Written by Charles “Mick” Jones, Beaver Falls City Manager
When it comes to implementing planned change for a community, I couldn’t agree more with the words of motivational speaker Michelle Homme when she said that “Our entire community must be bold in its mission of authentic caring for one another in order to influence a better tomorrow”. I believe and have found that before a community can grow or become what it envisions, it not only must learn to love and care for another, but it must prove it not by just mere words, but by their very actions. In my many years of public service, from my time in the military, my decades as a law enforcement officer, and the past five years of being a city manager for the City of Beaver Falls, I have learned that it takes the entire community, from city hall to the various businesses, churches, non-profit organizations and most important of all, its citizens to share and implement a common vision of what they want their community to look like and even more what they want their community to be.
Beaver Falls, much like most post-industrial mill towns, has seen better days, but I along with so many other dedicated and passionate people are committed to not letting our past define who we are today. As a city manager for this awesome community, I am continually humbled by the heart and soul of our community and the willingness to create a new sense of purpose now, and in the future.
The Beaver Falls Downtown Plan is a prepared document that identifies our community’s collective vision and is the basis for implementing the Innovation Corridor Initiative located right here, in the heart of our downtown. The Innovation Corridor Initiative is a cooperative effort that involves and started with PennDot’s redesign of our main street that included a “road diet”, new state-of-the-art traffic signals, pedestrian-friendly sidewalks, and bicycle lanes. As we continue to build upon this “planned change” in our downtown, the Innovation Corridor creates new opportunities for a new vision for our community and supports other projects such as the construction of the anticipated Mycelia Cultural Arts building, the potential home of the Penn State Innovation Hub, the new redesign of Library Park and the continued collaboration with organizations such as the Beaver Falls Community Development Corporation and Neighborhood North Museum of Play.
As we move forward with our plan to implement an Innovation Corridor, Neighborhood North Museum of Play is and has been one of our biggest supporters with this endeavor. As with any community development project, oftentimes the smallest voices of our community, our children, are not heard or considered with planning, but we are thankful for organizations like Neighborhood North for providing that voice and for educating us about the needs of our children and families when it comes to community development. As Ben Bernanke, the former Chair of the United States Federal Reserve once said “Community Development has a long history of innovation and learning from experience”. If there is anything I believe we all have learned about community development in the last several years, it’s never about forgetting your past, it’s all about learning and growing from your past.
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