On May 17, 2019 Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf was joined by local leaders on a walking tour of downtown Steelton, Pennsylvania to observe blighted business fronts and discuss how Restore Pennsylvania could assist with revitalizing Pennsylvania’s communities. The governor’s plan will help communities in the commonwealth address blight, expand broadband access, mitigate the effects of localized flooding, and expand green infrastructure, restoring communities after long neglect.
“For the past four months I’ve been traveling across Pennsylvania, speaking directly to the community leaders, business owners and residents who desperately need Restore Pennsylvania,” said Governor Wolf. “We are a commonwealth on a comeback and progress should beget progress. We need Restore Pennsylvania to properly invest in the people, and the future, of Pennsylvania.”
Restore Pennsylvania, funded by the monetization of a commonsense severance tax, will invest $4.5 billion over the next four years in significant high-impact projects throughout the commonwealth to help catapult Pennsylvania ahead of every state in the country in terms of technology, development, and infrastructure.
Restore Pennsylvania will increase resources for addressing blight by providing financial resources at the local level to establish land banks and acquire and demolish blighted buildings in order to create new development opportunities or provide new green space. The funding will be administered by entities established by the legislature as land banks or demolition funds.
“The Restore Pennsylvania proposal is exactly what Steelton needs,” said Brian Proctor, President of Steelton Borough Council. “Our borough is up-and-coming with a number of progressive initiatives sparking the beginning of our revitalization. But, our aging and deteriorating infrastructure, blighted and abandoned properties, and mandated environmental improvements to our stormwater system, left unaddressed, will stop all our efforts dead in their tracks. Without Restore Pennsylvania, we are financially forced to put band-aids on these issues which is simply unsustainable.”
In recent years, Steelton Borough has partnered with the Dauphin County Land Bank to demolish a limited number of properties, acquired the county’s first medical marijuana dispensary, opened the region’s first free, public skate park, and engaged a developer for a large mixed-use development project. Still, the borough is a low-income community facing a significant backlog of deferred maintenance projects, aging storm, sewer, and highway infrastructure, and many blighted and vacant properties that it must currently address with a very limited tax-base.
“Simply put, we cannot face these challenges without funding from the state,” said Proctor. “This is why we need Restore Pennsylvania.”
Encompassing new and expanded programs to address five priority infrastructure areas including high speed internet access, storm preparedness and disaster recovery, downstream manufacturing, business development, and energy infrastructure, demolition, revitalization, and renewal, and transportation capital projects, Restore Pennsylvania projects will be driven by local input about community needs. Projects identified by local stakeholders will be evaluated through a competitive process to ensure that high-priority, high-impact projects are funded and needs across Pennsylvania are met.
Photo courtesy of Governor Tom Wolf.