Input wanted on York City's green infrastructure plan

Julia Scheib

A redeveloped and extended Rail Trail and a green road through the York City's Northwest Triangle are two parts of a plan already in the works for the city.

The Heritage Rail Trail draws city workers for a lunchtime walk.
file photo

Downtown Inc helped to secure public and private funding for the plan, said Tim Miller, deputy director of the organization. Most of the money is there, and the city has picked out areas to work on, he said, but many specifics of the plan are not yet hammered out.

As well as helping the city to fulfill its duty of improving efforts to hold and filter stormwater before it flows into the Codorus Creek — and eventually the Susquehanna and the Chesapeake Bay — the effort to enhance and expand York City's green infrastructure is meant to help tie the city together and make it a more inviting place.

On Jan. 28, at the first of three public meetings to discuss the plan, the city will seek insight from citizens on what the new infrastructure should look like and how it can maximize the plan's impact on recreation and stormwater mitigation — all while working with the existing landscape, Miller said.

"We want to best leverage all the good things that are happening in the city," he said.

Rail trail: A part of the plan already in place includes the extension of the Rail Trail from Lafayette Plaza — a space behind the Colonial Courthouse now being used as a parking lot — to the North George Street bridge over the Codorus, Miller said. This project is tentatively slated to begin next summer.

Also in the works is the redevelopment of a section of the trail from Grantley Street to Market Street. The trail will be resurfaced and lights will be installed along it beginning this spring, Miller said.

Lafayette Plaza: Part of the plan includes determining, with the public's help, the "highest and best use" for Lafayette Plaza.

In the past year it has been used as a parking lot and as an event space, Miller said. Those putting the plan together want to determine how the space can be used to full effect, taking into account its surroundings and proximity to downtown.

Green road: The city will seek the public's input on plans for a green road through the Northwest Triangle, which is in the process of being revitalized.

The road, connecting Pershing Avenue to North Street near the intersection of North and Beaver streets, should allow for recreational use as well as automobile traffic, said city Director of Public Works Jim Gross.

What this road will look like is still up for debate, Gross said. "It could have a green element dividing the lanes or green space on either side." A bike path might be separate from a lane for cars, he said.

"We're interested in what people see for the Northwest Triangle: any specific elements people would like to see included in the plan," Gross said.

Connecting paths: Planners also want advice on safely connecting walkers and bikers on the Rail Trail with downtown York, Miller said. This will probably mean improving existing roads and alleys, he said.

Planners haven't nailed down specific locations for the paths yet; they will gather the public's ideas before settling on locations.

Green Action Plan: These projects are part of a long-term city-wide plan being developed that will help York to comply with the EPA's regulations about stormwater runoff over the next 30 years, Gross said.

The Green Action Plan will be a plan "that identifies projects in certain areas of the city: holding (the water), cleaning it before it runs off directly into creeks and streams," Gross said.

Stormwater mitigation in York City is important "not just to our community, but to communities along the Susquehanna, down to the Chesapeake Bay," Miller said.

Public meeting: The first public meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 28, in the first-floor atrium at engineering and architectural firm Buchart Horn, 445 W. Philadelphia St. No registration is required.

— Reach Julia Scheib at jscheib@yorkdispatch.com.