Individuals or organizations interested in planning New Castle’s renovation are welcome to apply to join a subcommittee of the New Citywide Development Corporation.
The organization, which includes businessmen, a banker, elected officials and representatives of several development groups, focuses on economic development and neighborhood stabilization of the city and serves as an umbrella organization to secure state funds to address blight.
Last month, several board members and representatives of other organizations involved in city redevelopment met with Christie Yerger, manager of the Keystone Communities program, to discuss how New Castle might improve its chances for funding and obtaining designation as a Main Street Communities program to help downtown development and/or the Elm Street program to benefit neighborhoods. Being designated as a Main Street or Elm Street community would improve the city’s chances for funding.
At that time, CDC chairman Tim Fulkerson, said he is planning to create a subcommittee for the development organization in order to allow more voices to be heard. The subcommittee, he said, would include all organizations involved in city development including the Blueprint Initiative Committee, DON Services and New Visions.
Consultant Cindy Gormley, who organized the meeting, said Yerger was pleased to see signs of cooperation among the development organizations.
“Are there any others taking part in the redevelopment of the city who should be part of the group?” she asked. “What are we missing?”
Gormley said young people also should be involved.
“Young people leave because they feel no connection to the community,” she said.
Fulkerson said that generally, “It’s the same people on the same boards. We need new faces, new ideas, new blood. I welcome anyone who has not been involved before to tell us their vision, tell us what they would like to do. We’ll get them on a committee. Then they can see how these committees work and what they do.”
He invited any interested individual or organization to send in their name, number and reasons they want to be part of the organization. Fulkerson also noted that while at the Lawrence County Fair on Monday he was approached by someone who “recommended that the city be leveled and we start over with a new vision of the city. I asked where we’d get the $60 million that it would take to do that. He suggested that I write to the president.”
Fulkerson also announced that New Castle city council has applied to the Department of Community and Economic Development for a $2.2 million Multimodal Transportation Fund grant.
If approved, the grant will be used for sidewalks, curb cuts and streetscape improvements in the Lower East Side neighborhood from the Lawrence County Courthouse to Ray Street. The funds will assist DON Services in its project to renovate and build houses in the neighborhood to remove blight.
Consultant Debbie Grass noted “this is a political process,” and urged city officials to contact all state senators and representatives to send letters of support.
Grass and Gormley also noted that application for a Neighborhood Partnership Program will be made next spring or summer. Before that, board members were told, they should seek partners from the community who will pledge at least $50,000 per year for five years to the city in exchange for five years of state tax credit.
“We’re still putting the puzzle together,”Fulkerson said. “I hope that people see down the road that CDEC has tentacles all over, and that it’s not just a handful of the same people creating what will happen in New Castle and its neighborhoods.”