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 from PennDOT.
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.
McKean County Planning Director Jeremy Morey said most of the feedback circled around the economy. He said people suggested investing in existing local businesses, attracting green energy manufactures, promoting rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft, continuing to promote Pitt-Brad and have more marketing opportunities for PA Wilds.
“We were kind of expecting that. Anytime you’re dealing with how to create jobs and promote what we have here, that’s what usually gets people going,” Morey said.
Health services was another area they had a good amount of feedback on. People wanted to see more access to mental health programs, more psychiatrists and shorter waitlists for those services.
Before the open house began, there was a short presentation given by Brian Funkhouser of Michael Baker International. After, several people in attendance voiced their concerns of being unprepared for this meeting. Many questioned who was part of the committee to help create the plan and asked why those people were selected.
Morey said he had a conversation with those individuals after the presentation and explained who was picked and why.
“We just went through the list of stakeholders who were on our 2007 plan and the new faces and names who were in those jobs, that’s who (we picked,)” he said. Since the plan was with two other counties, each county could only bring 15 people to the table.
Morey said they have a list of 518 people who are interested in being more involved in the plan. In the future, he said they should pull a few people from that general public list. He said he understood their frustration of seeing a majority of CEOs and senior employees at big companies.
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.