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Town of Erie Wins “Voice of the People Award”


The Town of Erie has been named a winner of the “Voice of the People Award” honoring Historic Downtown’s transformation into a family-friendly destination and recognizing residents’ high approval ratings for Downtown events and activities.
 
The Voice of the People Awards are presented by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and National Research Center, Inc (NRC) and are only given to jurisdictions that best listen and act to improve their communities. 
 
Based on responses from the National Citizen Survey used by more than 350 unique jurisdictions in 44 states, residents of Erie report the highest levels of improvement with education and enrichment compared with all other participating jurisdictions.
 
Findings in the 2015 Citizen Survey reveal 67% of Erie residents attended town-sponsored events (a rating higher than the national average) and 73% of Erie residents rated town-sponsored special events positively.  Additionally, the 2015 ratings for opportunities for Erie residents to attend cultural/arts/music activities increased dramatically when compared to 2013.

Downtown's Transformation Enriches Entire Community

Historic Downtown had been a community aspiration for decades but sustained support never fully took hold.  So when results of the 2013 Town of Erie Citizen Survey revealed that one of the top reasons residents call Erie “Home” is because of our small town feel – the Town seized an opportunity to play to our strength.  Actions were taken to develop, program and market Downtown as a destination.  We wanted to create a Downtown that provides a genuine small-town feel with all the reassuring qualities that implies – a family friendly neighborhood full of thriving businesses and loaded with activities and special events. 
 
In particular, five distinct actions taken over the course of the last few years have contributed to Downtown’s transformation and provided for more enriching experiences for all of Erie’s residents:

Echo

1. Approved “Fire Station to Brewpub” 

The Town’s first public/private partnership with a Downtown business did not go un-noticed, rather it was a signal to others that their decision to invest in Erie would be supported.  (Other businesses include: Industrial Revolution Brewing Company, Old Mine Cidery, Sweets Ice Cream & Bakery, 24 Carrot American Bistro, and Gaucho De Argentina Empanadas.)  It is gratifying to watch as our investment in Downtown is paying dividends.  True, some of the payback is represented in sales tax revenue.  But in a much larger sense – we have activated a once neglected community neighborhood resulting in a return on investment that goes beyond revenue generation.

Farmers Market

2. Re-Activated Erie Farmers Market

In 2015 the Town contracted with a new vendor with a proven track record to re-activate the Erie Farmers Market.  As a result, foot traffic downtown has increased dramatically drawing residents to the rejuvenated area to discover the new restaurants and brewpubs that are putting life back into the neighborhood.  

Brewfest

3. Increased Quantity and Quality of Special Events

In 2013, the Town contracted with the Erie Chamber of Commerce to host the Erie Brewfest.  Now in its fourth year, over 1,000 attendees enjoy beer-tastings from over 30 local breweries.

"Spirit"

4. Installed First-Ever Public Art in Downtown

The chosen artwork “Spirit” is a multifaceted sculpture consisting of monolithic sandstone pillars at varied heights with a horse emerging from the tallest stone. The artwork has a welcoming visual impact and enhances the Downtown Erie guest experience.  

Street Light

5. Invested in Downtown Improvements 

In an effort to make Downtown a more attractive and welcoming destination for special events, in 2014 the Town of invested over $61,500 in maintenance and improvements.

Block Party

Moving Forward

In an effort to keep the momentum moving and ensure future success, the Board of Trustees recently approved the Downtown Framework Plan and Coal Creek Park Concept Plan to address the needs of Erie’s Historic Downtown Business District. This summer, the Town also kicked-off of the Downtown Neighborhood Block Party – a new venue created as a community-building event centered in Downtown Erie for all of our residents to enjoy while at the same time promoting local businesses, restaurants and breweries.  

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About the Award

The Voice of the People Awards stand alone as the only award given in local government based on community opinion. The perspectives of the residents themselves determine nominees for the very best of community engagement, safety, mobility, foundations of livability, recreation and wellness, education and enrichment, natural environment, built environment and economy. 
 
Now running nine years, the Voice of the People Awards are presented by the ICMA and NRC and will be given at the 102nd annual ICMA conference in Kansas City, MO, September 2016.

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