Community Turns Out for CRC Town Meeting
CLEARFIELD – The Clearfield Revitalization Corp. (CRC) received its best-ever turn out with more than 100 attendees at its fourth annual Town Meeting held Wednesday evening at the Moena Restaurant banquet room in downtown Clearfield.
Main Street Manager Kellie Truman-Swales presented the successes of 2012 and the upcoming year’s projects. She said the CRC is completely volunteer-based, and its volunteers accumulated more than 11,000 hours last year.
Truman-Swales said its volunteer hours represented a 23 percent increase over 2011. In addition, she said the state has established an hourly rate of $19.61 on volunteer time, which makes it an in-kind investment of $216,161 that can be used for leverage for grants. Truman-Swales said the CRC volunteer time includes all events, such as the Fall Festival and Pumpkin Race 5K, storefront decorating, hosting workshops, meetings, etc.
“We have a board of directors; it’s all volunteers. We have committees; they’re all volunteers,” she said. “We wouldn’t be here without our volunteers. It’s all for the betterment of Clearfield. It’s a whole community-wide movement.”
In 2011-12, Truman-Swales said the CRC received its national accreditation from the National Trust Main Street Center (NTMSC). She described the process as “rigorous;” however, she said the CRC met the commercial district revitalization performance standards set by the NTMSC.
When recognizing the Design Committee, Truman-Swales reviewed the property investments from the past year. She said although the CRC didn’t award as many grants in 2012 as past years, the Façade Improvement Grants had a “high impact.” Truman-Swales said a total of nine grants were awarded for a CRC investment of $31,650 and a private investment of $86,346, which results in a Return on Investment (ROI) of 2.73 percent.
Since the Façade Improvement Grant Program started in 2010, she said the CRC has awarded 37 grants. She said this has resulted in a CRC investment of $110,606 and a private investment of $303,995, or an ROI of 2.75 percent. She said its ROI rates “on the high-end” based upon the state’s scale, which classifies 1-3 as “great.”
She said the CRC’s Design Committee was recognized by the Pennsylvania Downtown Center with a “Townie Award” for its restoration program and its high ROI on its projects. She said, “We’re competing against Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie – all these bigger cities – and here it is Clearfield.”
Truman-Swales said the Façade Improvement Grant Program is intended to stimulate private investments in the preservation of historic downtown architecture and to foster image-making improvements to downtown commercial properties. She said the funding is provided by the state’s Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) through the Pennsylvania Main Street Program. Truman-Swales said the CRC Façade Improvement Grant is a 50-50 matching grant up to $5,000.
In 2013, she said the Design Committee has implemented some changes for the better to the Façade Improvement Grant Program. In past years, she said the committee has set deadlines for February and June. However, she said the committee is opening grant submissions up to the last Friday of every month, so that it can seize more opportunities. Additionally, she said the sides of prominent commercial properties are now eligible for the Façade Improvement Grant Program.
For the upcoming year, Truman-Swales said the Design Committee is planning for a Growing Greener Week to beautify the downtown and to kick-off summer sometime in May. She said the CRC has initiated the “Adopt a Tree Box” program and currently has 88 tree boxes in downtown Clearfield. Truman-Swales said in the past, each business has taken on a tree box, but they want to expand to a week-long program to incorporate the local scouts, non-profit organizations and community members.
She said the committee will also be taking on the Market Street Streetscape Project between Second and Front streets. She said they had received a $50,000 grant to construct tree boxes in the spring; she’s working on obtaining grant funding for the trees to plant sometime in the fall. She said the Streetscape Project also entails installing more park benches and bike racks and planters.
In 2013, she said the Design Committee will have a three-day community service project with the Potter baseball team July 22-24. Last year, she said the team spent six hours in downtown Clearfield tidying up the sidewalks and washing storefront windows. She said this year, the boys are looking for one big, high-impact project, and the CRC is giving consideration to the park. However, she said they’re welcoming input from the community.
“If you have ever had a dream project for our downtown and we can make it happen in three days with about 30 boys, we want to hear it,” said Truman-Swales.
According to her, the Economic Restructuring Committee is embarking on two, big projects in 2013 with the Secret Shopper Program and the Downtown Walking Brochure. She said the Secret Shopper program will be valuable to downtown businesses, as it’ll provide customer service-based surveys. She said the CRC has partnered with the Marketing students at Penn State DuBois who are researching the surveys. She said the CRC will need volunteers to implement the program.
Truman-Swales said as the Main Street Manager, she gets to travel and visit other Main Street communities. She said one thing these communities all share is a Downtown Walking Brochure that’s available in local businesses. Truman-Swales said the committee is working to complement the existing travel guides and planners with their own brochure geared toward shopping, dining and things to do downtown.
Truman-Swales said the CRC Promotions Committee is currently in the early process of planning a Farmer’s Market, so that Clearfield has something happening in the spring or summer months. She said it will be a one-day, small-scale event on Market Street; however, she wants it to have a “unique theme and its own identity” while still keeping it geared toward farmers/produce and summer products.
She said the CRC is partnering with the Presbyterian Church and downtown eateries to offer “Music in the Garden” every Tuesday in the summer from June through August. She said attendees will order at participating eateries by 11:15 a.m. and take-out lunches will be delivered to the pocket park at the church, accepting cash only. She said the CRC is looking for local eateries and musicians to participate.
Truman-Swales said the second annual Clearfield Fall Festival grew by 54 percent so far as total vendors. She said the Pumpkin Run 5K had a 53 percent increase in participants. Truman-Swales said the third annual Fall Festival and Pumpkin Run 5K will be Oct. 12.
So far as other CRC events, Truman-Swales said the “Anything that Floats” Boat Regatta has been tentatively scheduled for June 1. She wants to increase the participation of local students and scouts. In addition, the Taste of the Town Spirit Tour will be held Dec. 13.
CRC President Dr. Keely Casteel said there were five members who left the CRC board at the end of this past year. She said these board members “took a chance” on the revitalization program and then stuck with the efforts since 2007. Casteel said these board members included Vice President Mike Errigo, Treasurer Mark Breakey, Secretary Patricia Kavelak, Bob Rishel and Rob Swales.
Casteel announced she’ll be stepping down as president of the CRC after the current-year. She thanked the CRC for the “privilege and thrill” for her to be a part of the revitalization efforts in downtown Clearfield.
She then introduced attendees to “the next generation” of the CRC for 2013. She said the CRC officers consisted of Vice President Rob Bozovich, Treasurer Joe Kelly and Secretary Katie Penoyer. Other board members include: Bill Wood, Eric Cummings, Katie Miknis, Lisa Kovalick, Darla Smay, Leslie Stott and Jim Schell.