State College to Report on State Patty's Day Impact -- for Better or Worse
State College borough is putting together a comprehensive report on the local effects of State Patty's Day -- and not just its drawbacks, borough Manager Tom Fountaine said Monday night.
"We're trying to have an objective report on the impacts," he said after the Borough Council's regular meeting.
The report, to be complete and before the council likely by April, will include assessments of expenses that State Patty's Day brings to town; its economic benefits; overall property damage; and related effects -- good and bad, Fountaine said.
"This is almost a baseline year" for data collection, he said, as no such comprehensive report on the State Patty's Day community impact has been attempted before.
Fountaine underscored that the borough is taking an unbiased approach with the effort. He said the report will be a focal point in upcoming community meetings with neighborhood associations, student groups, elected officials, Penn State executives and other stakeholders.
They're all expected to talk about the meaning of the data. The numbers could serve as groundwork for future efforts to address the student-created drinking holiday, which saw its fifth annual incarnation last month.
Police have said it was the most crowded State Patty's Day yet, with more police calls and more arrests reported, even as a variety of downtown bars and state liquor stores limited their hours.
Fountaine said Monday that participants in a new community-outreach effort "really started to make a difference in some of the behavior-related issues" and drove "a lot of positive comments." Hundreds of locals walked the downtown streets on State Patty's Day in an attempt to bring a calming, steady presence to the scene.
They were supported by student groups and community organizations, including fraternities and sororities, the Off-Campus Student Union and several downtown churches.
Among other Borough Council business Monday night:
- Council members agreed to endorse a grant application supported by the Downtown Improvement District. The grant money -- if received -- would help finance a joint online project involving the DID and Penn State, Fountaine said. Borough leaders said their understanding is this: The project would use existing wireless networks downtown -- at participating establishments -- to deliver local event details and other visitor information to Wifi users. It also would support nonprofit operations in the downtown, borough leaders said they understood. It apparently would not affect cellular-based Internet access points. The effort is "not intended to be a commercial venture," and the borough understands that it will not compete with existing for-profit businesses in the downtown, Fountaine said.
- On a split vote, council members approved a measure to revise shared-parking provisions in the borough. A key change would newly allow driveways to serve shared parking lots on local streets. Changes would specifically affect the area of the Ramada Inn, off South Atherton Street, and the area of Waupelani Drive and Allen Street, Fountaine said. The Ramada has tentative plans to expand its dining area and redevelop part of the hotel complex to have more rooms with interior access, a hotel leader said. He said effects on the already-shared parking at the facility would be nominal.
- Council members received an update on the borough's pilot food-waste-composting effort, supported primarily by the state Department of Environmental Protection. The program recycled more than 113 tons of food waste in its first year -- food that otherwise would've gone to a landfill. Its next phase will encourage composting of food waste from more downtown establishments.