Myerstown Vitality Partnership (MVP) and Myerstown Borough are teaming up on a new project. They’re seeking a developer to provide a plan for the possible re-use of the borough building as a community center.
“The idea is for developers to take a look at the property to see if there’s a better use for it; a way to better serve the community. We want to encourage some fresh ideas,” said Jack Gombach, MVP president and CEO.
“We’re going into this with an open mind. We’re willing to consider all options,” added Michael McKenna, borough manager. “The building is located in the heart of our downtown, and the library is a few blocks away.”
He said the two-story nearly 50,000-square-foot building at 101 S. Railroad Street sits on nearly three-acres. Constructed in 1915 as Myerstown High School, it later became an elementary school. McKenna said after Jackson Elementary School was constructed, the building was shuttered in 2010. The borough purchased the building in 2016 using funds from the state Department of Community and Economic Development’s Keystone Communities program. After some renovations, the borough moved into the building in 2017.
MVP’s office is also in the borough hall. A public-private partnership, MVP was founded in late 2019. Its goal is to enhance the economic, social and community assets of the Myerstown-ELCO area.
McKenna said if nothing can be done with the current borough building, there’s about 1.2-acres of land on the borough parcel that could possibly be utilized for a community center. “It’s a blank slate, so we also want developers to consider that area as they submit their proposals,” he explained.
“The borough is excited to partner with the Myerstown Vitality Partnership on the redevelopment of the property. This substantial project will help preserve an important piece of our history while putting it to use to serve the community and strengthen the local economy,” said Bryan Rittle, Myerstown council president.
To start the process, a Request for Proposal (RFP) will go out Oct. 19. Deadline for developers to submit proposals will be Dec. 18. Proposals will then be reviewed.
“The MCC [Myerstown Community Center] project is nothing less than a leap forward in the MVP goal of a vibrant and exciting downtown in Myerstown Borough. The MVP is very excited and thankful to be working with the Borough,” said MVP board chair Steven Goodhue. “We look forward to new ideas that will come from the RFP process. We will not rest until we return Myerstown to a vibrant town we are all proud of.”
Gombach said developers that may have questions about the project may contact MVP at 717-866-5038 ext. 106.
There are also some other positive steps being taken. Gombach said the borough is creating a façade improvement program, and MVP is going through the process to become a Main Street community. The Main Street program is coordinated by the Pennsylvania Downtown Center, and funding opportunities are provided through DCED. Gombach said MVP’s progress toward Main Street status has been a bit slower due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said MVP’s next step in the process is to host visioning sessions—meetings where the public can voice their vision for the community.
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