Recent progress outlined on Union City project list

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Improvements to Caflisch Park are among the many projects listed on Union City’s master project list slated for implementation this year. The project list can be viewed at unioncitypa.us/progress.

Union City has made significant community development progress over the past six months, despite the difficulties imposed by a worldwide pandemic.

That progress is being tracked on the community’s “project update” list, hosted on Union City Borough’s website (unioncitypa.us/progress). The list is updated as progress on projects dictates, and was recently revised for the first time since late September.

The project update list was established approximately a year ago to keep area residents apprised of the many ongoing initiatives, and includes a comprehensive list of completed and ongoing projects dating back to 2009. The list outlines whether each project is completed or ongoing, funding sources and amounts, and the status of each initiative. The projects since 2009 total $3,145,695 in public and private investment.

Updates since September were required for almost every ongoing project on the list, meaning progress continues to be made as the borough celebrates its 150th year since the community’s name was changed from Union Mills to Union City in 1871.

“With so many projects being delayed in 2020 this will be the year for completing many of them, and it is very exciting especially since it is the borough’s 150th birthday,” said Borough Secretary Cindy Wells.

Borough Council President Dan Brumagin agrees:

“Union City has made great strides with various community projects such as the downtown façade improvements and historical interior and exterior structural improvements, the neighborhood Renaissance grants, the upcoming parks improvements and other projects the borough, Union City Pride and other organizations have been working on,” said Brumagin. “Residents are seeing the benefits of these worthwhile projects.”

The newest project to make the list is the feasibility of constructing a bike/hike trail across the borough, along French Creek from Caflisch Park to the American Legion youth ballfield facilities adjacent to West High Street. That $65,000 feasibility analysis is expected to take place over the next year.

A host of other ongoing projects include the installation of downtown trees, historical markers, historic sidewalk panels, the unveiling of a downtown mural, and construction of a new public parking lot on South Main Street – all anticipated this spring – along with improvements to Caflisch Park, the completion of a master park plan and an “active transportation plan” for borough residents, funding being made available for residential and downtown business improvements, and a major PennDOT intersection improvement project that will take place this year.

Much of the recent investment has come from residential and business owners.

“The level of participation from the local businesses and residents has been fantastic and shows the community’s interest in spending money to improve their properties for the betterment of Union City and all who live here,” said Brumagin.

“The willingness of so many to make investments in their properties shows how committed they are to Union City,” Wells agreed.

The list of those involved in the various initiatives is extensive. In addition to such local entities as the borough, nonprofit Union City Pride, the Union City and Erie community foundations, the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority (ECGRA) and Erie Arts & Culture, funding has come from such state sources as the Department of Conservation & Natural Resources, Department of Community & Economic Development, Department of Health, the state Historical & Museum Commission, and Department of Transportation.

Speaking of the extensive collaboration in recent years, Wells noted, “I think once each organization realized the effort that was being put forth, everyone realized no one could accomplish anything alone. We all have the same desire for improvements, but it takes everyone working together to make the accomplishments on a much larger scale and much sooner than could be done alone.”

Brumagin pointed to the creation several years ago of Union City Pride as a project facilitator, and how Union City businessman Ron Jones discussed with him about bringing the community’s various groups together “so we would know what everyone was working on, as we had no idea what other organizations were doing on their own.”

Brumagin said that was followed two years ago by Jones’ son, Steve Jones, organizing a community meeting under the auspices of the Union City Community Foundation on which Jones serves as board president.

“It was Steve Jones who two years ago put together the first community stakeholder’s meeting that brought all of the various organizations together as a collaborative effort to work together, inform and brainstorm ideas to help Union City grow and become a great place to live,” Brumagin concluded.

The comprehensive project list on the borough’s website is one outcome of those discussions.