WARREN, Pa. – The Warren Riverfront Development project received another boost last week when the county pledged additional monies.
The commissioners approved an additional $250,000 in American Rescue Plan dollars on top of a prior allocation of $500,000.
The extra $250,000 assures that no loan proceeds will be used for the additional match.
The project is centered around the proposed boat launch at the southern end of Liberty St., but Commissioner Jeff Eggleston believes it could be and should be a lot more than that.
“The boat launch is an important feature of the project, an incredibly important feature, especially from a security standpoint, like from a safety standpoint,” Eggleston said during last week’s commissioner’s meeting.
City of Warren Mayor Dave Wortman agrees, and also expressed gratitude to the county commissioners for their support of the project.
“I commend the county commissioners for taking that action and recognizing the need,” Wortman said following Monday’s council meeting. “We are very thankful for their continued support and we look forward to working with them and all of our stakeholders as the project moves forward.”
Last month, the council agreed to allocate the remaining $500,000 needed for the project – $250,000 in general fund dollars as well as $250,000 from a loan taken out for repairs to the parking garage.
Wortman acknowledged the boat launch as the key feature of the project, while also suggesting that more could be in the works.
That includes potentially an extension of the Breeze Point Landing riverwalk and a bicycle pump track, which was suggested by the Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry.
“We recognize the boat launch as the key feature of the project, but understand there’s more that can be done,” Wortman said. “As many partners as we have that are going to invest in the City of Warren and riverfront development, it’s a benefit to everybody involved.”
Eggleston, at last week’s commissioner’s meeting, said “this can be the biggest economic shift in the county, tied to tourism, in decades if it is done right.”
It’s a project that would also seem to help a problem that Councilman John Wortman brought up at Monday’s council meeting.
“I am extremely concerned that we are losing our commercial district,” Councilman Wortman said. “As a city, we need to ask ourselves why this is happening. I don’t necessarily have an answer to this question, but I have ideas about and I think most people in our community have similar ideas. But this is a problem we have to solve before it becomes too late to solve.”
Studies have suggested, as pointed out by Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry President Jim Decker in a past presentation to the council, that the project would greatly aid in bringing business to the city’s downtown.
“Getting support from multiple layers of government at the state level, the city level, the county level, and the WCCBI are essential,” Mayor Wortman said. “This project would bring a lot to downtown businesses. After the Build Back Better application failed, everybody took a step back and re-evaluated the project itself and the willingness to try and find additional funds to invest. It’s all good, for sure.”