Word came down Wednesday that another business would be shuttered in downtown New Castle. On Feb. 17, Eat’n Park will be no more, leaving yet another hole in the downtown map.
The departure of one of the anchors of West Washington Street will add another name growing list of former New Castle businesses.
City council and the Citywide Development Corporation are working to secure businesses that will relocate to the downtown before the business district vanishes completely. This is not the easiest of tasks, but a crucial one nonetheless, on which the clock is ticking.
The CDC is planning to ask the county for the Cooper-Butler Building. Plans are to save what they can and demolish the rest. But what about a structure that houses a restaurant that will be vacant and still in good condition. No demolition will be needed.
While the CDC and city council have taken steps in the right direction to attract businesses to the downtown business district, it is time to tramp down on the gas pedal. City council, the CDC, the county commissioners and the chamber of commerce all need to work in concert to revive downtown before it is too late.
New Castle needs to be marketed outside of the city in order to bring investors into the mix. The downtown has been sitting in disrepair as the FirstMerit building is scheduled to come down while many other buildings remain vacant.
Expansions at Steelite and Ellwood Group and new businesses moving into Neshannock Township certainly are reasons for hope, but they simply aren’t enough.
Downtown is vacant and empty and dark and gray. The few remaining businesses are vibrant, but a newspaper, a hot dog restaurant, coffee house and two banks are not enough to keep the downtown growing.
One thing that may want to be considered is partnering with PA Downtown Center and reviving the Main Street Program.
By instituting this measure, it would put officials in New Castle in touch with officials and business leaders at the state and federal level and create a way to make the downtown more attractive, more vibrant, and more sustainable.
That is just one idea. Surely, our collective leaders can come up with more.
How about it commissioners, city council, CDC, and chamber of commerce?