Under The Gun: Increase In Crime In Norristown Can Be Traced To Economic Decline

Location of Norristown in Montgomery County

Location of Norristown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

EDITOR’S NOTE:  This is Part One in a series examining crime in Norristown and possible answers to stem the tide.

NORRISTOWN — Renee Goldman remembers one of the sheer simplicities of Norristown’s golden age: leaving the door wide open on warm days.

She also remembers when crime — largely petty and non-violent, initially — slammed shut the door of her dad’s Main Street business and locked it for good.

“Eventually we went from keeping the door open when the weather was nice to keeping the door locked and opening it only when the customers came,” recalled Goldman, who began working at her father’s Custom Hearing Aids office in the 200 block of East Main Street as a teenager in the 1960s.

Back then she felt safe walking down to Woolworth’s on Main Street on whatever errand her dad, Henry Ginsberg, sent her on.

Read more:  http://www.timesherald.com/article/20130601/NEWS01/130609968/under-the-gun-increase-in-crime-in-norristown-can-be-traced-to-economic-decline#full_story

Conshohocken Retains Its Sense Of Community

Location of Conshohocken in Montgomery County

Location of Conshohocken in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Forty-nine years ago, Conshohocken leaders began crafting a comprehensive plan to transform the grimy old mill town into a modern, livable municipality, albeit a small one.

At just over one square mile, Conshohocken is shoehorned into a bend of the Schuylkill River, but is within earshot of I-476 and the Schuylkill Expressway, two of the region’s major arteries.

It took several decades, but between the vision of past leaders and the impact of that pair of highways, Conshohocken has become one of the region’s hottest neighborhoods, with sleek condo towers, destination restaurants and corporate headquarters along the waterfront, and a locally owned, family-friendly strip of restaurants, bars, and stores along Fayette Street.

Over the last decade, Conshohocken’s population has grown younger, wealthier and whiter, according to U.S. Census data.

Read more:  http://www.philly.com/philly/neighbors/main_line/20130429_Conshohocken_retains_its_sense_of_community.html

Massachusetts Looks To The Lehigh Valley For Inspiration

It’s a river city with quaint Victorian architecture once known for its pioneering manufacturing processes that gave America the industrial might to fight its wars.

But now, it’s re-imagining itself as a “knowledge corridor,” thanks to nearby colleges, and possibly as an entertainment center as gaming companies circle for a place to put a new casino.

That might sound a lot like Bethlehem.

But it’s Springfield, the biggest city in western Massachusetts.

As leaders there begin to dive into the details of reinventing the greater Springfield area, they are looking at Bethlehem as it enters its fourth year hosting a casino and the rest of the Lehigh Valley for advice and inspiration.

Read more:

http://www.mcall.com/news/local/bethlehem/mc-bethlehem-springfield-gaming-20121129,0,5144006.story

Johnstown Fights Blight

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Cambria County

Image via Wikipedia

The City of Johnstown, Cambria County, is a post-industrial community just like Pottstown.  Steel was king along with heavy manufacturing.  Those days are gone and communities have fallen on hard times. 

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.  Johnstown is doing just that.  In an effort to clean up their community and attract middle-income residents, Johnstown has started a program to buy blighted properties, demo them and redevelop the property with a prefabricated home.  These are 3 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom homes that are Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified.  Meaning these homes are energy-efficient.

This program is a joint effort between the Cambria County Redevelopment Authority and the City of Johnstown.  Funding was obtained through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (federal).

They intend to transform the entire South Street neighborhood PLUS they are targeting business development and a business development strategy to bring in new business!

This initial project is only a small dent in Johnstown’s blighted housing stock; however, it’s one house at a time, one block at a time.  And that is just what Johnstown officials intend to do.