Public Facilities & Services

A wide variety of community facilities and services are provided to Dauphin County residents, including educational, health, recreational, and emergency management.

Factors influencing the need for and the provision of these services are dependent upon the density of development, the composition and distribution of the residential population, and the financial resources and ability of the Dauphin County municipalities to support the range of facilities that are needed.

The adequacy and availability of these facilities and services are a reflection on the quality, convenience, and general character of Dauphin County as a place to work and live.

Emergency Services

All municipalities in Dauphin County are provided fire protection by either municipal departments or through mutual agreements with neighboring communities. There are a total of thirty-nine local fire departments/companies in Dauphin county, excluding the private facilities of the Harrisburg International Airport, Pennsylvania Air National Guard and Bethlehem Steel Corporation.

Almost half of the Dauphin County municipalities (18 out of 40) have their own police departments. Municipalities not having an individual department are provided services through the Pennsylvania State Police Department at the Harrisburg or Lykens Barracks. The State Police also serve those municipalities with part-time police protection when part-time officers are off-duty.

In addition to the daily services provided by local fire and police departments, countywide hazard mitigation planning has the potential to produce long-term and recurring benefits by breaking the cycle of loss. A core assumption of mitigation is that current dollars invested in mitigation practices will significantly reduce the demand for future dollars by lessening the amount needed for recovery, repair, and reconstruction.

These mitigation practices will also enable local residents, businesses and industries to re-establish themselves in the wake of a disaster, getting the economy back on track sooner and with less interruption.

The Dauphin County Department of Public Safety leads an update to the Hazard Mitigation Plan every five years, which is included here by reference.

Parks & Residential Development Click for map (PDF)

Parks & Residential Development
Click for map (PDF)

Parks & Recreation

Dauphin County has a diverse mix of public park and recreation facilities. These areas are important to the county’s overall quality of life by providing places to exercise, play sports and enjoy scenic natural areas. They also provide learning opportunities for the County and region, especially the urban and suburban built environment.

The Dauphin County Parks & Recreation Department administers the County-owned parks and holds the primary responsibility for developing, updating and coordinating the implementation of the Dauphin County Parks, Recreation, Open Space and Greenways Plan, included here by reference. This plan, last prepared in 2009, contains an extensive inventory of recreationally-based facilities and services throughout Dauphin County.

Access to parks and recreation facilities is a key concern of County officials. Toward this end, facility and service providers should consider the location and demand for recreational facilities and services. Ideally, parks and recreation facilities should be located close to residents and in locations where safe, non-motorized access is feasible, such as dedicated trails, sidewalks, etc.

To illustrate this need, the map below depicts the locations of parks across Dauphin County with 1-mile radii used to show the location of residential development that falls outside what is typically considered walkable or bikeable. This map is just one tool in assessing recreational needs for County residents.

Penn State Hershey Medical Center

Penn State Hershey Medical Center

Health Care & Healthy Living

Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Pinnacle Health System and the Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute act together as a collaborative group in completing “A Five-County Regional Community Health Needs Assessment Implementation Strategy,” known simply as the Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA).

CHNA contributors included public and private organizations, such as health and human service entities, government agencies, faith-based organizations and academic institutions. Stakeholders represented populations living in urban, rural and suburban communities.

The group leads the efforts in the region to strengthen behavioral health awareness education and outreach, increase access to mental health and substance abuse services, and improve lifestyle choices -- through education and better access to healthy, affordable and feasible nutrition and fitness options -- of residents living in Dauphin County and the surrounding region.

The CHNA identified three overarching priorities:

  1. improving access to health services (particularly important in rural northern Dauphin County);
  2. improving behavioral health services; and
  3. providing for healthy lifestyles. 

Through incorporation of the CHNA into the comprehensive plan, Dauphin County seeks to further enhance these efforts by integrating them with the efforts of County and local government.

Education

Dauphin County contains a wealth of educational service providers, including 10 public school districts, several charter schools, two vocational-technical schools, a number of private schools and several institutions of higher education including Penn State Harrisburg, Harrisburg University, Harrisburg Area Community College and several other branch campuses of other universities.

Dauphin County supports the efforts of all these facilities in continually improving the quality of primary and secondary education for the County’s residents.

There are also demands for improving the skills and abilities of Dauphin County’s workforce through lifelong learning opportunities. These needs are currently being addressed through the above school facilities, the Dauphin County Library System, employers and others.

These demands should continually be evaluated and addressed as technology and employer needs change.

PRIMARY GOALS

  • Maintain or improve the level of emergency services (police, fire, and ambulance) and enhance hazard protection for all Dauphin County residents;
  • Provide appropriate parks & recreation facilities and services that are readily accessible to all residents;
  • Strengthen access and strive to have the highest quality healthcare services possible for all residents;
  • Educate the public and provide opportunities for healthy living for all residents;
  • Enhance educational resources and strengthen our communities through the library system and other similar facilities;
  • Enhance educational and skill development opportunities for students and residents.


KEY ACTION ITEMS

  • Promote and encourage shared facilities and services between municipalities such as police and emergency management services, etc.;
  • Provide model regulatory tools (official maps, fee-in-lieu, impact fees, etc.) for the provision of public facilities;
  • Investigate the applicability of county, state and federal programs to enhance the provision of public facilities and services and educate municipal officials on their potential use;
  • Support the Department of Public Safety’s efforts associated with future updates and implementation of the Dauphin County  Hazard Mitigation Plan;
  • Preserve, protect, and enhance the Appalachian Trail, Horse-Shoe Trail, Capital Area Greenbelt, and other significant non-motorized facilities in Dauphin County;
  • Update the 2009 DC Parks & Recreation Plan with a focus on making regional connections between local/municipal trails and greenways;
  • Work with the applicable municipalities to complete the Lykens Valley Rail Trail;
  • Complete a master plan and implement the recommendations for the County’s new 400-acre park north of Dauphin Borough;
  • Evaluate localized needs and regulations to ensure that healthcare and daycare facilities are readily accessible to all residents;
  • Evaluate localized needs and opportunities to provide adequate access to healthy food for county residents;
  • Participate in the development and applicable portions of the implementation of future updates of the Regional Community Health Needs Assessment;
  • Facilitate cooperative interaction between the county, municipalities and school districts to discuss opportunities for adequate funding and improved educational opportunities;
  • Strengthen the outreach services associated with the library system such as Storytime, early childhood learning, crafting, lifetime learning, etc.;
  • As the items listed herein are put into action, the Implementation Partners should seek to continue their efforts  toward the accomplishment of the plan’s goals through the identification and implementation of additional efforts deemed appropriate by the their committee and the County Commissioners.  Any such actions should be publicly identified in the “Tracking Our Progress” section of the Comprehensive Plan Website.