State College Borough Council Approves Summers On Allen Proposal
The State College Borough Council approved a proposal to turn the 100-block of South Allen Street into a pedestrian plaza for eight weeks during the summer of 2020 at its Monday meeting. The program will run from May 11 to July 3.
Council had previously rejected the proposed initiative, titled “Summers on Allen,” with a 4-3 vote several weeks ago due to safety and commercial concerns. It approved the proposal with specific conditions on Monday.
Organizers plan to put a $135,000 Knight Foundation grant toward creating a plaza with seating, play areas for children, and a stage, among other features.
Monday’s meeting marked newly elected members Deanna Behring and Peter Marshall’s first on Council, and therefore Council was able to reconsider the proposal despite the earlier rejection.
Jim Erickson, president of Blue Mountain Capital Resources and local resident, said that he supported the proposal and that it would help attract future employees to the area.
“I know my young staff will certainly embrace and frequent Summers on Allen,” he said. Jeremy Frank, CEO of KCF technologies, echoed Erickson’s point.
Stephen Albert, a local business owner with a storefront on Allen Street, said that the closure’s length would negatively affect his business.
“To close (the street) for 8 weeks I think is excessive in length,” he said.
Faith Lucchesi, an attorney who said she represented a coalition of Allen Street businesses, echoed Albert’s warning of the economic impact of the closure of Allen Street.
“While (business owners) are very supportive of family get togethers, there are other places in the Borough to do it,” she said.
Geoff Brugler, owner of Appalachian Outdoors on Allen Street, was supportive of the proposal and encouraged Council to “give it a try.”
Amy Frank, representing the retail advisory committee, said that her organization supported the proposal, while a representative from Rapid Transit Sports said that it wasn’t thoroughly planned and, again, would be destructive for businesses. Several other community members expressed support for a pedestrian-supportive area downtown.
Other supportive voices said that the mall would offer everything from a counter against high-rise construction to the facilitation of a social dancing scene. Another business owner again noted the difficulty first responders and customers would have reaching locations on the closed street.
After a lengthy period of public comment and several qualifications from Centre Foundation Executive Director Molly Kunkel, Brad Groznik, one of the individuals who introduced the proposal, clarified a wide range of possible programming, from Happy Valley Improv shows to children’s events.
During a lengthy period of discussion in which they outlined their votes of support or rejection, Council members motioned to amend the proposal. Marshall also explained a survey he had taken of Allen Street businesses:
As the meeting approached its fourth hour, Mayor Ron Fillippelli oversaw a vote on the amended proposal. The motion passed with 4-3 vote, officially approving the closure of Allen Street and establishment of the plaza later this year.
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