Funding Concerns for WB Public Square Facelift

i Jul 6th 2016

By Mark Hiller, PA Homepage

Funding issues may force Diamond City officials to re-examine upgrade plan

WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — “We have to scale back some of what we’re looking at right now,” said Wilkes-Barre City Administrator Ted Wampole Wednesday afternoon. He and other Diamond City leaders hope they don’t have to go back to the drawing board on a Public Square makeover plan.

The city requested $1 million in Local Share Account Grant money to redo the square. Last week, that figure fell far short when the city received $200,000 in LSA funding. “We’re not saying that’s the end of it. We are looking to acquire more funds so that we can do the entire upgrade project,” said Mr. Wampole.

Part of an entire upgrade scenario would restore the cosmetic centerpiece of Public Square — the fountain that hasn’t worked for six years and counting. “I would like to see the water fountain back running up again because all now it is is a Christmas tree stand. That’s all it is,” said Michael Millard of Wilkes-Barre.

Others say some benches on the square are a bit worn. “Some of them you know they look like they’re ready to be replaced,” said Kimberly Jones of Wilkes-Barre.

The makeover plan in full would address among other things Public Square parking needs around a downtown that’s seen substantial business and residential growth in recent years.

“It’s only been ten years since the city installed new sidewalks as well as the streetscape and street lighting. But it’s been four decades since Public Square itself has been completely redesigned. As the city pursues more funding, the city administrator says one thing is certain. “Everything is centered around Public Square,” said Mr. Wampole. “Everything revolves around that. So we want it to look great and it will attract people when we have events downtown.”

The city of Wilkes-Barre is taking public input on its public square makeover plan.

You can make your voice heard by contacting the city events coordinator.

The number to call is 570-208-4149.