Following Up: 2021 Urban Centers Forum
Posted November 17, 2021
Chester County's 2021 Urban Centers Forum, "Great, Green, Growing Small Towns" took place on Tuesday, October 26, at Oxford Borough Hall and via Zoom. The forum welcomed municipal officials and other urban planning professionals from around the region — making for yet another excellent event!
Chester County Planning Commission's Urban Planner, Kevin Myers, kicked off the forum with a warm welcome, followed by an introduction from Oxford Borough Council's Chair, Peggy Ann Russell. Russell introduced the Borough's new Downtown Manager, Pauline Garcia-Allen, as well as the new Executive Director of Oxford Mainstreet, Brian Dix. Chester County Commissioners Marian Moskowitz, Josh Maxwell, and Michelle Kichline also attended the forum, noting the importance of our Urban Centers and this year's topic.
"Within Landscapes3, the county's comprehensive plan, our 15 boroughs and the City of Coatesville are designated as urban centers and natural places for new development and growth," said Commissioner Moskowitz. "In fact, continued revitalization of our urban centers is a core principle of Landscapes3 and is critical for the county's balance of growth and preservation."
While the Urban Centers Forum supports the "protect" goal in Landscapes3, Commissioner Maxwell touched on the importance of green infrastructure throughout the county's six goal areas. "All six of our goals in Landscapes3 incorporate green infrastructure into their recommendations — such as the open space preservation program, natural resource protection, park development, tree and seed planting, streetscaping, trail development, and stormwater improvements," he added. "The need for Green infrastructure to address issues such as stormwater and urban heat islands is self-evident, and these improvements also offer many ancillary benefits."
Will Williams, Sustainability Director for West Chester Borough, highlighted some examples of green infrastructure during his presentation, which included the challenges and successes of permeable paving, green bump-outs, and the Borough's Stream Protection Fee Program.
Following Williams' presentation, Nicole Kline-Elsier of McMahon Associates, discussed an array of transportation projects incorporating green infrastructure, including Swarthmore Roundabout Project and that provided numerous benefits by connecting Swarthmore College to the central business district and the Paoli Pike shared use path in East Goshen Township.
Chris Linn and Miles Owen from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) provided some great information regarding green infrastructure on a wider scale, including street trees, urban forests, and urban heat islands.
"The county offers programs and funding for green infrastructure through the Planning Commission's Vision Partnership Program (VPP), and funding for installation through the Department of Community Development's Community Revitalization Program (CRP)," added Commissioner Kichline. "In fact, the county has invested 71-million dollars in our Urban Centers through the Revitalization Programs. By working together, we can continue to see our urban centers provide a high-quality of life for their residents, and successfully revitalize."
Other speakers included Brian O'Leary, Executive Director of the Chester County Planning Commission and Dolores Colligan, Acting Director of the Chester County Department of Community Development.
In-person attendees were given the option to participate in a walking tour of downtown Oxford after the event.
"Thank you to our speakers and our staff who put a lot of hard work into making this forum possible — and thank you to Oxford Borough," said Kevin Myers during the forum's closing remarks. "We hope to see you at our future Urban Centers Forums!"