Suggestions for Improving Downtown Wilkes-Barre

Explanation: Students enrolled in the Freshman Foundations course at Wilkes University toured downtown Wilkes-Barre as part of an initial plenary session on Saturday, 24 August 2002. Immediately after the tour, each student was asked to provide suggestions as to how to improve the sites that they visited. The following list summarizes the comments made by twenty students enrolled in Section O - Communicating Science, taught by Dr. Ken Klemow. Approximately 1/3 of the students are native to the Wyoming Valley. The remaining students are from outside of the Valley.

* - Suggested by 1-4 students
** - Suggested by 5-8 students
*** - Suggested by >8 students

South Main Street


  • More businesses that cater to students***
  • Clean up sidewalks and canopy**
  • More restaurants*
  • More garbage cans*
  • Student artwork*
  • Offer free rent to start-up business for first three months*
  • Tear down vacant buildings*
  • Expand and clean existing canopy*
  • Renovate apartments above the stores*
  • Businesses need to stay open after 6:00 P.M.

Hotel Sterling

  • Need to renovate***
    • Convert into shelter for homeless and needy**
    • Convert into student housing*
    • Convert into hotel for parent visitation*
    • Convert into upscale apartments
  • Simply demolish**
    • Replace with a museum and arcade*

Public Square

  • General clean-up***
    • Remove weeds in walkway*
    • Clean existing trash cans and add new ones*
    • Clean existing sculptures*
    • Remove birds*
  • Better landscaping**
  • Add a pavilion*
  • Add a playground*
  • Restore the fountain*

River Commons

  • Generally improve landscaping**
  • Add flowers*
  • Add benches*
  • More garbage cans*

Wilkes Greenway

  • Better landscaping / more trees***
  • Add flowers**
  • Add benches*
  • Widen sidewalks*
  • Add student sculptures*

Other suggestions

  • Add a small amusement park, sports complex, arcade*
  • Wilkes students should volunteer to clean downtown*
  • City should hire more students to clean downtown*
  • Develop activities to attract people downtown*
  • Have historical tours*

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This page posted and maintained by Kenneth M. Klemow, Ph.D., Biology Program, Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18766. Phone: (570) 408-4758, FAX: (570) 408-7862, email: