Implementing Erie's Comprehensive Plan Takes Center Stage at JES
Buki and CZB associate Peter Lombardi will discuss Erie Refocused at the Jefferson Educational Society.
Wednesday, Oct. 12
You can learn a lot from Erie Refocused, the 106-page comprehensive plan compiled earlier this year by Virginia-based urban planning firm CZB, LLC. It's a warts-and-all look at the pains and promises that face the Gem City in its current state. And on a Wednesday evening in mid-October, you can hear from two of its authors at the Jefferson Educational Society.
The plan's language is a mix of tough-love realism and business-friendly optimism. The scale of local "de-investment" is explored in depressing detail – 45 percent of our residential properties are on or near blocks with visibly distressed buildings. At the same time, the plan praises "a city of great places," where the Bayfront offers an intimate "mixed use urban experience" with plenty of potential.
It's full of practical, pragmatic suggestions. What to do about the roughly 4,700 housing units that currently sit vacant in our city. How to upgrade infrastructure to encourage entrepreneurship. Where to invest in architectural improvements. How to capitalize on the potential of our downtown spaces, and how to merge them more effectively with our gorgeous lakefront.
CZB's president, Charles Buki, advocates for a transition toward a "postindustrial, technology-driven, service-sector economy" in our region. To Erieites who are all too familiar with three decades of stagnating wages and a long-term decline in manufacturing labor, that might sound unrealistic – or even misguided. But Buki and his team also offer a vision at a time when innovation is surely needed.
And it's not just the vision of some firm from the suburbs of D.C., either. CZB partnered with a range of local organizations to craft the document, including the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership, the United Way, and the Erie Community Foundation. They also worked with local universities like Gannon, Mercyhurst, and Penn State Behrend.
At the Jefferson, Buki and CZB associate Peter Lombardi will discuss the plan's implementation, with particular focus on the collaborative efforts needed to make it a success. If you care about the long-term stability of our city, drop by and hear them out. – Dan Schank
7 p.m. // Jefferson Educational Society, 3207 State St. // jeserie.org/events#10_12_2016