As usual, Tom Wolf got it exactly right.
The state secretary of revenue attended an event last weekend in Red Lion and touted the value of rejuvenating our small towns. Boroughs offer a lifestyle midway between the urban and suburban/rural that can be "liberating."
"You don't have to drive to do your shopping," he said.
Amen. And there are a host of other benefits -- especially the connection to community.
Boroughs are places where some categories of small businesses can still compete -- keeping money in our community rather than flowing to large corporations.
Pennsylvania's Balkanized municipal structure certainly presents some problems -- which we feel regionalization of services can help solve. But our boroughs are also a blessing -- if we could just wake up to that fact.
We need to reinvest in them and turn them into places where young families seek to live in their first home -- rather than in some overpriced vinyl-clad house in a former cornfield. If folks across America had invested in and improved modest, borough homes rather than overpriced McMansions, we might not be facing the housing meltdown -- or it might not be so severe.
But instead of rebuilding boroughs, many seem to want to reinvent them in the form of Traditional Neighborhood Developments -- TNDs, which have become zoning thorns in the sides of York Township officials recently.
TNDs aren't a bad concept.
It makes so much sense.
They're walkable places (though county, state and federal officials ought to work harder locating post offices, libraries and such close to downtowns).
They have a wonderful feel of community.
They're good for the environment, preserving green space.
That's why the event Mr. Wolf was on hand in Red Lion to tout is exciting. It's called "Preserving our Hometown," and it's an effort to breathe new life into Red Lion.
Officials with the Red Lion Area Business Association hope to draw new businesses to the borough. They also want to create a "downtown mall" extending out from the town square.
We wish them well in this smart effort -- and hope Mr. Wolf and other state and county officials can help make these dreams a reality.
And, of course, other local
boroughs should emulate these efforts.