The Old York Road Revitalization Group, a coalition of synagogues hoping to bolster Jewish life in Elkins Park and the surrounding area, has hired the consulting group affiliated with the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania.
Plagued by a growing sense that many younger families are choosing to move elsewhere, the group is seeking a plan to improve the image of the area and raise interest in the Old York Road corridor, which includes the municipalities of Chelten-ham, Abington, Jenkintown and Lower Moreland.
Though the initiative has been spearheaded by the Jewish community, it's aim is to involve secular leaders and make the region a more inviting place for families of all backgrounds.
The revitalization group had hired a different consultant last year, but the arrangement didn't work out. The area's seven synagogues, along with the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, all pitched in to pay the roughly $60,000 consultant's fee.
Lauren Hirschon, director of research and consulting at Fels — which utilizes academics, professional consultants and students — said that the first step this summer will involve interviewing business, civic, religious and political leaders. The team of consultants is also arranging a series of focus group to address such questions as: What does the community aspire to be? Who does it seek to attract? What does it have to offer and where has it fallen short?
Two public forums about the future of the area are also being planned. Hirschon said that the goal is to produce a written action plan by the end of 2011.