Growth Report 1: Hermitage Advances Diverse Growth Plans
By Gary P. Hickson
Hermitage City Manager
HERMITAGE, Pa. – The 2023 operating and capital budgets for Hermitage, Pa., were approved by the city’s board of commissioners Dec. 14 with no increase in real estate or earned income tax rates for the 32nd consecutive year.
During 2023, the city plans to undertake several infrastructure projects, funded from various sources, including over $2 million in street improvements and paving, $95,000 in stormwater projects and more than $500,000 in capital equipment purchases. In addition, the police department will begin a complete upgrade of its records management system with the latest available technology. The project will be funded by a $520,000 grant.
Park projects include an update to the master site plan and the addition of a Dek hockey rink at the Hermitage Athletic Complex on South Darby Road. The full-size rink, to be used by players of all ages, will include spectator seating, lighting and walkways. At the Stull Nature Reserve, formerly known as Stull farm, a master site plan will be developed and a fruit tree orchard will be planted. Both the Dek hockey and fruit tree projects are funded by grants.
The budget also includes funding for several building maintenance projects at the municipal building, athletics complex, Whispering Pines Park, and Stull Nature Reserve.
Rachael Manuel, newly named director of technology and administrative services, will be coordinating the annual internal technology upgrades, developing an e-newsletter and expanding the city’s social media platforms. This will include our website, Hermitage.net, with a focus on marketing the city as well as events, programs and opportunities.
Staff will be busy throughout the year addressing action items for the Wheatland merger transition, which becomes effective Jan. 1, 2024. Voters in both municipalities overwhelmingly approved the merger at the polls Nov. 8. The merger will change the boundaries of the city of Hermitage to include the borough of Wheatland, adding 0.87 square mile to Hermitage’s 30 square miles. Wheatland’s 585 residents will become residents of Hermitage.
New annual community events have been added to the calendar including Earth Day in April and Winter Solstice on Dec. 21. Current events such as the arts festival, night markets, holiday light parade and the summer recreation program will be enhanced.
Over the past few months, several personnel changes have been made to the city’s management structure because of retirements. These include the appointment of Adam Piccirillo as chief of police, Jessica Gotch as director of recreation and community events, and Chad Nych as deputy chief of police operations. A new position, director of business and community development, was created and Mark Longietti, retired state representative for the 7th legislative district, was appointed to fill the position. He will work to support existing businesses, to attract new businesses to the city, promote city economic and community development, and assist in the Wheatland-Hermitage merger transition.
2023 will be busy year in Hermitage regarding economic development. The staff will continue to work with the new owners of the Shenango Valley Mall on site redevelopment. The FedEx distribution center will become operational during the year. MF Coney Island will add a retail store in Hermitage and move its chili manufacturing facility to the city. And construction for Joy Cone’s 200,000-square-foot cookie plant expansion will be underway.
The planning and development department is working with multiple developers regarding smaller projects, both retail and residential, that are planned to be under construction during 2023.
Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.