York Town Square

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York County quality-of-life groups seeking to regain magic cooperation of York Plan

The caption with this photo identifies community leaders about 50 years ago. It shows heirs of York leaders from the 19th century. For example, Beauchamp Smith is a descendent of S. Morgan Smith and P.H. Glatfelter III is in the lineage of the paper mill founder. Earl Herting, seen here, chaired this community improvement effort, one of many post World War II initiatives.The commission originated with the Chamber of Commerce Committee for 100 for Community Development, Herting wrote in a recent e-mail. Background posts: Who will lead the York area in the future? and Glatfelter, Morgan Smith head industrial legacy list and Samuel Small tops York, Pa. community contributor list.

The York Plan that brought factories together to capture defense work in World War II is the best example from history of a York-area community improvement initiative that worked.
The plan – and York County – became internationally known as a strategy to bring a community together to help supply the Allied war machine.
The York Committee of Safety’s efforts to coordinate defense and recruitment strategies in the Civil War is an example of such a community project that did not.
Confederate invaders overwhelmed the town in 1863 after the community mustered only a handful of defenders.
In times of peace, the county has seen numerous other committees designed to pool resources to better the community.
Sometimes, the plans sat on a shelf… .

In the late 1980s, one such plan envisioned York County in the year 2000. That seemed to inspire little action and was soon superseded by the Rusk Report in the mid-1990s.
That document generally urged suburban York boroughs and townships to work with York City lest the city’s problems become suburban problems. Simply put, a county with a growing, blighted center would become more and more disfunctional.
YorkCounts gave the Rusk Report legs and added quality-of-life-enhancement initiatives of its own. (Pundit Clarence Page is speaking at that group’s annual summit on Friday.)
The Cultural Alliance of York County is undergoing a similar community-wide effort to forge unity with the goal of promoting the arts. That group, trying to improve the quality of life via the arts and heritage, also is holding public meetings today to forge a plan.
Over the decades, these community improvement groups often have struggled to bring together scores of independent organizations run by sometimes territorial people.
It could be that the pressures exerted by the current financial slump coupled with the aging of community philanthropists will accomplish what many of these betterment boards have not. That is, cooperation and consolidation to stretch scarce resources.
It can be done.
The York Plan is Exhibit A.
Other posts in this series:
Farmland preservation, YorkCounts quality-of-life indicator: Ag use outpacing population growth
Further education plans, YorkCounts quality-of-life indicator: Post-high-school prospects rising
Teen motherhood, YorkCounts quality-of-life indicator: Despite historic occurrence among Pennsylvania Dutch, rate is falling
High school graduation, YorkCounts quality-of-life indicator: Rising after a low start.
Tobacco usage, YorkCounts quality-of-life indicator: Rooted in York County’s past.
Bias-related incidents, YorkCounts quality-of-life indicator: ‘A concern in York County’ .