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Akron Borough

 

Akron Planners Look at Human-Powered Transportation

Akron’s walkers, bikers, runners, scooter jockeys and other self-propelled humans may one day have a more encouraging environment to get about town. That will be thanks to an ongoing study of the borough’s active — i.e., human-powered — transportation needs, resources, opportunities and aspirations.

The study is funded by a $20,000 grant from Pennsylvania WalkWorks, a collaboration of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the Pennsylvania Downtown Center and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

The study is being conducted by RGS Associates, a Lancaster landscape architecture and civil engineering firm. Sam Meckley, an RGS community development specialist, met with the borough planning commission and a small group of citizens in a public meeting at the borough office on Thursday evening, March 3. At that meeting, Meckley said RGS is looking for input from Akron residents. 

The WalkWorks program objectives are to:

  • Identify and promote safe walking routes.
  • Offer social support through guided, community-based walking groups.
  • Help schools develop walk-to-school programs.
  • Address local policies to increase safe walking routes.

Beyond the planning process, DCNR awards funds for municipalities to improve park, recreation and conservation services.

In a PowerPoint presentation, Meckley noted some benefits of increased active transportation. They include better public health/quality of life, reduced auto use, air quality improvements, higher property values and increased spending at local businesses. An active transportation plan, according to Meckley, will mesh with the county and borough comprehensive plans, and also with the county and state active transportation plans.

When Meckley invited input from Akronites at the meeting, the Warwick to Ephrata Rail Trail (WERT) and Lloyd Roland Memorial Park garnered the most remarks as both destinations and as places to actually walk. Connecting the park and the trail has been a vision shared by many in the community even when the WERT was still in the planning stages. The general consensus was that joining the two is a challenge but maybe doable.

Places to walk to included Weiser’s Market, Broad Street Park, Akron Elementary, the post office, Mennonite Central Committee Global Village, the Akron Nutrition Center and the borough office on Seventh Street. Walking or biking across Seventh Street, a.k.a, busy Route 272, drew a number of comments.

Meckley said there will be another public meeting at some point to gather more citizen input, but he said the date is yet to be determined.

Meanwhile, there is an online survey available to provide input to be considered as the plan is developed. It is available at surveymonkey.com/r/AkronBoroughATP. A link is also available on the borough website, akron-pa.com, and a paper copy can be had at the borough office, 117 S. Seventh Street.

 Meckley said the plan must be presented for WalkWorks consideration no later than September of this year.

 

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