Slowly but surely, Stowe's Business District Advisory Committee is making progress toward streetscape improvement and development along the Broadway Avenue corridor in the township's West Park neighborhood.
Revitalization work this year will involve at least one block of color-tinted, patterned sidewalk along both sides of Broadway between Seventh and Dohrman streets.
The last major overhaul of this area was completed in 1982.
Streetscape improvements are being taken one grant application at a time by advisory committee members Ray Puskar, Tom Ozga, Claudia Wendel and Marge Erhard.
Mr. Puskar is a former Sto-Rox High School principal and recently appointed Stowe commissioner.
The others are local business owners.
With three grants in hand and a fourth grant recently submitted, the group has big plans for the little town among the hills along the Ohio River.
Since the group's inception in 2010, a lot of behind-the-scenes work has gone on to prepare for the "long, drawn-out construction and a lot of red tape," joked Mr. Ozga, the committee's architecture and design chair.
Progress evident to the average observer includes new high-efficiency streetlights with poles and bases painted black.
The lighting fixtures were chosen to complement the district's mainly 1920s architecture and have been installed over a three-block portion of Broadway's business district.
The new two-tone sidewalks in the works for this year will include planters suitable for trees or low-profile shrubs and irrigation, Mr. Ozga said.
The advisory committee also has worked with Allegheny Together to provide for growth, investment and resource conservation in the township.
Allegheny Together was formed in 2007 to help revitalize towns with pedestrian-based or downtown business districts. Stowe joins Aspinwall, Bellevue, Bridgeville, Carnegie, Coraopolis, Dormont, Elizabeth, Homestead, Tarentum, and Verona in the Allegheny Together program.
According to the group's written plan, the goal for Stowe is to "re-establish and re-energize downtown Stowe as the central focal point of our community architecture, our community business and our community life."
The group hopes to be instrumental in attracting a bank and a nighttime restaurant to West Park. The Citizens Bank branch there closed when another opened inside the Giant Eagle in the Kennedy Center Shopping Center.
Approximately $275,000 of grant money, yet unspent, will be used toward sidewalk replacement and other small touches throughout the area, possibly including new trash receptacles.
The group hopes to purchase new traffic lights for the intersection of Seventh and Valley streets at Broadway, as well as to provide welcoming directional signs along Route 51 through Tunnel Way. To do this, they will need the fourth grant.
The committee also may apply for free trees through TreeVitalize, a partnership to restore tree cover in Pennsylvania metropolitan areas.
Additionally, Mr. Ozga said he is available to discuss the possibility of matching funds available to business and property owners throughout the business district interested in performing building facade work.
Specifications for the sidewalk project are soon to go out for bid with hopes of phase completion by the end of this year.
All commission plans are vetted through township officials and the Chartiers West Council of Government.
"We make suggestions; they don't have to do them," said Mr. Puskar, organizational chair. "Nine times out of 10 -- actually, always -- they've agreed."
Architectural renderings of the proposed streetscape project will be made available in the coming weeks in the windows of the former Citizens Bank, 656 Broadway.
An upcoming Easter on Broadway event chaired by Ms. Erhard's community life committee is scheduled for March. The annual event is geared toward families with children.
Sonja Reis, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org