East Ave. Task Force Open for Business
Civic and Community Leaders Form East Ave. Task Force to Address Neighborhood Business.
East Ave. between 6th Street and 12th Street is illustrative of Erie's past – once community centered and defined by the eclectic nature of its neighborhoods – or a warning about its future – potentially devoid of viable and sustainable local business while approaching post-apocalyptic blight.
For more than a few years, community leaders like East Avenue Neighborhood Watch coordinator Fr. Jerry Priscaro have decried changes to the urban landscape that have impacted the area known as the East Ave. business district. Positive changes for the region have regularly been detrimental for the continued operation of business and the overall well-being of the neighborhood at large.
The opening of the Bayfront Connector and the closing of the East Ave. bridge loom large over a decades long pattern of shuttering factories, exodus of community resources – including grocery stores – and an increasing isolation from neighborhoods south of the train tracks and west of the highway.
"This neighborhood has taken some hits with the closing of factories and rerouting traffic. We want to come up with ideas to bring hope back to these businesses and the East Avenue neighborhood," says Erie City Councilman Bob Merski.
Merski is leading a group of civic and community leaders, including Fr. Priscaro, in what they are calling the East Avenue Task Force.
Other members of the task force, which will make recommendations for existing and potential businesses in the East Ave. corridor, include State Rep. Pat Harkins, County Councilman Andre Horton, and Kim Green, the City of Erie's director of economic development, as well as the owners of Clancy's Pub and Pizza, New York Lunch, and the Razanauskas Funeral Home.
Jim Wertz can be reached at jWertz@ErieReader.com, and you can follow him on Twitter @jim_wertz.