Tuesday, September 19th, 2017
Home | Contact | Site Map

Major Towanda Borough Community Development Projects - 1988 to Present

In the late 1980's the Towanda Borough administration undertook a comprehensive planning effort to amend its Master Plan.

First settled in 1786, the Borough prospered as the Bradford County center of government, business and manufacturing but had been in decline in recent years as its old infrastructure wore out and businesses left for the malls.

The Master Plan's focus is to capitalize on Towanda's rich historic character and natural and man-made resources while rebuilding and improving its worn out or outdated infrastructure to reposition itself as a uniquely attractive, imageable place to live, do business or visit.

The Plan has resulted in several completed projects many of which were "off shoots" encouraged by the overall plan vision. A few of these completed projects are as follows:
  

Towanda Historic District

In 1992, the Towanda Business District was entered into the National Register of Historical Places. 441 of a total 482 structures are historically contributing. The predominant architectural styles are Greek Revival and Queen Anne, with Gothic Revival, Second Empire and Italianate styles also represented.  Buildings in the downtown range in scale from the dominant bulk of the Bradford County Courthouse down to two and three story commercial buildings on narrow plots; residential scale runs from small cottage-like houses up to rambling Queen Anne mansions on large lots.  The structures are either brick or frame construction, as stone buildings are few.  While some buildings date from the early years of the 19th and 20th centuries, the vast majority, date from Towanda's economic heyday, which spanned the years 1830-1900.  Though most of the downtown business district is included, the district is predominantly residential.

Perhaps the most unusual of Towanda's buildings is the French Renaissance Revival Public Library at 106 Main Street.  The Bradford County Courthouse of 1897 is a monumental structure in the Beaux Arts Classical Style.  The Episcopal Church, 1 Main Street, c. 1889, combines the blunt stonework and conical towers of the Romanesque with Gothic features.  The County Jail, constructed in 1867-1868, consisted of three-story, a brick gable roof stone structure measuring forty-eight feet by sixty-four feet capped with a ten-foot tall crenellated tower.   Built of rusticated, ashlar sandstone cut into large blocks, measuring as large as five feet in length and two feet in height.  The entire structure is trimmed in stone, including the cornice which uses a single stone as the fascia and soffit.

The collection of architecture in the Towanda district is by far the largest and most varied in Bradford County.  In the area of Greek Revival, it is unrivaled in quality.  The Gothic Revival buildings constitute one of the best collections in north-central Pennsylvania. 

Central Bradford County Enterprise Zone

In 1993, the municipalities of Towanda Borough and the Townships of Towanda, North Towanda and Wysox formed the Central Bradford County Progress Authority and a state designated Enterprise Zone was established. The Zone has been expanded to other communities in Bradford County since then.

Eastside Riverfront Park

In 1997, a $230,000 project, partially funded with a DCNR grant, was implemented to develop a boat launch, walking trail, picnic and fishing areas and a multi-use sports field across the river from the Borough. In 2002, a much used 24'x48' pavilion was built at the park with donations from the Wysox and Towanda Area Chamber of Commerce, the Towanda Area Soccer Association, the local Kiwanis, Lions and Rotary clubs, State Aggregates and Cotton Concrete. The pavilion is the focal point of the Borough's Concert in the Park program.  In the winter, our ice skate rink is constructed at the park.

Towanda Historic District Walking Tour

An $80,000 project partially funded with a DCNR Heritage project grant to purchase and erect various types of entry and descriptive plaques and to develop brochures and other printed material.

Towanda Historic District Walking Tour
Unveiling at the Bradford County
Historical Society, August 26, 2005

Committee: Bob Veleker, Anne Sturzen, Susan Miller & Tom Fairchild - Photo in center:  Jean Cutler - Photo on right: Jean Miller & Mayor Richard Snell

 

Keystone Theatre Renovation and Expansion Project

In 1988, the Bradford County Regional Arts Council purchased the long vacant theatre and has spent over $1.8 million (various state, federal and local funds) in renovating the original building and, in 2001, completed an expansion that added another movie theatre.  $500,000 of Towanda Borough's 2000 RACP grant was allocated to the expansion project.

Bradford County History Center

A $1.25 million project to convert the old, vacant county jail into a museum and resource center six times larger than its old space was completed in 2002. State, federal and local monies were used. $250,000 of the Borough's 2000 RACP grant was allocated to this project.

Central Bradford Progress Authority Multi-Use Office

In 1997, a $5 million project (state, federal and local) was completed to revitalize a blighted area and to retain key downtown employees and jobs while attracting new employees including a branch of Lackawanna College.

Streetscape Phase 1

A 1998 $500,000 project (federal and local) to remove overhead utility wires, install 118 Victorian style street lights and 85 street trees was implemented.  The majority of the work was performed by a Towanda Borough crew along with a Penelec crew.

River Street Extension

In 2005, after 17 years of planning, public meetings, construction, etc. the River Street Extension project was completed.  Almost $15,000,000 in federal and state monies were spent on the 10,000 lineal feet "John B. Merrill Parkway" which provides a very scenic alternate (to Main St./Rt. 6) north-south route through the Borough and North Towanda Township along with a walking trail (with shelters), parking spaces, landscaping, Victorian-style lighting and economic development opportunities.

In 2009, with the help of a $350,000 Transportation Enhancement grant, benches, trash receptacles and trail extensions will be accomplished.

The project has had a profound impact on the community n terms of aesthetics, traffic congestion relief, accessibility, recreation opportunities, etc.

 

Gateway Park

With the assistance of state and local funds, this $165,000 project to establish a formal "gateway" or entry to the Borough's downtown was completed in 2002. In 2008, the park was named the "Senator Roger B. Madigan Gateway Park" in honor of the former state senator from the Towanda area.

 

The park's creative design (Haas Landscape Architects) incorporates brick pavers, seating areas, wrought iron railings, decorative ballards, Victorian lighting and landscaped areas.  Concrete walkways will connect with the River Trail.

Additionally, the park features a Welcome to Towanda Borough sign/gateway and informational kiosk, which denotes Towanda's historic district, key features and identifies current community events of interest.  The kiosk denotes public and private community groups who donated funds for its construction.  The following lists those groups.

Gateway Kiosk Donors: Towanda High School, Class of 1995 $1000; Kiwanis Club of Towanda-Wysox $700; Central Bradford County Chamber of Commerce $510; CBPA $500; NTRPDC $500; Masonic Lodge $500; VFW Post 1568 $500; Towanda Business Association $250; BPO Elks # 2191 $200; Towanda Lions Club $160; Knights of Columbus $100; Bradford County Historical Society $100; BCRAC $100; YMCA of Bradford County $100, for total donations of $5,220. 

The gateway park completed a key element of the Towanda Borough Master Plan and was developed in anticipation of the Riverstreet project.  A formal park dedication was conducted with a flag raising and memorial plaques dedicated to Peggy Madigan and Mildred Sweet.  The park was funded by community donations, a USDA Urban Forestry grant and DCNR Garden grant.

SCI Complex Master Plan

From 1854 to around 1905, the Susquehanna Presbytery operated the Susquehanna Collegiate Institute as a place of higher learning until it moved its operation to Selinsgrove to become Susquehanna University.  In the 1930's, the Borough converted the vacant building into a community center and over the years a swimming pool, picnic grounds and Little League fields have been placed on the 10 acre grounds.

In 2000, the Bradford County YMCA partnered with the Borough in managing the building and providing recreation programs to the area. A long range Master Plan has been developed for the grounds and the Borough and the "Y" have embarked on a long range building renovation plan which to date has modernized the locker rooms and made structural repairs to the gym roof.  In 2009, a new addition will be added.  Future goals include another gym, outdoor facilities, etc. to enhance this regional recreation facility.

SCI Complex Master Plan

CBD Property Rehabilitation

From 2000 to 2006, a total of $1,950,000 in RACP funds were used to assist, on a 50/50% match basis, downtown property owners to perform code improvements, business development and property improvements to commercial properties.

Plank Road/Elm Street/North Fourth Street Revitalization Project

In 2008, the Towanda Fire Department received its Certificate of Occupancy for the Elm Street Fire Station which culminated an $850,000 Towanda Borough and Towanda Fire Department project to acquire a vacant commercial building and convert it into a long sought central fire station. This project, along with the Borough's $1,400,000 project to replace 1500 feet of worn out storm sewer, install 1100 feet of new sidewalk and curbing, landscaping, new roadway and new decorative street lighting drastically improved a deteriorated, proposed "Elm Street" residential area in the Borough. RACP and Elm Street program monies were combined with local funds.

400 Main Street Redevelopment

With the assistance of a $500,000 DCED grant, $660,000 was spent from 2006 to 2008 to acquire, demolish and remove four fire destroyed or damaged properties and to create a much used public parking lot in the center of the downtown. Currently, the borough is undertaking a planning effort to determine what the best possible long term use is for the property.

Borough Hall Renovation

In 1934, the Towanda Borough Hall, somewhat patterned our Independence Hall in Philadelphia, was constructed at a cost of $26,000 which included furnishings. In 2004, a $160,000 project was completed to re roof the building, replace the cupola/bell tower and cleaned and repaint the brick exterior. The building houses the Towanda Police Department and the Big Brothers Big Sisters offices.

The bell tower houses the bell from the County's second Court House which was demolished in 1898.