In June, Derry Township, in partnership with the Downtown Hershey Association and Urban Design Associates (UDA), kicked off a process to engage the community in a discussion about Downtown Hershey. Now, the team is ready to move to the project’s next phase by sharing their recommendations.
Everyone is invited to learn about and critique the recommended updates to Downtown Hershey’s zoning regulations and architectural guidelines. Please join us from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. on August 20 at The Hershey Story Museum to provide feedback and learn more about the future of Downtown Hershey! Following a presentation by the consultant team, meeting attendees will have an opportunity to visit stations and discuss specific aspects of the materials presented.
A Summary of the June Meeting
Over the course of two days, UDA met with several neighborhood and business leaders, the Derry Township School District, members of the planning department, and advisory boards to better understand the issues and concerns of those who call Hershey home. The culmination of this introductory listening process was a community meeting held at the Hershey Story on the night of June 18. During this event, community members met the team and were given an opportunity to discuss Downtown Hershey. Residents broke into small groups and were asked three simple questions about their community; what are the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities in Downtown Hershey? Everyone at the meeting was given the chance to provide answers to these questions by placing colored dots—representing strengths, weaknesses and opportunities—on a large map in the center of the table. This visualization process helped both residents and the team understand where this discussion could physically be seen in the neighborhood. Each of the small groups then picked an individual to report out to everyone at the meeting and share what was discussed within their respective small group.
While input varied, there were some major themes that became apparent as a result of this process. Residents felt it was important to build on the existing positive attributes of the area, which included the existing small-town feel, unique identity, parks and open spaces, architecture, and community events. However, residents felt that the area could be unsafe for pedestrians, cyclists, and those trying to cross Chocolate Avenue. Some felt that the architecture was not compatible with the character of Hershey and wanted to see more service businesses and local businesses as opposed to national tenants and retailers. These weaknesses however, presented an opportunity to improve streetscapes, walkability, and parking in the downtown. A number of underutilized parking lots, vacant properties, and buildings were seen as an opportunity for new development that better reflects the character of Hershey. This input is vital to shaping the future of what Downtown Hershey should look like and helps to form the foundation of the entire process.