Council Rebuffs Riverfront Prosposal Funding

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WARREN, Pa. – Warren City Council rejected a motion during Monday’s meeting to shift $170,000 of American Rescue Plan funds to a different grant for its riverfront project.

Earlier this year Council approved the $170,000 as a funding match for a state recreation grant.

“The initial grant was unsuccessful,” City Manager Nancy Freenock said Tuesday morning. “But another Department of Conservation and Natural Resources grant opened up.”

The deadline to apply for that grant is a week from Thursday.

“There is no way to acquire funds without the grant,” Freenock said.

Freenock proposed shifting the funds to this new grant, which would provide funding for the city to acquire two parcels for the riverfront development project – the concrete pad on Liberty St. and the parcel along the river by the HIY building.

“The motion to file the DCNR grant and match would have come from the DCNR, so I can’t file the grant,” Freenock said.

The motion failed, with 3-3 tie vote, with Mayor David Wortman and council members Phil Gilbert and Jared Villella in support, and council members John Wortman, Wendy McCain and Phil Gilbert in opposition.

Those two properties are owned by developer Robert Yoder, with the pad valued at $84,000 and the sidewalk parcel at $179,000.

“My intention was not to close down the riverfront project,” said McCain said on Tuesday. “The police and fire department came to the meeting asking for the American Rescue plan funds to give them a raise. Not all of it, but I think they wanted some of it.

“From my perspective, the whole point was to develop that area so we had tax dollars, and it’s never come to fruition and it’s an eye sore. I have an issue with him (Yoder) taking advantage of our city. I think the riverfront project is a great idea. My opposition is to giving him (Yoder) more money.”

Freenock noted that there is a special meeting on Monday, Oct. 24 to discuss the 2023 budget and that the issue could be brought up again then.

“There is a special council meeting on Monday (Oct. 24), so if someone would like to bring the matter back up, they can certainly do it then,” Freenock said.