Donegal visioning project public meeting set for July 7

Public comment and support are needed for improving and enhancing this critical gateway to the Laurel Highlands.
June 30, 2009
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The Pennsylvania Environmental Council in conjunction with several organizations has scheduled a public meeting at 7 p.m. July 7 to present the draft report from the Donegal Community Design Workshop or charrette held in December.

The meeting will be held at the Donegal Community Center along Route 31.

The draft report from the charrette will be presented and comments accepted.  In addition, public input is being solicited for how to follow up on the community visioning.

The charrette and on-going planning are being done as part of the Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape Initiative, a project of PEC and the state Department of Conservation & Natural Resources.

The initiative is working to increase recreational opportunities and link the recreation to communities as a means of economic development that helps make the area more sustainable over the long term.

Because of the Pennsylvania Turnpike exit at Donegal, the community is seen as perhaps the most critical gateway to the entire Laurel Highlands.  As such, the visioning effort focused largely on how to make the community more attractive and accommodating, both to visitors and residents.

Follow-up projects being discussed include:

  • Development of a community garden immediately east of the Turnpike interchange on property owned by the Turnpike – the former Donegal Motel site – and other gateway treatments.
  • Development of a Park and Ride for people who commute to work from the area and, possibly, for people commuting into the Laurel Highlands to work in ski resorts or other visitor-support businesses. The Park and Ride could also house a farmer’s market.
  • Development of a visitor center, which might also provide space for interpretive or orientation exhibits, space for musical performances or other entertainment, and/or space for community organizations such as the Mountain Laurel Chamber of Commerce or Chestnut Ridge Historical Society.
  • Improvements to the Route 31 corridor to improve efficiency and safety.
  • Adoption of Community Design Guidelines, which would be voluntary recommendations for how businesses along the corridor can be developed to fit in better with the surrounding beauty and rural look of the Laurel Highlands.
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