Whitehall in 2021: Officials optimistic, but pandemic still casts shadow

Gary Seman Jr.
ThisWeek group

Correction: Because of a reporter's error, a story in the Dec. 31 edition of ThisWeek Whitehall identified a new development on the northeast corner of Broad Street and Hamilton Road as Norton Crossing. The new development at the northeast corner of Broad and Hamilton has no name and Norton Crossing, which is nearly complete, is at the southwest corner of the intersection.

The next 12 months in Whitehall are looking a lot like the previous year: The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic will continue to strain services and the psychology of staff and residents alike, Mayor Kim Maggard said.

“And at the same time, we have immense work to do as we advance efforts to promote inclusion in our community,” she said. “The biggest challenge we'll face in 2021 is doing our best to mitigate the continued impact of this pandemic and systemic racism together as a community.”

Whitehall Mayor Kim Maggard said the city will move forward with several projects, but "the biggest challenge we'll face in 2021 is doing our best to mitigate the continued impact of this pandemic and systemic racism together as a community.”

But the city still is moving forward with multiple major projects in 2021, the largest of which will be starting site work to make way for first phase of a new mixed-use development coming to the northeast corner of Broad Street and Hamilton Road, she said.

The $250 million project will include roughly 30,000 square feet of ground-floor retail commercial, 60,000 square feet of Class A office space and 375 residential units centered around a new pedestrian plaza.

After all three phases are complete, the development will be home to 75,000 square feet of retail, 250,000 square feet of Class A office space and 1,000 new residential units, 20% of which will be dedicated for workforce housing.

Council President Tom Potter credited developer NR Investments for focusing “on the most and best use for the residents who live there and businesses that want to move in there.”

Potter also said the residential component gives people an attractive lifestyle option.

“This is an old, trite saying, but it really is a win-win situation,” he said.

Meanwhile, the city is planning for 2021 to be its largest infrastructure-improvements year yet, with more than $4 million budgeted for city-funded street, bridge, sewer, park, fleet and technology projects, with an additional $5 million in state-funded street and bridge projects, Maggard said.

Part of the budget includes first-phase construction for the city's dog park, the construction of which was deferred in 2020 due to the financial impact of the pandemic, she said.

Also relating to parks, after it’s safe to do so, the city will start programming at its newest park and pavilion located on the site of the new Norton Crossing development, Maggard said.

Also, 2021 marks the first year of the Whitehall Division of Police's Safer Whitehall Strategic Plan, she said.

“The first three-year plan, which was completed in 2020, had major positive outcomes, and so I can't wait to see the impact the next implementation period has for our community,” Maggard said.

Planning for events, Whitehall Parks and Recreation Department programming and special projects in 2021 “is more of an art than a science at this point,” Maggard said.

Although some community events are expected to return in 2021, such as the Food Truck & Fun Fest and the Fourth of July fireworks viewing party, the city will continue to follow the guidance of local public-health organizations, she said.

“As we all look forward to normalcy returning, I encourage our community to not let down,” Maggard said. “Please continue social distancing and wearing masks in public so that we can be together in-person again as soon as possible.”

Maggard said despite troubling events in 2020, she is upbeat about 2021 in Whitehall.

“Even when considering the uphill battle that is the pandemic, it's hard to be anything but optimistic about what 2021 will bring for Whitehall,” she said. “We've faced so much together over the last year, and I believe our community has grown stronger as we've helped each other see it through.”

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary