This particular listening session focused on the input of minority residents whom Vision leaders admit have been underrepresented in the past.
“We have had a lack of diversity in decision- making about the priorities for our city,” said the Rev. Sylvia King, retail sales officer at AmeriServ Financial,
pastor of Christ Centered Community Church, Johnstown City Council member and Vision Together 2025 volunteer.
“Today that changes,” she said.
The group of about 35 people was not shy about sharing their vision for the city.
They talked about safety, beautification of neighborhoods and continued removal of blighted properties. The topic most often cited was engaging with the
“Kids need something to do right now,” said Quan Britt, program director of the Johnstown YMCA.
Suggestions included more safe play space, activities including music and the fine arts, youth mentoring and financial planning programs and even the idea of
a Johnstown community pool.
Vision Together 2025 Board Chairman and JWF Industries CEO William C. Polacek noted that the population of Johnstown has been on a decline since World
War II and the key to changing that is collaboration.
“With everybody together and with the right input, we can make Johnstown anything we want,” Polacek said.
“We are catching this at the right time. We have momentum.”
Vision Together 2025 also has the ear of the governor and other elected officials, said Ethan Imhoff, executive director of the Cambria County Planning
Commission and chairman of the Vision Together 2025 Executive Committee. “Vision Together 2025 has a positive reputation in the state,” he said. “Working
together, we can come up with a plan that other places will want to follow.”
At the end of the meeting, King invited those in attendance to share the word and invite five to 10 others to the next meeting to get engaged in the process.
“Adding diversity to this process has to be intentional,” she said. “This is the first step, the first of many meetings and continuous dialogue.”
Amy Bradley is president of the Cambria Regional Chamber and a member of the Vision Together 2025 Committee.