New events, new construction and even new opportunities for education are on their way to Pittston in the new year.
Pittston Mayor Mike Lombardo plans to finalize an agreement with Alvernia University to open a satellite campus in downtown Pittston.
“We’re looking at fall of 2021 for the first wave of classes,” he said. “If we can finalize the mechanics … we all think that is doable still.”
Alvernia University has its main campus in Reading, but Lombardo said they have been looking to open satellites in different areas of Pennsylvania. They plan to develop the Cooper’s Co-Op building in downtown Pittston.
“That will be a huge boost,” he said. “It will mean 100-plus students to the city.”
Lombardo has spent much of 2020 working with Alvernia’s representatives to bring more higher education options to downtown, especially since Luzerne County Community College opened its own Pittston campus in 2018.
Lombardo said Alvernia hopes to establish a “cooperative model” with LCCC, King’s College and Wilkes University and offer masters programs in fields such as information technology and medical arts.
“I think we need ... more advanced programs,” Lombardo said. “I’m really excited about that.”
Lombardo will meet with Alvernia University this month to begin final plans.
With public health and safety in mind, Lombardo said the city will keep its plans fairly “conservative” during the first quarter of the year. That has not stopped Main Street Manager Mary Kroptavich from working on a slate of events to fill the calendar in 2021.
“We are all looking forward to 2021 and the hopes that we can start to put 2020 behind us,” she said. “We were able to sit back and look at all of our city sponsored events and reevaluate them.”
Kroptavich said she plans to “revamp” the Tomato Festival, Columbus Day Parade, Trick or Treat Main Street and the Christmas Parade, all events that were either cancelled or altered in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Second Friday Art Walks are also due to return in 2021.
“The Second Friday Art Walks and movies at The Slope Amphitheater are already in the beginning stages,” Kroptavich said. “We will be expanding the artists locations and adding a few additional features and surprises.”
T-Mobile will sponsor the outdoor movies at The Slope in 2021, Kroptavich said, allowing the city to offer viewings of classic films and new releases for free.
“We will be adding free popcorn and a beverage for each person in attendance this year,” she said.
Kroptavich plans to meet with the city’s businesses in 2021 through the Downtown Pittston Partnership and hold a “Grand Opening” event featuring all of them once state mandates allow.
“You can plan on seeing old fashioned sidewalk sales once a month on Saturdays in town also,” she said.
“Some other events we are looking into is a Wine Sip and Stroll, an ice sculpture event, animated art strolls and a few other surprises,” Kroptavich added.
As for construction, Lombardo noted the city has acquired the Pittston Lumber site and is working on a plan to bring recreation, housing and business opportunities there.
He also hopes to see 2021 be the year the city finishes its North Main streetscaping projects.
“It’s going to take some time to get our legs back under us,” Lombardo said. “This coming year will be better. It’s got to be.”