Harmony hears initial downtown ideas

Downtown redevelopment plans presented

October 8, 2019 Cranberry Local News

HARMONY — A proposal to close the town square on Main Street to vehicular traffic was just one popular idea among Harmony residents that the Downtown Redevelopment Services (DRS) presented at Monday's meeting on the borough's ongoing revitalization plan.

The plan stems from the borough receiving a third of a $500,000 Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant. The other two-thirds went to Zelienople.

Ben Levenger, president of DRS, said at least 15 community members who took a survey on what they'd like to see downtown mentioned the creation of a pedestrian-only square on Main Street.

“We heard from people time and time again: they want a walkable community with a nice square in the middle,” Levenger said.

The “radical” idea would be a two-part process, as Levenger envisioned: the first would be to replace the pavement just north and south of Mercer Street with cobblestone, and the second — which could happen years later — would close off that section to automobiles, adding areas for people to sit, eat and shop.

That idea was just one of the initial recommendations presented to Harmony residents Monday night, and it's part of two bigger themes the consultant identified: to harness Harmony's community character and renovate the borough's streetscape.

“Having an old-world, German square fits your clientele very well,” Levenger said. “People are visiting for historic tourism purposes. Why not have the cobble in place with the granite curve and have a multi-useful space, like they always design in Europe, something that's useful for almost any purpose?”

When the idea was presented back to Harmony residents, it remained popular.

“I love the Euro thing they're trying to do,” said Susie Altemus, who serves on the borough's parks board.

Other possibilities that DRS identified to help downtown Harmony include the creation of facade guidelines, creating a Main Street organization, adding diversified storefronts and standardizing the currently diverse streetlights.

Residents of the historic borough appeared open to refreshing its downtown facade.

“It will only help the community,” Josh Meeder said.

DRS and Harmony hope to adopt a final road map in six weeks. The borough is still accepting comments and survey submissions.