Comprehensive plan

A Potter County resident writes her feedback on one of the five posters filled with strategies and actions.

PORT ALLEGANY — Every 10 years or so, Pennsylvania counties make a new comprehensive plan to implement. Planning directors look at where the county has been, where it’s going and make decisions based on the public’s needs.

Potter, McKean and Cameron county planning directors have been working on a new comprehensive plan. Though they are working together, at the end of the process, each county will have its own distinct plan.

Bringing the three counties together was a way to bring down the cost of creating the plan. The total cost of the plan is $120,000, but each county contributed $13,000. The rest was matched by a grant.

An open house was held Thursday, June 27, for the public to offer input on a draft of the comprehensive plan. About 57 people attended. Those in attendance could put a star on a map to show where they were from; 28 said they were from McKean County, 14 were from Potter County, three came from Cameron County and three said they were from out of the area.

A few topics the plan focuses around, based on what the community prioritized in an online survey, are workforce development, economic base, communities, infrastructure and health services.

The public had the opportunity to make comments on the draft, whether it be a solution to a problem, that they didn’t like the idea or they didn’t want the solution outlined.

Potter County planning director Will Hunt said one of the more common pieces of feedback he received was to open a career and technical center for Potter County residents, which would help fuel jobs in the county.

This could look like what the CTC has in Port Allegany or something different, Hunt said. That could service both high school students and adults.

He said this was a common topic raised by all the school superintendents from Potter County. One concern was the amount of time the kids who are interested in the CTC program have to spend on a bus.

“They ride the bus to school. They get to school, they do minimum classroom so they then jump on a bus again and then ride up to an hour one way to get to the CTC. They have a short period of time, then they have to jump back on the bus, ride back to the school, then get back on the bus and ride back home,” Hunt explained.

Promoting the arts more was another frequent topic. Hunt said someone suggested creating an art center, similar to the Deane Center in Wellsboro where local artists can perform or do presentations.

Another goal was to promote local employers and contractors to big developers and corporations that are working on large projects in the county.

“We can work better with these large corporations and the developers that are coming into the county and try to provide them with some type of documentation of local contractors and local employers that might be able to meet their needs through the construction process, or even after the project is completed,” Hunt said.

“We need a plan that’s simple to understand, is implementable and can be a living document, essentially, that we’ll be able to monitor and make sure that we’re staying on task,” Hunt explained.

He said a goal in Potter County is to create a committee that tracks the progress and implementation of the plan once it is adopted. The hope is the committee can provide guidance to elected officials and ensure the plan is working.

The plan adoption process is expected to begin in early fall. There will be a public hearing in each county and a 45-day public review before the county adopts it.