There is no cause for panic.
That was the central part of the message from Mount Jewett Mayor Annie Wolfe on Friday. She stopped by The Era to get the word out to residents of the borough and of Hamlin Township that talks of consolidation between the two municipalities are just that — talks.
“I wanted to assure the public that although officials in Hamlin Township and the borough are looking to start a committee, that this is just a discussion and nothing is going to happen immediately,” Wolfe said.
She noted that a story earlier in the week with municipal officials talking about forming a committee to study future possibilities was causing concern among residents.
The committee, she said, “is to see if this is going to benefit both communities or not.”
Wolfe added, “My understanding is that when this committee is formed, that it will be open to the public. People from service organizations and from the public would be invited to talk about the pros and cons.”
There are a lot of good things happening in Mount Jewett, and a lot to look forward to.
“We are a small borough and we’ve got some development there that could enhance things,” Wolfe said. She mentioned the MJ2KB Trail Club as an example.
“That started out small and things are getting better,” she explained. “People are starting to hold events on the trail. We used it as part of the Bob Swanson Memorial Run.”
And of course, the Kinzua Bridge State Park is the tourism capital of McKean County.
“There’s been some wonderful numbers of people coming to see the bridge,” Wolfe said. In 2019, there were 262,441 visitors to the visitors center at the park. “People are coming from out of the country to see this.”
Information provided by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources reported that in 2019, there were 716 visitors from Canada, 714 from Europe and 141 from Asia, just to name a few.
“I foresee the tourism trade being a real economic boon to Mount Jewett,” she said.
And businesses that cater to tourists would be welcome additions in the borough, she added. “It would be great to see a bike shop, a place to rent snowshoes, snowmobiles. The equestrian trails are out there. It would be great to see a Bed and Breakfast in town.”
She mentioned the pizza shop and ice cream shop are both for sale.
“It’s just finding the right fit,” she said.
“We’re not what I would consider a depressed community,” Wolfe said. “With the right opportunities, we have as much chance for revitalization as anyone else out there.”
It’s important to be hopeful, she noted. And it’s worth it to take a look at what benefits might come from consolidating some services. “It’s definitely worth having a conversation to explore it, and see where we can go with it.”
Wolfe added that people shouldn’t be alarmed, though.
“I don’t want people to think this is something that is imminent or they won’t have a say in it.”
Earlier in the week, The Era spoke to Jim Trussel of Hamlin Township and Chuck Paar of Mount Jewett Borough Council after the issue of possible consolidation was raised at a township meeting. Both men said the issue is something worth exploring.