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Commission details view of pressing issues

All of the stakeholders — government, organizations, individuals — will have a chance to offer their input to consultants assembling a plan for the future of Warren.

The City of Warren Planning Commission got to go first Wednesday morning.

They were asked to identify the priority issues facing the community. There was consensus around the top four: attrition — people leaving the community or dying; broadband expansion, addressing blighted property and the city’s declining tax base.

But many others were identified.

Ray Pring highlighted a lack of funding to fight blight and education with the “opportunity to build education here” through the Northern Pennsylvania Regional College “but we have to support it.”

Mike Suppa identified tourism opportunities and housing opportunities as priority issues. Specifically on housing, he asked “what do we do to make Warren a more enticing place for people to settle” as opposed to Pleasant Township or Russell.

Angie Dart raised the attrition issue as well as infrastructure — not only roads but also internet. She said the education issue “feeds into the manufacturing” sector of the area’s economy.

“When I first came to Warren, the very first time I saw the courthouse and how beautiful … and the historic district,” Angela Abreu said, “historic preservation of existing buildings that are there” is a priority issue in her mind.

She also cited poverty and low income levels, especially the impact of those issues on children.

“How do we make it easy for seniors to age in place here in Warren?” City Planner Vince DeJoy asked, also raising the need for “some more placemaking, branding, of our authenticity here.”

City Manager Nancy Freenock identified the declining tax base challenge and expressed an oft-cited infrastructure problem — “you can’t get here from there.”

Freenock said she’d like to see case studies of how other rust belt communities have “pulled themselves up and out. I consider Warren a rust belt community. How do we make a transition to something larger?”

She questioned wage levels in the city and said higher wages and more time off are needed to attract younger workers to the area.

“Warren is a beautiful little city,” Brandi Rosselli with Mackin Engineering said “People don’t have to live near where they work anymore.”

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