Wolf Administration Tours Blighted Properties, Details Benefits of Restore Pennsylvania for Union County

New Berlin, 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 New Berlin, Union 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 eliminate blight and help bolster flood protection.

“The struggles with blight that New Berlin and Union County face are the same issues that so many communities struggle with across Pennsylvania,” Vilello said. “Restore Pennsylvania is desperately needed to help our municipalities fund the costly process of blight remediation, as well as other critical infrastructure needs like flood protection. Without Restore Pennsylvania, there’s simply no way that we can fix these problems.”

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.

More than 300,000 blighted properties exist in Pennsylvania, causing health and safety concerns and lowering property values and tax revenues. The problem is exacerbated in areas like Union County that have a higher concentration of older, outdated buildings; nearly half of existing properties in Union County were built before 1970. In Lewisburg, Union County, the South Sixth Street creek area has been prone to flood damage in the past, and additional funding is required to ensure continued flood protection into the future. 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, and allow municipalities to direct funding to other economic development projects.

“Blighted structures and blighted areas in our region are a serious concern, and it is imperative that we work toward a common goal to revitalize the properties,” said Glenda Ruch, director of the Community Development Program at SEDA-Council of Governments. “In addition, repetitive flooding deteriorates infrastructure, such as streets, sidewalks, curbing, water and sewer lines, and drainage. It is imperative that we identify funding opportunities that will enable municipalities to invest in communities and neighborhoods where blight and flood issues exist.”

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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