harrisburg to Binghamton.  First made in York, it was 60-feet long, 9-feet wide, and had a sheet-iron hull, docked at the Codorus.

55.)  If you are known as a place with widespread blight, launch a new Endangered Historic Places Task Force to identity “Six In The City,” the six most endangered historic places in the City of York, to rally public and private resources to save them and bring them back to life.  The first one had much success, rallying public interest and private dollars to several successful adaptive re-use projects. 

56.) Implement a sidewalk loan repair program.  Under this program, a portion of one’s city, that is, municipal taxes, could be earmarked for sidewalk repair, and the property owner/taxpayer, would have to pay the city back on the “loan” over a year.  This increases curb appeal and public safety.

57.)  The perception – not the reality as I see it – is that many police officers are aloof and inaccessible.   So, intensify community policing efforts.  Emphasize the “Take 30” program, whereby officers strive to walk the beat for at least 30 minutes each shift. 

Now that crime statistics have dipped is not the time to rest on our laurels.  To the contrary, now is the time for a sustained, aggressive crackdown on nuisances and crimes through intensified community policing.  Require more and tell the story of neighborhood walking patrols, nuisance abatement unit efforts, downtown segway patrols, weed & seed walking patrols, and the joint efforts of city officers and county sheriff deputies in the neighborhoods.  Expand segway patrols to inner-ring neighborhoods.  Continue efforts for officers to meet city youth in after-school programs. Encourage communication, familiarization, trust, and accessibility. 

58.)  If you are known – rightly or wrongly – as a place with rampant gun violence and a small city that is averse to high-tech crime deterrence, continue to tweak and use ShotSpotter, educate the public about it, and tout its successes.  York is one of the smallest cities in the nation with ShotSpotter technology, which hones in on the sounds of gunfire for rapid police response and strategically films high-crime areas 24-7 to deter all street crimes.  Since York is less than 6 square miles, its areas of concentrated gun violence are fairly small, so ShotSpotter provides an extra layer of targeted surveillance and sound activation, both of which tend to confuse criminal thinking and criminal confidence. 

ShotSpotter complements, not supplants traditional police work and, if early statistics are any indication, it is an effective tool.  Even in a recession with high unemployment, violent crime and overall crime have decreased in the city in 2009 and 2010.

59.)   Outside of Continental Square and Cherry Lane, downtown is dark.  So fully illuminate your downtown – and all corners and quadrants of it -- with pride and elegance.   Evenly space vintage, pedestrian-scale, metal halide, “York Town” signature street lights throughout the central business district.  Up-light at least 20 of downtown’s most historic architectural structures as has been done with Central Market, Farmers Market, and the York Water Company building.  Bathe all steeples and spires in light. Literally shine a light on your assets while making people feel comfortable and welcome. 

60.)  If known as a place where it is hard to park, launch a series of initiatives to reverse that perception.

Put huge, colorful banners on your garages and post large signs on surface lots advertising “Free Parking After 6 Every Night.” Change peoples’ expectations, build goodwill, and nurture return customers by implementing “Free Parking For The Home Team” every night that the York Revolution has a home game and “Free Friday Night Parking After 4” for every Friday night.  

Erect a conspicuous sign at Lafayette Plaza stating, “Free Parking On Weekends And After 5 p.m. Each Evening.”  Explore similar signs on downtown lots owned by the city general authority.  

Work with banks and other sponsors to subsidize “Free Wednesday’s Sponsored By XOXO Bank Throughout 2012” and “Free Holiday Fridays” between Thanksgiving and Christmas for metered street parking, garage parking, and lot parking.

Similar programs are done in Greenville, South Carolina, and Greenville goes out of its way to promote the fact that the sponsoring bank is providing free parking to the citizenry on the participating nights through sandwich board signs, fliers, cable access promos, and the like. 

Alternatively, such a program could be done in baby steps-- First Fridays from May through September in 2011 as a pilot program, then all Fridays from May through September in 2012, then all home game nights in 2013.   

Explore the city general authority and York Revolution working together to co-brand all tickets for the parking garages whereby the back of the tickets would provide promotions and advertising for the Revolution.  

Imagine garages’ elevator doors shrink-wrapped with Revolution images (i.e., images of players, the mascots, the fields, with ticket information) to keep the stadium fresh in the minds of those who use the garages. 

Imagine if the Philadelphia Street garage was named the "York Revolution Garage" with awnings, signage, and advertising that again made the stadium and team fresh in the minds of those who use the garage and walk past it. 

In terms of parking co-promotions, explore stadium-authority promotional nights, such as Twofertuesdays (i.e., pay to park in the garage and receive buy one, get one free specials for refreshments or other items at the ball game), Thirsty Thursdays (i.e., pay for parking in the garage and receive free soft drink or beverage at the game), and Free Fridays.  Such promotions could be printed on the back of tickets to the garages and through other marketing collateral.
Moreover, the city has secured advertising on the Victorian recycling and trash condominiums throughout the downtown. Perhaps there would be advertising or co-branding opportunities available to promote the Revolution and ample downtown parking on these mini-billboards.

Taking a cue from the Chamber of Commerce of Rehobeth Beach, explore “Free Chamber Days” where, in lieu of a parking ticket,  welcome and promotional notes from the York County Chamber of Commerce, York County Economic Development Corporation, and/or Downtown Inc. are placed on the windshields of hundreds of cars.  The note could read something like the following:

Dear Friend, Thank you for visiting York. Your meter has expired, but good times downtown have not. Working with Mayor Bracey and the City of York General Authority, we are proud to sponsor this Free Chamber Day so you will not get a ticket and do not owe a fine.  Have a great day on us and enjoy York’s many offerings, including great shops, galleries, and restaurants for all tastes and budgets. For a complete list of parking opportunities, including special promotions, and great downtown shopping and other opportunities, log onto,, and And check us out at    Yours In York, Where Creativity Is Unleashed,
Your Friendly Neighborhood Chamber Of Commerce.

By nurturing loyal return customers who had pleasant experiences downtown, these promotions quite possibly could help the financial bottom-line for managing and maintaining city parking.  And they would be sure to add to economic activity throughout the downtown.

61.)  Always be working on at least one big public-private project that will transform a neighborhood or a census tract.  Always show progress and momentum. 

Identify and embark upon the next big thing after the Northwest Triangle.  Maybe it’s “Gorgeous George”, between Route 30 and I-83, including new gateways, new destinations, and an authentic neighborhood stadium district.  Here are some suggestions.

·       Gorgeous George: Build a bona fide, sustainable “Restaurant Row,” a pristine, illuminated boulevard, while adaptively re-using PennSupreme, the Armory, and the Post Office, from at least Central Family Restaurant to Princess Street.
·       Reconstitute Continental Square: Futer Brothers building, Historic Comfort Stations, Woolworth, And Empty Storefronts
·       Jazzing Up A Jailbird: Graybill And The Old York County Jail At And To The North Of 200 North Broad Street combine with the city salt dome and maintenance shed to form a large tract for development, pending relocation of salt dome and maintenance shed.
·       Newton Goes To College: Lots 11 and 12 owned by the City of York General Authority – immediately north and south of East Princess Street – are next to the now vacant American Legion building and other parcels owned by the City of York Redevelopment Authority.  Entire area is bounded by Duke to west, Newton to north, Queen to east, and College to the south.
·       Rich Land Off Of Richland.  Maybe it’s on the city’s west end at the site of Man Pro. Corporation Quality Foods, next to York Fairgrounds.  Imagine the synergy with the Expo Center that such a site, with a new hotel, restaurant, conference center, and parking garage, could provide. 
·       Redevelopment Of Delphia Retail Strip On East Philadelphia Street.
·       Redevelopment York Town Mall Retail Strip Off Of Duke Street.
·       Kings Mill And The Codorus.  Focus on adaptively re-using blighted and under-utilized buildings (e.g., Manor Club) along Kings Mill Road and the Codorus to the southwest. 
·       Crispus Attucks: The Beat Goes On. Further development of C.A. campus off of East Boundary Avenue Maybe it’s an off-the-grid, multi-level, class A commercial official building, an expansion of Crispus Attucks’ ever growing Boundary Avenue Corridor.
·       Create A True Stadium District, Implement Neighborhood Improvement Plan Developed By Murphy And Dittenhafer.
·       Roosevelt And The Railroad: Redevelopment Of JoJo Ma’s And Railroad Headhouse And Railroad Tracks Along Roosevelt Avenue To Connect Downtown To The Avenues
·       Complements For Colonial Complex.  Implement the National Trust For Historic Preservation Plan.  Consolidate heritage tourism resources.
·       College Avenue Corridor.  Implement plan by City Redevelopment Authority And Murphy & Dittenhafer Architects involving parcels owned by the authority between DENTSPLY and Hope avenue.  
·       Broad-To-Pine Redevelopment Area. Redevelop the entire northeast neighborhood from city salt dome and maintenance shed to Pine Street, including Graybill property, old York County Jail, and many redevelopment-authority owned parcels.    
·       Prospects On Princess.  The Eastco/Acco site and industrial area between Prospect Street to the south and Princess Street to the north in the southeast neighborhood may be a prime long-term prospect for brownfield redevelopment.
·       Make Memorial Park Memorable.  Implement the Master Plan.
Pick one, aim high in design and results, rally resources, and get to work.  

62.)  Looking past the next big think, land-bank for the future.  Publicly owned land is crucial to any public-private partnership that transforms a neighborhood.

63.) Go beyond LEED-certified.  Build the city’s first off-the-grid building to show its commitment to energy efficiency.

64.)  Market the heck out of live music and recapitalize the extraordinary CapLive! music series at the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center.  Every weekend, strive to replicate the magic of Strand-performance nights, when a big name comedy, dramatic, or musical act sporadically spawns hundreds of feet on the street, visiting restaurants, cafes, and nightspots.

Thankfully, downtown York does not have what other hip neighborhoods, such as Baltimore’s Federal Hill, have: an ordinance specifically prohibiting live music.  Capitalize on this opportunity.

Encourage cross-fertilizing, trade winds of music downtown on the weekends whereby residents and visitors catch performances at a critical mass of venues – perhaps 7, 8, or more every Friday and Saturday night.  Could a “Take CapLive! To The Streets” or “Take CapLive! To The People” campaign, coordinating downtown bistros, pubs, taverns, and coffee shops, be the next step?   

65.)  Implement Tax Increment Financing or “TIF” to develop a shiny new retail strip.   Strive for a “status retail” tenant in that strip, such as a Starbuck’s, a Barnes & Noble, or a national brand store.  Also, strive toward a middle-class grocery, such as a Weiss Markets, Nells Markets, Saubels, or Shur-Fine, or Food Lion, something Yorkers have desired for years.

66.)  The Codorus Creek has long been known as the “inky, stinky Codorus” and something to ignore.  So, do the opposite. Revitalize the Codorus and rail trail gateway to the southwest of the city in earnest.  Ensure a faster-flowing, cleaner waterway and make it recreational friendly. Implement the city’s “Recapture the Riverfront” plan.   

To ensure consistent progress, host a highly publicized State of the Codorus event, featuring York’s congressperson, as well as U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, EPA, DEP, city and county government, Susquehanna River Basin, and corporate leaders to discuss monitoring methodologies and water quality and flow standards year-by-year.  This would lend transparency to efforts to make the Codorus a true community asset.   Despite important recent progress, the public is skeptical of the quality of the water flowing in the Codorus and the consistency of its quality when it does appear to be clear.  Clearly, the Codorus has not reached its full promise.  We owe that promise to the next generation. 

67.)  Go a step further with the Codorus in mapping and planning for commercial and mixed-use development and job creation in buildings that will face, grace, and embrace the Codorus.  Use downtown Frederick, MD as a model.  

Make the riverfront extraordinary.  Downtown Frederick, Maryland has created a beautiful pedestrian-friendly, public art filled walkway along Carroll Creek -- no wider than the Codorus – that has new high-rises and commercial development all around it.  

San Antonio’s Riverwalk – the holy grail of modern development along a narrow waterfront -- notwithstanding, there is no reason York cannot duplicate at least what downtown Frederick has. 

68.)   Once the Codorus has arrived – and call it a river, not a creek, celebrate and people it.  Develop an extraordinary summer music and bonfire festival series on the Codorus like WATERFIRE in Providence, Rhode Island.  Imagine live, riveting performances of the York Symphony Orchestra accompanying the lighting of glistening, crackling bonfire sculptures in the Codorus.   Permanent bonfire pyres could create a slalom course for kayakers.

69.)  Make Continental Square a proud, shiny, and creative icon of York County.  Bring the historic Comfort Stations – one of only two existing in Pennsylvania – back to life through a translucent elevator that changes colors with the holidays and when the York Revolution is in the playoffs.  Inspired by the design of York architect Frank Dittenhafer, this could be a signature York icon – reflecting our fondness for the creative, quirky, and whimsical – for creativity unleashed. 

The elevator takes visitors down to the hand-crafted interior, where one side provides restored, bronze, stylized bathrooms partitioned for each gender.  The other side hosts a newsstand, café, shoe shine stand, and visitor center, the “Down Under Café.”

Add high-end apartments and condos to One Marketway West, ensure all corners have businesses open after 6 p.m. at night, and ensure symmetrical alfresco dining on as many corners as possible. 

Add a fountain that sprays to the sounds of classical music selections on a continual loop.  Wrap an ever-pulsating digital news and stock ticker on the Wachovia building to build excitement and encourage conversation.

Ensure that the Continental Square is something worthy of a backdrop to news reporters and forecasters reporting live.  Make it the beautiful centerpiece and masterpiece that York County deserves.  Make it a photo-opportunity for tourists.

70.)  Reconstitute Continental Square as a place of national significance.  Our center square seems lifeless.  Despite two signs in the northeast quadrant, do we adequately celebrate it as the place of the birthplace of the nation’s first working Constitution?  Where is the pride?  Where is the patriotism?  Commission an archaeological dig.  Find the original boundaries of the Court House where the second Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation, our nation’s first working Constitution, on the southeast corner of the square.  Proudly trace that boundary with thick bronze rails and attractive bricks to commemorate this sacred spot in our nation’s history. 

71.)   Lobby the Department of Interior to make this a National Historic Site, which definitely would put downtown York on the map.  If Fort Necessity, which leaves behind a couple of wood shards in the museum and no longer exists as the original fort, is a great National Historic Site replete with a multi-million dollar visitor center and National Park Service guided tours and talks, then Continental Square should get its due.  In 2008 numbers, Fort Necessity, in the hinterlands over an hour and half south of Pittsburgh, attracts 105,000 people per year.

We have the historic significance and veracity that match or surpass other sites.  Do we have the political clout?  Note that such sites do not materialize or pop up on their own or by divine grace.  They are the result of sound archaeological excavation, historic confirmation, and, quite often, political will and federal funding.  The late powerful U.S. House member, John Murtha, was responsible for much of the funding for the new Fort Necessity, which attracts 105,000 visitors per year.

Imagine the local pride and visitor activity accompanied by a crisply tailored National Park Service guide leading visitors from Continental Square to the Gates House & Plough Tavern, the Goodridge House, and other sites.  

72.)  Since our gateways and medians are lackluster at best, do the opposite.  Make them extraordinary.  Working with master gardeners and Penn State’s Horticultural Society, in the long grass median strip connecting I-83 to York Hospital, plant black-eyed Susan flowers, or native flowers, or develop other colorful flora and fauna arrangements.  Could bronze life-size sculptures of York’s famous historical characters or other elegant art or signage beckon motorists into our city?

From the southern gateway into the city, plant native flora and flauna or engaged Master Gardeners and Penn State Horticultural Society to make this strip attractive and welcoming.

Make the heritage rail trail’s southern gateway inviting and attractive instead of straddled by junkyards and debris.   

Re-do the median strip on East Philadelphia Street to resemble the City of Harrisburg’s elegant, illuminated Verbeke Street leading to its Broad Street Market.

Finally, erect large, elegant, chocolate brown “Historic Downtown York” signs at key exits on Interstate-83 and Route 30, noting the following attractions:

Historic Downtown York
·       Arts And Market District
·       Colonial Commons
·       Continental Square National Historic Site
·       Goodridge Freedom House
·       Gorgeous George Boulevard
·       Sovereign Bank Stadium
·       Historic Yorktowne Hotel
·       Visitors Center
Driving on Route 30 from Lancaster to Gettysburg, a motorist barely notices that an historic downtown York exists.  Although every McDonald’s and hotel has a PennDOT-approved highway sign along that stretch, no signs promote or show where to turn to get to the Downtown Visitors Center, Central Market, Colonial Commons, Sovereign Bank Stadium, the Strand-Capitol, or the Yorktowne Hotel.  
If you did not know better, you would not know that an authentic Victorian village on the national historic registry with a Visitors Center, two authentic markets, museums, art galleries, performing arts, boutiques, bed-and-breakfasts, a recreational trail, great restaurants, the county’s only national historic landmark hotel, and the county’s only 4 Diamond award winning restaurant is only a mile away.  
If we do not promote and remind ourselves and denizens of what we have that is distinctive, motorists will keep driving past strip malls and Generica to search elsewhere.    
73.)  Incessantly market the good of the city on White Rose Community television and through e-letters and social media. 
Metro York has over 100,000 people and York County has over 400,000 people – both historic highs.  Here are examples of public service announcements on White Rose and other media to constantly remind people of the rich amenities in downtown York.
1.)             Message:         A Warm  Invitation To Experience York And Tying                          The Brand Together
Time:               60 seconds 
Setting:           Outside City Hall Or On Top of King Street or Philadelphia Street Garage with spires and steeples in the background.
Featuring:       Mayor C. Kim Bracey
Script:             Hi!  I’m Kim Bracey, Mayor of the City of York.  From York’s time as the cradle of America’s democracy during the Revolutionary War and well over two centuries later, we’ve been hosting friends, families, and dignitaries in our homes, shops, markets, studios, concert halls, taverns, and places of worship.  Today, your kitchen table is still the best concierge’s desk, so we heartily welcome you, your family, and friends to “Pennsylvania’s Industrial Arts And Design Capital.”  We’re an authentic place with a friendly face, so make our York your home to indulge your appetites for farm fresh foods, scrumptious dining, eclectic arts, live music, rich history, and exhilarating recreation.  Log onto or the following websites to learn more.  You can also facebook us at __________.
Chorus Together: “York: Creativity Unleashed!”   
Fade Out (5 secs):    Large slogan and logo of “York: Creativity Unleashed” framed in the middle with “” in upper left corner, “” in upper right corner, “” in bottom left, “” in bottom right – all prominently featured.
2.)             Message:         York is open for business and to you.  
Setting:           Sixth Floor Conference Room, Stock & Leader                                                Overlooking The City
Time:              90 Seconds
Featuring:       Economic Development official or officials
Script:             Hello there.  Based on its recent momentum, extraordinary value, performance-based incentives, and authentic character, York is a revolutionary place to do business. provides you with the information and applications you need to grow, own, and thrive in “Pennsylvania’s Industrial Arts And Design Capital.”  Sign up for our free e-newsletters so you are the first to know about breaking news and projects.  Check out key opportunity sites and exciting plans for the future, and download our Artist Homestead, Fresh Foods Fund, and Revolving Loan applications.  At your fingertips, has an up-to-date list of all commercial and residential properties for sale.  You also can download our award-winning downtown action plan or request a “Creative Capital Tour” to familiarize you with Pennsylvania’s Art and Design Capital.  “Pennsylvania’s Industrial Arts and Design Capital” heartily invites you to join the Revolution in the works!

Chorus Together:  “York: Creativity Unleashed!”    
Fade Out (5 secs):    Large slogan and logo of “York: Creativity Unleashed” framed in the middle with “” in upper left corner, “” in upper right corner, “” in bottom left, “” in bottom right – all prominently featured.
3.)             Message:         Come visit downtown York.
Setting:                     Inside White Rose Bar and Grill or Central Market
Time:              90 Seconds
Featuring:       Brooks Robinson or a popular Revs player, pending availability, with “Downtown”, the mascot of the York Revolution. and a young female professional representing Downtown Inc.

Script:             Hi there, folks.  I’m _______  , and I’m ______, and we’re here with “Downtown”, the mascot of the York Revolution.  

Young female professional:  In York, “Pennsylvania’s Industrial Arts And Design Capital”, we have big city amenities with small town charm.  Where else can you find two authentic farmers’ markets, amazing live music, a bevy of studios and galleries, great independent restaurants, and……?

Rev representative, cutting her/him off: Hey, don’t forget Sovereign Bank stadium, right smack-dab in your downtown – right Downtown?! (acknowledgment of Downtown, the mascot)-- and home of the highest left field wall in all of professional baseball, and home to great new concessions in 2011. 

Young female professional:  Oh, yes, no doubt.  And where else can you also find inspiring public art, illuminated outdoor murals, the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center, the CapLive! music series, the heritage rail trail, memorable museums, and hand-crafted goods – all within walking distance?   

Revs representative:  Hey, don’t forget the defending champions of the Atlantic League, the York Revolution and the best fans in all of baseball. Right Downtown?  Downtown nods enthusiastically with thumbs up.  

Young female professional: For a free visitors guide, call Downtown Inc at __________  or request one at  A whole new season awaits downtown York.  Be part of the action!  

Chorus Together:  “York: Creativity: Unleashed!”  
Fade Out (5 secs):    Large slogan and logo of “York: Creativity Unleashed” framed in the middle with “” in upper left corner, “” in upper right corner, “” in bottom left, “” in bottom right – all prominently featured.
4.    Message:    Welcome to Pennsylvania’s industrial arts and design                            capital.
Setting:      Outside Public Art On Beaver Street  Or In Philadelphia Street Studio
Time:         60 seconds 
Script:        Pat:            Hi.  My name is Pat Sells 
Casey:         And I am Casey Terrell.
Pat:  We are proud owners of Salvaging Creativity, a new business at 475 West Philadelphia Street in downtown York.   Thanks to the city’s Artist Homestead program, the nation’s first and only city-wide artist relocation program, we relocated to York from Maryland.
Casey:   That’s right.  And now we live above work in a ___-square foot warehouse dedicated to unleashing creativity and functional architectural sculpture to serve our clients.  We’re building a working studio, artists’ co-op, and performance space to engage other artisans and artists like us.  
Pat:  In York artist homesteaders receive $5,000 in forgivable loans, free architectural services, and tons of exposure, like this public service message! 
Casey:  Because of a rich history of hands-on innovation and design and new, novel programs like Artist Homestead, York is becoming Pennsylvania’s industrial arts and design capital.  
Pat:  When creativity is unleashed, the prospects are bright.  If you or someone you know is an artisan or artist in the visual, performing, musical, literary, culinary, or cinematic arts, you must look into this program.   Log onto or to spread the word and download an application.  
Chorus Together:  “York: Creativity: Unleashed!” 
Fade Out (5 secs):    Large slogan and logo of “York: Creativity Unleashed” framed in the middle with “” in upper left corner, “” in upper right corner, “” in bottom left, “” in bottom right – all prominently featured.
5.) Message:         Testimonial of city being a great place to do                                      business.   
Setting:      Outside CODO 241 or Barton Associates Or Another Relatively New City Business With Ample Workforce
Time:         60 seconds 
Script:        Hi there. My name is ___________.  I’ve been in business for over 30 years, and I recently decided to move my company, _____, to the City of York, and it has proven to be the right decision for many reasons.  We’ve been delighted with our new community, and this is a real community – walkable, accessible, friendly, and conversational.  It’s amazing how much business you can get done just by walking to and fro lunch.  The permit process was efficient and smooth.  The city has new performance-based tax incentives that encourage new development and job creation.  Our employees now love walking to Central Market and being able to join friends for happy hour and dinner after work.   For the first time in my generation, there is something new in the air in downtown York – a new energy, a new pride, new momentum.  The younger professionals are making York Pennsylvania’s industrial arts and design capital.  If you want to be part of a thriving business community with an authentic character and revolutionary soul, come on down to downtown!  You will like what you see.  My team and I do.  Come on gang!
              [Employees gather behind to create the chorus.]

Chorus Together:  “York: Creativity: Unleashed!” 

Fade Out (5 secs):        Large slogan and logo of “York: Creativity Unleashed” framed in the middle with “” in upper left corner, “” in upper right corner, “” in bottom left, “” in bottom right – all prominently featured.

6.) Message:         York is a great place to satisfy your curiosities about                                 history and your appetites for culture. 
Setting:           Garden of Plough Tavern
Time:               90 seconds
Featuring:       Living historian or Michael Helfrich dressed as Thomas Paine
Script:             Greetings!   My name is Thomas Paine, revolutionary pamphleteer and visitor to this charming burg, York Town.   In 1777, this was a fine place for Congress to adopt the nation’s first working Constitution, the Articles of Confederation, and for me to get some good writing done.  After 200-odd years, York is a delightful destination for partaking of spirits and victuals, unleashing creativity, and sparking your own creative revolutions.  Today, you can start your tour at the Downtown Visitors Center.  Free parking for what I believe you call cars and busses are right outside the door on Pershing Avenue.  From there, enjoy the fine museums and genealogical collections of the York County Heritage Trust, the Gates House and the Plough Tavern, and the Agricultural and Industrial Museum.  Now I reside at the Cookes house on the Codorus, but you can find wonderful beds-and-breakfasts as well as the venerable Yorktowne Hotel, a national landmark, right in the heart of York’s historic district!  Take it from me, Thomas Paine.  It makes common sense for you, your families and friends to immerse yourself in York’s rich history to find the patriots in you.   In York, these are the times that satisfy men’s, women’s, and children’s souls.  Right gang?!
[Living historians and school children congregate behind]
Chorus Together: “York: Creativity Unleashed!” 
Fade Out (5 secs):    Large slogan and logo of “York: Creativity Unleashed” framed in the middle with “” in upper left corner, “” in upper right corner, “” in bottom left, “” in bottom right – all prominently featured.
7.) Message:         York is a great place to learn and to earn a degree.
Setting:      Glatfelter Library of Penn State York Or new Logos Academy on the banks of the Codorus
Time:         90 Seconds
Featuring:  Business Leader
Script:        Hi.  ________I’m _________. York native and former Pennsylvania Governor, George Leader, said it best: “Education is the only way to achieve your goals.” Metropolitan York offers a compelling array of educational opportunities, from pre-kindergarten, to post-secondary degrees, to your golden years.   In metro York, higher education opportunities abound at York College, Penn State York, HACC-York, the William F. Goodling Advanced Skills Center, the Art Institute of York, York Technical Institute, and York Culinary Institute.   York has more breadth and depth in education today than it ever has in my 25 years here.  We are a proud community because we are proud of our youth and we always are building for the future.  In York City alone, the new robotics training program at the Goodling Advanced Skills Center, the William Penn Performing Arts Magnet School, the new YorkCounts-inspired international baccaulareate school, the new Logos Academy on the Codorus, and a host of new charter schools are proof positive of our commitment to education.  To learn more, log onto ____- today. 

York: Creativity Unleashed! 
Fade Out (5 secs):    Large slogan and logo of “York: Creativity Unleashed” framed in the middle with “” in upper left corner, “” in upper right corner, “” in bottom left, “” in bottom right – all prominently featured.

8.) Message:         York has boatloads of convenient parking.
Setting:                Upgraded Market Street Garage
Featuring:            Downtown merchant Steve Hefner
Script:                 Hi, I’m Steve Hefner, downtown merchant and member of the City of York General Authority. You know what really grinds my gears as well as the gears of my trains in my downtown train shop?  When people say that York doesn’t have enough parking.  I’ve had a shop in the heart of downtown for ___ years now, and, I can tell you, York has hundreds of places.  And, now, for the first time in memory, meter policies and marketing are consistent and encourage turnover so customers like you can easily park.  As a downtown merchant, that makes sense for business and helps customers find places.  I've been to cities and towns around the country. Compared to other places, parking in downtown York is convenient. It’s also cheap, and it’s easy, just like my fried chicken at Central Market!  Just remember to bring a few coins with you during the weekdays and on Saturday mornings.  And remember and tell you friends: You can always come downtown after 5 p.m. and park for free at any meter.  You always can always park for free in the parking garages and Central Market parking deck on Saturdays to go to the market and to visit shops like mine.  And you can always park at Lafayette Plaza next to the Rail Trail for free on Saturdays.  On Saturdays at the rail trail, bring your families and your bikes, but leave your quarters at home. 

York: Creativity Unleashed!  

Fade Out (5 secs):    Large slogan and logo of “York: Creativity Unleashed” framed in the middle with “” in upper left corner, “” in upper right corner, “” in bottom left, “” in bottom right – all prominently featured.
74.)  If you are known as an uncultured backwater, implement the Cultural Alliance of York County’s excellent five-year plan (2009-2014) linking cultural development to economic vitality. See the link to the plan on the homepage of:
75.)  Host regular Creative Capital Familiarization Tours to apprise promoters and professionals of the real narrative behind the city’s progress so they can share positive and accurate information with others.  Below is a sample itinerary for an impactful one-day bus tour experience designed to include at least 10-15 people.  Tours could occur as frequently as twice a month.
Audiences would include front-line tourism staff, city front-line city staff, planning commission, zoning hearing board, property maintenance inspectors, information services staff, “City Savvy Realtors” of Realtors Association of York and Adams County, local and regional media, “Delegates Of York Town” – those who subscribe to city e-letters, Alliance of Neighborhood Associations, neighborhood associations, county commissioners, county planning, Downtown Inc., HARB, Historic York, regional developers, regional economic development staff, post-secondary institution officials, DCED and other state officials, rehabbers, realtors, post-second institution student leaders, Women’s Giving Circle, York County Community Foundation, Better York, and local boards and civic organizations.  Our own best marketers are right here at home.  We have our own in-house marketing department that is ready and willing to tell the story if it is strongly equipped with solid information and a solid narrative of progress, momentum, and opportunities. 
Creative Capital Tour De York Tour de Force:
A Revolutionary Experience!

8 a.m.            “View From the sixth floor: An Overview Of City Development” Meet & greet at Susquehanna Commerce Center, Stock and leader conference room, 6th floor:

9:15 a.m.      Walking Tour: Keystone Colorworks Neighborhood (i.e., Northwest Triangle)
Sovereign Bank Stadium and Brooks Robinson sculpture

10:30 a.m.   “Cultivating Residential and culinary Critical Mass”
Codo 241, Las Casa Tapas, & Wagman Construction                    
The Lofts Condos                                              Walk-by and overview
Gorgeous George/Restaurant Row          Walk-by and overview
Codo 24 & Bistro 19                                         Walk-by and overview

“The Market And Arts District”
Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center and caplive!
Central Market, Cherry Lane, murals, & “gift from market” Sculpture: Downtown, Inc.
F.O.E. Applied Arts Center: YCEDC
YorkArts & Just Brenda Art Gallery

Noon             Lunch with city officials and economic development professionals

1 p.m.            “Artist Homestead” – the nation’s first & only city-wide artist                          Relocation program:, 
Salvaging Creativity & pewtarex (Pat and Casey, 475 E. philadelphia)
2:15 p.m.      “Pennsylvania’s Art And Design Capital”
international headquarters of buchart-horn engineering
Drive-By And brief overview of York wallcoverings
Rudy Art Glass Studio (15 east philadelphia)  

3 p.m.            “Revolutionizing the Riverfront”
Foundry Park Plaza, Gear Garden, & Splash!
Murphy & Dittenhafer architects
New Logos Academy Campus On The Codorus

4 p.m.            Performance-based incentives: Fresh foods revolving loan fund, artist Homestead program, capital arts revolving loan fund, et al.
Lady Linden B-and-B: Linden Avenue
Pete Richards’ artist homestead (154 E. Philadelphia St.)
York Coffee Shop (Fresh foods fund recipient)
            Historic York Inn B&B (30 S. Beaver): Artist homesteader

5:45  p.m.     “Capitalizing On Cultural Tourism”
Colonial Complex, jazzed up downtown visitors center, & “toasting Lafayette sculpture”
Overview of plans for consolidated colonial commons

74.)   Create Creative Capital gift sculptures to be given to visiting dignitaries and speakers to further York’s “Creativity Unleashed” brand York and to market city opportunities.  Instead of a traditional basket with miscellaneous snack foods, develop a “Creativity Unleashed” gift sculpture that evokes the theme of hand-made, city-originated industrial and artistic innovation and design.  The “basket” could be a metal public sculpture, itself, designed by Salvaging Creativity.  Contents could include coffee from a city coffee shop, a“Key to the City” from Pewtarex, a print of the Smyser-Royer building or other downtown building by a local artist, a letter opener commemorating the ground-breaking of the Northwest Triangle, a small stained glass art piece from Rudy Art Glass Studio, samplings of wallpapering from York Wallcoverings, gift certificates to one of York’s B&Bs, a gift certificate to one of York’s elegant downtown restaurant, durable food items, such as nuts and candies, from York Central Market, a  “Creativity Unleashed” mug, t-shirt, and bumper stick, a York Revolution hat and t-shirt, hand-made soap and candle from York Soap Company, and a gift from a retail boutique.  A copy of York’s award-winning Downtown Action Plan, artist homestead brochure, homeownership incentives brochure, and the first-ever Action Plan for Neighborhoods and other colorful promotional literature would be elegantly placed in the Creative Capital Gift Basket. 
76.)  Broadcast a “Creativity Unleashed” welcome video to be broadcast on WRCT and on a closed circuit channel at regional hotels.  Funded by tourism stakeholders, the film would promote the culinary, artistic, creative, recreational, and cultural heritage opportunities that abound in the city and in Metro York.   
77.)  Develop an A.M. radio station at the end of the dial that promotes downtown York to motorists on I-83 and Route 30.  
78.)  Embrace the power of testimonials and publish them far and wide.  They are free to assemble but powerful in their impact.  Use them on websites, White Rose Community Television infomercials, and marketing collateral.  Enlist business leaders to testify as to York being a great place to do business.  Here are but a few.
“When I recently toured York, I was immediately impressed by the city’s innovative artist homesteading program.  It is already a clear success, and I’m not ashamed to say that we intend to steal many of the program’s great ideas for use in Downtown Baltimore.  Like York, Baltimore believes that a city benefits greatly from the energy of a strong grassroots artist community.  York has found a creative way to tap into that energy to continue its exciting renaissance.”

--Kirby Fowler, President,
Downtown Partnership Of Baltimore

“Growing up as best friends in northern Baltimore County, MD we held onto a dream of making a living by our hands and minds.  Our search for a unique home and shop space brought us to the eclectic post industrial city of York, PA.  Initially we sought a simple small building.  Through the City of York’s Artist Homestead Program, we became proud owners of 475 W. Philadelphia St, a 26,000 square foot dream space.  This nearly 50 year abandoned 3 story brick historic building is now under development as our home/shop/gallery and will offer incubator space for several additional artisans.  None of this would have been feasible without the city's building familiarization tour, tangible financial incentives, and provided architectural assistance.  The Artist Homestead Program brought us into a community and provided to us the tools and people essential for our live/work space to become a reality.  There is much hard work ahead but we can’t wait to get up and running and give back to the community.”
--Artist Homesteaders Pat Sells and Casey Tyrrell of Salvaging Creativity,  475 West Philadelphia Street, workshop, gallery, home, & community arts center of eco-friendly, functional art
 “The vitality of art is a good measurement of a community’s vitality.  Thriving communities have a culture that cultivates artists and integrates them into social fabric of the neighborhood.  Galleries, live-work spaces, public art and art appreciation all help to support artists who bring a raw edge to the life of a community.  Many communities recognize this, but few actually take the opportunity to craft an economic strategy that capitalizes on regional markets, economic realities and actions that reflect the true prospects for a thriving arts community.  When the City of York launched its Artist Homestead program in 2006, other communities took notice.  In the turbulent years since, the ability to attract eight artists through a variety of incentives and technical assistance stands as a tribute to the importance of art for a community seeking to rebound.  York’s proximity to Washington DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Harrisburg make it an attractive venue in general.  The focused emphasis on art and the incentives available to make art come alive in this historic town allows York to be an attractive oasis for artists looking to start anew.”
--Geoff Brace, Executive Director, Kutztown Community Partnership
“For several years, I have been visiting York and observing its cultural scene taking shape.  A native of the region who maintains an artistic practice in New York, I am very impressed by the city's redevelopment.  The Artist Homestead Project, and the many initiatives of the city's Department of Economic Development - which include tax breaks and financial incentives for artists - puts York on the map as a fantastic resource for creative individuals, be they visual artists, filmmakers, musicians, performers, or writers. I am constantly struck by York's untapped potential.  It is filled with incredible buildings, many of them vacant, that date from the city's industrial-era prime.  Many of these spaces are lofty and unique, just the sort of thing to inspire creative use.  Moreover, I've been lucky enough to work with many of the city's talented youth at the William Penn Performing Arts Institute.  The energy of these kids is incredible.  I hope that natives and newcomers will join forces to ignite the potential of this city.  With the right balance of ambition and focus, creativity and clarity, York's art scene can flourish as a singular force in the region."
--Jonathan VanDyke, VanDyke Design, Brooklyn, New York  
“Studies by the Food Trust highlight the realignment of food services and markets to areas outside of communities that have largely sustained these services and markets for generations.  Communities that most need these goods and services are left without them.  York’s Fresh Food Fund serves as an example of what a community can do to address these concerns.  Business owners have access to credit that has typically been unavailable to them for equipment and inventory, building improvements, signage, and fixed assets.  In the end, the entire community stands to benefits.  Businesses can start or grow and create wealth. Neighborhoods see increased employment.  Customers have more choices and taxpayers enjoy a stabilized tax base that can support the services need to keep York safe and prosperous.”
--Geoff Brace, Executive Director of the Kutztown Community Partnership
79.)  As proposed in the Beautiful York Action Plan and as pursued through grant applications by the City Public Works Department, make East Market Street two-way from the eastern boundary of the city to Continental Square, thereby inviting visitors and traffic into the city and helping to bolster the downtown economy.
80.)  If you are known as an unimaginative backwater, celebrate artistic accomplishment.  For a modestly growing MSA of its size, building upon 424,000 people for several years, York boasts a healthy concentration of diverse artists, artisans, and creators whose works have inspired, challenged, and entertained countless people beyond our county, and, at times, beyond our national borders.   We don’t do nearly enough to remind ourselves and our children of this.
Taking a cue from Mayor John Brenner’s York Public Arts Awards (2003-2009) and The York Daily Record’s suggestion of an annual Mayor's Award for the Arts, start a York County Artist Hall of Fame.

A competitive process open to nominations with connections to York County for extraordinary commitment and contributions to the arts over years or decades of work would be sure to generate curiosity and enthusiasm.  After all, the county is the official Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) of York, and a finely tuned, juried process would result in intriguing nominees, with connections to York, both present and past, both living and no longer physically with us, representing a wide range of artistic endeavors.

For generations, civic organizations and leaders and the media in York, Hanover, and throughout the county have done an admirable service recognizing military and sports achievements, but arts achievements often play second fiddle, are not recognized, or are forgotten. 

That should change.  

Nominations could come from the following categories: Music, Performing Arts (e.g., drama, dance, and comedy), Visual Arts, Literature and Drama, Architecture and Public Design. 

A blue-ribbon committee (e.g., representatives from the Mayor's office, Pennsylvania Council of the Arts, Cultural Alliance, Strand-Capitol, Heritage Trust, as well as past award winners) could solicit nominations.  Based on a rigorous judging scale (e.g. demonstrated excellence in one’s genre, quality of nomination/s, artistic duration, breadth and size of audience, professional awards, strength of connections to York County, peer recommendations, contributions to other artists), the committee could select two annual honorees, a living and a posthumous inductee for the first several years.

This could become an authentic, “York unique” tradition that gives sincere, lasting thanks to our own county-connected talent, builds goodwill community-wide, boosts the awareness and self-esteem of our people, validates our children and youth's interest in the arts, and inspires our children and youth to compose their own dreams. 


Dominick Argento: Pulitzer Prize-winning Composer of Lyric Opera

Ed Kowalczk, Chad Taylor, Patrick Dahlheimer, Chad Gracey, and Adam Kowalczyk Of LIVE: Platinum-selling AlternativeRock Musicians  

Del McCroury: Grammy Award-winning Bluegrass Musician

Martie Erwin Seidel And The Dixie Chicks: Grammy-award Winning Country Musicians

Chris Thorn Of BLIND MELON: Platinum-selling Rock Musicians (1989-1995)

Tim Warfield: Globe-trotting Tenor Saxophonist

Performing Arts

Temple Kane: Radio City Rockette And Broadway Dancer

Cameron Mitchell: Film, Television, Broadway Actor, Founding member Of New York’s Actor’s Studio (1918-1994)

Ann Roth: Prolific, Academy Award-winning Costume Designer For Films and Broadway 

Charlie Thomas: Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Member Of THE DRIFTERS

Visual Arts

Jeff Koons: Internationally Renowned Pop Artist

Horace Bonham: Internationally Acclaimed Victorian Painter (1835-1892)

Rob Evans: Nationally Renowned Painter And Independent Curator

Lewis Miller:  Pioneering Pennsylvania German Folk Artist (1796-1882)

Lorann Jacobs: Prolific Sculptor, City Monument-maker

Charles Rudy: Nationally Renowned Sculptor, Gifted Teacher (1904-1986)

Literature, Drama, And Journalism  

Rita May Brown, Prolific, Best-Selling Author, Screenwriter

John Luther Long: Playwright and Novelist, Author Of Madame Butterfly, Inspiration For Puccinni’s Operatic Masterpiece (1855-1927)

Ken Ludwig: Prolific Broadway Playwright 

Architecture And Public Design

Dempwolf Family: Victorian Architects Extraordinaire (posthumously)

Frank Dittenhafer: Architect Of A City’s Renaissance

In sum, the time is ripe for York to annually celebrate its own county-originated or cultivated arts achievements, while building city artistic social and physical capital.

81.)  As an enduring gesture of thanks and an elegant commemoration of inductees’ accomplishments, a bronze emblem could be embedded in the sidewalks outside the Strand-Capitol, the county's cultural epicenter, on George Street and, as the tradition grows, Philadelphia Street, for each award recipient. 

While much smaller than Philadelphia’s Walk of Fame, which honors over 100 musicians on the Avenue of the Arts on on South Broad Street, York’s own artist corner could recognize accomplishments in diverse genres of achievement.  

Funded exclusively by private contributions, the bronze emblem would have the honoree's name and year of induction topped by a Y, standing for York and whose design could be tweaked to look like a musical note, sculpture, stage actor, literary script, or edifice depending upon the genre for which the honoree has been selected. 

82.)  In addition to walkway commemorations, a nearby York County Arts Hall of Fame, with rotating and interactive exhibits and video clips, could maximize recognition and learning experiences.

The walkway commemorations and Arts Hall of Fame also would show an open-minded, discerning, and accepting community.  Finally, a PhilaGeorge Arts Corner could serve as an educational and fundraising tool, while serving as a glittering gateway to the city’s Cultural and Market District.
Borrowing from the Governor’s Award for the Arts recipient Louis J. Appell's great suggestions and my own quirky, incomplete list, I note 21 intriguing candidates below and apologize in advance for absent-minded omissions.  To make up for lost time, six of the 21 nominees would be posthumous. 

The embedded emblems should be made here at home.  Such a project begs for the talented hands of city artist homesteaders Pat Sells and Casey Tyrrell of Salvaging Creativity. 

83.)  To create a critical mass of enthusiasm, perhaps the unveiling could accompany an annual “Beautiful York Ball” to raise private funds for an annual city public art installation, similar to the “Toasting Lafayette” sculpture or the Gear Garden, as well as a new city Artist-in-Residence program, to bring serious East Coast artists to the city to share their talents and works and to raise awareness of York as an arts scene.   In the past, balls proved to be great fundraising tools for the city’s YorkScape fund, which led to the Beautiful York fund managed by the York County Community Foundation, as well as a fundraising tool for the “Toasting Lafayette” sculpture on West Market Street.  

The unveiling could take place as a prelude to the mayor's annual state of the city address, which traditionally has occurred in April, with the honoree and her or his family and friends in attendance.  Alternatively, the unveiling could occur as an opening ceremony of Yorkfest in August of each year. 

Continue to tweak, promote, and add cultural pride parades and events.  Mayor Bracey’s upcoming “Restaurant Week,” a first for the City of York, is a perfect example.   
84.)  Continue to tweak and add to YorkFest to make it a premier, Mid-Atlantic Arts Festival.   To bring a remarkably diverse community together, explore theme nights: Folk and Bluegrass on Friday, Blues on Saturday, Jazz on Sunday during YorkFest.

Working with York College engineering students and local artists, start a creative, kinetic boat sculpture race on the Codorus, similar to the popular, annual race hosted annually by the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore. 

85.)  York has a long tradition of folk and bluegrass music, so, taking a cue from the editorial board of the York Daily Record, let’s capitalize on this tradition with an annual multi-day Folk & Bluegrass Festival on the banks of the Codorus at Foundry Plaza, Sovereign Bank Stadium, Continental Square, Strand-Capitol, Valencia, Pullo Center, historic churches, and private venues while exploring other multi-day music festivals.   

86.)  Make Bike Night an extended Bike Weekend with downtown events, including live music and food vendors, occurring at least through Saturday and perhaps starting as early as Thursday.  Currently, outside of Friday night, the city enjoys little upside to this major event, which attracts thousands of visitors with disposable income from throughout the nation.   
87.)  For the last weekend in June each year, re-launch a more ambitious, county-wide Patriot Days: Prelude To Gettysburg and make it a county event telling the unique role of York County, including the surrender of York – the only northern city captured by the Confederacy, the Battle of Hanover, and the burning of the Wrightsville Bridge, in the perilous days leading to the Battle of Gettysburg.   
With living history re-enactors and musicians, dramas, plays, walking tours, special exhibits, symposia, book signings, fireworks, and bonfire bridge burning finale, the multi-day event becomes a major reason for tourists to come to York before making the short trek to the Gettysburg National Battlefield, which hosts 1.9 million tourists per year according to 2008 numbers.    
88.)  Known as insular and private and unwelcome to outsiders and outside ideas, we’re not known as friendly to tourists or even particularly friendly to each other, so launch an aggressive advertising campaign south of the Mason-Dixon Line to counter-act that impression.  
In fact, despite the fact that downtown York has a cool cluster of Colonial buildings and is the birthplace of the nation’s first working Constitution, downtown’s heritage sites attract about 48,250 people per year based on 2008 numbers. By contrast, outside of the city, Springettsbury Township’s Harley-Davidson Factory Tour attracts 60,000 per year.  
The Hershey Museum attracts 90,215 per year, downtown Lancaster’s Heritage Center of Lancaster County and Phillips Museum of Art each attract 75,000 per year, and downtown Harrisburg’s Whitaker Center attracts 300,000 per year.  Note that all of these downtown sites dwarf the numbers of the Harley-Davidson Factor Tour, which currently is York County’s number one tourism attraction.  
To counter-program, launch a creative, aggressive marketing campaign to the south focusing on cyclists and recreational enthusiasts, art and artisan aficionados, live music fans, and heritage and cultural tourists.  Using the umbrella brand of Creativity Unleashed, always keep in mind your audiences.  Market to at least seven categories with sub-messages:
·       Metro Yorkers: Indulge Your Appetites For Freedom & Fun
·       Artisans And Artisans:  The Nation’s Only City-wide Artist Relocation Program For The Artist In You
·       Craftspeople And Rehabbers: Hand-Crafted Authenticity For The Rehabber In You
·       Entrepreneurs: Excellent Ethic, Ethics, And Ethos For The Entrepreneur In You
·       Free Spirits And Musicians: Quirky And Quaint Character For Finding Your True Voice
·       Recreational enthusiasts: Tour De York Trails And Adventure For The Weekend Warriors In You
·       Heritage And Cultural Tourists: Three Centuries Of Firsts, Feats, And Fellowships For The Patriot In You
Think of a marketing campaign throughout Maryland and into the D.C. suburbs, featuring billboards and newspaper and magazine spreads that prompt articles in the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, and other publications touting "Best Kept Victorian Secret Of East Coast," "Hidden Gem Of Mid-Atlantic," "Forgotten Capital On The Codorus Finds Its Niche," "Avalon For History Buffs, Bicyclists, And Art Lovers," "A Victorian Avalon In Pennsylvania," "Beautifully Preserved Victorian Village With A Revolutionary Heart", “Manufacturing Mecca Remakes Itself By Unleashing Creativity,” “Once Obscured Between A Capital And Harbor, Old York Finds New Buzz,” and "Creativity Unleashed On The Codorus.”
89.)   Buffer and make the York County Rail Trail a destination.  Consider re-naming it “The Freedom Trail,” “The Freedom Rail Trail,” The Patriot Trail” or “Patriots’ Rail Trail.”  After all, Howard Tunnel is named after Revolutionary War hero John Howard and the rail trail snakes into the center of downtown York’s Colonial Commons.   Renaming the trail could give it name recognition and appeal south of the Mason-Dixon Line, where the trail continues another 20 miles to Ashland, Maryland, just north of Cockeysville.  It’s more than just a recreational trail; it’s a patriotic journey that one must take to learn about and be inspired by an important turning point in the creation of our nation.

Imagine thousands of cyclists cycling from Maryland into downtown York each spring-through fall season with backpacks and staying for three-day and two-night weekend, family friendly, casual, and healthy excursions. 

To make this goal a reality, the buffers of the rail trail must be cleaned, pruned, groomed, and embellished.  Scrap yards south of the city must be transformed or shielded from the view of cyclists. 
Erect heritage and marine biology pedestals throughout the city portion of the rail trail, so bicyclists can stop and learn about marine wildlife in the Codorus and the history of the Codorus throughout the centuries. 
90.)  Make the City of York, hands-down, York County’s #1 tourist destination.  Add the numbers; it’s probably already there, but is not touted as such.
91.)  Make our bridges colorful assets.  As scores of bikers ride northward into the city, they notice that all bridges are brightly painted in vibrant hues and elegantly up-lighted.  Two of them are named "Lillie Belle" and "Henry."  The concrete embankments of the bridges show true-to-life scenes that create optical illusions based on pastoral and aquatic images of York’s past (e.g., children fishing, young lovers picnicking, a trout flying through the air next to a butterfly, skinny dippers diving in mid-air, thick forearmed workers hammering away at a foundry with fire flying around them).
92.)  Add a downtown Codorus Recreation Center near Foundry Park and the rail trail with mountain bike, kayak, and canoe rentals, bike, helmet, and apparel retail, adventure gear, sports drinks, and walking tour and Tour De York maps.
93.)  As they ride or hike into town, they trace Founders Row Or Liberty Walk, featuring bronze life-sized sculptures of all delegates to York Town, those members of the Second Continental Congress who made it to York Town, including John and Sam Adams, as well as instigator and pamphleteer Thomas Paine. 
Forming a haunting and inspiring profile illuminated at night from underground lights ala the Korean War monument in D.C., the congressmen form a loose row, walking east of and parallel to the eastern edge of the rail trail toward the Colonial Courthouse, with arms waving, heads gesticulating, and canes pivoting to make points to their colleagues as they go back into session.
94.)  Off of the Rail Trail in the large green lot between Market and King, erect Patriots Row, featuring memorials honoring York County's World War II, Korean, Vietnam, and Iraq-Afghanistan War soldiers. 
95.)  Make public art a priority.  Embrace all art and erect at least one conspicuous project each year.  Erect high quality, whacky and abstract public art, like the awesome benches and sculptures on Beaver Street and the Gear Garden at Foundry Park. Continue YorkArts’ beautiful mosaic murals.  Preserve and protect York’s historic murals and Lewis Miller mini-murals.  Add a life-sized sculpture of Lewis Miller, brush in extended hand, in Cherry Lane to fully pay tribute to this pioneering folk artist in the middle of his open-air gallery.   
96.)  Continue York’s “Casting Characters” campaign by erecting life-sized, interactive sculptures of strikingly diverse characters and freedom fighters like revolutionary pamphleteer Thomas Paine, who stayed in York, Thaddeus Stephens, who studied in York, William C. Goodridge, and Squire Braxton.  Honor native sons, Lewis Miller, one of early America’s first folk artists, James Smith, who signed the Declaration of Independence, and Horace Bonham, a world-renowned Victorian era artist.  Pay tribute to the Revolutionary demi-gods, like John and Sam Adams, who walked our streets and drafted the Articles of Confederation through individualized sculptures.
97.) Create a whimsical York-unique Dog And Art Bark Park, featuring bronze and topiary fairy-tale animals inspired by Alice in Wonderland and children's nursery rhymes as well as Art Glatfelter's Pal and Jeff Koons' second "Puppy", made out of begonia plants.  
98.)  Fully capitalize the Beautiful York fund of the York County Community Foundation to do at least one public art project each year.
99.) Lobby the General Assembly to pass legislation allowing cities to adopt public arts ordinances to that multi-million dollar new development projects must have public art associated with them.
100.)  Consolidate and re-imagine Colonial Commons. Consolidation would include a relocated York County Heritage Trust Museum and Archives.  Complementing the consolidation should be pedestrian-friendly linkages, such as a cobblestoned Lafayette Plaza on the banks of the Codorus. 
101.) A more ambitious vision would include developing Peddler's Village at the front-end of Lafayette Plaza facing Pershing  (the parking lot owned by the city general authority), featuring college students or living history guides playing the roles of a blacksmith and silversmith, sponsored by Pewtarex, a potter, sponsored by Lifetime Brands, a printer sponsored by the York Newspaper Company, a candle-stick maker, potter, and basket-waver, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Guild of Crafts People and the Art Institute of York, and a horse stable, sponsored by the Fraternal Order of Police.
102.) At Colonial Commons, Living history guides, starring the inimitable Generate Lafayette, General Gates, and a York Everyman character known simply as "Dutch," replicate the cabal, a duel, and congressional debates leading to the drafting of the Articles of Confederation, our nation’s first working Constitution.
103.) The Golden Plough Tavern, York's oldest building, built in 1741, is open at night on Fridays and Saturdays to serve York County-prepared, farm-fresh foods and homemade ales and wines and hosts poker parties offering clay pipes and York County tobacco.
104.)  Strive to have three hotels, including the Yorktowne, and convention center and seven quaint Victorian Bed-and-Breakfasts and a day spa would complement the historic Yorktowne Hotel for lodging for our intrepid rail trail bicycle groups, arts and antique enthusiasts, and heritage tourists

105.)  Create a landmark heritage and cultural tourism and family friendly attraction, a Creation of the Nation Museum, on the southwest corner of Pershing and West Market.   Featuring family friendly and student friendly, interactive exhibits as well as a rotating display of the actual Articles of Confederation on loan from the Department of Archives, this state-of-the-art museum would attract over 100,000 visitors per year and would be, by far, the largest single-site tourist attraction in York County.   The figure of 100,000 per year is based on a study on such a museum conducted by Economics Research Associates (“ERA”).  ERA, which creates feasibility studies for recreational attractions, exhibits, and museums, is the same nationally known firm that accurately predicted attendance at York’s Sovereign Bank Stadium.   

106.) If one is known as a place not accepting of others, protect classes of people through law.  Regardless of whether a county-wide human relations commission is ever implemented, the city, today, has the power to provide health care benefits to the same-sex partners of city employees.  By doing so, York would join Philadelphia, which passed its ordinance in 1997, Pittsburgh, and Allentown.

107.)  Add a gay-friendly destination, perhaps a cabaret, piano bar, and dinner club downtown in the Arts and Market District.  Lend cultural flair and sense of fun and adventure to Roger Brooks’ 10-10-10 plan, which rightly focuses on adding 10 restaurants, 10 retailers, and 10 places opened after 6 p.m. within 4 contiguous blocks around Central Market.

In general, take out a page of John Waters’ book, and embrace the extraordinary, the quirky, and even the bizarre.  Be much different than Generica, and be proud of it.  Baffled and bemused by his beloved Baltimore’s penchant for slogans that come and go, Waters offered his own for “Charm City”: “Come to Baltimore and Be Shocked.” 

Not a bad idea for York, which is about as quirky and surprising as cities come.  

108.)  For crying out loud, with York’s history of racial tensions and based on the overwhelming evidence of the site’s historic significance, open up the William C. Goodridge Freedom House and Underground Railroad Museum at 123 East Philadelphia Street.  And erect a life-size, bronze sculpture of the man with a lantern beckoning freedom seekers into his home. 

At 123 East Philadelphia Street in downtown York, the historic Goodridge house, owned by Crispus Attucks Association, is the ONLY existing house in Pennsylvania that was owned by an ex-slave while serving as a station on the Underground Railroad.  But it is closed to the public and falling apart. 

Built in 1850, the building was home to the fascinating and mysterious William C. Goodridge, former Maryland slave, a barber then candy and jewelry store proprietor and ultimately one of York’s wealthiest men, owner of York’s tallest building and a total of 20 buildings, owner of 13 railcars, and long-time conductor on the Underground Railroad who helped countless slaves escape to freedom. 

Goodridge is a continuing source of curiosity and wonder, inspiration and introspection, pride and patriotism.

Today, his shuttered, deteriorating house is disheartening and frustrating because of the work done by wonderful people over eight years to make this historic building into the Goodridge Freedom House and Underground Railroad Museum and because of how close the precarious project is to either continued deterioration or completion.

It is a shame and an embarrassment for York County, in the heart of south central Pennsylvania -- where some historians think the very phrase “Underground Railroad” originated, to not have a fitting, accessible venue dedicated to telling the full history.   

York's collective recollection of the house and the man – in media, tours, project plans, and a new historic marker – should now reflect the recent National Park Service’s Network to Freedom and Pennsylvania Civil War Trails designations, including publication of the official logos.  These designations make it the only house in Pennsylvania with both designations that was owned by an ex-slave. 

Specifically, after extensive research, the National Park Service of the Department of the Interior in 2003 designated the house as an official site of its National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, a program authorized in 1999 and carried out, with site grant appropriations, during the Bush administration.  This is the gold standard for authenticating an Underground Railroad site.

According to the National Park Service, a site “nominated to the Network must have a verifiable association to the Underground Railroad. These associations to the Underground Railroad must be verified using professional methods of historical research, documentation, and interpretation.”  In this case, the site’s use in the Underground Railroad, not the site’s owner’s association, was authenticated.

Network to Freedom designations are not easy to come by, and the Goodridge house’s designation, one of only two in York County – the other being the Willis House, also in the city, is a special distinction of which York should be proud and should prominently display and market.  In fact, York should market the freedom house and the history of the Goodridge family as boldly as Goodridge the entrepreneur marketed his goods and services. 

In addition, erected in 2009, the Goodridge house’s official Pennsylvania Civil War Trails marker states:

In addition to his business ventures, he also became prominent on the Underground Railroad.  His properties, including this house and Centre Hall on the Square, served as stations.  Runaway slaves were hidden in the root cellar of this home, which was accessible via a hidden door in the kitchen floor. The Goodridge railcars were also used to transport runaway slaves to safety.

Further, the Commonwealth’s official Pennsylvania Quest for Freedom website, a project of the Pennsylvania Tourism Office, states: “Goodridge also hid fugitive slaves inside his house, in a secret room at the back of his basement, and in a straw lined trench located under a building at the back of his house.”

That eerie hiding place beneath the kitchen is still intact and is planned to host a memorably exhibit featuring projected images and surround-sound.  Pending further funding, imagine haunting holographic images riveting school children and visitors.

In sum, the historic Goodridge house is the only existing house in Pennsylvania that was owned by an ex-slave and officially authenticated by the National Park Service as a station on the Underground Railroad.  This is a “York unique” gem to be cherished, preserved, and open for the public to appreciate. 

To give the house its proper due, an elegant marker designating the house as an official National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom site, with the Network to Freedom’s inspiring logo, is in order.  

The following words should appear next to the logo: “The National Park Service’s official designation made in 2003.  The only existing house in Pennsylvania owned by an ex-slave and authenticated as a station on the Underground Railroad.

*   *   *   *   *  *   *   *   *
109.)  Keep regional, high speed passenger transit on the radar screen.  Strong efforts to fund a Corridor One or phase one project to connect the cities of Harrisburg and Lancaster through high-speed rail have aborted for now. 
Future corridors were being planned to extend high speed passenger rail service to downtown Carlisle, Hershey, Lebanon, and York, and other communities in the Susquehanna Valley. 
But, just because this visionary plan, first developed in 1993, is not in the fiscal cards at the moment does not mean that it should be forgotten.  When the economy recovers and governmental coffers are healthy again, the conversation should be resuscitated.   High speed passenger rail would give a big boost to our core communities by providing convenient transportation for commuters, business people, tourists, and overnight guests, while strengthening our regional identity and our reputation as a good place to do business.   

110.)  Find a Metro York if not a county brand and stick to it to get maximum impact. 

Our city’s recognition and identity is be obscured and squeezed by the state capital, Harrisburg, and Chocolate Town, U.S.A., Hershey and Hershey Park, to our north, a thriving Amish and retail tourism area, Lancaster, to our east, the crown jewel of the National Park Service, Gettysburg, to our west, and “Charm City”, Baltimore and its inner-harbor, to our south. 

Who are we, then?

Critics remark that our signage or lack thereof, on Route 30 and I-83, and a “Do Not Enter” sign on the very eastern fringe of the city on East Market Street are proof positive of this problem.

Consider the following slogans and would-be brands for York all elbowing each other for attention. “Creativity Unleashed,” “Factory Tour Capital Of The World,” “Revolutionary Experience”, “Creative Capital Of Pennsylvania,” “Pennsylvania’s Industrial Art & Design Capital”, “Hub of the Gettysburg, Lancaster, Lancaster, and Hershey-Harrisburg Region”, “Home Of The Nation’s First Working Constitution,” “Mid-Atlantic’s Creative Capital,” and part of the “Susquehanna Gateway Heritage Area”, “Dutch Country Roads” and “Smart Market.”[1] 

I do not even include the “First Capital of the United States” slogan of the 1980s and 1990s in this fairly recent list because the historic veracity of the claim is widely disputed.  

I write “would-be” brands because you cannot have a brand if you do not have shared, broad-based “ownership” of a slogan that is repeatedly used over and over again by stakeholders and you do certainly do not have broad-based market absorption and recognition. 

Without a unified slogan, repetitive use, market absorption, and customer recognition, one does not have a brand.  At best, one has fragmented, diluted marketing – too many shouts and cries for attention that drown each other out, and, at worse, an identity if not a self-esteem crisis.

Here are 102 slogans for York.  Those with an asterisk behind them – 20 in all - were suggested or used by a newspaper editorial board, newspaper columnist, magazine, consultant, colleague, tourism or economic development agency, or band, or are closely associated to such slogans.  The author originated the other slogans. 

Negative Or Neutral Identities
1.           York: A Hard-Knock Creek Town*
2.         York: Hard-Knock River Town*
3.         York: Shit Town*
4.         York: Hardscrabble*
5.          York:  Red-brick, Mason-Dixon-Line Factory Town*
6.         York: Kiss Your Honey Where It Stinks*
7.          York: A Place That Used To Be
8.         York: A Third Class City For Second Rate Tastes
9.         York: Too Close To Other Places To Fail
10.            York: Waitin' For The 19th Century Or The 1950s To        Come Back
11.       York: Where 1969 Is Alive
12.     York: Where 1/2 Of Our Children Graduate
13.     York: It's Not That Bad, Really
14.     York: Where Good Plans Go To Die
15.       York: Analysis Paralysis Capital Of The World
16.      York: Where Dog Shelters Get More Money Than  Homeless Shelters
17.       York: As The White Rose Turns, The Stomach        Churns
18. York: At The Center Of It All, Standing For Nothing
19.     York: Content With Chips And Dips
20.          York: A Crossroads To Other, Better Places
21.     York: Not Really The First Capital
22.            York: We're Really Not All That Racist
23.            York: Putting People Last
24.            York: Only A Half Hour Away To Better Cities
25.            York: We're Cheap, We Know It, And It Shows
26.            York: If You Ain't Dutch, You Ain't Much
27.            York: Not Sure If We're A Town, A City, Or A         County-wide Metropolitan Area
28.           York: The Only City To Surrender To The        Confederacy Without A Fight (And we gave them  molasses, too!)
29.            York: Still Surrendering After All These Years
30.          York: We Don’t Even Own Our Own Water System
31.     York: Ignorance, Bigotry, And Homophobia    Unleashed
32.            York: Warehousing Our Poor And Minorities In      The City Since 1950
33.            York: Still Revolting
34.           York: Yes, We’re The Place That Created A Failed    Constitution
35.            York: Self-Loathing Since 1741
36.           York: Draining Brains Since 1975
37.           York: Only A Capital By Default
38.           York: The Place John Adams Hated
39.           York: Half Cracked On The Codorus
40.          York: Screwed By State Law
41.     York: Land-locked And Mind Numbed
42.           York: A Place With Many More Plans Than Projects         And Programs
43.           York: The Place Congress Got The Hell Out Of As    Soon As It Was Safe To Get Back To Philadelphia
44.            York: We Have 72 Municipalities County-wide:       Aren’t We Efficient?
45.           York: A Great Place To Leave When Your Children Are Ready For Middle School, If Not Before
46.           York:  A Two Newspaper Town For One Track         Minds
47.           York: In The Middle Of The Commonwealth Of        Complication That Confounds Commonsense
48.           York: Past the Point of no Return
49.           York: The Planning Capital Of The World
50.           York: Fair To Middlin’, Closer to Middlin’
51.      York: Fourth Capital, First In Obesity
52.           York: Fourth Capital, First In Bad Air Quality

Positive Identities  

              1.       York: Unleashing Creativity*
               2.      York: The Creative Capital of Pennsylvania*
3.      York: The Cultural Capital of Pennsylvania*
4.      York: Pennsylvania's Arts And Design Capital*
5.       York:  Arts And Design Capital Of The Mid Atlantic*
6.      York:  A Revolutionary Experience*
7.       York: Victoriana*
8.      I Love York City*
9.      York: The Biggest Small City In America*
10.     York: The Greatest Small City In America*
11.     Hub of the Gettysburg, Lancaster, Lancaster, and Hershey-Harrisburg Region
12.     York Part of the “Susquehanna Gateway Heritage Area”*
13.     York: Part Of “Dutch Country Roads”*
14.     York: Part Of “The Smart Market.”* 
15.     York: The City That Refused To Die
16.     Home Of The Nation’s First Working Constitution
17.     Mid-Atlantic’s Creative Capital
18.     York:   The Little 'Burg That Could
19.     York: A Revolution In The Works
20.    York: Still Stirring A Revolution
21.     York: Victoriana With A Revolutionary Soul   
22.    York: A City Of Firsts And Feats   
23.    York: Where The Eclectic, Eccentric, Electric City Of The Future Meets Old Deutsch Charm, Disciplined Craftsmanship, And Enduring Authenticity
24.    York: Best Kept Victorian Secret Of East Coast
25.    Hidden Gem Of The Mid-Atlantic
26.    Forgotten Capital On The Codorus Finds Its Image
27.    Avalon For History Buffs, Bicyclists, And Art Lovers
28.    A Victorian Avalon In Pennsylvania
29.    Beautifully Preserved Victorian Village With A Revolutionary Heart
30.    Manufacturing Mecca Remakes Itself By Unleashing Creativity
31.     Once Obscured Between A Capital And Harbor, Old York Finds           New Buzz
32.    York: Creativity Unleashed On The Codorus
33.    York: America’s Lazarus
34.    York: Wet Clay For Fiery Minds
35.    York: Where Artisans Hand-Craft History
36.    York: The Smartest Small City In America
37.    York: Where Humanism And Authenticity Meet
38.    York:  The Comeback City Of The Twenty First Century
39.    York:  Victorian Village, Revolutionary Soul
40.    York: An Open Air Gallery Of American Culture   
41.     York: A Community Of Character, Characters, And Culture
42.   York:  The Mid-Atlantic Miracle
43.    York:  Retro 'Nique And Ready To Freak 
44.    York: Eclectic, Ethnic, Eccentric, Electric
45.    York: A CEO Community: Creative, Entrepreneurial, Ownership           Community
46.    York: Miracle On The Codorus
47.    York: Innovative, Ingenious, Individualistic
48.    York HAPPY: Humanistic, Authentic Place Proximate to Everywhere
49.    York: Where Victorian Charm Embraces The New And You
50.    York: An Old ‘Burg Re-engineered For The 21st Century

In a mine field of community identities, much like a fair political election, a community never will achieve 80% approval.  We may not even achieve 55% approval from our own populace.  That is to be expected with any community, which elicits so many opinions, feelings, and labels from many different people, depending upon their relationship to it, the time in their lives spent there, or employment or relationship experiences there. 
But, the stakeholders have to be above that.  Stakeholders – governments and economic development and tourism agencies – must rally behind one slogan and logo if a brand is to have any chance of success.
This is a common pooling problem.  All players --- city and county government, tourism and promotion agencies, third-party marketing firms – should have a brand summit, agree on one unified slogan and logo to test, sign letters of intent that pledge loyalty and best faith efforts to promote such slogans and logos, spend money to spread the brand throughout and outside of the county, patiently give the unified slogan and logo a chance of success over five years, and then re-evaluate the burgeoning brand’s impact after five years. 
If a new brand, finally with broad-based community support, is being recognized throughout the county and beyond and paying dividends in the market-place, then build upon it for ten years.  Particularly in a very crowded playing field in the east coast ad Mid-Atlantic, brand recognition does not come easily or cheaply, so patient equity is critical.   
*   *   *   *   *  *   *
To revive its downtown core, to revitalize the neighborhoods of our core communities, and to stay economically competitive as a county, it is time for the City of York, Metro York, and York County to turn the chapter and move into the 21st century. 
To do so, let’s counter-program with vigor, persistence, and a sense of joy.  
Let’s go to China.

[1] For an excellent overview and historical perspective of York’s slogans and would-be brands through the years, see Scott Butcher’s “Branding York?” (  In his column, previously published in the York Sunday News, you can almost hear the exasperation in Butcher's words when he writes: 
Factory Tour Capital of the World - This branding program was launched by the York County Convention & Visitors Bureau in 2001. Early county visitors guide covers and advertisements also included the phrase Industry is just part of our landscape.
You've Got it Made in York County, PA - This is the slogan that was adopted as part of the YCCVB's branding initiative. The tagline appeared in print with the logo and on the cover of at least one visitors guide.
See For Yourself - This was a slogan that the City of York used for a series of advertisements and marketing materials in the 2000 - 2001 timeframe.
Gateway to Central PA / Gateway to Central Pennsylvania - This was more of a "theme" than an official slogan, and was used by the York County Convention & Visitors Bureau in 2000. It appeared in ads and on the cover of a county visitors guide.
250 Years and Still Making History - This statement was used as part of the York County 250th anniversary celebration in 1999. It too appeared in advertising and on the cover of a county visitors guide.
You've Gotta See It! - This slogan was used by the York County Convention & Visitors Bureau in the late 1990s to promote York County, and it also was used for ads and on visitors guide covers.
The First Capital of the United States / America's First Capital - This statement is still being used today and for many years was on the City of York Web site homepage. According to research by Jim McClure, the claim (also used as a slogan) was created in the mid-20th century to promote tourism to Colonial York (a phrase also used to promote York).
A place to stay ... a home we love to share - I found this statement on the cover of a visitors guide from 1993.
The Spice of Life: York's Got It! - The Spice of Life dates from the early 1990s, perhaps earlier, and was used to promote the variety of things to do in York County. It appeared on the cover of a visitors guide.
There have been other phrases and themes used during the past 20 years. Discover your past (cover of Revolutionary York visitors guide) and Discover the patchwork of America (cover of county visitors guide) are two that come to mind.”

1 comment:

  1. Hi Matt,

    One can see that you have spent a lot of time thinking about York! I admit I am one who has made disparaging remarks in the past but would like to change my thoughts about the place we call home, live, work and where my kids go to school.

    Keep fighting the good fight!