Social media was abuzz last week after my column about Pittston Mayor Mike Lombardo was published online. A lot of good is coming out of the city and the comments reflected the fact that the mayor’s constituents seem happy. Remember, Mike has only been back in office for two months.
If you didn’t catch last week’s column, Mayor Lombardo talked about upcoming projects such as the new Luzerne County Community College building being finished ahead of schedule. City Hall is getting a much needed make-over, including the installation of an elevator and relocating the police department to the lower level so those involved in arrests and arraignments will now enter the building in the back instead of the front door.
Bayada Nurses will bring its pediatrics office to the downtown in what the mayor would like to call the medical district of Main Street between William Street and the Spc. Dale Kridlo Bridge.
Fuji sushi restaurant in that same block will relocate to the other end of Main Street and a new restaurant will take its place.
You found out the Second Friday Art Walk will add two more events, one in August, a week before the Tomato Fest, which took a hiatus in August because of the festival. Another one will be added at the end in October.
Even though As Seen Art is gone, Art Effects will move in and house a co-op and photographer’s studio.
The city still has plans for a Jazz Festival in the future, but a main stage has to be constructed at the Tomato Festival lot first. Funding is being sought for that project.
Now that you’ve been caught up, I can continue with the second half of my chat with Mayor Lombardo.
There will be demolition on the corner of East Oak where a market rate housing project with retail on the first floor will be constructed. There will be 20-25 high-end residential apartments with parking in the rear in what the mayor calls REACH (Rental Equity Achieving City Homeownership), a mortgage incubator involving a consortium of local banks for the funding.
Another project at Market and Main will be another REACH project, creating additional apartments and retail shops.
In the Oregon section, where a tennis court once stood, there will be a designated housing project.
A contract was awarded for the park project behind the Pittston Memorial Library where a park and amphitheater will be constructed.
New playground equipment will be installed at the site of the Pittston Little League this summer with all the demolition already completed.
The old site of Pittston Printery has been purchased and the first floor has been gutted. It looks like a floral shop will be moving in.
The mayor is excited about a Wedding Walk led by the Downtown Merchants Association and the Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce. That makes sense with the presence of Geri’s Bridal, Sarno & Son, a downtown photographer, a floral shop along with caterers like Callahan’s and Rikasa (formerly Palazzo 53) or you can use The Gramercy as your banquet hall. Pittston could be the one-stop shopping town for those getting married.
Speaking of Rikasa Restaurant and Bar, Nancy Medico, owner of the restaurant, has been working hard to get the restaurant turned around with remodeling and a new look. Rikasa recently hosted a private party so it looks like they are ready for a grand opening soon.
Mayor Mike is pretty excited about another part of Main Street getting an overhauling — that’s North Main Street.
As Mike put it, he really wants to stretch the edge of downtown by developing Downtown North.
The next stage of streetscaping will come through the northern end of Main Street and, if it was up to the mayor, he’d love to see an arts and antique section at that end of town.
The city has been in talks with PennDOT to straighten out Main Street across from the Convenient Market, finally getting rid of the bend in the road.
For those curious about the old St. Casmir’s Church, fear not. The mayor does not want to lose that building and will have it secured shut and have proper heating and cooling so the building interior will not degrade any further. He assures me it will come back to life in the future.
Of course, all these changes are and will be for the good of the City of Pittston. For too many years, this city, once considered the place to shop, eat and be entertained, laid dormant.
The magic of downtown lined with three and four-story buildings where Main Street looked more like a mini canyon may never be achieved again, but this current administration is doing everything in its power to get some of the mystique back.
When malls became mainstream for shopping, downtown storefronts literally disappeared.
I’ve been told life, like fashion, is cyclical. Malls have been disappearing all over the country and online shopping is now king. Maybe, just maybe, the revitalization of Pittston might be the ticket to bring people downtown again.
With all of the craziness in this world today, maybe we need to get back to the closeness of community with an active and viable downtown.
Quote of the week
“Real joy comes not from ease or riches or from the praise of men, but from doing something worthwhile.” – Wilfred Grenfell, British medical missionary
Thought of the week
The right time is ANY time that one is still so lucky as to have.” – Maxwell Anderson, American playwright
“In dreams and in love, there are no impossibilities.” – Janos Arany, Hungarian poet