Letter to the Editor: Lack of Public Transportation Options Leaves Strattanville Residents Out in the Cold
Those who are from the area may remember me from the 22 years I spent as a resident of Ridge Avenue in Strattanville. If not, there may have been times when I could be observed jogging along Route 322 to the Clarion County YMCA – about a half mile from my former home.
It would be impossible to live in Strattanville or central Clarion Township without being aware of, friends of, or some other acquaintance of the multitude of Rawson’s who still reside in town. Most distinguished of those is my grandmother, Theresa Rawson.
In 1968, Theresa moved to Strattanville with her 4 children, her husband, and her heart set on forging a new life for them all. In the subsequent half century, she would succeed and sometimes fail at her aspirations, but she would carry on with the fiery, unstoppable attitude for which she is known. She would also give birth to 2 more children (1 of which was my mother). Those 6 children would go on to bolster the community even further.
Between them they would serve in such roles as: fire chief, member of the cemetery board, borough councilmen, and nearly every other public affiliation in Strattanville. My generation has taken up the torch in many of these same organizations. It is hard to say what contributions Theresa’s great-grandchildren, aged from 16 to newborn, will have, but they will assuredly continue to better themselves and their communities based on the precedents she has set. Her inextinguishable attitude is still easily observed no matter the season. My 77 year old grandmother can be seen shoveling in the Winter and weeding her garden in the Spring.
In the Summer, she sometimes treads the same path to the YMCA that I typically took (albeit at a slower pace) as she makes her way to the Golden Sneakers program. It is likely that her participation affords her the ability to be as active in our community as she is. Physical activity becomes increasingly important as we age, and study after study has shown that it and social interactions are inextricably linked to longer and better lives. The YMCA offers both. Most times, she has a ride to these activities. When the weather is favorable but there is no ride to be found, she is able to take, what she calls, “the shoe leather express” to the YMCA’s doorstep. Unfortunately circumstances are changing, and she may be forced to miss many of the workouts she has come to love.
Recently, the Clarion County YMCA made the announcement that they will be moving to the area near Exit 62. This amazing opportunity for the YMCA cannot be understated. However, this means the half mile my grandmother used to be able to hike in summertime will be extended to about 7 miles. This is where the borough council was asked to step in; by providing safe and adequate public transportation to residents of Strattanville and the surrounding communities.
The ATA in Clarion provides bussing with multiple stops in Clarion Borough as well as Clarion and Monroe Townships. One of these stops is at the Clarion Mall, or approximately 5 miles from the ATA headquarters in Clarion. From that same center, it would be an even shorter commute to Strattanville. Therefore, it would be feasible to include a stop near the town center on the Mall route – providing much needed support for the elderly, the underprivileged, and anyone else who would wish to partake.
One bus stop also opens up a plethora of new opportunities for the borough. It’s not a revelation that many of the residents are financially disadvantaged. This in no way
reflects on their strength of character. There is not a day when individuals can be seen walking to Clarion for jobs, groceries, and other necessities. My personal experience with this exact situation is also telling. For one semester of my undergraduate career, I rode my bicycle or walked to class at Clarion University, because I had no other options. Others may not be able to make that same journey. As such, not having a form of public transportation undermines the ability of our community, as a whole, to succeed. With it, those who call Strattanville home will have the opportunity to better their minds, bodies, and spirits. A town with smarter, healthier, and happier citizens should be the goal of any government.
When I presented these ideas to the borough council (in nearly identical format), they contacted Clarion Area Transit, the local branch of the ATA. CAT informed them that
there was no funding for a new stop, but that they would be researching the feasibility of new stops in the future. This is where the council ended their search, but not where I will end mine. I called the ATA about 2 weeks before the borough would have. They gave me a similar answer, but when pushed, they stated that their chief planning person would call back to discuss it further. Six weeks later, I’m still waiting for that call. All we need is a price; there assuredly is one.
With a price we, as a community, would have a goal for which to reach. We could fundraise not only for my grandmother, but for all of the grandparents in Strattanville and surrounding Clarion Township. We could have a stop for those who cannot afford or do not have vehicles. With all of these individuals having easy access to the commercial center of this county they could make and spend more. The reciprocal could also be true for the few business in Strattanville (such as Deb’s and Dr. Carrico’s office), and it could offer a cheap, stress-free way for the workers at New Era and SMI to commute. The end result is an economic and social success. Something that all of Clarion County has been lacking as of late.
Nicholas A. Rawson
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