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Residents say Altoona is on the rebound but needs to address blight and pedestrian safety

House marked for demolition in Altoona, PA. A large piece of wood is coming down from the ceiling into the ground. Shrubbery covers the path in front of the garage doors. Windows in the garage door are broken.
Sydney Roach
A house designated as a "blighted property" by the city of Altoona. It is set to be demolished.

The city of Altoona is asking residents what main issues the city should focus on in its “All Together Altoona” comprehensive plan.

An online survey asks residents how they feel the city has changed in recent years – and where it stands today. The city asked the same question at open houses in July, where 47% of people said the city is “rebounding.”

Peter Lombardi is the director of revitalization planning at CZB, a planning firm hired by the city to help draft the comprehensive plan. Lombardi said many people are excited about new businesses and rehabilitated buildings downtown, but they have other worries about the city.

Lombardi said blighted properties are one of the biggest concerns raised so far.

“We would estimate that somewhere over 4,000 structures in the city showed visible signs from the exterior that there is some level of deferred maintenance and disinvestment,” he said.

Lombardi said this comprehensive plan will give a sense of which neighborhoods are vulnerable and what kind of long-term strategies could help.

Other main concerns include expanding housing availability, safe streets for pedestrians and bicycles, and attracting and retaining skilled workers.

The online survey is open through Friday. There will be another round of open houses in December.

Sydney Roach is a reporter and host for WPSU with a passion for radio and community stories.