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Downtown Lititz Evolution of a streetscape
By: KELLY WITHUM Special to the Record, Staff Writer
Five years ago, before there was Venture Lititz, the sidewalks of our downtown rolled up every evening at five o’clock. Many of the traditional businesses had departed and, despite the best efforts of private groups trying to preserve the area, things were beginning to get a bit frayed.
We didn’t have to look very far to see our future. Neighboring communities sported empty storefronts and barren streetscapes. So Lititz Borough and Warwick Township, through the participation of many of their citizens, created a groundbreaking joint strategic plan that both recognized the critical importance of the downtown and created a mechanism to combat its decline: Venture Lititz,
This non-profit revitalization organization was given a five-year life supported by a combination of state and community funding. Instead of making more plans and forming more committees, Venture Lititz got to work, quietly and efficiently combining outside expertise and volunteer creativity with its stream of grants and local donations to create an impressive list of positive accomplishments.
Today’s Downtown Lititz has new life, new verve and a new and enthusiastic direction. But, equally important, this transformation has been managed without sacrificing our Downtown’s historic look and charm, nor its critical role as the true heart of our community.
Since 2007, Venture Lititz has done the following:
? Secured $60,000 in grants to assist with 24 Downtown facade improvement projects.
? Helped resolve the "Open" flag issue for downtown merchants.
? Ongoing facilitation of successful Downtown "Second Friday" Program.
? Conceived and operated the Downtown Lititz Farmers Market.
? Created and began implementation of a comprehensive Downtown Master Plan which won the Lancaster County Planning Commissions Envision Award.
? Recently completed a comprehensive parking management study.
? Won the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Distinctive Destination award.
? Completed the pedestrian wayfinding portion of an overall wayfinding project.
? Sold $40,000 in Lititz Dollars, a dedicated gift certificate program for the Downtown.
? Maintained the LititzPA.com web site which averages nearly 5,000 visits per month.
? Advertised Downtown Lititz inside and outside of Lancaster County as a destination.
? Each year, organize and underwrite the printing and distribution outside of our community of 60,000 tourism promotion directories and brochures.
Now you’re at the plate
Our five year period of state support is about to expire and Downtown Lititz is now expected to stand on its own two feet. To manage this challenge, Venture Lititz needs your financial support.
Venture Lititz is in its annual fund raising drive so we can continue the programs that help keep our Downtown vibrant. The organization is exploring the development of a regional economic development organization to assist the growth in our region.
Visit downtown and see for yourself what Venture Lititz has helped to accomplish. Feel the pride and life that have been breathed into your downtown. Think about those other, less fortunate, less proactive towns. Then, please do as Lititz area residents have always done in support of great community causes: Give generously!
A donation letter went out in the mail last week. Please take the time to respond. If you did not receive your letter and would like to make a donation send it to Venture Lititz 7, S. Broad St., Lititz, PA 17543
It’s your turn to go to bat for Venture Lititz and your Downtown!
Kelly Withum is a graduate of the Rutgers Business District Management Institute, the former Executive Director of the Lancaster Downtown Business Improvement District and has served as the Executive Director of Venture Lititz, the Lititz Main Street Program, since 2007. More VENTURE LITITZ, page A5