Letter to the editor | It’s not a fair trade

September 19, 2013 

I agree with plenty in Susanna Paul’s letter, “A place to call home” (CDT, Tuesday).

Our region does need more affordable housing options. However, I reject the notion that we need to choose between providing workforce housing and restoring the Garman.

Bellefonte has many locations ideal for affordable housing, such as the long-vacant former site of the Academy building. Such sites offer green space for children and adequate parking for working families.

Let’s be honest: Our region’s housing crisis is largely due to a lack of affordable housing in State College. And State College’s out-of-town workforce (myself included) needs cars for the commute.

By contrast, the Garman offers no green space and 32 families will have to share just 17 parking spaces. If you truly care about affordable housing, you have to ask why these other, better sites are not being utilized instead.

Meanwhile, we have a local preservation group with a terrific track record (Talleyrand Park, the Gamble Mill) working diligently to preserve this theater and make it useful to the community again.

Bellefonte depends on its historic buildings and takes a huge hit each time it loses a building to fire. Why on earth would we willingly give up another and squander the chance to turn the tide for our struggling downtown?

Workforce housing can be built — and built better — in many locations. And, although I believe we have a civic and moral duty to construct affordable housing, I fail to see the wisdom in sacrificing our community’s future to do it.

Billie Jo North


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