Wolf Administration Tours Blighted Properties, Details Benefits of Restore PA for Schuylkill County

Schuylkill, PA – Today, Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Deputy Secretary for Community Affairs and Development Rick Vilello joined local officials and community leaders on a tour of blighted properties in Schuylkill County. The tour included a discussion about the region’s challenges in its fight against blight. They also discussed how the Restore Pennsylvania proposal could help municipalities eradicate blight.

“Blighted properties damage the fabric of our neighborhoods and create economic burdens for our local governments,” Deputy Secretary Vilello said. “Restore Pennsylvania is the only plan that would inject the opportunities communities like Schuylkill County need to thrive. Our infrastructure is the foundation for strong and vibrant communities.”

Restore Pennsylvania, the $4.5 billion bipartisan proposal funded through a commonsense severance tax, would increase financial resources at the local level to acquire and demolish blighted properties to create new development opportunities and provide new green space. The funding will be administered by entities established by the legislature as land banks or demolition funds.

Currently, local governments like Schuylkill County cannot fund the demolition or redevelopment of most of their blighted properties themselves. If passed into law, Restore Pennsylvania would fund blight remediation efforts at a level far beyond any existing funding mechanisms at the local and state levels.

“The Board of Schuylkill County Commissioners is looking forward to working with Governor Wolf and our legislators on initiatives like Restore Pennsylvania that will help us remediate blighted properties in the county,” said Schuylkill County Commissioner Chair George Halcovage. “We’ve recently worked with the Wolf Administration and Senator Argall on a recent $1.4 million grant that has helped us with demolition, code enforcement and the use of our land bank, which are effective tools in remediating blight and restoring our communities – but it’s clear that additional resources are needed to properly combat this issue.”

“Government officials, community, and business leaders in Schuylkill county are doing the work,” said Schuylkill County Commissioner Gary J. Hess. “We have an inventory of blighted properties and we know what it takes to demolish and redevelop them, but we don’t have the means to make it happen. I believe Restore Pennsylvania is the solution for blight and many other issues our communities are facing.”

The event included walking tours in Ashland, Frackville, Mahanoy City, and Shenandoah.

Restore Pennsylvania is a statewide plan to aggressively address the commonwealth’s vital infrastructure needs. Funded through a commonsense severance tax, Restore Pennsylvania is the only plan that will help make Pennsylvania a leader in the 21st century.

For more information about the Department of Community and Economic Development, visit the DCED website or follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

Michael Gerber, DCED, 717.783.1132

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