Sharon business owners consider plan to improve downtown

Local News

If the plan is approved, Sharon would be a priority for state money for facade repairs and streetscape improvements

SHARON, Pa. (WKBN) – On Monday afternoon, a group got together to talk about taking the next step to improve downtown Sharon.

The money’s in place to at least develop a plan so the consensus was to put a plan together and see where to go from there.

Bill Fontana works for Pennsylvania Downtown Center — the state government agency which helps downtowns.

Fontana told the 50 people Monday what it will take to create a Business Improvement District for downtown Sharon.

“Communities that want to undertake a revitalization program and want to get involved in the effort need to think about putting some skin in the game, as they say,” he said.

The $30,000 to create a working plan for a Business Improvement District is in place. The meeting was to outline how the district would work and to see if the stakeholders were OK with at least creating a plan.

Once in place, that plan would be scrapped if 40% of the property owners objected. Sharon City Council would also have to approve.

One requirement is hiring a manager whose salary must be paid by the district.

Also required is a five-year commitment to keep the district operating.

If formed, Sharon would be a priority for state money for facade repairs and streetscape improvements.

Fontana suggested funding it partially through an assessment fee, possibly paid for by all the property owners. In 2010, the median fee statewide was $285 a year.

The assessment fee could be used for anything from marketing to real estate purchases to sidewalk snow removal or security.

“I think it’s worth a conversation. I think it’s worth looking into more,” said Karen Winner Sed, who owns property downtown. “I would like to have an opportunity to see some of the other areas to see their progress and what they thought after that five-year commitment.”

“It’s an offer we’re going to look into,” said Mark Jubelirer, co-owner of Reyers Shoe Store. “It’s complicated, it’s open-ended, it requires a lot of consensus building and that’s the hard part.”

“This is exciting,” said City Councilman Bob Lucas. “The business owners are the ones that are going to have to make the decision but I believe it’s another step forward for our city.”

Fontana told the group to think of downtown as an outdoor mall where everyone agrees to share the cost.

He also cited West Chester, Pennsylvania — near Philadelphia — as a place that redid its downtown right. Fontana said one investor opened a new restaurant in West Chester because he knew someone was in charge.

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