The Borough of Philipsburg, PA is fucking it up.
Ever since their Downtown Revitalization Program began, it's been doomed to failure, purely out of mismanagement. Noone on that board has any idea what they're doing, or how to go about doing it.
The goal is blazingly obvious: Philipsburg is a run-down former boom town that's gone to hell in a handbasket in the last 20 years, and you have to do something to try and revive at least part of that boom spirit.
Now, the state is trying to kick in: Philipsburg is part of the larger "Corridor O" project, an offshoot interstate (possibly I-322) between I-99 and I-80 from State College to near Clearfield, designed to take the traffic burden off of US 322. The problem here is the Acid Rock dilemma outside of State College, where the deviation north from 99 takes place. The delays this places on the entire 99 project, as well as the connection, delays any potential growth Philipsburg might gain from it. This, of course, has nothing to do with the Downtown Partnership, but it doesn't help their case much.
Not that their case holds much water. Right now, Philipsburg's DRP is spending a metric-assload of money - $2 Million - on... Wait for it... Waaaaaaait for it... Hold on, you're gonna love this... It's worth it, trust me... Here it comes... Old Timey Street Lamps.
Yeah. Old Timey Street Lamps.
OK, so, let's take stock here. You spent all that money on the Simler house. That ugly ass eyesore on Second Street that noone gives a shit about. How many visitors a year does that bring in? Hmmm? Lots of tourist dollars being generated by that little miracle? No? Not really? Awww, too bad. On the bright side, though, I hear it made a great urinal for wandering drunks when Dreamer's was still serving...
Let's see, what else have you guys accomplished? Let's shoot for Heritage Days, probably the only thing you do halfway right. The only problem is, Heritage Days is where you really display your biggest and most problematic dysfunction: Egotism. You people seem to have this sense of entitlement, because you're doing some thing "for the good of the community," that allows you to use the banner of "community service" to elicit free stuff, thus saving you money for stupid projects like old-timey street lights.
Usually, Heritage Days is a showcase for local flavor: food, goods, and even talent. Local musicians look forward to the annual showcase for an oppertunity to get out there and get heard. Now granted, alot of the kids don't get this chance because, hey, let's face it: The music they play sucks and isn't proper for a community fair like this. But there are plenty of adult contemporary musicians in the area willing to do a "Bob Sagget on Full House" deal and pull a clean, fun show.
Trouble is, this is how they make their living. So asking them to "donate their time" singles them out, over all others, as a second-class participant. Every other local business that sets up shop on Front Street is there to do one major thing above all other minor things: SELL SELL SELL. Make money.
The local musician should be no different, and should be compensated for their performance. Asking them to donate their time when everyone else is allowed to schill their services is unfair. Entertaining the public is an industry, just like selling polish food and baseball cards and ice cream for the band or whatever. PAY THEM ACCORDINGLY.
Then, there's the biggest mistake of all: Your mismanagment of the Rowland Theater. This, above all others, saddens me the most, because the Rowland is like a home-away-from-home to me. I saw my first movie (E.T.) there. I volunteered there when I was in High School. I was employed there for over a year as Projectionist.
And that whole time, I've watched you neglect and misuse the one true historical asset that Philipsburg can and should boast about.
All you want is class, class, class. Symphonies that bring in maybe 100 people. School plays that do OK, but mostly out of parental and familial obligation to attend. Auctions for shit that's way to expensive for the locals to even think about affording. Class Class Class.
HELLO! Philipsburg is NOT a class town. It's a drunken blue-collar redneck and bored, misguided kids town. Duh.
Use the Rowland the right way for once. Movie festivals every so often, movies that people wanna see: horror flicks, comedies, action pics, old school scifi, b-movies, indie films... Rock shows, too. If security is done right, then you won't have an incident like Shut Up and Play 3. Yes, that was a goof. But one goof. I'm sure that you, in your ever-persistent quest to get people to donate time, could get some of the local fire departments to provide some local muscle if you gave them Security t-shirts...
With the State Theater in the process of a reboot, the Rowland could be a big draw to the college population over at Penn State - IF IT HELD THE RIGHT EVENTS.
And don't go patting yourselves on the back for doing such a wonderful thing for the community just yet, folks. It's time for some accountability.
So, you're tearing up Front Street right now. Big mess. Pain in the ass for locals. All to wire up some old timey street lamps and possibly convert the thing back to two way. But! What happens if the tourism dollars you're expecting to gain from this little adventure don't add up to what you spent, even over a good span of a few years? Simler House hasn't produced squat but urine stains and laughs as people drive by.
You know, there's this big old empty lot on the corner of Front and Presqueisle. You know, old sporting goods store and apartments? You remember! Come on! Big red building, biggest fire the borough's probably seen since the Pierce Opera House (bet you don't remember THAT one!)? Yeah, that big old chunk of dirt between the Dollar Store and CNB. Why don't you do something constructive with that, eh?
I have a few ideas in mind, but you people are too busy trying to ease your concience by convincing yourselves that you're doing a community a good service. All you're doing is wasting time, money, and annoying the hell out of your residents, who grow more and more restless and bored with every stupid project you undertake. If you really, REALLY want to revitalize Philipsburg, you need to do one simple thing:
STOP LIVING IN THE PAST AND MOVE INTO THE FUTURE. The ONLY way Philipsburg will survive is if it moves out of the 19th century and into the 21st. Technology is Philipsburg's only hope, and putting in new old-timey street lamps which you can decorate with pretty lights and banners throughout the year isn't quite the right step.
You're wasting what's given to you, and misusing what you already have. I think it's time for a general cleanup of managment and reshuffling of priorities. Meantime, finish your little streetlight project. Because that's what brings them flocking to town, right? Right...
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
The Borough of Philipsburg, PA is fucking it up.