Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Commissioners dish out Urban Enhancement Funds for projects throughout the County

At their weekly meeting, Wednesday, the County Commissioners approved $1.8 million in Urban Enhancement Grants for various projects throughout the County.

Representatives from a host of municipalities and organizations lined up to thank the Commissioners, Wednesday, including Columbia Mayor Leo Lutz, West Lampeter Township Manager Ray D'Agostino, Joe Morales of the Lancaster Community Safety Coalition, and Randy Patterson, the City of Lancaster's Director of Economic Development and Neighborhood Revitalization, on behalf of Mayor Gray, who is traveling to Denver, Colorado for the Democratic National Convention.

As noted in our report yesterday, the grants include funding for downtown streetscape improvements, renovations to Lancaster Square, and installation of downtown security cameras.

Other grants include $10,000 for upgrades to the municipal building and parking in Christiana Borough, $112,416 for downtown parking improvements in Columbia Borough, $15,500 for the revitalization of the Marietta town square, $81,450 for the Denver Borough Main Street revitalization project, and others.

The funding comes from a $25 million bond issued by the 2005 Board of Commissioners for the purposes of farmland preservation and urban development.

Commissioner Craig Lehman noted that the board remains committed to preserving the unique character of Lancaster County as an agricultural community, but that urban development is an important piece of the puzzle.

The County also approved an application on behalf of the City of Lancaster and Manheim Township to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development for $100,000 to create a "Transit Revitalization Investment District" in the area surrounding the Lancaster Amtrak Station.

Patterson said the funding will be used to conduct a study in order to receive further funding and begin to implement development projects, including the issue of parking, in and around the train station.

A "Transit Revitalization District," Patterson explained, is a form of "tax increment financing district" (TIF), which helps municipalities and developers finance improvements within the district.

NewsLanc will continue to seek information from City and County officials on how they plan to provide sorely needed additional parking at the Lancaster Amtrak Station.