STATE COLLEGE — One of the items on resident Sherry Dershimers downtown wish list is a second-story restaurant, so patrons can admire the scenery.
If someone had the wherewithal, that would be a wonderful thing to have, she said. Everyone comes to Penn State and State College to look at the views.
The wish list discussion, held Monday, was part of the first public meeting with the design team chosen to create a new downtown master plan. The last update was completed in 2002.
The borough budgeted $150,000 for the plan-update work, with an additional $50,000 from Penn State.
Mahan Rykiel Associates Inc., a landscape architecture, urban design and planning firm in Baltimore, will lead the team.
Also on board are two more Maryland firms, one from South Carolina, Stahl Sheaffer Engineering of State College, and local landscape architect Dan Jones.
Representatives from the firms arrived Monday to hold meetings with local officials, hear from residents and tour Penn States campus, downtown and other areas.
Alan Sam, the borough environmental coordinator and master plan project manager, said the committee that chose the team was impressed with its references and understanding of State College issues.
They identified early on that branding might be an issue with State College, Sam said. State College is always associated with Penn State. Thats not necessarily a bad thing, but thats not our only identity.
Tom McGilloway, a principal with Mahan Rykiel and the project manager, and Tripp Muldrow, of Arnett Muldrow and Associates, led Mondays discussion, asking for phrases that define the downtown, aspects people want to change, a wish list, and dos and donts the team should keep in mind during the project.
The residents, borough staff and others offered numerous ideas for each.
Suggestions for changes included limiting accessibility to alcohol, integrated design for the buildings, and making Calder Way more inviting for families.
Zoe Boniface, chairwoman of the Design Review Board, said she wants more green space. The only park we have on our side of College Avenue is the Central Parklet, she said, referring to the now-Sidney Friedman Park. Some say we should use Penn State, but people dont. I think its desperately needed, especially in the student end of downtown, where they live in small apartments, close together.
Wish list items included a first-run movie theater and, from planning staffer Meagan Tuttle, rental housing that is not $1,000 a month and four bedrooms and more activities for families and high school students.
Planning Director Carl Hess suggested an IMAX movie theater, with the closest one in Harrisburg, and Centre Region Planning Director Jim May suggested a visitors center.
McGilloway discussed the planning teams schedule, with final completion set for next June. A first phase related to physical enhancements and second phase for development, redevelopment and diversification will be drafted next spring.
The group will be back in November with initial assessments and ideas, and will hold further public meetings at that time, and throughout the spring. The team also will announce the launch of a public website, on which residents can view draft plans and submit comments.
A steering committee, including representatives from borough boards and commissions, Penn State, the Downtown Improvement District and residents, including Dershimer, will occasionally meet and offer feedback.
Its wonderful to hear you listen to us, Dershimer told McGilloway after Mondays meeting.
Jessica VanderKolk can be reached at 235-3910. Follow her on Twitter @jVanReporter