Gettysburg Borough was recently featured on the cover of the Pennsylvania State Association of Borough s magazine, and praised inside the publication for its forward-thinking response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As restaurants, bars and stores closed, the borough worked with local nonprofit Main Street Gettysburg to create the Gettysburg CARES program to help businesses cope.
“I think we were way ahead of the curve on the pandemic. While many organizations essentially shuttered their doors, our staff never stopped working,” said Borough Manager Charles Gable. “We were trying to identify the needs and fulfill them.”
The borough jumped into action in the spring.
“We made sanitizers, we made masks. We created a plan to reopen before the governor gave us the OK to do that,” said Gable. “We were able to consolidate all of the vast resources into a type of one-stop shop. We gave order to the disorder.”
Gable said the borough created a local grants program to supplement the Federal Paycheck Protection Program which didn’t cover operating expenses. Gable said the borough’s local grants program filled a missing link and that 18 businesses took advantage of it.
The borough also developed the idea of the parklets that are on and near the square, and helped create legislation that allowed restaurants to serve alcohol at them. “We’re kind of tight here. The parklets help add extra square footage,” said Gable.
Main Street Gettysburg President and CEO Deb Adamik worked together with the Gable to develop and implement the CARES program. “Nobody can control the pandemic. We have to focus on what we can do to help, what can be done,” said Adamik. “We all have to step up and do something.”
Adamik is looking forward to a pandemic-inspired vision of a Gettysburg holiday season. “We’re not doing the Christmas Festival this year. We had to raise over $90,000 for that festival to happen last year, and we needed over 100 volunteers. Many of our volunteers are at-risk and we can’t put them in,” Adamik said.
This year’s festivities will be rolled into a six-week long “Season of Wishes,” from November 22 to January 1. “We are going to invite people to Gettysburg to celebrate a quiet family-memories type experience. You can drive through town and take pictures, with your family. There will be memory stops and wishing wells. The idea is to inspire people,” said Adamik.
Adamik said business owners would be working to decorate Gettysburg to the hilt, to make it safe, and to encourage people to shop.