Newcomer wants to bolster Harmony

March 22, 2019 Cranberry Local News


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HARMONY — A new entrepreneur could be hitting the borough's business scene as soon as this summer.

Sam Hopkins, who moved to Harmony in 2017, has already bought 14 properties in Harmony to expand his goals of buying, restoring and renting historic homes.

“I hate seeing it rundown,” he said of some of the neglected homes. “It's a tragedy.”

At Tuesday night's planning commission meeting, Hopkins expressed his desire to move beyond that part of his life in retirement to bring more tourism to Harmony.

Hopkins said he intends to add a few points of interest to the historic borough, including rental stations for things like bikes to traverse the town as well as tubes, canoes and kayaks to take down Connoquenessing Creek. He said he was even looking into the possibility of having a new restaurant on Mercer Street.

Planning Board member Joe White said he loved the idea of people utilizing the creek for fun in the summer but was concerned about the lack of navigability it presents and inability to ensure use in the summer due to inconsistent rain.

“It also, in my opinion, should not be an excuse for doing nothing,” White added. “We are here to help. We're not here to tell you no.”

Hopkins said everything is still just in its beginning phases, which was why he attended the planning commission meeting to feel out what might be wanted in the area.

“I find it easier to work with the community,” he said, “and it's my community, too — I live here.”

Hopkins, who moved to the area with his wife and sons, said the walkability of Harmony reminded him of his own childhood, and he wants to cultivate it.

“I believe in giving people a nice place to live,” he said.

White and Hopkins agreed that part of keeping Harmony “nice” needed to be about preserving and restoring its history, even though there is also room for expanding to new businesses.

“One of the things we pride ourselves in here in Harmony is historic preservation,” White said.

White suggested Hopkins continue working on his plans for his businesses and return to the board for more “free advice” later.

In the meantime, Hopkins said he would likely be back to attend next month's planning commission meeting with more plans and that he would take this year to get building and zoning plans done and start the actual projects next year.

Although he said he would like to have rental structures built before he starts up that business, he said there is potential for him to add some of his outdoor plans to the Harmony area as soon as this summer.

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Alexandria Mansfield

Alexandria Mansfield

Alexandria Mansfield is a community reporter at the Cranberry Eagle. She worked as a freelance reporter before joining the Eagle staff in July 2018. She graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania's journalism and public relations department in 2018 and from Wellsboro Area High School in 2015. While at IUP, she served as a reporter and editor at The Penn, the university's student-run, twice-weekly newspaper, and earned first place awards from Pennsylvania News Media Association and Pittsburgh Black Media Federation in 2017 and 2018, respectively, for her news coverage and investigative reporting.