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Sprucing Up Newberry
July 26, 2010
WILLIAMSPORT -- “It’s been a long time coming,” said Elm Street Manager Alannah Gabriel, and everyone gathered at the corner of West Fourth Street and Moore Avenue nodded and murmured their agreement. Work on Phase I of the Newberry Elm Street Program’s West Fourth Street Improvements and Façade Program has begun.
Although workers broke ground on the project two weeks ago, and that was a week later than expected, the official public announcement came Tuesday morning, with Williamsport Mayor Gabe Campana, State Representative Rick Mirabito, Former Mayor Phil Preziosi, and Gabriel gathered in front of the new and improving Newberry “front door.”
Seeds for the project were planted back in 2004, when the City initiated a strategic planning initiative for Newberry, one of the city’s oldest residential neighborhoods.
The $272,286 project includes new curbing and new five foot sidewalks with pressed concrete red brick accents. New street lights are planned on both sides of West Fourth Street between Moore Avenue and Arch Street, and new trees will be planted, as well. The work on this phase should be done by mid-October of this year.
The biggest chunk of money for the project was a $250,000 grant from a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. It requires a ten percent local match, so the city threw in a little over $25,000.
Whether or not there will be additional phases is, at this point, somewhat in question.
The project was originally a three- to five-year plan, with funding available to the Newberry Community Partnership each year. But now, Gabriel says, like everyone else, the Elm Street Program is feeling the pinch in the current atmosphere of financial cutbacks. Money for future phases has all but disappeared.
“It’s disappointing that it’s not going to move ahead like we thought. Getting the money every year would make a significant impact in the community over time.”
And while Gabriel says she is disappointed about the new lack of funding, she is both optimistic and determined about finding alternative funds from grants and private sources.
“What’s going to happen after this, I don’t know. The city is very committed to revitalizing the neighborhood. We have everything in place to start looking in other places for grant .to continue work that needs to be done,” she said. “Hopefully when people see what can be done, it will make an impact.” And that, she hopes, will help bring in more grant money from new sources.