Community Identity and Downtown Master Plan

The Community Identity and Downtown Master Plan (CIDMP) was established to improve New Cumberland Borough’s image while establishing a plan for improving and promoting the downtown area as an attractive place to live, work, and play. It is a framework to manage change and enhancements in the Borough over the next twenty years and beyond. It’s intended to be a guiding yet flexible document. New Cumberland Borough will be the entity in charge of incrementally implementing the master plan; however, private sector, non-profit entities and individuals will have a partnership role for many of the projects.

The CIDMP builds upon the 2019 Revitalization Strategy and the 2021-2022 New Cumberland Borough Community and Economic Development Plan, which outlined the overall goal to make New Cumberland a better place to live, locate a business, and visit, and identified the following five priorities:

  • Community Identity and Promotion to communicate the value of New Cumberland’s past, present, and future locally and across the Region.
  • Economic Vibrancy to support functional, physical, and other aspects of the business community.
  • A Safe, Active, and Healthy Community to renew community facilities, programs, and services that encourage public health, safety, and wellness.
  • Housing and Property Values to enhance housing choices, strengthen property values, and encourage flood mitigation.
  • Arts, Culture, and Entertainment to expand programs and events that foster development and appreciation of the arts.

This CIDMP was identified as an outcome of the Economic Vibrancy and Community Identity and Promotion priorities.

The CIDMP planning process occurred from May 2022 to January 2023 and was led by Borough-hired Mahan Rykiel Associates. It included an online survey, multiple workshops, and public meetings held in the Borough, market research, and a field assessment. The Borough established a Steering Committee who provided direction throughout the process and included Valerie Copenhaver, Faith Curran, Nate Dysard, Don Kibler, Rob Kline, Gibby Parthemore, Gennifer Richie, Chris Semoff, Cindy Washburn and JoLynn Weist. We want to extend a big thank you to members of the committee as well as to all those that participated in the community engagement opportunities. We are also grateful to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development for a $40,000 Municipal Assistance Program grant that helped make this project happen. 

During the planning process, a community brand vision, messaging, and communication strategy were developed to help inform future community and economic development decisions and to market and promote our community as a great place to live, learn, work, and play. Reference the BrandTouch Manual, to see how the brand works. 

Downtown Design Guidelines were developed to ensure that new construction and proposed alterations to existing properties will enhance, rather than adversely affect, the architectural character of New Cumberland Borough. This intent is two-fold and is the same regardless of whether the application concerns an existing property or a proposal for new

construction. First, the guidelines provide the owners of downtown properties assistance in making decisions about maintenance, improvements, or architecturally-sensitive design within the existing surrounding context. Second, they provide Borough leadership with a framework for objective evaluation of proposed improvements or designs.

The Downtown Master Plan includes a broad range of short- and long-term recommendations, building upon a foundation of existing revitalization successes and projects underway.

The Borough has initiated conceptual design work on several key projects that will strengthen downtown assets and serve as a foundation for additional recommendations outlined in the master plan. These include enhancements to Riverside Park, Third Avenue and Market Square, and Borough Park. If grant funding applications are successful, these projects will advance to more detailed design and implementation.

Additional recommendations for the downtown include potential public realm improvements for park spaces and streetscapes and redevelopment opportunities for several properties (should property owners wish to make changes). Some recommendations, such as wayfinding and parking, apply to the entire downtown while other recommendations are specific to certain geographies within downtown. Key priority projects, in addition to those already underway, include two catalyst projects and two streetscape priority projects.

All three plans, the BrandTouch Manual, Design Guidelines and Downtown Master Plan were adopted by Borough Council at the April 12, 2023 Borough Council Meeting.