LEWISTOWN — On Thursday, the Downtown Lewistown Inc. board of directors met for its annual meeting to take stock of accomplishments and examine new projects for the future.
One future project of interest discussed at the meeting is the possibility of the establishment of a year-round farmers market at the site of the Old Mann Edge property on Water Street.
DLI President John Zimmerman said he envisions a development similar to what is found in other agriculture-heavy areas such as York or Lancaster, in which a building could be constructed with open air spaces and where vendors could rent annually.
The farmers market could then drive traffic to other area businesses and attract both tourism and residents to the Lewistown area, he said.
Zimmerman said DLI needs to work hand-in-hand with the Mifflin County Industrial Development Corp. to find an owner for the property who would be willing to develop it in some form.
He said the idea of the farmers market went back to one of the core concepts of Downtown Lewistown Inc. – to establish “competitive living conditions” with other small towns which, he said, will draw in new people, businesses and jobs.
To illustrate his point, Zimmerman read from a book printed in 1947, which discussed the idea of competitive living conditions and the many improvement projects the city of Sunbury undertook when Westinghouse sought to establish a plant in the community.
“Not only do we need competitive living conditions in attracting plants, but also for the hospital (to attract medical professionals),” he said. “And that’s what this whole thing is about.”
Zimmerman highlighted other projects which he said are part of the development of living conditions in the downtown area.
Those projects include the Five Points project, which will establish a small park at a key downtown intersection; the Kish Riverwalk, linking Rec Park and Victory Park; and the Elm Street program, which is under review by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development for grant funding.
“There are some very specific things we can do to improve living conditions in Lewistown,” Zimmerman said.
In addition to the DLI initiatives, Zimmerman also spoke briefly regarding the formerly proposed Mifflin County Skatepark. The skate park was to be constructed at Rec Park in Lewistown, however, in May the Lewistown Borough Council rescinded an offer of land for the construction of the site.
Zimmerman, himself a supporter of the park, said he understood the council’s position.
“I don’t blame the Lewistown Borough Council,” Zimmerman said. “They had some legitimate concerns.”
Instead, Zimmerman said it was the skate park committee leaders who failed, by not meeting with the borough council and discussing the borough’s concerns.
However, Zimmerman said he still saw hope for the project, and “we need to make that happen one way or another.”