York Town Square

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Ohio Blenders gives way to Northwest Triangle: Change in York County hidden in plain sight

Glen Burkholder, with The Building Recycler in Kutztown, dismantles a bagger this week at the former Ohio Blenders plant in York. About half of the machinery and silos will be dismantled and reused. (See additional photo below.) Also of interest: York’s Lafayette Club: ‘It’s not your father’s club … It’s historic. But it’s not prehistoric’ and Map explains York, Pa.’s $50 million redevelopment area and Skinny dipping in the Codorus?

The high-profile demolition of those big blue Ohio Blenders silos on the bank of the Codorus Creek is an example of a change in York County that can be easily overlooked.
Those towers are coming down causing an obvious change in York’s skyline, as mixed commercial and residential uses that are part of the Northwest Triangle development take their place.
But take a moment to think about why those silos were there… .

The silos that marked Ohio Blenders for years tower over York Redevelopment Authority’s David Cross, as he talks about the Northwest Triangle project.
Ohio Blenders processed alfalfa and other hay crops in that complex.
That business was a throwback to the day when York served not only as an industrial hub but also as the agricultural center of York County. Think about the five market houses that operated in and around York, as just one example, of that agricultural might.
York’s location near the center of the triangular York County, plus the three railroads that met there – the Northern Central, Western Maryland and Ma & Pa – helped make it so.
Now the information age Northwest Triangle development is replacing an agricultural products processing plant.
Change before our eyes.
Further, all this is taking place near the bridge that served as the founding span of the modern labor movement in York.
Veteran labor advocate Dick Boyd explains in his book, “The Bridge,” that leaders of organized labor met under the double truss railroad bridge near today’s Susquehanna Commerce Center in the 1930s. They met in secret in that then-remote spot for fear that their companies would discover their organizing activities.
Today, many of the factories where these workers labored are gone, and the city and county are betting on the more white-collar information age jobs.
Which brings us to another change.
For decades, those blue-collar workers could not gain entrance to the Lafayette Club, that symbol of exclusiveness on York’s East Market Street. Nor could women and people of color.
But the Lafayette Club is now working on that reputation for exclusivity.
For example, it will be the venue for a forum for candidates for York City Council on Oct. 27.
Republicans Nina Aimable and Jay Andrzejczyk and Democrats Renee Nelson and Henry Nixon have confirmed attendance.
Ten years ago, Nina Aimable, a black woman, could have not become a member of the Lafayette Club. Renee Nelson, a white female, could not have joined 20 years ago.
And Resouces for Urban Neighborhoods and Downtown Inc. are forum coordinators.
A goal of Resources for Urban Neighborhoods is to work with local associations for community improvement. Some of those neighborhoods are among the most economically distressed parts of the city.
So the evening will represent an opportunity for all neighborhoods to come together in a locale that formerly would have not opened its doors to those residents.
York is changing, often for the better. Sometimes, this change is hidden in plain sight.
For additional posts on York County’s agricultural past, click here.