Elm Street – what’s that?


Elm Street is a program of the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED). It’s supposed to provide up to $250,000 in funding and operational funding for a manager and administrative expenses over 5 years or 5 funding cycles.

It’s called “Elm Street” because usually there is a street called Elm a few blocks from a Main Street. The program is designed to work in tandem with a Main Street Project in residential areas surrounding downtowns. We don’t have a Main Street Project in Bethlehem. Check out the Pa. Downtown Center’s Website for a complete description of the program.

Locally, we call ourselves the North by Northwest Neighborhood Initiative. Most Elm Street Projects have a different name locally, “Elm Street” is just where the funding is supposed to come from. We chose NbNW because our project area is the area surrounding the Northside downtown to the north and west of Main Street. Unfortunately, our actual street, Elm Street” is just outside our project area.

Insert Map Here.

We received 1 round of $250,000 funding from DCED. With those funds we started the Best Front Forward Facade Loan/Grant Program, planted nearly 300 trees to date, installed PTZ wireless cameras in Fairview and Friendship Park that are monitored and recorded 24/7/365 by the Bethlehem Police Department, started the Movies, Games & More project and ran 2 seasons of movies in Fairview, Friendship and the Rose Garden Parks, started a graffiti removal program (funded by First Star Bank) and continually remove graffiti in the parks, at stop signs and other areas around the neighborhood, installed bike racks in the parks and other locations, purchased bench/tables for the parks, and installed improved crosswalks along several walk to school routes in the neighborhoods. Some CDBG money was also used as well as grants from Rep. Steve Samuelson, Sen. Lisa Boscola, Lehigh County/DCNR TreeVitalize, Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber Foundation.

We also had support for the Movies Games & More project from the corporate community here in the Lehigh Valley: Air Products, Embassy Bank, First Star Bank, Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber Foundation, Just Born, KNBT, Lafayette Ambassador Bank, Lehigh County, PNC Bank, PPL, Sen. Lisa Boscola, TD Bank and Team Capital Bank. We also had operational support for ongoing expenses from a host of local businesses. See the Movies Games & More page sidebar for a complete list of Event Sponsors and Friends who help make that project possible year after year without any state funding.

With PennDot funding and engineering design by URDC we are just about ready to start the 3rd Ave/W. Broad Street Gateway Enhancement Project. We have applied for more funding to extend that further west along West Broad Street hopefully to 6th or 8th Avenue. We have also applied for funding to fully install Shared Use Bike Markings throughout the neighborhoods. This should make it easier to get around by bike.

As we all know, the economy has severely affected the PA State budget. Our program is part of a line item called “New Communities” which houses the Main Street, Elm Street and Enterprise Zone programs. Our first year, that line item was $18 million, then $15 million, then $11.25 million and next year looks like $10 million all the while more and more Main/Elm Street programs were approved stretching the funding to the breaking point. Let’s hope the economy recovers in the next few years so we might be able to receive further rounds of $250k funding. Until then, we are on our own looking for funding wherever possible.

We will soon have a new Governor who will have to deal with the ending of Federal Stimulus Funding and the bill coming due on Pension Liability so the tricky times are by no means over. Hopefully Main and Elm Street Revitalization will emerge among a new Governor’s priorities in the next administration.

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