Cambridge Springs

Placemaking Action Plan


Everyone loves the story of the comeback kid. You know the one – the kid who had it all, suffered a defeat, and then came back stronger on the other side. Cambridge Springs is a place-based comeback kid, riding the wave of the same healing waters that brought people to its doorstep over a century ago with a new generation seeking to soothe their spirits and souls on the banks of French Creek. Community investments in Firemen’s Park, the welcome of new life to the charred landmark property of the Riverside Inn, and a group of residents committed to putting Cambridge back on the map, shows that wonderful things are happening in this hallmark water town.


In early 2020, the Borough of Cambridge Springs was awarded the opportunity for placemaking services through Rural Rocks, a program sponsored by the Northwestern Rural Electric Cooperative Association. Cambridge engaged Atlas Community Studios, a company with specialized expertise in strategic planning and place-based economic development.

After one community visit and stakeholder meeting, the world soon fell into a global pandemic. Despite immense challenges presented to the typical placemaking process, Atlas Community Studios was able to continue virtually, thanks to support from a dedicated Steering Committee of invested community leaders.

The people of Cambridge showed up with passion, energy, and valuable ideas to reimagine a future for the community, built around the same waters that gave it life once before.  And not a moment too soon, because as people across the country look to re-engage with nature in ways they haven’t in far too long, Cambridge is in a position to leverage its assets, offering a natural playground to residents and visitors alike. 

What is Placemaking?

Placemaking is a people-centered approach to building strong, vibrant communities. Our holistic approach helps communities identify the long term vision and lay out a realistic, step-by-step “roadmap” to achieve these goals through catalytic project opportunities.

Placemaking Overarching Goals

  • Economic and social development
  • Increase population and/or tourism
  • Improve overall quality of life

Cambridge Springs Placemaking Scope of Work

The goal of this process is to identify high-impact opportunity areas, complementing existing and past projects, that address current challenges, and leverage existing assets for continued growth. This placemaking plan focuses on the following four key areas:

  • Downtown Revitalization + Amenity Creation
  • Public Art
  • Housing Strategy
  • Branding & Marketing

Identified Goals for Cambridge Springs:

  • Create a more vibrant downtown
  • Inspire a sense of community pride
  • Capitalize on French Creek
  • Expand tourism strategy

Steering Committee

Thank you to the following people for volunteering your time and effort during this placemaking process!

Beverly Alward
Justin Moyar
Delores Hale
Randy Gorske
Sandy Pude
Linda King
Beth Ryan
Tamra Boylan
James Byers
Brian Harmon
Marci Dickson
Jodie Elllis
Zack Hale
Dave Matejczyk
Jeremy Ball
Marc Frazier VanDoren