By Bill O’Boyle, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
WILKES-BARRE — Community projects across Luzerne County will be receiving more than $6 million in grants thanks to statewide gambling revenue.
The work includes infrastructure improvements, streetscaping and police programs, ranging from restoration of the Irem Temple in Wilkes-Barre to parking in Plymouth to new stadium bleachers for the Pittston Area School District.
The funding, from what is known as the Local Share Account, was approved Friday by the Commonwealth Financing Authority
“The Local Share Account dollars provided through casino gaming proceeds received by the state allow the commonwealth to help municipalities and school districts with projects that otherwise might not be completed or that would probably require a local tax increase,” said state Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Newport Township.
Mullery, along with Sen. John Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township, Sen. Lisa Baker, R-Lehman Township, and Reps. Tarah Toohil, R-Butler Township, Aaron Kaufer, R-Kingston, Mike Carroll, D-Avoca, and Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Wilkes-Barre, issued news releases regarding the grants.
A full list of projects and funding can be accessed on the DCED website at www.dced.pa.gov.
The City of Wilkes-Barre will receive $220,000 in funding, on behalf of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Development Corporation, to be be used for renovations to stabilize and restore the Irem Temple.
“Today’s announcement and award demonstrates how a relatively small investment of government resources has the potential to attract visitors, create jobs, and instill pride in our community,” said Christian Wielage, Irem Temple Restoration Project Chairman.
Mayor Tony George said the state tried to appease most LSA grant applicants, which he said was the fair thing to do, but most didn’t get the full amount they requested.
“However, a piece of the pie is better than none,” George said. “I am grateful for what Wilkes-Barre received, especially with the financial hardship the city is facing.”
The mayor said the grants will go toward improvements at the Wilkes-Barre Police Department’s firing range and the city’s IT infrastructure, which will help to better serve residents. Additionally, George said Phase 3 funding for the Facade Rehabilitation Program will help beautify neighborhoods.
Some of the projects:
• Wilkes-Barre City: $220,000 for the Irem Temple renovations; $100,000 for the Children’s Service Center to acquire and renovate a vacant space to expand its operations; $200,000 for the Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre for HVAC and electrical improvements; $50,000 for the Greater Wilkes-Barre YMCA’s pool rehabilitation project; $60,509 for Wyoming Valley Art League building ADA improvements; $103,000 for FM Kirby Center improvements.
• Luzerne County Redevelopment Authority: $250,000 for the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor project from Oliver Mills to Mountain Top.
• Plymouth Borough: $217,208 for Phase II of the Downtown Plymouth Redevelopment project to add parking areas; $100,000 for a roof project at the Wyoming Valley West School District.
• Plymouth Township: $150,000 for the DeHaven Pump Station & Force Main project.
• Pittston City: $295,000 for the Pittston Area School District for the replacement of stadium bleachers; $400,000 to expand the DPW garage and pave the lot around the garage.
• Hazle Township: $625,617 for Humboldt Industrial Park transportation improvements.
• Hazleton City: $150,000 for the Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress to complete Phase II of the Downtown Hazleton Business Incubator; $250,000 for renovations to City Hall; $150,000 to implement the Group Violence Intervention program for Hazleton Police.
• Nanticoke City: $250,000 for the Greater Nanticoke Area School District Stadium project; $450,000 for Market Street acquisition, demolition, and streetscape improvements.
• Hanover Township: $200,000 to rehabilitate the Solomon Creek Interceptor.