York has its issues -- financial, mainly -- but three stories this week offer a glimpse of what the city can be: a safe, business-friendly cultural hub.
---At a recent ceremony in Philadelphia, the International Association of Chiefs of Police recognized York as a semi-finalist for the Webber Seavey award for excellence in policing.
York received the recognition for its Gates for Good project, an effort that has placed about 300 wrought-iron gates in the breezeways of the city's Salem Square neighborhood.
The gates -- which make it tougher for criminals to deal drugs, elude police or store guns in the narrow spaces between homes -- have cut crime by 22 percent in the neighborhood, Police Chief Wes Kahley said.
The city plans to expand the gates project into a neighborhood in the city's northeast section, to include the area between North Queen and North Broad streets and East Philadelphia and Chestnut streets, he said.
"My goal is to eventually have them all over the city," Kahley said.
---Downtown, merchants on Beaver Street say revitalization efforts are paying off in a big way: Shops are expanding, profits are increasing, hours are extended, and store managers are no longer reliant on Central Market for foot traffic.
The artistic corridor anchored by the nearby farmers' market has become a popular spot for shoppers interested in custom designs and unique retail.
Bill Fabbri is co-owner of Camera Center of York, a fixture on Beaver Street for three decades.
"There's definitely a major increase in foot traffic," he said. "Beaver Street has a lot more to offer now with all these little shops, and people are starting to realize it."
It's not just Central Market days (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays) that draw people downtown, Fabbri said, noting the Judicial Center, White Rose Bar & Grill, Mudhook Brewing Co. and Holy Hound Taproom also attract crowds.
---A block away at the corner of North George and Philadelphia streets, the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center is earning raves for a strategy that has increased membership, corporate sponsorships and sales -- while lowering debt, ticket prices and production costs.
"I've been involved with the Strand off and on since 1996, and the last three years have probably been the most exciting time I've seen," said board Chairman Joel Menchey.
This year, membership dollars have increased 22 percent, and corporate sponsorship has increased 150 percent.
Plus, a decision to lower ticket prices by $12 has led to more sell-out shows.
For example, Strand CEO Ken Wesler noted, ticket sales during the 2009-10 season were $661,000. The Strand has now tripled that, he said.
As more theatergoers are filling the seats, agents are taking notice and adding York to their tour schedules.
York's close proximity to Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York and cities in New Jersey makes it an easy stop for artists on the road, Wesler said.
"When you're traveling the northeast corridor, we're the most popular route there is," he said.
Take a bow, everyone.