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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Bill Pekarski: Day 123, Living life on my terms.

Bill Pekarski:

Day 123, Living life on my terms.

A recent slow drive through downtown Coudersport was a bittersweet experience. I decided it would be interesting to pretend that I was passing through town as a stranger, or possibly somebody looking for a place to live. What impression would I have?

On the bright side, the colorfully decorated Christmas trees lining the courthouse square and some bright displays in a couple of storefronts sent a welcoming message. There were plenty of empty parking spaces. The Victorian architecture of the downtown business district was striking. Overall, the town did seem welcoming.

But there was no denying a deepening problem that appears to reaching the crisis stage – and it’s not restricted to Coudersport. All you have to do is talk to others in similar areas; small towns in America are in big trouble.

What can we do to turn it around? If you ask 10 people, you would probably get 10 or more different responses. But where does it go from there?

I know there has been a lot of chatter about this over the past few years. It was nice to see some of the empty storefronts staged with examples of what a business might look like if an investor would be interested in taking a chance. That was an excellent idea and it was worth a try. I’m just not so sure it will work without much more work and collaboration.

As I’ve written before, we can all help in our own small way by patronizing our local family-owned businesses whenever possible. When they thrive, their employees thrive and then the business is able to help other area groups. That is something to think about when you go to the local business seeking donations.

This idea of reinvigorating our tourist promotion with a new region made up of Potter and Tioga counties combined seems to have some potential. They’re discussing getting the state parks and other outdoor attractions tied into it and developing a new image as an area for family-based tourism with a heavy emphasis on what nature has to offer. The eventual redevelopment of Denton Hill making it a four season tourist attraction will potentially have a major impact on our local economy and survival.

These plans have worked well for decades in Vermont and Virginia. Considering that we are truly the Pennsylvania Wilds and located right into the middle of the donut, less than a day’s drive from population centers with millions of people, there is some opportunity there if we market ourselves effectively.

Canada and Vermont are famous for their maple syrup. Those who understand the industry will tell you that Potter County’s maple products are every bit as tasty and usually less expensive.
Farm tourism is starting to catch on, too, from corn mazes in the fall to “weekends at the farm” for families to experience that kind of lifestyle.

Another industry that could be developed locally is wood products. Raw materials are all around us.

If you look beyond the empty storefronts, we have so much going for us. Clean air and water, low crime rates, an excellent hospital, lots of activities for younger children (but we sure could use more for our teens). Perhaps the greatest asset of them all is the population of friendly, caring people who have chosen to live in Potter County because they want to. That loyalty can be infectious.

I’m sure every one of you knows people who emerged from high school and could not wait to get out of town. But have you noticed that, one by one, many of them have either found a way to return home or they are wishing that they could if they had a chance to make the economics work?

I know there are rays of hope out there and they’re not found in government programs or window dressing. They’re found by good people coming together, sharing their ideas and making a commitment to work on realistic plans with measurable stages to be accomplished. Because a new year is upon us, maybe we could all resolve to take our heads out of the sand and start addressing this crisis head-on.

Who’s in?

Today I am dedicating my progress to all the residents of Potter County. Together we can, and we will, make a difference and save our community.


Anonymous said...

bring back skateland and add a game room forget the pool too expensive for a couple months rink and arcade with concessions all year round do not want my taxes raised for a million dollar pool our poor community cant pay our taxes now

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Just a note of irony, a lot of local maple syrup is actually sold to Vermont processors I was informed of this by a local maple producer!

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Bill and I am glad you mentioned the part about government grants and all of the window dressing. How much did the contractor make that was hired for the bogus "downtown project?" The name was Benetch Consultants and they got FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS for basically nothing. Then came the "circuit rider" who was more like a "circus rider." More taxpayer money peed into the urinal for basically nothing. Galeton told the guy to go pound sand. Is that joker still on the payroll of the boro? Bill your ideas make more sense than any of these outside experts (yeah right) and I bet you didn't get paid $50,000 for your report. Those decorations they put in the store windows to cover up the truth about these business being vacant are getting sun blanched and they aren't working folks.

Anonymous said...

the majority of people in this area are making below the middle class wage. property tax has just been increased in the county. the only business that will survive are the ones that have been established. the county dont care, they are getting paid, read the minutes. Hiemel and his cronies. you cant keep voting the same county officials in and expect a change. they do not interface with big business i.e Level 3, Time Warner, Pure Carbon to keep business in the county. save your money. you may need it for a down payment for a house somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

I don't think downtown America, especially small areas will ever come back as they were. My Mom owned a store in Coudersport, on Main Street, but things and people are different now. It has happened every where you go, not just Potter County. The internet, the values of the new Millenniul outlook is very different from the past. I don't see, or know how it would ever return, but I personally think it just won't happen as things are now or maybe never. No amount of studies are going to regenerate hometown America, down town commroddery just isn't there any more, maybe some day, but not the way things are today.

Joe Dirt said...

I totally agree with poster 11:24.....bringing back small town america in a an area that has no major attractions other than the PA wilds is nothing but a pipe dream. I too was born and raised locally and certainly tried to shop locally, but this has turned out to be a worthless endeavor because of the lack of parking and the local price gouging. Don't get me wrong...I understand that the local store has to make a profit, but when just a gallon of milk costs $1.50 more than going to TOPS it's a little ridiculous. Also sort of wondering who's bright idea it was to rip up main street in Coudy right before deer and snowmobile season and leave it that way for the winter? I think it's a terrible idea to waste taxpayers money on the Denton hill area which has failed miserable for decades. What makes anyone think that involving the government will make it better? They already wasted millions on the lumber museum that brings in a couple of hundred tourists a year....not a very good ROI there. If you ask me...the local people have brought a lot of this on themselves because of the greed that happened during the Adelphia days and most of the property owners that are crying the blues haven't reduced their rent prices from what they jacked them up to.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with 11:24......
Nuff said..........

Anonymous said...

Let's all just keep complaining about the efforts to revitalize Coudersport, and maybe we can get them to stop. Then we can finally turn out town into a useless bedroom community like Shinglehouse, a run-down sh*thole like Austin, a heroin den like Galeton, or a neo-nazi compound like Ulysses. Then we can all just be miserable together.

Anonymous said...

Post 1.03, that is so funny, Coudersport is already in the group you bring to light Here! What rock have you been Under? We are all miserable together already in all these towns, Coudersport included. Spending more tax dollars, is want you want, for nothing!

Anonymous said...

These same people that are complaining that wages are sub par, all the local villages and boroughs are "wh&it holes, nazi etc are most likely the same folks who voted for trump. They want someone else to fix all of their problems and just know that trump will do it! Has the reality sunk in yet? He is a con-artist and a modern day P.T. Barnum. He has bullied and lied his way in his own organization but the MAJORITY of Americans will not be fooled by him and he will go down the way he should, in flames! Once he realizes that his charade is over, he will quit with a departing quote of "how much money he made" from the American people during his campaign and brief tenure as president.
Other than it being such a serious situation, I love to read the headlines each day to see what stupid shenanigans he has pulled or who his latest "enemy" or latest "friend" is. A top news columnist seemed to think he is like a 2nd grader. He hates someone, an hour later they're friends. Notice though that usually his outlandish tweets come out to distract from his latest rant or gaffe. Unfortunately, we all as Americans are going to bear the brunt of his sheer ignorance of world politics.

Anonymous said...

Wow. trump caused the demise of small town America? You're a Libtard. Trump had nothing to do with it. He is our best bet to get out of the mess of the last 8 years. How are your stocks doing? Mine are on fire. Thanks Donald.

Joe Dirt said...

Poster 4:37 you need to put down the TV remote.....take your hand off of the mouse and back slowly away from all of the media propaganda your are obviously watching. How can you honestly blame anything of Trump when he hasn't even taken office yet? Are you one of the Obama people that used to blame everything on Bush too? uneducated friend, are exactly what is wrong with America today.

Anonymous said...

Post 4.37, what does all you rant about have to do with down town America? I think the conversation was about what has happened to businesses in small towns Main Street! Trump wasn't even known politically what does he have to do with this?

Anonymous said...

In defense of 4:37, let me say that he or she is not blaming Trump for our shabby cultural condition. 4:37 says that those complaining the loudest about our condition are probably the same ones who voted for the guy. People are deluded into thinking that a billionaire with an ego problem will come to their rescue. Good luck with that, and let's all learn to read and think to the best of our abilities.