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Blair commissioners review potential grant funding

HOLLIDAYSBURG — Major improvements in Williamsburg, Newry and the Lower Trail are being proposed as part of a three-year plan for using Blair County’s Community Development Block Grant funds.

The CDBG program at the county level addresses improvement needs in 16 of Blair County’s smaller communities and boroughs.

Grants coordinator for the Blair County’s Social Services Department Trina Illig, talking about plans for the 2021 fiscal year, which is underway, noted that Allegheny Township requested $12,000 to help residents along Cory Lane/Mill Road in Carson Valley pay for connections to the sewer system.

She also set aside $206,973 for housing rehabilitation for residents throughout the county.

She reported the long-standing housing rehabilitation program will address a great need in the county’s smaller boroughs and townships.

As of last week, the county had 79 households on the waiting list for rehabilitation funds.

The CDBG funds come from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through Pennsylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development.

The funds are limited, but as Illig’s three-year projections show, the CDBG money can be combined with funds from other sources to undertake major improvements.

For instance, she is proposing a Williamsburg Streetscape project to improve High Street in the borough

The project would cost $1,190,066.

Commissioners Chairman Bruce R. Erb pointed out that Williamsburg is prone to flooding.

The streetscape, he said, would not address the flooding problem because the water that causes the flooding during periods of heavy rain comes from the roads.

He is hoping that plans for the streetscape could be combined with efforts by PennDOT to address much-needed improvements along the borough’s main street.

Another project mentioned by Illig would be street and drainage improvements along Blarney Street, Patrick Lane and Dublin Street in Newry.

CDBG was used to finance improvements in Newry’s southside.

The proposed improvements cost an estimated $1.4 million and would be devoted to improvements on the borough’s northside.

Illig said she is attempting to find additional funds to complement the CDBG effort in Newry.

The third project in the three-year range was to make areas of the Lower Trail at Flowing Springs, Ganister and Williamsburg comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

No cost estimates were available for that effort.

Commissioners Erb, Amy E. Webster and Laura O. Burke will make a decision on the projects to be included in Blair’s 2021 CDBG request at next Tuesday’s meeting.

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