Advertisement

Preserving Pennsylvania

June 09, 1997

What's the second-largest industry in Pennsylvania? It's tourism, now expected to take the top spot away from farming by the turn of the century. But Pennsylvania officials who attended a recent Harrisburg conference on tourism weren't entirely optimistic about the future. Neither are we, but there's still time to act on the concerns raised there.

Pennsylvania tourism executives fear that the same problem Maryland's governor is battling - suburban sprawl development - will ruin the state's scenic beauty even as it encourages citizens to abandon the cities. Conference attendees noted Pennsylvania has an additional handicap Maryland doesn't - the large number of municipal governments, each with its own agenda, making cooperation difficult to achieve.

"Difficult" is not necessarily impossible, but success will require citizens committed to preserving the state's scenic attractions, citizens with the will to pay for preservation efforts.

The last is most important because for every tourism official who came to Harrisburg complaining about the proliferation of strip shopping centers, there's a property owner back home ready to make a buck by developing his or her land. To deny property owners use of their land to preserve a scenic landscape without compensation is not only unfair, but unconstitutional as well.

Advertisement

The state is helping the preservation effort through its development of eight "heritage parks" that will tell the story of industrial development across Pennsylvania. But because of the power individual townships have to control development, officials at that level needed to be educated as well.

That's because the true cost of development is rarely apparent when a project is announced. It's nice to say that a new shopping center will pay $100,000 a year in taxes, but what new roads will be required, and what new operating costs will be incurred by local utilities? With such answers in hand, local officials may find to easier to see the wisdom of encouraging the redevelopment of existing centers instead of fueling sprawl by building new ones.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|