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Frank Knorek Wilkes University Thesis


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Frank Knorek Wilkes University Thesis

  1. 1. Theory vs. Practice 1 Introduction A downtown plays a crucial role in defining a community’s tax base, commerce, and overall quality of life. A city’s downtown health is also one of the criteria against which municipal leadership is judged. Downtowns across America, as well as in Luzerne County, have largely been overlooked as areas to live, work, and play, with people instead choosing suburbs, industrial parks, and malls. In many ways a community’s downtown is synonymous with its sense of place and identity. In addition, a downtown has a certain innate charm that can never be replicated in a suburb. In the last decade, some of the cities located in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, have undergone a tremendous revitalization. Each municipality presents its own unique set of strengths and weaknesses. I examine the processes and programs of downtown revitalization in order to understand why some downtown revitalization efforts succeeded while others fail. A comprehensive study of the downtown revitalization efforts in the four cities located in Luzerne County has never been undertaken. This study is a panoramic analysis of downtown revitalization efforts by the administrations in the cities of Hazleton, Pittston, Nanticoke, and Wilkes-Barre from 1990 to 2005. A healthy downtown is the result of cooperation and a widely shared vision among downtown stakeholders that results in a clearly articulated revitalization strategy. I begin with a brief history of American urban planning, which traces the evolution of the city, some of its problems, and the role of planning in remedying those problems. The three eras discussed, pre-industrial, post-war, and modern, reflect the challenges faced in solving urban problems, and how the responsibility for urban problems and remedies shifted from federal to
  2. 2. Theory vs. Practice 2 state and local governments. The contemporary practice of urban planning is a comprehensive process, not an endpoint, although it was not always the case. History of Urban Planning The study of urban planning has its antecedents in Europe during the transformation from an agrarian to industrial society. This transformation spawned the reemergence of the market city, where for the first time the merchant, not the noble or the land owner, became the social leader. This period also saw the rise of the public square, something that had not been present since the time of the Greek Polis. The result was the materialization of the market driven local economy, and the link between commerce and governance. The Pre-industrial Era Immigration in the last 200 years is largely responsible for shaping the urban landscape in America, relegating the new American city to “nothing more than a laboratory for studying the natural experiment of social change” (Fagin 1967, 51). Up until the 1890s, no other nation had ever seen a diverse influx of immigration on such a large scale. It is also theorized that mass immigration is the precursor of today’s social inequity. It must be noted that during America’s industrial revolution, no prior research was done on urban planning. The only studies that resembled strategic planning were fragmented investigations, which were nothing more than recorded local histories. Prior to WWII, urban development in America was highly unorganized and sporadic, with development only being undertaken in major metropolitan areas like Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Detroit, and Chicago. Urban planning was unpopular in America during the 1920s due to the “highly oppressive acts taken in the name of planning in totalitarian Russia” (Fagin 1967, 546). City plans were relegated to nothing more than public works plans during the Great
  3. 3. Theory vs. Practice 3 Depression. Additionally, “few, if any, means existed to carry out these narrow objectives” (Fagin 1967, 546). The post-war Era With WWII over, Americans slowly returned to normalcy, and an era of prosperity began in the 1950s. It is theorized that it was this second wave of domestic immigration that triggered the move to the suburbs in order to escape the rigors of poverty and the constraint of living in the urban environment, thus “supplementing the philosophies of individualism and private property” (Fowler 1992, 116). Cities during this era did not exercise planned growth, rather they were responding to growth out of necessity. Shortly after WWII, the constraints and paranoia of negative public sentiment toward urban planning had largely eroded. Leadership capacities were now being developed to carry out the new task of implementing the two “nationwide programs of an interstate highway system and federal urban renewal projects” (Fagin, 1967 327). Up until the 1960s, “no authentic philosophy statement on urban planning existed; instead, the philosophy was largely based on the thoughts of planners and their plans” (Fagin 1967, 309). The Modern Era By the 1970s, leadership and the capacity to plan were now in place. However, it is during this period that the federal government finally pulls the plug on the few remaining urban planning initiatives which it controlled. Over the last forty years, the federal government increasingly distanced itself from participating in urban renewal projects with: President Nixon withdrawing funding for housing, urban renewal, and local planning programs; President Carter blocked new urban initiatives legislation; and President Reagan cutting the Federal Innovation Program and Federal Stimulus Planning Program that dated back to the New Deal (Peterson 2003, 327).
  4. 4. Theory vs. Practice 4 Over the last thirty years, discontent emerged among citizens and civic groups with the ultimate failure of Title I of the 1949 Federal Housing Act. Criticism came when this federally subsidized program could not achieve its goal of slum clearance and urban redevelopment. Housing would seem to be the focus of the act, however, “the wording permitted the use of subsidies for projects that destroyed residential areas and replaced them with commercial development—nothing in Title I mandates the construction of low or moderate-income housing” (Teaford 2000, 444). From this point on, federal urban renewal programs were decidedly “too costly and destructive to personal liberty” (Teaford 2000, 454). Also during this time, planning once again came under fire from citizen advocacy groups due to the increasing use of eminent domain to displace citizens from their homes in the name of progress that might benefit the entire community. Activists “sought to replace the top-down tradition of planning with a new bottomup approach, in which residents would play a major role” (Teaford 2000, 456). One of the most important developments to take place during this era was the federal government granting responsibility for urban development programs to state and local governments. Federal Community Development Block Grants (CDBGs) allowed state and local governments more flexibility in the use of federal money for locally-identified projects. Many practitioners criticize that federal block grants are too categorical, and that they do not address the problems in which they intend to solve (Teaford 2000, 461). During the last twenty years, federal funding for these grants has been cut dramatically. In the last three decades, the federal government has granted nearly full jurisdiction to “states and localities, which caused them to rely on their own ingenuity and resources to finance revitalization programs and their implementation” (Teaford 2000, 460). Early on in this full transition of power, many state and
  5. 5. Theory vs. Practice 5 local governments were not equipped with policies and programs for this task. It has only been in the last twenty years that most localities have embraced these responsibilities. I will now shift my focus from the history of American urban planning to the literature review. The literature review chronicles works that seek to explain how downtown revitalization strategies have evolved. Literature Review In order to understand what policies, procedures, and characteristics comprise a successful downtown revitalization strategy, I drew a link between the situations presented in the evolution of urban planning to recent research on downtown revitalization. For the most part, national research appearing in books and scholarly articles on downtown revitalization have only focused on major U.S. cities, not the more abundant smaller municipalities with populations of less than 250,000. The focus of this study is the administrations of four Pennsylvania third-class cities. However, there is limited literature on small-city leadership and downtown revitalization strategies. Some may ask why research on larger cities is not applicable to small municipalities. A major reason is that the physical size of small cities is inadequate to meet the market requirements of development projects found in larger cities. Simply put, “larger downtowns have the assets of larger workforces, greater market areas, and more complementary attractions” (Robertson 2002, 54). Much of the research on municipal leadership and public-private partnerships (Robertson, 2002; and The Academy of Political Science, 1986) suggests that healthy downtowns are reflective of strong sustainable partnerships between the public and private sectors, and are devoid of conflict. A downtown stakeholder is anyone who has a vested interest in improving the downtown’s health. Downtown stakeholders consist of city and county government,
  6. 6. Theory vs. Practice 6 downtown development authorities and corporations, the chamber of commerce, downtown merchants, private investors and developers, and residents. Working partnerships provide the essential foundation to “create more stakeholders by mobilizing both human and financial resources, broaden the support base, and aid in promoting efficiency among the different organizations by preventing duplicate efforts” (Robertson 2002, 54). In addition, these relationships allow downtown stakeholders to actively engage in shared projects and programs designed to marshal maximum resources by sharing risks for the benefit of the community, thereby confirming Alex de Tocqueville’s observation that “extra-governmental associations are America’s legacy to democracy.” Nevertheless, conflict between the mayor, city council, and other downtown stakeholders exists; in order to understand why, the qualities of mayoral leadership must be examined. Research on mayoral conflict (Wheeland , 2002; and Ihrke & Niederjohn, 2005) argues that political institutions, at all levels, define the agenda within which politics takes place. The institutional framework of local government places various influences on the mayoral executive and their relationship with council and other stakeholders. Two models to evaluate mayoral leadership and conflict include the executive mayor and facilitative mayor paradigms. Wheeland (2002) argues that facilitative and executive mayors increase a mayor’s chances of being successful if they (1) act in ways that are compatible to the formal institutional features defining their roles; (2) build a consensus for a particular course of action; and (3) are supported by other formal institutional features and benefits. Therefore, mayors in weak-facilitative mayor/council systems have limited control and influence in setting agendas or advocating policy. When a facilitative mayor begins to govern as a strong-executive mayor, city council members and other downtown stakeholders may perceive conflict. On the other hand, if a strong-executive mayor,
  7. 7. Theory vs. Practice 7 who does not act in a facilitative manor (i.e., is unwilling to cooperate, communicate, and coordinate with downtown stakeholders) on revitalization initiatives, council members and downtown stakeholders could perceive conflict. In both models, if the mayor acts out of the institutional boundaries, conflict could be perceived that endangers the revitalization process. Although conflict is possible when people come together to make decisions, conflict can be beneficial to group productivity as it prevents groupthink, and allows an open line of communication on decision-making and policy outcomes. The factors most often cited that lead to group conflict were gender, education, leadership credibility, and age. It was found that “older mayors and council members perceived less conflict than younger mayors; female mayors and council members perceived more conflict than males; tenure and higher education decreased the perceived level of conflict; and the more credible or authentic the mayor is the less conflict council perceived” (Ihrke & Niederjohn, 2005, 455). Studies of urban planning (see for example Fagin, 1967; Francaviglia, 1996; Ford, 2002; and Peterson, 2003) indicate that a lack of planning, in the form of a comprehensive plan, significantly influences the resulting business climate and overall downtown health. Frederic Law Olmstead was the first to propose the administrative planning agency. In 1909 no such office existed, and he theorized that the only time planning would work was when city planning was conceived as a continuous, non-static, process. Olmstead thought that a comprehensive plan was not a single report, and that it was never finished. The concept of planning, as portrayed in history, has changed over time. This study examines planning techniques utilized during the last fifteen years, using the variables of community surveys, market studies, property inventories, and comprehensive plans. Olmstead also argued that unplanned, quick-fix approaches and largescale catalytic development projects would fail in the long-term if a needs assessment was not
  8. 8. Theory vs. Practice 8 first completed. This is because in many cases communities become enamored with the concept of large-scale projects before it is determined that there is a real need for the project. Olmstead’s needs assessment was the forerunner of what we know today as a market analysis. Local leaders need to market and promote their downtowns’ assets in order to attract visitors and private investors. Without a market analysis and comprehensive plan, local leaders and citizens may support a project, but if the market does not support demand for a project, it should not be built because it will ultimately fail. A market study also assesses a community’s current assets, can provide information on how to enhance its marketability, and illustrates what type of complementary attractions should be developed. Many times, a proposed downtown convention center or movie theater is construed as a panacea that will spark additional investment. Without the proper planning, the probability of a project failing may result in an overall lack of coordination and direction for future development. Due to tight municipal budgets, private investment is crucial in providing additional funding for downtown development. If conflict erupts, it may cause private developers and investors to abandon a project, which would serve as a warning to other investors to avoid business in the community. Various studies (Robertson, 1999; and Fowler, 1992) have sought to analyze downtown problems, and then prescribe revitalization strategies. Revitalization strategies can be placed into two categories: functional and physical. Functional revitalization strategies are closely associated with providing a means to foster cooperation and mobilize resources. Examples of functional strategies include the formation of a non-profit downtown development organization, forging public-private partnerships, and facilitating university-community partnerships.
  9. 9. Theory vs. Practice 9 Physical strategies address design, architecture, and aesthetics to create a sense of place. Physical strategies include streetscape and façade improvement programs, open space, arts and cultural exhibits, waterfront development, zoning ordinances, and design guidelines. It was found that for a downtown to attract people over time, it needs to be pedestrian friendly and have a sense of place. A sense of place is difficult to describe since it is largely subjective, but a definitive sense of place is when a location feels like home and is a place most people want to frequent and experience. Additionally, a sense of place includes an inviting ambiance that is created from the elements of architecture, façade and signage, street layout, open space, and the urban forest that come together to create this perception as a venue for community gatherings. Many practitioners state that a downtown is best experienced on foot. However, closing the downtown to traffic was found to be detrimental. Pedestrian traffic serves as a visual stimulus to those in their automobiles by creating curiosity. Traffic flow into the downtown is important in making the downtown a destination, rather than having cars simply pass through it. By fostering activity at the street level, this causes an individual to “want to shop that trendy boutique, eat at the crowded restaurant, or stop and browse the venders at a festival” (Fowler 1992, 88). The most successful downtown revitalization strategy frequently cited in the literature is the Main Street Program. The Main Street program is a four-point approach (design, promotion, economic restructuring, and organizational development) that requires the hiring of a full-time downtown manager that oversees revitalization efforts, fosters public-private leadership capacities, and cultivates resources in order to forge sustainable downtown development. It has been estimated that 1,200 communities across America have participated in the Main Street Program. The Main Street Program should not be viewed as a panacea either. In most cases the program is only instituted after prior conflict has subsided, or in municipalities that exhibit
  10. 10. Theory vs. Practice 10 minute levels of conflict. This is crucial if the downtown manager is to receive full support in harnessing all available cooperation among stakeholders. All involved must be on the same page. Methodology The small number of analytical research studies that focused on small city downtowns motivated me to initiate this research to understand why some revitalization efforts are successful while others fail. A comprehensive study of the downtown revitalization efforts by the administrations of the four third-class cities in Luzerne County has never been undertaken. In order to draw a direct connection between the works presented in the literature review to my four test cities, I specifically crafted two hypotheses. When all stakeholders in a municipality cooperate on downtown development, then the stakeholders will be more likely to create and adopt a strategic downtown revitalization plan; and if a municipality creates a strategic plan for its downtown, then the municipality’s downtown is more likely to experience sustained economic growth. In hypothesis one, cooperation among downtown stakeholders is the independent variable, and strategic planning is the dependent variable. In hypothesis two, strategic planning becomes the independent variable, and economic growth is the dependent variable. Both hypotheses are causal and are in a positive direction. In hypothesis one, the conceptual definition of my independent variable, cooperation, is downtown stakeholders working together toward a common goal. A stakeholder, as opposed to its use in a business context, is anyone who has a vested interest in the health of their downtown. Downtown stakeholders include municipal and county government leaders, downtown development authorities and organizations, the chamber of commerce, downtown merchants,
  11. 11. Theory vs. Practice 11 private investors and developers, and residents. I operationally define cooperation as measurements of local newspaper stories for reported evidence of communication between stakeholders in the form of meetings, conferences, and community survey results. The conceptual definition of my dependent variable, strategic planning, is a supported approach that addresses all aspects of development with clearly identifiable and measurable goals, and contains programs and processes for implementation. There are two variations of the definition of strategic planning referred to throughout this study, the “supported” and “unsupported” comprehensive plan. A supported plan is a comprehensive plan that is universally recognized by all stakeholders as the strategy that identifies downtowns’ strengths and weaknesses, and as the strategy that will be followed in implementing revitalization initiatives. An unsupported plan is a strategic plan that is not universally recognized by all stakeholders. An example of an unsupported strategy is when a downtown development organization or chamber of commerce prepares its own downtown revitalization plan without the authorization or recognition of city government or other stakeholders. Unsupported plans may be applicable and contain a solid strategy, but “unless city government authorizes and initiates the drafting of a strategic plan, the unsupported plan is artificial in its purpose” (Robertson 2002, 55). Also, no matter how much planning is independently undertaken by one stakeholder, “if city government does not recognize these actions, those actions do not become universally accepted and in most cases a great plan can go unused” (Robertson 2002, 57). As this example illustrates, when city government builds a consensus among stakeholders and initiates the planning process the likelihood of a supported plan resulting increases. For the context of this study, strategic planning is assumed to mean a supported plan. The operational definition of strategic planning was measured by the presence or absence of a comprehensive plan.
  12. 12. Theory vs. Practice 12 In hypothesis two, strategic planning becomes the independent variable. I kept the same conceptual and operational definitions for strategic planning that were used in hypothesis one. The conceptual definition of my dependent variable, economic growth, is a downtown that demonstrates evidence of new retail businesses and professional offices being built or relocating. I operationally defined economic growth by measuring primary and secondary economic indicators in each city. Primary indicators include the estimated number of downtown workers, total square feet of downtown office space, the percentage of vacant downtown office space, and the number of retail businesses in operation. Secondary economic indicators include total population percent change and aggregate revenue in the four municipalities tested. These indicators will illustrate how downtown health influences a community’s tax base. Of the four cities studied, Wilkes-Barre was the only municipality to have the primary downtown economic indicator data recorded. This data came from the 1992 Greater WilkesBarre Partnership Major Office Space Survey and the 2003 Diamond City Partnership Downtown Wilkes-Barre Strategic Market Development Plan. In the remaining three cities, the secondary economic indicators and newspaper reports of economic growth were substituted as the measure for my dependent variable. The three municipalities that did not record the primary economic indicator data raise a serious question. If this data is not being recorded, then what criteria do city officials use to make informed decisions in measuring revitalization goals and in prescribing strategies to improve the economic health of their downtown? I freely admit that the secondary economic indicators and population data is not a representative measure of downtown economic health. However, these aggregate indicators serve as surrogate data in assessing the overall economic health of a municipality. It is often stated by economic development and urban planning
  13. 13. Theory vs. Practice 13 professionals (Robertson, 1999; and Fowler, 1992) that the downtown contributes a considerable amount to a community’s tax base. By focusing on total revenue, a measure of economic health can be inferred. In my analysis of newspaper reports, I supplemented the secondary economic indicator data with descriptive evidence from business leaders and residents that illustrates an improvement in downtown economic health. This evidence includes an increase in downtown activity and entertainment, new businesses opening, number of jobs created from development projects, as well as a comparative assessment of the downtown to prior years. The data for this study were collected in the fall 2005 and spring 2006 semesters by examining local newspaper archives for articles on the topics of downtown revitalization and downtown development from 1990 to 2005. I then contacted each municipality, chamber of commerce, and downtown development organization in order to conduct interviews with city officials on the status of their revitalization initiatives and to gather information on comprehensive plans, downtown reports, and maps. Each administration was tested separately for two reasons. First, each administration is similar in its structure and encountered a declining downtown. Second, from the literature review, I learned that strategic planning, precipitated by cooperation, is considered the preeminent strategy for communities to remedy the problems facing their downtown. Data on the structural features of Pennsylvania local governments came from the Pennsylvania Local Government Manual. From this publication I determined all four municipalities governing structures employed a mayor/council type arrangement. One difference encountered in determining the governing structure, is that the cities of Hazleton and Wilkes-Barre are strongmayor/council systems, while Pittston and Nanticoke are weak-mayor/council systems.
  14. 14. Theory vs. Practice 14 By testing each administration separately, this method presents the history and individual attitudes toward planning. Also, if each administration is not evaluated separately, it does not allow for a comprehensive assessment of revitalization activities. All administrations took a different approach to revitalizing their downtown. It is not reasonable to contribute the activities of one administration for the conditions that are present because of actions taken by prior administrations. The time period used for my observation allowed me to apply my hypotheses to multiple administrations that were in office during the same election cycle. Population data for the years 1990, 2000, and 2004 came from the United States Census Bureau. Aggregate municipal tax data was retrieved from the Governor’s Center for Local Government Services database. At the time of retrieval 2004 and 2005 data were not available. All amounts were then adjusted for inflation by using the United States Federal Reserve inflation index. My purpose for testing the two hypotheses was to determine if the key factors leading to successful downtown revitalization were present, and whether they influenced the downtown’s economic health. Results Applying my hypotheses to the four test cities yielded the following results: Hypothesis One When all stakeholders in a municipality cooperate on downtown development, then the stakeholders will be more likely to create and adopt a strategic downtown revitalization plan.
  15. 15. Theory vs. Practice 15 Hazleton The Quigley Administration (1988-1995) John Quigley was first elected as mayor of the city of Hazleton in 1987, and was reelected in 1991. There were reports that demonstrated evidence of cooperation among stakeholders, when the city was awarded a $978,000 low interest loan that aided in the revitalization of downtown Hazleton. It was cited by Mayor Quigley that “cooperation among all who had a vested interest in revitalizing this great city were the reason the grants were awarded.”1 Hazleton was also presented with a two million dollar state grant for downtown development. The money was used for downtown development, and to update the city’s comprehensive plan. Downtown revitalization was one of the top priorities reported in the Mayor’s 1993 State of the City Address.2 There was additional evidence of cooperation reported when the mayor and city council approved a study for a downtown parking garage. Mayor Quigley said “building a parking garage is a key project to revitalizing the city by dealing with the problem of a lack of parking in the downtown district, council and I am actively listening to merchants concerns.”3 The mayor and city council agreed to apply for a $750,000 state grant that was used for blight removal, as well as a $150,000 loan for historic preservation. There were also reports of conflict between Mayor Quigley and one city council member over a downtown business center project. Mayor-elect and current city councilman, Mike Marsicano, felt Mayor Quigley was financially benefiting from the development projects taking place in the city.”4 There were reports of merchants and residents who felt Mayor Quigley’s actions to revitalize the downtown were working.5 From the reports gathered, it is apparent throughout the Quigley administration that downtown revitalization and historic preservation
  16. 16. Theory vs. Practice 16 were among his top priorities. However, criticism and conflict seemed to result from a single councilman, Mike Marsicano. At times, Marsicano’s comments seemed to tarnish the mayor’s revitalization initiatives. In 1994, city council voted to update the city’s comprehensive plan for the downtown, and administer a community survey to residents and downtown merchants for input on the plan. The decision to update to the city’s largely outdated 1980 comprehensive plan, was found to be reflective of the cooperation among the mayor, city council, residents, and downtown merchants.6 Based on this evidence, it appears that cooperation and strategic planning were present. Thus, my hypothesis was confirmed. The Marsicano Administration (1996-2000) Mike Marsicano, a former councilman, was elected mayor in 1995. There were reports that illustrated downtown merchants objected to the new mayor’s comments on the future of downtown revitalization. It was reported that the mayor wanted to concentrate on developing the Hazleton Municipal Airport, instead of the downtown.7 There was also evidence that downtown merchants felt the new mayor was not following the strategies outlined in the updated comprehensive plan. Instead, the mayor wanted to purchase all blighted buildings and tear them down. Merchants argued that the mayor’s haphazard plan to tear down buildings was not discussed with them.8 There was also evidence that the conflict between Mayor Marsicano and city council over the plan to raze vacant main street buildings, moved U.S. Representative Paul Kanjorski, to urge the mayor and council “to come together to make something work that is important to the city’s future.”9 It would appear from reports that the mayor was not cooperating with city council or downtown merchants on the initiatives established in the comprehensive plan. However, ground was broken for the downtown parking garage project. My hypothesis was not confirmed.
  17. 17. Theory vs. Practice 17 Conflict was present, but downtown development and historic preservation projects outlined in the comprehensive plan were conducted. The Barletta Administration (2000 - present) Louis Barletta, a former councilman, was elected mayor in 1999, and was reelected in 2003. Newspaper reports revealed examples of cooperation when the newly elected mayor administered a survey to the chamber of commerce and downtown merchants that sought their input on future downtown development.10 The results of the survey revealed the need to fix traffic signals, recruit new businesses, and to construct additional parking spaces. A story on Mayor Barletta’s first 100 days in office reported that merchants felt the mayor and his administration were listening to their requests by cooperating with them, as well as the municipal authority and city council in building a consensus by focusing on revitalizing the downtown with an update to the 1995 comprehensive plan.11 Merchants felt confident in the job the new mayor had done so far, and sensed they were close to a downtown renaissance.12 Another example of cooperation among the mayor and downtown merchants occurred when mayor Barletta visited downtown merchants to check on the progress of the façade improvement program, and to gather input on future downtown development projects.13 Based on the evidence I observed, cooperation and strategic planning were present during the Barletta administration. My hypothesis was confirmed. Pittston The Walsh Administration (1981-1997). Thomas Walsh was the city of Pittston’s four term mayor. During his last two terms, (1991-1997) newspaper reports about downtown development were sporadic. I relied on interviews with city officials to understand the political and business climate in the downtown.
  18. 18. Theory vs. Practice 18 From personal interviews, I learned that city leaders recognized the need to plan for the future in the mid 1980s. With the assistance of generous federal funding, the city drafted a comprehensive plan in 1987 that not only focused on the downtown, but also addressed a variety of residential needs including parking, paving, and recreational activities. When asked to describe the relationship among stakeholders, interviewee said, the “Walsh administration and the update to the comprehensive plan was the byproduct of cooperation among the mayor, chamber of commerce, city council, and various city departments.”14 Based on the information uncovered during the interview with a city official, I observed evidence of cooperation that lead to drafting a comprehensive plan. Thus, my hypothesis was confirmed. The Lombardo Administration (1998-2005) Michael Lombardo was elected in mayor in 1997, and was reelected in 2002. Newspaper reports revealed the condition of downtown Pittston, which told of blighted buildings and vacant storefronts.15 During the election campaign, mayoral and city council candidates presented a twelve-point plan to revitalize the city. 16 The plan consisted of an update to the 1987 comprehensive plan and zoning ordinances, the implementation of façade and streetscape improvement programs, an update to the property inventory database software, and a survey of residents and downtown business owners. A survey of residents and merchants during Mayor Lombardo’s first six months in office revealed evidence of cooperation, with those who lived and worked in Pittston demonstrating a high approval rating for the strategies the mayor and council had implemented to revitalize the city.17 Furthermore, I observed evidence of cooperation when the mayor and city council agreed to apply for the Pennsylvania Main Street Program.18 From news stories and interviews with city officials, I discovered the Lombardo
  19. 19. Theory vs. Practice 19 Administration exhibited multiple instances of cooperation and an updated comprehensive plan.19 My hypothesis was confirmed. Nanticoke The Sokolowski Administration (1987-1993) Walter Sokolowski was elected mayor in 1987. I found evidence of cooperation during the Sokolowski Administration when the mayor and city council authorized the Nanticoke General Municipal Authority to apply for a grant for downtown development.20 Nanticoke received federal and state grants to build the Kanjorski Center, a 40,000 ft2 multi-tenant office building in the downtown.21 During the period of the Sokolowski Administration, I observed no evidence of strategic planning. However, the mayor, council, and municipal authority did exhibit cooperation in securing funding for the Kanjorski Center. Based on this evidence, my hypothesis was not confirmed, because we have evidence of cooperation, but an absence of a strategic plan. The Kobela Administration (1994-1997) Wasil Kobela, a former Nanticoke police chief, was elected mayor in 1993. I observed evidence of discontent among those who lived and worked in Nanticoke. Six Months after the Kanjorski center was completed, it was reported many residents and merchants had a pessimistic view of the downtown and the new Kanjorski Center because it had not spurred additional downtown development that was promised by city officials.22 Another story reported that downtown merchants felt they would not see a downtown renaissance due to a lack of parking, and that their requests had not been taken into consideration by the new mayor.23 Merchants cited a 1980 ornamental brick paving project that reduced the number of available off-street
  20. 20. Theory vs. Practice 20 parking spaces by half on Main Street.24 In response, the city created a temporary parking lot when they razed the vacant State Theater.25 During the Kobela administration, I found no evidence of strategic planning. Conversely, the mayor, council, and municipal authority did exhibit cooperation by creating a short-term solution for the downtown parking situation. There was further evidence of downtown development after the construction of the Kanjorski Center, when the Nanticoke Municipal Authority purchased six properties for its revitalization project.26 No reference was made to a downtown plan. I learned during a recent interview with city officials that the city of Nanticoke never had a downtown revitalization plan.27 During the Kobela administration, there were few reports of conflict between city council, the mayor, and municipal authority. I observed conflict among the city officials and downtown merchants over the need for additional parking. In response, the city created a commission to study the feasibility of a downtown parking garage and created a temporary parking lot. Based on this evidence, I observed cooperation in shortterm problem solving, but a lack of strategic planning. My hypothesis was not confirmed. The Toole Administration (1997-2005) John Toole was elected mayor in 1997 and was reelected in 2001. During the Toole administration, cooperation was observed among the mayor, city council, and the Nanticoke Municipal Authority over the need for a comprehensive plan, but a plan never resulted.28 There was also conflict present among the mayor, city council, and the municipal authority over a plan to recruit businesses to the downtown.29 Further evidence of conflict emerged when two members of the Nanticoke Municipal Authority resigned because of a lack of communication between the mayor and authority. They also claimed that the reason the downtown was in poor health was due to a lack of planning downtown development projects.30
  21. 21. Theory vs. Practice 21 Evidence of a lack of cooperation between the city and the Kanjorski Center’s tenant, Health Now, was observed during the later portion of the Toole administration when the Medicare claims processing company wanted to expand operations.31 A spokesperson for Health Now cited that both the city and the municipal authority had not replied to its requests for more parking. The company said it would leave if its requests were not taken seriously. 32 Multiple examples of conflict and a lack of communication among the mayor, city council, municipal authority, a State Representative, and a U.S. Congressman were observed in the later years of Mayor Toole’s term.33 It was reported that State Representative John Yudichak and U.S. Representative Paul Kanjorski, both from Nanticoke, were at odds concerning downtown development due to a past feud.34 Evidence of a lack of communication and cooperation was observed when city officials accused the municipal authority of holding repeated closed-door meetings..35 City officials said “they do not know what downtown development programs the city has access to, the financial status of grants, or the status of any of its projects.”36 I did not observe evidence of strategic planning, but an attempt was made by representatives of the South Valley Partnership to join with the Nanticoke Municipal Authority to hire an urban planner and draft a regional comprehensive plan, but the municipal authority dismissed the idea.37 During the Toole administration, I observed multiple instances of conflict among the mayor, city council, the South Valley Partnership, state and federal representatives, and municipal authority. Based on evidence of conflict found during the Toole administration, and the absence of a strategic plan, my hypothesis was confirmed: conflict resulted in a lack of strategic planning.
  22. 22. Theory vs. Practice 22 Wilkes-Barre The Namey Administration (1987-1995) Lee Namey, a high school art teacher, was elected to two terms as mayor of the city of Wilkes-Barre. I found evidence of conflict during the Namey administration with reports of internal conflict among city council and the city administrator over a proposed plan to renovate the downtown.38 Further evidence of conflict was observed during when the mayor wanted to bring a museum to the downtown, but the proposal did not receive support from city council to pursue funding for a feasibility study.39 I also observed evidence of internal conflict between the mayor and city council in a report that summed up the mayor’s two terms, and how conflict with city council hindered the attraction of businesses to the downtown.40 I did not observe evidence of strategic planning during the Namey administration, but there was evidence of planning undertaken by the Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce with their Downtown Wilkes-Barre Redevelopment Plan in 1992. However, the plan was not adopted by the city. Based on evidence collected during the Namey administration, I found multiple examples of conflict, and an absence of strategic planning. My hypothesis was confirmed because conflict between the mayor and council inhibited strategic planning. The McGroarty Administration (1996-2003) Thomas McGroarty was elected to two terms as mayor of the city of Wilkes-Barre. There was evidence of cooperation among city officials and the chamber of commerce reported when Mayor McGroarty and Steve Barrouk traveled to Burlington, Vermont to study a model for the revitalization of downtown Wilkes-Barre.41 Later in his term, there was evidence of conflict reported among city officials and downtown business owners. Merchants felt the McGroarty administration was not responsive to their needs for a better downtown, which included better
  23. 23. Theory vs. Practice 23 lighting, more parking, and more frequent police patrols.42 Additional evidence of conflict was reported among the mayor, city council, and the chamber of commerce when the mayor was criticized for his confrontational, go-it-alone approach by merchants and residents.43 Little evidence of cooperation during the McGroarty administration was discovered.44 I read numerous articles that illustrated an increased awareness for the need to revitalize the downtown.45 However, these reports were accompanied by an increase in conflict between the mayor and the chamber of commerce; these included the mayor not answering chamber or city council’s questions about proposed downtown development projects, and the status of the stalled downtown movie theater project.46 Lack of communication between the mayor and the chamber was apparent when the chamber of commerce took out a full-page advertisement in a local newspaper explaining its position on downtown revitalization initiatives to the mayor.47 Strategic planning during the McGroarty administration appears to have been absent.48 However, 2001 saw the formation of the Diamond City Partnership, a non-profit downtown revitalization organization.49 Soon after its formation, the Diamond City Partnership held a series of four visioning sessions that were designed to bring residents, merchants, city officials, the chamber of commerce, and downtown development professionals together to formulate a revitalization strategy.50 It appeared the participation of Mayor McGroarty was uncertain.51 Evidence of conflict was apparent at the conclusion of the last session when four groups emerged with differing strategies to revitalize the downtown.52 In 2003, the Downtown Wilkes-Barre Strategic Market Development Study was released, which was a comprehensive analysis of the downtown market and its governance.53 Evidence of a comprehensive plan was not present. Based on evidence collected during the McGroarty administration, I found multiple examples of conflict among the mayor, city council, downtown merchants, residents, and the
  24. 24. Theory vs. Practice 24 chamber of commerce. Strategic planning was also absent.54 My hypothesis was confirmed, because conflict produced no plans. The Leighton Administration (2004 - Present) Thomas Leighton, the owner of a real estate and insurance company, was elected mayor in 2003. There were reports that indicated evidence of cooperation among the newly elected mayor and city council. City officials agreed that the 1974 comprehensive plan and other planning documents were outdated. In response, city officials voted to update the comprehensive plan, amend zoning regulations, and authorized the Diamond City Partnership to draft a downtown revitalization plan. Evidence of cooperation appeared in a report that illustrated residents, the chamber, and downtown merchants supported Mayor Leighton’s vision for the future of the city.55 In the summer of 2005, Mayor Leighton delivered his “I Believe” speech to stakeholders. There appeared to be conflicting evidence as to whether the citizens supported the mayor’s revitalization visions.56 I found evidence of support for strategic planning, when city officials voted to update the 1974 comprehensive plan and draft a downtown revitalization plan. It should be noted that the city never had a downtown revitalization plan. In addition, during the initial years of the Leighton administration, I found multiple instances of cooperation among the mayor, city council, and chamber of commerce on downtown development issues and solutions. My hypothesis was confirmed. Hypothesis Two If a municipality engages in strategic planning, then the municipality’s downtown is more likely to experience economic growth. The primary indicators of downtown economic growth were not recorded by the chamber of commerce or the governments of Hazleton, Pittston, and
  25. 25. Theory vs. Practice 25 Nanticoke. Therefore, I collected newspaper reports, aggregate revenue data, and population data to use as surrogate indicators of economic activity. Kent Robertson (1999, 2002) has stated in numerous articles that the downtown contributes a considerable amount to a community’s tax base. The links among these indicators present an overall view of the economic exchanges and health of each municipality. Population statistics are also an important economic indicator. If a significant population loss occurs, it may be credited to the death of the elderly population or a loss of young educated workers. Population losses due to a lack of employment opportunities serve as an indicator of economic health. The Brookings Institution’s 2004 study, A Competitive Agenda for Renewing Northeastern Pennsylvania cited Northeastern Pennsylvania as having the largest population loss of those 18 to 34 years of age during the last decade. I supplemented the population and aggregate revenue data with information of economic conditions and job creation reported in local newspapers. Hazleton The Quigley Administration (1988-1995) The Quigley administration exhibited evidence of strategic planning when an update was made to the comprehensive plan in 1995. I observed evidence of economic development in the downtown district when a total of four million dollars in grants from the state and county were awarded for downtown revitalization projects. Newspapers reported that theses initiatives were the first downtown development in Hazleton in 30 years.57 This news story also illustrated a plan to construct a seven story office and retail building, as well as an intermodal transportation center, plus historic preservation of the Markle Building, which is the tallest building in Hazleton.58 It was estimated that the projects would create 500 additional jobs in the
  26. 26. Theory vs. Practice 26 downtown.59 Strategic planning and funding for of economic development projects was present. Therefore, my hypothesis was confirmed. The Marsicano Administration (1996-2000) A comprehensive plan was in place during the Marsicano administration. When Mayor Marsicano took office many revitalization projects started by mayor Quigley were in the process of construction. There were reports of the mayor focusing on developing the Hazleton Municipal Airport and development of the Humboldt Industrial Park, instead of following the plan meant for the downtown.60 Based on this evidence, strategic planning and the construction of development projects were present, my hypothesis was confirmed. The Barletta Administration (2000- present) During the Barletta administration, an update to the 1995 comprehensive plan was made in 2000. Evidence of economic development was observed in reports that compared the declining downtown of the early 1990s to the renaissance that took place during Mayor Barletta’s first term.61 A news story told of an increase in the downtown business occupancy rate from 60% in 1998 to 90% in 2004.62 Over the past two decades, Hazleton’s population of Hispanic-Americans has increased dramatically. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Hispanic-Americans composed five percent of Hazleton’s total population in 2000. Hazleton’s Hispanic-American population has played a key role in revitalizing the downtown. It was reported in 2004 that there were 250 Hispanicowned businesses in the downtown.63 Based on this evidence, strategic planning and the description of a revitalized downtown confirmed my hypothesis. From 1990 to 2004 Hazleton’s population decreased by ten percent. (see Table 1) In addition, Hazleton’s revenue increased three percent from 1990 to 2000, and 71% from 2000 to
  27. 27. Theory vs. Practice 27 2004. (see Table 2) This data would appear to confirm the reports of economic growth from 1990 to 2005. Pittston The Walsh Administration (1981-1997) As mentioned earlier, reports during the Walsh administration were sporadic. Based on information gathered from an interview with a city official, Pittston drafted a comprehensive plan in 1987 with the full cooperation of stakeholders.64 I learned the city had completed most of the city-wide initiatives outlined in the plan by the mid 1990s. I then asked city officials to describe some examples of economic growth that took place during the Walsh administration. Examples included a dress factory converted into a professional center on main street, an Insalco Supermarket that was converted into office and retail space, and construction of a downtown building that housed a Dollar General and a gym. Evidence of businesses that relocated to downtown Pittston included a dance studio, and the headquarters of Landmark Bank and Joyce Insurance. It was estimated by one city official that the development activities during the Walsh administration created 160 jobs in the downtown.65 Based on my interview with a city official, the Walsh Administration adopted a strategic plan that led to development projects and an increase of economic growth in the downtown. This evidence confirmed my hypothesis. The Lombardo Administration (1998-2005) During the Lombardo administration, the city of Pittston updated its comprehensive plan in 1998. Primary economic indicator data was not available. Evidence of economic development was observed in reports that illustrated a stagnant downtown business district lined with vacant buildings.66 There were reports that illustrated how the revitalization programs
  28. 28. Theory vs. Practice 28 outlined in the 1998 comprehensive plan have attracted new businesses to the downtown.67 I found that strategic planning was present, which resulted in businesses relocating to the downtown. My hypothesis was confirmed. From 1990 to 2004 Pittston’s population declined 18%. (see Table 1) From 1990 to 2000, Pittston’s total revenue increased 117%, but decreased to 14% from 2000 to 2003. (see Table 3) This data would appear to confirm the reports of economic growth during the period from 1990 to 2005. Nanticoke The Sokolowski Administration (1987-1993) Strategic planning was not observed during the Sokolowski administration. Primary economic indicator data for the city of Nanticoke was not available. There were reports of economic development during this period with the construction of Kanjorski Center.68 The project created 300 jobs in the downtown.69 Based on this evidence, strategic planning was not present, while economic development was present. My hypothesis was not confirmed. The Kobela Administration (1994-1996) Strategic planning was not observed during the Kobela administration. There were reports of economic development activity that resulted in an increase of eight Pennsylvania Department of Labor jobs in the Kanjorski Center.70 There were also reports of the city purchasing downtown properties due to a natural gas explosion that severely damaged four buildings during the summer of 1993. It was reported the damaged downtown properties were to be developed into retail space, “yet no plan for the properties had been solidified as of yet”, said Municipal Authority, Chair Charles Margelewicz.71
  29. 29. Theory vs. Practice 29 Based on this evidence, strategic planning was not present, but there was evidence of eight jobs created in the downtown. My hypothesis was confirmed, because there was no strategic planning and a lack of job creation after the construction of the Kanjorski Center. The Toole Administration (1997-2005) Strategic planning was not observed during the Toole administration, as the city has never had a market study conducted or a comprehensive plan drafted. However, there was an attempt made by members of the South Valley Partnership to join the Nanticoke Municipal Authority to draft a regional economic development and comprehensive plan, but the proposal was rejected. There were reports that the city was advised by the state to hire a downtown planner. In addition, Nanticoke Councilwoman, Yvonne Bozinski said, “that the seemingly haphazard selection of developers and development sites in the economically flagging downtown without a general overall plan is cause for concern.”73 Furthermore, Governor Ed Rendell said “that the state will not invest anymore money in Nanticoke until it gets its financials in order and a comprehensive plan in place.”74 It was reported that the city needed to have a comprehensive plan in place by May 2005, or it would lose a $1.5 million dollar federal grant.”75 There was evidence of economic growth with the construction of two new pharmacies and a new grocery store in the downtown. I estimate that an additional 150 jobs were created. Conversely, it was reported that additional attempts were made for economic development with the proposed construction of a multi-story parking garage and retail space that could have created an additional 120 jobs to the downtown.76 Reports illustrated the city lost an estimated 300 jobs, when the Kanjorski Center’s main tenant, Health Now, terminated its lease. Representatives from Health Now claimed the city was unresponsive to its needs. The building is currently 89% vacant, and is costing the Nanticoke Municipal Authority $33,000 a month to operate.
  30. 30. Theory vs. Practice 30 Based on the evidence observed, strategic planning was not present. Nanticoke also encountered a net loss of 150 jobs during the Toole administration. My hypothesis was confirmed, because the absence of strategic planning caused economic decline and job loss. From 1990 to 2004 the population of Nanticoke decreased by 15%. (see Table 1) Nanticoke’s total revenue increased 40% from 1990 to 2003. (see Table 4 ) Data for the year 2000 was not available. Due to a projected three million dollar deficit, city officials were reviewing a decision to declare Nanticoke a financially distressed city under Act 47. Tax rates in the city were raised to their highest amounts. Although this data would appear to confirm the reports of economic growth during the period of 1990 to 2005, the true economic impact of the vacant Kanjorski Center will not be known until the end of the 2006 fiscal year. Wilkes-Barre The Namey Administration (1987-1995) Strategic planning was not observed during the Namey administration. There was little reported evidence of economic development in the downtown. One report told of PNC Bank relocating to Scranton. Downtown merchants commented that residents have little reason to go downtown, and criticized the mayor for worrying about downtown aesthetics rather than attracting businesses.77 Council president Thomas Leighton said, “the downtown is a deteriorating relic of the past, something needs to be done to save it before it is too late.”78 Lack of a strategic planning and reports of a downtown littered with vacant storefronts, confirmed my hypothesis.
  31. 31. Theory vs. Practice 31 The McGroarty Administration (1996-2003) Strategic planning was not observed during the McGroarty administration. Yet, there was a visioning session held in 2001, and a downtown market study completed in 2003. Economic growth was evident in the relocation of Alltel and Commonwealth Telephone to the downtown. The relocation brought 350 jobs to the downtown.79 In testing my first hypothesis, the McGroarty Administration exhibited multiple instances of conflict among the mayor, chamber of commerce, residents, downtown merchants, and city council. However, economic development projects and jobs were created in the downtown. By looking at the downtown economic health indicator data from 1992 to 2003, I found an increase of 20% in the estimated number of downtown workers, a 97% increase in total office space, but a three percent decrease in the number of downtown retail businesses. From 1992 to 2003 vacant office space increased 18%. (see Table 5) From 1990 to 2004, the population of Wilkes-Barre declined by 13%. From 1990 to 2000, Wilkes-Barre’s total revenue increased 48%. From 2000 to 2003 total revenue decreased 19%. (see Table 6) It appears that the downtown is experiencing economic and workforce growth, while the overall population of the city is declining. Based on both qualitative and quantitative evidence, my hypothesis was not confirmed, because there was an absence of planning, but economic growth occurred. The Leighton Administration (2004-Present) Strategic planning was observed during the Leighton administration when city council and the mayor voted to update the comprehensive plan, and commissioned the Diamond City Partnership to draft a downtown revitalization plan. The city of Wilkes-Barre had not updated its comprehensive plan since 1974. Strategic planning in 1974 was in response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Agnes. This thirty-year gap in strategic planning is “believed to be caused
  32. 32. Theory vs. Practice 32 by the political realignment in Wilkes-Barre that took place following the devastating flood caused by Hurricane Agnes” (Baldino, Hepp & Wolenski, 2004). As stated in hypothesis one, Wilkes-Barre’s political history was rife with conflict, “being one of the few American cities to experience the commission, city manager, and strong mayor forms of governance” (Baldino, Hepp & Wolenski, 2004). During an interview with a city official I posed the question of why there was an absence of planning. The elected official cited the conflict-oriented past administrations, and a political culture was resistant to change.80 Furthermore, the chamber of commerce drafted a downtown revitalization plan in 1992, but prior city administrations never adopted it. All downtown development prior to the Leighton administration was unplanned.81 There were reports of economic growth when Mayor Leighton outlined the advancements of downtown businesses with the opening of the chamber-owned Innovation Center in 2004, the expanding of Guard Insurance Group, and the opening of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor office.82 Mayor Leighton also stated that “he had solid funding and a committed tenant for the construction of the downtown movie theater, which also includes housing and retail space.” 83 These activities were expected to result in the creation of 650 jobs in the downtown. I observed evidence of strategic planning and affirmation of economic growth, which confirmed my hypothesis. Discussion of Findings By clustering the results of my hypotheses, a clear pattern to compare the outcomes emerges. (see Tables 7 & 8) In hypothesis one, I found that administrations that exhibited evidence of cooperation, facilitated the updating and adoption of a strategic plan. In hypothesis two, I found that the same administrations that confirmed hypothesis one, also encountered an increase in economic growth. As expected, I observed confirmation of both hypotheses in the
  33. 33. Theory vs. Practice 33 Quigley, Barletta, Walsh, Lombardo, and Leighton administrations. Also as anticipated, my hypotheses were negatively confirmed. I found that if conflict was present and a strategic plan was not drafted, the downtown experienced economic decline and job loss. This finding was observed in the Namey and Toole administrations. Research on public-private partnerships (Robertson, 2002) indicated that healthy downtowns are the result of sustainable partnerships. By mobilizing both human and financial capital, the probability of drafting and adopting a comprehensive plan increases. Literature on urban planning (Fagin, 1967; Francaviglia, 1996; Ford, 2002; and Peterson, 2003) explains that communities that conduct market studies, inventory land use, seek public input, and update their comprehensive plans, increase the probability of revitalizing their downtown and generating sustained economic growth. I found these two theories to validate my observations of the administrations that confirmed both hypotheses. My observation of the Marsicano and McGroarty administrations were found to be anomalies. It appears that the conflict-oriented Marsicano administration inherited the prosperity produced by the planning activities of the prior administration. In contrast, the McGroarty administration did exhibit evidence conflict and an absence of strategic planning, but the downtown still experienced economic growth. From my observations, it appears that city council and the chamber of commerce facilitated workforce development and recruitment of businesses, in defiance of Mayor McGroarty’s criticisms. In both the Marsicano and McGroarty administrations, conflict was present, but economic growth occurred because of prior or external planning activities. The findings for the Sokolowski and Kobela administrations were also unique. The Sokolowski administration demonstrated that cooperation, not strategic planning led to short-
  34. 34. Theory vs. Practice 34 term economic growth occurring in the downtown. Strategic planning, land use inventories, market analyses, and public input were absent during the Sokolowski and Kobela administrations. From my observations, it appears the construction of the Kanjorski Center was anticipated by city officials to generate additional downtown development. Eleven years after its construction, the Kanjorski Center now sits vacant, and is costing the Nanticoke Municipal Authority $32,000 per month to operate. Research on urban planning indicated that unplanned, quick-fix approaches and largescale catalytic development projects will ultimately fail if a market analysis and strategic plan are not first completed. Additional research also indicated that private investment, not public ownership of development projects, is crucial if projects are to be financially sustainable in the long-term. My findings support this theory. Conclusions To conclude, the contemporary problems facing the downtowns located in Luzerne County are not insurmountable. In my analysis I sought to answer the question why some downtown revitalization efforts were more successful than others. From my findings I found that administrations that exhibited cooperation and embarked on strategic planning activities, experienced sustained economic growth; administrations that exhibited cooperation in spite of strategically plan, experienced short-term economic growth; and administrations that experienced conflict and had strategic planning activities occur externally, saw an increase in economic growth. I also learned from earlier research conducted that strategic planning cannot occur in absence of a written plan. In the literature review, I did not find reference to an unwritten strategic plan. Municipalities can, however, plan in the short-term. The majority of practitioners
  35. 35. Theory vs. Practice 35 agree that most short-term problems have long-term consequences if not properly planned.84 The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (2001) states in its planning guidelines, that a statement of community development goals and objectives must be provided in a written document. My main audience for this study was the Political Science Department at WilkesUniversity. That is not to say that city and county officials, and economic development practitioners could learn valuable lessons from this study. My research and analysis provided valuable insight into past and present situations facing the cities of Luzerne County in their quest to revitalize their downtowns. Therefore, cooperation and strategic planning significantly impact a community’s downtown economic health. From the theories presented and confirmation of my findings, it becomes apparent that the adage holds true—there are those who fail to plan and those who plan to fail.
  36. 36. Theory vs. Practice 36 Tables and Figures Table 1: Municipal Population Data Percent Change 1990-2004. City Hazleton Nanticoke Pittston W-B 1990-2000 -6% -11% -14% -9% 2000-2004 -4% -4% -4% -4% Source: Data taken from United States Census Bureau American Fact Finder. Summary File 1. <>. 1990-2004 -10% -15% -18% -13%
  37. 37. Theory vs. Practice 37 Table 2: City of Hazleton Aggregate Tax Information. Year Of Data Total Revenue* Percent Change 2003 2000 1990 $21,186,465 $12,382,988 $12,075,694 71% 3% Source: Data taken from Local Government Financial Statistics. Governors Center for Local Government Services. 2005. <>. *Amounts adjusted for inflation.
  38. 38. Theory vs. Practice 38 Table 3: City of Pittston Aggregate Tax Information. Year Of Data TOTAL REVENUE* 2003 2000 1990 $6,579,727 $7,679,406 $3,549,395 Percent Change -14% 117% Source: Data taken from Local Government Financial Statistics. Governors Center for Local Government Services. 2005. <>. *Amounts adjusted for inflation.
  39. 39. Theory vs. Practice 39 Table 4: City of Nanticoke Aggregate Tax Information. Year Of Data TOTAL REVENUE* Percent Change 2003 2000 1990 $4,762,329 40% NA NA $3,406,984 Source: Data taken from Local Government Financial Statistics. Governors Center for Local Government Services. 2005. <>. *Amounts adjusted for inflation.
  40. 40. Theory vs. Practice 40 Table 5: City of Wilkes-Barre Downtown Health Indicators 1992-2003. Indicator Estimated Number of Downtown Workers Total Multi-Tenant Office Space sq. ft. Office Vacancy % Retail Businesses in Operation 1992 10,000 864,855 9.00% 200 2003 12,000 1.7Million 27.00% 195 Source: Data taken from "Major Office Space Survey." 1992. Greater Wilkes-Barre Partnership (February): 1-6; "Strategic Market Development Plan for Downtown Wilkes-Barre." 2003. Diamond City Partnership (May). % Change 20% 97% 18% -3%
  41. 41. Theory vs. Practice 41 Table 6: City of Wilkes-Barre Aggregate Tax Information. Year Of Data TOTAL REVENUE* Percent Change 2003 2000 1990 $41,961,931 $51,601,019 $34,778,412 -19% 48% Source: Data taken from Local Government Financial Statistics. Governors Center for Local Government Services. 2005. <>. *Amounts adjusted for inflation.
  42. 42. Theory vs. Practice 42 Table 7. Comparative Results for Hypothesis One. IV Yes DV No Yes Quigley (H) Barletta (H) Walsh (P) Lombardo (P) Leighton (W-B) No Marsicano (H) Sokolowski (N) Kobela (N) Namey (W-B) McGroarty (W-B) Toole (N) H = Hazleton, P = Pittston, N = Nanticoke, W-B = Wilkes-Barre
  43. 43. Theory vs. Practice 43 Table 8. Comparative Results for Hypothesis Two. IV Yes DV No Yes Quigley (H) Marsicano (H) Barletta(H) Walsh (P) Lombardo (P) Leighton (W-B) No Sokolowski (N) McGroarty(W-B) Kobela (N) Toole(N) Namey (W-B) H = Hazleton, P = Pittston, N = Nanticoke, W-B = Wilkes-Barre
  44. 44. Theory vs. Practice 44 Notes 1. The Times Leader. 1993. “Hazleton Restoration.” 19 June. p. 3A. 2. The Times Leader. 1993. “The State of Hazleton.” 24 January. p. 14A. 3. The Times Leader. 1994. “Hazleton Sets Study of Parking.” 26 November. p. 3A. 4. The Times Leader. 1995. “Downtown Nearing Crossroads Out-of-Town Development.” 17 September. p. 3A. 5. The Times Leader. 1995. “Witness to Hazleton’s History Recalls Downtown’s heyday.” 19 September. p. 5A. 6. Barletta, Louis. 2006. Personal interview by author. Hazleton City Hall, PA. 31 March. 7. The Times Leader .1996. “Merchants Object to Mayor’s Comments About Downtown.” 31 March. p. 3A. 8. The Times Leader. 1997. “Hazleton Mayor’s Demolition Idea Baffles Owners, Officials Say the Plan was Not Discussed with Them.” 5 July. p. 3A. 9. The Times Leader. 1997. “Kanjorski Urges Cooperation for Development.” 13 July. p.1A. 10. TheTimes Leader. 2000. “Merchants' Input Sought on Boosting Downtown Hazleton.” 1 April. p. 2B. 11. The Times Leader. 2000. “Downtown Hazleton’s Rebirth Near.” 30 January. P. 3A. 12. The Times Leader. 2000. “Confidence Still Reigns High on Hazleton Hiring A Downtown Manager to Direct Revitalization.” 23 January. p. 3A.
  45. 45. Theory vs. Practice 45 13. The Times Leader. 2005. “Hazleton Gets Some New Life: Redevelopment Programs Help to Turn the City Around.” 24 April. p. 3A. 14. Mullarkey, Jerry. 2006. Personal interview by author. Pittston City Hall, PA. 20 January. 15. The Times Leader. 1997. “Pittston Mayoral Candidate Envisions New Downtown.” 30 April. p. 3A. 16. The Times Leader. 1997. “Pittston Mayoral Candidate wants to Rid Decay, Deterioration.” 12 October. p.3A. 17. 18. The Times Leader. 1998. “Pittston’s New Mayor Draws Praise.” 12 July. p. 3A. The Times Leader. 2003. “Pittston to Revitalize Downtown.” 18 December. p.12A. 19. Lombardo, Michael. 2006. Personal interview by author. Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce, PA. 31 March. 20. The Times Leader. 1993. “Loan Pushes Nanticoke Plan Forward.” 20 April. p. 3A. 21. The Times Leader. 1993. “Travelers Data Office Could Bring 300 Jobs.” 14 January. p. 3A. 22. The Times Leader. 1994. “Wanted: A Bustling Nanticoke Now.” 4 November. p. 1D. 23. The Times Leader. 1995. “Nanticoke Parking Elicits Complaints.” 1 April 1. p. 3A. 24. The Times Leader. 1994. “A Quiet boom.” 2 January. p. 2F. 25. The Times Leader. 1996. “Nanticoke Officials Plan for More Parking.” 12 April. p. 3A. 26. The Times Leader. 1996. “Authority to Buy Six City-Owned Properties for Revitalzation Plan.” 23 January. p. 3A. 27. Bushko, John. 2006. Personal interview by author. Nanticoke City Hall, PA. 13 February. 28. The Times Leader. 2005. “Councilwoman: Downtown Needs a Plan, Nanticoke: Sporadic Redevelopment Efforts are Cause for Concern, Planner is Advised.” 3 March. p. 3A. 29. The Times Leader. 1999. “Nanticoke Factions at Odds Over Possible Jobs.” 28 July. p. 3A.
  46. 46. Theory vs. Practice 46 30. The Times Leader. 2001. “Chairman, Member of Nanticoke General Municipal Authority Quit.” 17 July. p. 15A. 31. The Times Leader. 2000. “Decision Could Cost Nanticoke 300 Jobs.” 12 February. p. 1A. 32. The Times Leader. 2004. “Resignations Disable Nanticoke Municipal Authority.” 15 September. p. 1A. 33. Skrapits, Elizabeth. 2006. “Nanticoke Officials Bicker.” The Citizens’ Voice, 5 February. 34. The Times Leader. 2005. “Yudichak Rebukes Kanjorski.” 20 February. p. 1A. 35. Skrapits, Elizabeth. 2005. “Nanticoke Wants Answers from Authority.” The Citizens’ Voice. 24 February. 36. The Times Leader. 2005. “Controversy Pits Toole vs. Authority.” 9 January. p. 3A. 37. The Times Leader. 2005. “Councilwoman: Downtown Needs a Plan, Nanticoke: Sporadic Redevelopment Efforts are Cause for Concern, Planner is Advised.” 3 March. p. 3A. 38. The Times Leader. 1993. “Business District Pleads for Repair.” 23 April. p. 3A. 39. The Times Leader. 1995. “Museum Plan No Hit with Council.” 26 April. p. 11A. 40. The Times Leader. 1995. “Publicity Pros Urge Wilkes-Barre to do its Homework A Little Mental Elbow Grease Regenerates Life in A City if the Focus is Long-term Selling Points -- Not Quick Fixes, Experts Say.” 16 December. p. 1A. 41. The Times Leader. 1996. “Mayor to Tour Growth in Burlington, VT.” 16 April. p. 3A. 42. The Times Leader. 1999. “W-B Chamber Rips McGroarty.” 22 December. p.1A. 43. The Times Leader. 2001. “McGroarty not Delivering, Chamber Complains.” 18 March. p. 3A. 44. The Times Leader. 2002. “No Arguing McGroarty Means Well.” 15 August. p. 3A. 45. The Times Leader. 2000. “Remaking the Downtown McGroarty: Savior or Saboteur? Mayor’s Go-it-Alone Approach Draws Fire as well as Respect.” 23 January. p. 1A.
  47. 47. Theory vs. Practice 47 46. The Times Leader. 2001. “Developer Criticizes McGroarty: Mayor Won’t Give Answers about Theater.” 31 January. p. 1A. 47. The Times Leader. 2001. “Chamber’s Ad Takes Issue with McGroarty.” 17 April. p. 1A. 48. The Times Leader. 2001. “Public Input Sought on Downtown Wilkes-Barre.” 19 January. p. 1B 49. The Times Leader. 2001. “Future of W-B’s Downtown in All Our Hands.” 4 February. p. 3A. 50. The Times Leader. 2001. “Four Meetings That Could Save Wilkes-Barre.” 28 January. p. 3A. 51. The Times Leader. 2001. “Planners Wonder: Is McGroarty In or Out.” 30 January. p. 1A. 52. The Times Leader. 2001. “Adjourning into a Limbo of Indecision.” 29 March. p. 9A. 53. The Times Leader. 2003. “An Attitude Adjustment Can Only Help Downtown.” 29 May. p. 7A. 54. The Times Leader. 2003. “Lame-Duck Mayor Takes His Ball, Goes Home.” 30 December. p. 3A. 55. The Times Leader. 2004. “Revitalization won’t Come Through City Hall Alone, Expert Says, Private and Public Sectors Implored to Strike Balance That will Redefine what a Downtown is all About.” 2 March. p. 3A. 56. The Times Leader. 2005. “More Than Just Belief: Leighton Criticized for His "I BELIEVE" Campaign, Wilkes-Barre’s Mayor Gets Specific.” 29 June. p. 1A. 57. The Times Leader. 1993. “The State of Hazleton.” 24 January. p. 14A. 58. The Times Leader. 1993. “Hazleton Restoration.” 19 June. p. 3A. 59. The Times Leader. 1995. “Downtown Nearing Crossroads Out-of-Town Development.” 17 September. p. 3A. 60. The Times Leader. 1997. “Hazleton Mayor’s Demolition Idea Baffles Owners, Officials Say the Plan was Not Discussed with Them.” 5 July. p. 3A. 61. The Times Leader. 2000. “Downtown Hazleton’s Rebirth Near.” 30 January. p. 3A.
  48. 48. Theory vs. Practice 48 62. The Times Leader. 2005. “Hazleton Gets Some New Life: Redevelopment Programs Help to Turn the City Around.” 24 April. p. 3A. 63. The Times Leader. 2004. “Hispanics Cashing In on Hazleton.” 19 December. p. 2D. 64. Mullarkey, Jerry. 2006. Personal interview by author. Pittston City Hall, PA. 20 January. 65. Mullarkey, Jerry. 2006. Personal interview by author. Pittston City Hall, PA. 20 January. 66. The Times Leader. 1997. “Pittston Mayoral Candidate Envisions New Downtown.” 30 April. p. 3A. 67. 68. The Times Leader. 2003. “Pittston on the Rise, Mayor and Businesspeople Attempt to Breathe Life Back Into the City.” 21 December. p. 1D. The Times Leader. 1994. “Wanted: A Bustling Nanticoke Now.” 4 November. p. 1D. 69. The Times Leader. 1994. “A Quiet boom.” 2 January. p. 2F. 70. The Times Leader. 1995. “Job Center Makes Smooth Transaction Into New Building.” 1 February. p. 1A. 71. The Times Leader. 1996. “Authority to Buy Six City-Owned Properties for Revitalzation Plan.” 23 January. p. 3A. 72. Bushko, John. 2006. Personal interview by author. Nanticoke City Hall, PA. 13 February. 73. The Times Leader. 2005. “Councilwoman: Downtown Needs a Plan, Nanticoke: Sporadic Redevelopment Efforts are Cause for Concern, Planner is Advised.” 3 March. p. 3A. 74. Skrapits, Elizabeth. 2004. “Nanticoke Ready for Fresh Start.” The Citizens’ Voice, 8 August . 75. Fox, Jon. 2005. “Turf War Dividing Nanticoke.” The Times Leader, 19 March. 76. Skrapits, Elizabeth. 2005. “Nanticoke Authority Outlines Building Project, Legal Action.” The Citizens’ Voice, 15 September. 77. The Times Leader. 1995. “W-B Needs Identity, Observers Say.” 14 December. p. 28A.
  49. 49. Theory vs. Practice 49 78. The Times Leader. 1993. “Core City Renewal Proposed.” 29 November. p. 18A. 79. The Times Leader. 2000. “Mystery Tenant Revealed Commonwealth Telephone Enterprises will Bring 350 Jobs to a Downtown Wilkes-Barre Building in Boost for the City’s Economy.” 17 May. p. 1A. a 80. Leighton, Thomas. 2006. Personal Interview by author. Wilkes-Barre City Hall, PA. 12 April. 81. The Times Leader. 1996. “Shelved W-B Plan Revived Key to Wilkes-Barre’s Future Might Have Lain Unused for Years.” 27 March. p.1A. 82. Allabaugh, Denise. 2005. “Leighton: Things Looking Up for Wilkes-Barre.” The Citizens’ Voice, 16 April. 83. The Times Leader. 2004. “Wilkes-Barre Government, Leighton: Give me 10 Years.” 14 November. p. 3A. 84. Land Use Workshop. 2006. Regional Economic Indicators Forum. Pittston, PA. 25 April.
  50. 50. Theory vs. Practice 50 Bibliography Baldino, Thomas J., Hepp, John, and Wolenski, Robert. 2004. Natural Disaster and Municipal Reform: The Case of Wilkes-Barre in the Aftermath of the 1972 Agnes Flood. Wilkes University: Work in progress. This paper discuses the evolution of city government in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and the changes that took place in the post-Agnes era. Most relevant is the dialogue about the conflict-oriented political culture in not only Wilkes-Barre, but also in Luzerne County, and the political realignment that took place following the Agnes disaster. Ford, Larry R. 2003. America’s New Downtowns: Revitalization or Reinvention? Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press. This book discusses what factors compose a successful downtown. This book rates America’s major cities based on the authors criteria, and his subjective assessment. Most relevant is the author’s critical description of the downtown as a constantly evolving entity that may have never experienced a golden age. He also posits that a downtown does not have a consensus definition, nor how or if it can ever be revitalized. Fowler, Edmund P. 1992. Building Cities That Work. Quebec City: McGill-Queen’s University Press. This book vehemently discusses the political and cultural philosophy of why the city can never be revitalized. The two main reasons for this are decentralization and deconcentration of
  51. 51. Theory vs. Practice 51 society in the urban setting. Two key arguments in this book are most relevant: First, the argument made by architect and urban planner Christopher Alexander, who exclaims that we all have the ability to design spaces that work for us, but we are restricted due to zoning regulations. Second, Charles Darwin states that the better adapted a species is to its environment, the more likely it is to survive. Francaviglia, Richard V. 1996. Main Street Revisited. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press. This book considers the various types of urban architecture and landscape. He posits that a main street must evolve, but at the same time retain its unique character, for it is ultimately the people who contribute to this character. Architecture and landscape dramatically impact citizen’s mobility and pedestrian traffic flow. Most relevant is the five images of the city in discerning the types of downtown architecture and landscape. Ihrke, Douglas M & Niederjohn, M. Scott. 2002. “Conflict On City Councils In Wisconsin.” Journal of Urban Affairs 27(October): 453-462. This article focuses on determining what demographic and community characteristics lead to conflict between the mayor and city council. The study takes place in small Wisconsin communities with populations greater than 10,000. Most relevant is the discussion of group dynamics in decision making, and the demographic, social, government, and community characteristics in predicting conflict during the governing process. Peterson, Jon A. 2003. The Birth of City Planning In the United States 1840-1917. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press. This book discusses the American history of urban planning, reform and development. The author chronicles the significant eras of reform and their intended and unintended consequences. Most relevant is Frederic Law Olmstead’s vision of the administrative planning agency. In 1909 no such office existed, and it was his theory he posited, that the only time planning would work, was when city planning is conceived as a continuous, non static, process. Robertson, Kent A. 1999. “Can Small-City Downtowns Remain Viable?” Journal of the American Planning Association 65 (Summer): 270-283. This journal article discusses the critical role downtowns play in the health of not only larger cities, but also those that are designated as third-class. A healthy down town is an essential element of the prosperity of most non suburban small cities with a population ranging from 25,000 to 50,000. In this article Robertson conducts a survey and observable case-study of 57
  52. 52. Theory vs. Practice 52 small-cities in North America. Robertson identified several downtown problems that led to decline. He accomplished this by having leaders and citizens complete a survey that assessed the municipalities’ strengths and weaknesses. From the survey findings, Robertson prescribes a multitude of downtown revitalization strategies to counter the decline. Most relevant is the examination and exposure of significant differences between downtown development in small vs. large cities. Robertson, Kent. 2002. “Main Street Partnering.” Economic Development Journal 1 (Fall): 53-59. This journal article chronicles the advantages of cooperative relationships among multiple public, private, and civic entities, of which all have the mutual goal of downtown economic development. A wide variety of sustainable partnerships are instrumental in promoting a viable city. It is important to note the absence of local politics in this article. Most relevant, is what is possible when the CED actors work in concert coordinating their activities. Schnore, Fagin. 1967. Urban Research and Policy Planning. Beverly Hills: Sage Publications. 2-547. This classic book outlines the history and evolution of urban planning in the United States from the industrial revolution up to the mid 1960s. Also discussed is the importance of social augmentation and civic participation in the development process. Most relevant is the discussion of the history of urban planning and policy as a vehicle to explain the modern planning process and the subsequent theories of the era. The Academy of Political Science. 1986. Public-Private Partnerships: Improving Urban Life. Montpelier: Capital City Press. This book is a compilation of essays and case-studies that discusses the history and evolution of public-Private sector partnerships. The business sector is just as important as the governing entity when it comes to establishing a successful community. Most relevant is the example of how these partnerships can unanimously define common community goals and values. This source is also valuable in defining and measuring what is a successful chamber of commerce. Wheeland, Craig M. 2002. “An Institutional Perspective on Mayoral Leadership: Linking Leadership Style to Formal Structure.” National Civic Review 91 (Spring): 25-39. This fascinating journal article analyzes the institution of the municipal executive, and the various influences on the two mayoral leadership models-the executive mayor and facilitative mayor. Most relevant is the findings of this article in predicting mayoral behavior and the willingness to cooperate with the other actors in the development process.
  53. 53. Theory vs. Practice 53 Primary Sources Downtown Wilkes-Barre Retail Study. (1990). Wilkes-Barre, PA: Wilkes-Barre Downtown Committee. Draft. This study presents the results of research conducted on area residents to gather data on downtown and mall shopping patterns; socio-economic and demographic characteristics. From the data gathered, a downtown improvement and market development plan was then drafted. The data gathered is essential to comparing both short-term and long-term retail trends in Luzerne County. Governor’s Center for Local Government Services. (2001). The Comprehensive Plan in Pennsylvania. Planning Series #3. Harrisburg, PA: Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. This publication discusses land use planning procedures, legislation, and resources. Furthermore, it outlines nearly every aspect of the comprehensive plan from drafting to implementing. The conclusion provides information to Pennsylvania municipalities for the many planning resources available from the Commonwealth. Major Office Space Summary. (1992). Wilkes-Barre, PA: Greater Wilkes-Barre Partnership. This study presents the findings of research conducted on both downtown and nondowntown office buildings in the City of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. In addition, the study analyzed total ft2; cost per ft2, and vacant ft2. The information distilled in this study aids in understanding current and long-term trends in office space use for the city. Pennsylvania Department of Municipal Government. The Pennsylvania Local Government Manual. Pennsylvania State and Local Government Overview. Harrisburg: Department of Municipal Government. 6-3 – 6-6. This Pennsylvania local government document gives an intimate overview of the institution of state, local, and county government. Also discussed, are state and constitutional provisions that govern municipal classifications, legislative jurisdiction, the authority to levy taxes, and the Home Rule Charter. Most relevant to my proposed paper is the discussion of third-class cities mayoral institution and its relationship with city council.
  54. 54. Theory vs. Practice 54 Strategic Market Development Plan for Downtown Wilkes-Barre. (2003). Wilkes-Barre, PA: Diamond City Partnership. This market study conducts a comprehensive analysis of the functional and physical components of downtown Wilkes-Barre. The data compiled examines both past and future trends of the downtown’s assets. The conclusion of this study provides the foundation for a formal comprehensive downtown revitalization plan by recommending six revitalization strategies. Teaford, Jon C. 2000. “Urban Renewal and Its Aftermath.” The Fannie Mae Foundation (11): 443-465. This journal article discusses the failure of the Title I Federal Urban Housing Act to revitalize urban neighborhoods from the post WWII era until the mid 1970’s. This was in response to the prewar Progressive and New Deal era. This in-depth analysis explains the evolution of federal urban planning programs all the way up to the federal CDBG cuts of the Reagan Administration. Most relevant is the explanation of how those failures ultimately made federal government intervention in the planning process unwanted by city officials, which created a reciprocal relationship, whereby state and municipal governments were left to fend for themselves.
  55. 55. Theory vs. Practice 55 Acknowledgements Writing this study was a significant challenge. The author would like to thank the following people and organizations that helped make this project a reality: Dr. Thomas Baldino Dr. Kent Robertson Mr. John Jablowski Wilkes University Cooperative Education Office Greater Wilkes-Barre Area Chamber of Business and Industry Wilkes-Barre Diamond City Partnership Joint Urban Studies Center Osterhout Free Library Mayor Thomas Leighton Mayor Louis Barletta Mayor John Bushko Mr. Michael Lombardo
  56. 56. Theory vs. Practice 56 Mr. Jerry Mullarkey