The Elm Street Project (or South Side Revitalization Project)
South Side Scranton was designated an Elm Street Community by the PA Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) in 2009 with the awarding of the Elm Street contract to United Neighborhood Centers. Political and community leaders discussed the revitalization of South Side for many years, but in 2008, UNC assumed responsibility for steering the resident-based planning process necessary for applying for Elm Street status. With DCED’s awarding of the Elm Street contract, UNC took on the administration of the project.
The Elm Street Program was established by the Pennsylvania Legislature in 2004 when the state recognized that the success achieved from investment in Main Street Programs in downtown cities did not spill over to adjacent neighborhoods like South Side. The goal of the Elm Street Project is to improve the situation of Pennsylvania’s neighborhoods while linking revitalization efforts to those in nearby downtowns. Elm Street is a concept rather than a location and is structured around simultaneous actions in five focus areas which are:
- Clean, Safe & Green
- Neighbors & Economy
- Image & Identity
- Sustainable Organization
Residents are encouraged to participate on committees set up to work in these five areas. The work of these committees as well as the overall implementation of the South Side Revitalization Plan and planning for sustainability of the project is coordinated by the Elm Street Steering Committee. This committee, chaired by South Side resident, realtor and community leader Wayne Evans, includes residents and representatives of partner organizations and public agencies.
In 2010, Wells Fargo (formerly Wachovia) Regional Foundation awarded UNC a grant furthering the neighborhood’s capacity for revitalization. In addition to a five-year commitment to operational funding, Wells Fargo Regional Foundation provides resources to undertake a comprehensive evaluation of physical conditions and residents’ perceptions and observations. To support this evaluation, Wells Fargo also provides the services of a consultant to help plan the evaluation process and analyze findings.
Located just south of downtown, South Side is one of the oldest sections of the City of Scranton. Its vibrant history and character are rooted in the industry, immigration, and urbanization of the mid-19th century. Once a thriving, working class community, South Side has struggled with problems associated with blight and disinvestment. But residents, old and new, are proud to refer to themselves as “South Siders” and are joining with the revitalization team to bring positive change to their community.
Find the Elm Street Project on Facebook.