Bridgeville isn’t lacking ideas to improve the community, says former mayor Pat DeBlasio Jr., but it has lacked the follow-through to turn those ideas into reality.
As Bridgeville’s planning commission takes the initial steps toward creating a new community-wide comprehensive plan—a sort of roadmap for the the town’s future—DeBlasio is concerned that the borough will end up with a document full of solutions that are never carried out.
At Monday night planning commission meeting, he held up a copy of Bridgeville’s prior comprehensive plan, which was adopted in 2005.
“Here is your traffic study and parking analysis,” DeBlasio said. “My concern is not the $20,000 that [a new plan] will cost. My concern is that at the end of the day, the recommendations may or may not be different than that last ones… and the plan will sit on a shelf.”
Rather than draft a new master document and leave borough council to implement it, the commission should take a leadership role and recommend specific, detailed projects that council can vote upon, DeBlasio said.
Planning commissioner Larry Lennon Sr. disagreed, saying that the granular details of implementing projects is outside of the agency’s role.
“We can’t force council to spend money,” he said.
DeBlasio believes there is room—and a need—for greater planning commission involvement in improving Bridgeville.
“Is the planning commission’s role purely to create a comprehensive plan then walk away?” he said. “Put some money in your budget for actual detailed drawings… We have ideas. What we lack are specificity and plans.”
The seven-member planning commission is an advisory group that makes recommendations to borough council. The commission does not have the power to change local ordinances, and any funding it receives is approved by council.
During the past two months, the commission has been reviewing potential solutions to some of the challenges facing Bridgeville, including traffic, parking, pedestrian safety, and code enforcement.
At Monday’s meeting, the commissioners agreed that creating a new comprehensive should be the group’s primary focus moving forward.
“To me, the parking, traffic, pedestrian safety—those all are parts of a comprehensive plan,” Lennon said. “I have a little concern about addressing those things in a vacuum outside of a comprehensive plan.”
Drafting a new plan could take 2-3 years and cost upwards of $35,000
The commissioners also agreed to examine the pedestrian safety issue during the next few months because, as planning commissioner Dale Livingston said recently: “Getting across Bower Hill Road during normal, non-pandemic times can feel like taking your life in your hands.”
The next planning commission meeting is scheduled for Aug. 31 at 7:30 p.m. Meetings are currently being held via Zoom teleconference.