Welcome to our Elite Eight round of the Strongest Town Competition. We invite you to view the photographs that representatives from these two towns have submitted to showcase their strength and resilience, and judge them based on Strong Towns principles. Please scroll down to the bottom to vote for the strongest!


Carlisle, PA

Entry submitted by: Brenda Landis-Carlisle West Side Neighbors; Chris Varner-Elm Street Project Manager; Andrea Crouse-Parks and Rec Director; Neil Leary-Greater Carlisle Project; and Debra Figueroa-Assistant Borough Manager

Carlisle's downtown square is a traditional location for a market. Farmers on the Square is a farmer run, seasonal market that require vendors to live and work within 50 miles of Carlisle, so ours really is a local market! The Cumberland Valley has rich Agricultural heritage and thriving small farms.  Stop into restaurants like Cafe Bruges, Brick or 1794 Whiskey Rebellion to sample food made with local ingredients (actual farms noted on the menu) or stop by Molly Pitcher Brewery to taste a beverage brewed with local Sunny Brae Hops.  This just scratches the surface; come to Carlisle to get the full experience!

The strength of the Carlisle community and its residents is very apparent in grassroots community projects.  Whether it is a neighborhood clean up or leading the initiative to renovate and improve existing community parks, our residents always come through.  Starting with Letort Community Park, our community and local service groups have created safer parks for our children in at Biddle Mission Park and Butcher Tot Lot.  The latest park improvement started by our West Side Neighborhood group is Heberlig Palmer Park.  This park should shortly be under construction and will be a park we can all be proud of once it is complete.

Carlisle is committed to improving the economic opportunity and quality of all youth, especially that of low-income minorities through the acceptance of President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Initiative.  The Borough kickstarted its MBK program in 2014 with a local summit that connected interested non-profit and for profit organizations with local leaders.  While many programs are currently growing out of MBK, the Borough is most proud of Carlisle Works.  The Carlisle Works program will provide skilled and semi-skilled training for all aspects of the public infrastructure projects necessary to move forward with the redevelopment project within the Borough of Carlisle.  The overarching vision of Carlisle Works will be to provide employment opportunities to local residents not only during the redevelopment project, but to sustain an on-going training and hiring program working with local educational institutions, for-profit businesses and local non-profits to benefit the entire Carlisle community.   The first group graduated October 2015 after learning carpentry skills and creating 3 raised beds for a new community garden in Heberlig-Palmer Park.

Carlisle’s downtown was troubled by excessive vehicle speeds and long crosswalks. The two four‐lane highways that intersected at the Square created an auto‐dominance that made it difficult for bicyclists and pedestrians to navigate through town. This project helped Carlisle recreate the thriving, walkable downtown that it once had. The Road Diet converted the existing four lanes of High and Hanover Streets to three lanes with the addition of a five feet wide bike lane in each direction. A dedicated left turn lane was provided at each intersection in the Downtown to improve traffic flow. Significant upgrades to the existing traffic signals included an adaptive traffic signal system, emergency vehicle preemption, and audible countdown signals to better serve pedestrians. A Truck Mitigation Signing Plan was implemented to direct trucks away from Carlisle’s downtown. Curb extensions at intersections were built to shorten the crossing distance for pedestrians to reduce their exposure to vehicles. The proposed bike lanes serve as a buffer to make parallel parking easier and to make entering and exiting your vehicle safer.

The International Automotive Components Group (IAC) closed their factory in late 2008.  In 2012, the former factory suffered from a large fire.  The Carlisle community decided to come together to create a new vision for this site as well as two other recently closed factories, the Carlisle Urban Redevelopment plan.  The IAC site is currently demolished and a private developer is working closely with Borough government and the community to bring the vision of the Carlisle Urban Redevelopment Plan to life.  The current state of the property is a bland canvas and the vision for redevelopment including a beautiful stormwater park with urban amenities.  The Carlisle community chose to come together for public planning meetings to breathe new life into this formerly abandoned factory.


Truckee, CA

Entry submitted by: Morgan Goodwin, Vice Mayor; Tony Lashbrook, Town Manager; Cassie Hebel, Truckee Downtown Merchants Association; Jaime Wright, Truckee North Tahoe Transportation Mgmt Assn.; Lynn Saunders, Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce; and Colleen Dalton, Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce.

Photo by Bill Stevenson

Photo by Bill Stevenson

Every Thursday in summer thousands of citizens and visitors congregate in historic downtown for 'Truckee Thursdays', a weekly event organized by the Truckee Downtown Merchants Association (TDMA). Popup tents, food trucks, music and locally grown food create a vibrant scene. Local artisans have even launched mainstreet businesses that started as popup tents. Each week is hosted by a different Truckee non-profit in order to drive awareness for their mission. At Truckee Thursdays, visitors, part-time residents and locals all feel like this is 'my town'.

Photo by Bill Stevenson

Photo by Bill Stevenson

As a centrally located mountain town (accessing 17 ski/nordic areas, with Lake Tahoe just 13 miles away) our population of 16,000 quickly expands to 60,000 on peak holidays. The Town of Truckee was an early adopter of roundabouts due to those high impact time periods, in addition to our goals of reducing emissions, travel times and accidents. Truckee has seven roundabouts and only seven stop-lights -- the majority of of which will replaced in coming years to further improve the flow of traffic.

Photo by Joanne Rutkowski

Photo by Joanne Rutkowski

Truckee's Bikes and Trailways master plan emphasizes 'connectivity'. This four mile stretch of the recently completed Truckee River Legacy Trail connects the town’s largest neighborhood of full-time residents to historic downtown. The trail has quickly become popular for commuting, exercise and family trips for ice-cream.

Photo by Jeremy Jensen

Photo by Jeremy Jensen

Three mile long Donner Lake is at the heart of summer recreation, thanks to over 30 public docks and two sandy public beaches.  From family picnics to fishing, dog jumping and watching the fireworks, these docks are in constant use by visitors and locals. Sometimes heavy use leads to litter complaints. The Town of Truckee is  working on finding a better solution to litter than adding unsightly 'no littering' signs.

One current infrastructure challenge is improving traffic flow, streetscaping and pedestrian safety along the most auto-centric corridor in Truckee’s commercial area. Built in the 1960’s and 70’s, Donner Pass Road is a main boulevard that runs parallel to the high school, elementary school and charter school with Interstate 80 also running on the other side of these buildings. The Town of Truckee is currently in a highly iterative, public process that re-envisions this road in order to make it more walkable, bike-able and safe for our school children.  

(Top graphic by Matthias Leyrer)


Voting is now closed.