By Editorial Board | Original Editorial
July 8, 2018
Millcreek Township government has begun to consider the Embrace Millcreek comprehensive plan in earnest. As always with such plans, it remains to be seen whether it will serve as a guide to rethinking old assumptions and priorities and acting proactively, or whether it will sit on a shelf and gather dust.
The same consulting firm that developed the Erie Refocused comprehensive plan, Virginia-based czb, worked with Millcreek officials and sounded out township residents to develop the draft plan for the township. There are a number of similarities between the two plans, with the biggest difference being that Millcreek comes to the process with more going for it.
When it delivered Erie Refocused to City Hall in the spring of 2016, czb warned against the temptation to stick with the status quo that has produced a gradual, inexorable decline in the city — to opt for “an easier, softer way.”
“Of course, the sky is not falling, and there is ample cover to be found under the protective skirt of inaction, or of work avoidance, or of staying the course with business as usual,” lead consultant Charles Buki cautioned then.
Fortunately, the new mayoral administration is working with the nonprofit and private sectors toward fundamental change. The future of the region, including Millcreek, depends on staying focused and getting it right.
The temptation to remain on cruise control will be even stronger in Millcreek, where some indicators have just begun to point downward. That would be a mistake that township officials and residents would come to regret.
John Morgan, a planner by training, so far has taken the most expansive view of Embrace Millcreek among the township’s three supervisors. He made a compelling case at public meetings on the plan and underlying data that arresting early signs of decline will require more investment and proactive planning by township government.
As reporter Valerie Myers detailed recently, the other two supervisors, Jim Bock and John Groh, are more measured in assessing the plan and what acting on its recommendations, or not, portends for Millcreek’s future.
With the plan not even set for a vote by supervisors until late August, their caution at this point is understandable. But it also carries hints of the denial that for far too long held sway in the city of Erie.
The city’s downward slide in recent decades stands as a cautionary tale for Millcreek. Some of the same forces that worked against the city and its residents — tight finances, disinvestment and aging infrastructure among them — are now at work in Millcreek.
The region needs a resurgent Erie to thrive. It also needs a Millcreek that faces facts before those forces get the upper hand.