The Citywide Development Corp. is coordinating two Multimodal Transportation Fund grants so the city will not compete with itself and possibly lose out on several million dollars in development funds.
Earlier this year, New Castle City Council authorized city economic development coordinator Tammy Gibson to apply to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development on behalf of DON Services for a $2.2 million grant to be used to widen and repair sidewalks, create crosswalks and repair streets in the city’s Lower East Side.
The funds will be used to improve portions of Court, South Walnut, Pine, South Mulberry and South Ray streets and South Crawford Avenue, areas where development corporation partner DON Services is building and renovating houses.
However, at yesterday’s development corporation meeting, chairman Tim Fulkerson said consultants Debbie Grass and Cindy Gormley have suggested reducing the scope of the project in order to improve the city’s chances of obtaining the grant.
“They feel the sweet spot for the grant might be if we went in requesting $1.5 million to $2 million,” Fulkerson said. The project, which includes amenities such as street trees and benches as well as wide sidewalks and will add to the neighborhood, will not be scaled back at this time. The application will be for the full $2.2 million.
After the grant application is submitted on July 31, Fulkerson said, the agency will contact state Rep. Chris Sainato and state Sen. Elder Vogel, whose support is needed for the funding.
Fulkerson added that Linda Nitch, executive director of the Lawrence County Economic Development Corp., will be meeting with City Council, seeking its support to apply for a $3 million Multimodal Transportation Fund Program grant to develop Enterprise Park. This is a proposed 18-acre site in the area of Grove, Shadyside, Produce and Mill streets.
Both applications must be made by City Council.
Fulkerson said he does not want both applications to be under consideration at the same time. He said he fears that such competition could result in neither application being approved.
Fulkerson suggested that Nitch’s application be held until September and that she apply for Community and Economic Development funding through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for a Multimodal Transportation grant.
“It’s up to City Council,” said Fulkerson, who said council will will hear about Nitch’s project and decide if and when to submit grant applications.
‘I believe both grants will have a better chance if they do not compete with each other.”
Last month, the CDC board members discussed taking a greater role in funding applications and coordinating efforts by various agencies who seek state assistance.
City code enforcement supervisor Patrick McGuire told the development corporation he plans to seek a $255,688 grant through Keystone Communities, an arm of the Department of Community and Economic Development, to make emergency rehab repairs.
McGuire is also the city’s health inspector.
If successful in obtaining the funds, McGuire said, the money could provide up to $2,500 per house to help residents who live on the Lower East Side or South Side to make emergency repairs to their properties. The funds will be limited to owner-occupied residences who meet low-income requirements and owe no back taxes. Landlords would not be eligible.
He said emergency repairs could include patching a hole in the roof or replacing rickety or missing front steps or repairing a hole in the porch.
McGuire estimated that about 100 houses could benefit from these kind of emergency repairs.
If more work is needed, such as replacing the entire roof, the resident might seek assistance through other programs including those offered by DON Services.