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Heritage Action Plan assesses resources & linkages

April 20, 2011

This past Monday, about a dozen members of the Heritage Action Plan working group gathered at the Tri-County Area Chamber of Commerce to review the results of a recent listing and ranking of Pottstown’s heritage resources.  

The map below – created by Tom Carroll – shows the clusters of historical, arts, cultural, dining and recreational resources in and around the downtown. Some highly-ranked resources received “poor” ratings for physical condition.  It’s important to keep in mind that highly-valued resources, perceived to be in poor condition, may be excellent candidates for money or attention to draw the most benefit from them in our promotional efforts.

The map also listed major annual or seasonal events hosted in/by Pottstown every year. When these events are shown by the month in which they occur, it becomes apparent that the Borough and various other organizations are holding major events that draw visitors from throughout the region 8 months out of the year. Coordinating & enhancing promotion with downtown merchants and PDIDA could be one of several recommended strategies in the HAP. Creating additional events to fill in the other months would lead to a full year of “hometown celebration” programming.

As the working group moves toward defining Pottstown’s heritage marketing strategy and branding, history and the arts emerged as themes to pursue. Here were several comments/suggestions:

  • Start giving Historic Walking Tours on First Saturdays, led by MCCC students.
  • Consider giving Cemetery Tours, esp. for John Potts Cemetery, which is now not open to the public, and for Edgewood Cemetery. Coordinate with Pottsgrove Manor.
  • Look into creating a Historic Church Tour; several churches were highly-ranked.
  • Use banners (inexpensive) to designate High St. as an “Avenue of the Arts.”
  • Use banners to generate excitement & direct visitors to downtown. Add color! 
  • Coordinate with PDIDA & downtown merchants.

The group briefly talked about tourism/hospitality amenities that are lacking or need improvement. Safety and cleanliness had been concerns in our first large group meeting back in March. 

  • High school students will be cleaning up the downtown on the April 30 Clean-Up Day, and this should be the beginning of more frequent clean-ups downtown by student volunteers.
  • Need to do a better job of tapping volunteers in the community.
  • Involve high school students in creating marketing materials.
  • Need signage, banners, kiosks to get Trail users into the downtown – still must decide how many, what goes on them, where to place them and prioritize list.
  • Need more occupied storefronts, esp. creative-related, for critical mass to attract trail users.
  • Will need lodging for overnight visitors when Trail is complete.
  • Consider a winter carnival in February.
  • HAP partners must continue to have conversations & coordinate with County & PennDOT regarding road projects and trail linkages.
As one participant noted: “This is exactly what the ULI report was talking about.”
We expect to have another large group meeting in the next couple weeks as we solicit more input on a vision statement, marketing strategies, and trail town components like signs, kiosks and connecting paths. The public is invited to join in here or by emailing PtownHAP@gmail.com.


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4 Comments
  1. Katy permalink
    April 20, 2011 7:23 pm

    This project is definitely the start of a “chain reaction of awesomeness”. Thanks for your dedication Sue, Tom and to all my friends and neighbors who are fitting the pieces of the puzzle together. That’s the ticket!

    • April 20, 2011 8:10 pm

      Thanks for the support, Katy, and for all you’re doing with the Community Land Trust and Community Gardens. I believe this mosaic is coming together!

  2. April 21, 2011 4:12 pm

    Sue, congratulations to you, Tom and the team for work completed to date. Two observations:

    1) What happens in the longer-term future of Pottstown will be up to its children, not us. Yet I suspect many Pottstown kids know little about the borough, and less about the resources the team has so dutifully identified and mapped.

    In Terre Haute IN, where I served for four years as publisher of The Tribune-Star newspaper, the Leadership Terre Haute group of its chamber of commerce tackled their similar problem in an interesting way. Its members wrote, photographed and created a five-day course (five one-hour sessions) about the history of the city (population 60,000) and all it offered residents and visitors, for use in the elementary and middle schools.

    Teachers loved it; kids loved it. It got good press and regional reviews. After several years, though, the course became stale, needed updating, and so was abandoned. But the idea would work here; in fact, it might even work better here, because Pottstown is so history-rich and resource-filled. It might be considered an “internal marketing” project for the future.

    2) The map identifies only five media and marketing resources. I doubt others were purposely excluded, but there are of course many more. Roy’s Rants, Pottstown’s Blog, the Pottstown Arts and Culture blog, The Pottstown Herald and others all toot the borough’s horns frequently. In marketing Pottstown, we want to leverage the power of their reader audiences as well.

    Regards,

    Joe Zlomek, The Sanatoga Post

    • April 22, 2011 10:28 am

      Hi, Joe –

      Your observation about educating younger residents and helping them to really “know” their town and become future boosters is an apt one. John Armato was at our last meeting and there are ways that we hope to engage students in various activities over the long-term. (1) A fairly large group of high school students will be coordinated by Leighton Wildrick on the April 30 clean-up day, kicking off a weekly downtown clean-up by smaller groups of students over at least the next 2.5 years. The cleanliness of the downtown has been mentioned as a major issue that needs to be addressed. (2) As we move into marketing ideas & tapping those existing resources, we would like to involve the high school students who are in the marketing/business program at the high school, so they can learn more about the challenges facing their town and get some real world experience.

      The Terre Haute program sounds awesome! I would love to help develop something like that. We urban planners have an ethical obligation to promote civic education and raise awareness about all the issues affecting communities. I’m putting this idea on the list – the term “internal marketing” is perfect.

      Regarding the map: I’m sorry if it wasn’t clear – for all the categories of resources, we only showed those that received above a certain rating. This town has so many wonderful resources and we just couldn’t map them all at this point. I suspect a major mapping will occur when it comes time to help visitors find whatever they might be looking for in the downtown & we need to put maps on brochures or on kiosks.

      Re: the media that were not mentioned – with the exception of Pottstown’s Blog (I don’t think people knew it was back up) – the other news outlets were on the list of resources and will certainly be tapped. No media stone will go unturned to market Pottstown!

      Best,
      Sue

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