2018-10-06 / Front Page

Reality check: population lower, older


Consultant Brian Funkhouser laid out some of the challenges to be addressed in the comprehensive plan that is being developed for Potter, Cameron and McKean counties. Focus groups will assist each county in localized plans and meetings for public input will follow. Potter County Today photo Consultant Brian Funkhouser laid out some of the challenges to be addressed in the comprehensive plan that is being developed for Potter, Cameron and McKean counties. Focus groups will assist each county in localized plans and meetings for public input will follow. Potter County Today photo Realities of the U.S. Census are forming the backdrop for Potter, McKean and Cameron counties’ work on a joint “comprehensive plan.”

That document that guides decision-making on topics as varied as land use planning, transportation, economic development, protection of natural resources, education, public safety, housing and quality of life.

A consultant hired to guide the process didn’t mince his words in describing the challenges during a steering committee meeting on Tuesday at the Gunzburger Building in Coudersport.

Brian Funkhouser from the consulting firm Michael Baker International spoke to more than 30 representatives from the three counties about objectives, timelines, public engagement, anticipated outcomes and roles and responsibilities. Funkhouser summarized some of the early results from his firm’s research, aimed toward creating profiles of the three counties while identifying trends, assets, strengths, challenges and opportunities.

He used a series of charts, graphs and other exhibits to highlight how a declining population, combined with steady increases in median age, pose “tremendous implications” that will impact the comprehensive planning process, in terms of needed services, changes in the job market, economics and other areas.

The plan is mandated by the state and must be updated every 10 years. Each county will have a separate section that reflects local priorities. Commissioners from the three counties signed on to the project in an effort to reduce expenses through shared resources. Total cost is $115,000, with $80,000 covered by federal funding and the remaining $34,500 shared equally among Cameron, Potter and McKean counties.

Input will be solicited from townships and boroughs, school districts, community organizations and the general public.

Planning Directors Will Hunt (Potter), Cliff Clark (Cameron) and Jeremy Morey (McKean) are the point people. Focus groups are being developed to provide input. Public meetings will be scheduled.

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