WARREN, Pa. – More needs to be done with the Warren Riverfront Development project than just a boat launch, Warren mayor Dave Wortman acknowledged after Monday’s council meeting in an interview with Your Daily Local.
“We recognize the boat launch as the key feature of the project,” Wortman said. “But, we understand there’s more that can be done.”
Wortman suggested that could include an extension of the Breeze Point Landing riverwalk and a bicycle pump track, something that was suggested by the Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry.
Wortman’s comments came on the heels of comments from Warren County Commission Jeff Eggleston at last Wednesday’s County Commissioner’s meeting suggesting that the project can attract more federal and commonwealth funding if the city looks at pieces beyond the boat launch.
Eggleston suggested additional aspects need to be tied into the project including cultural, entertainment, and art elements.
“This can be the biggest economic shift in the county, tied to tourism, in decades if it is done right,” Eggleston said at the commissioners’ meeting. “My concern, right now is that we are really focusing on a couple of very major financial pieces to it, but we are missing some of the other pieces.”
Eggleston’s comments came prior to the county authorizing $750,000 toward the project with the county asking that it be considered a partner – albeit not an equal one – in the project.
“We would like to be engaged with the City on how this moves forward,” Eggleston said. “Not as a 50-50 partner, but certainly as an entity that has a vested interest in the success of this project.”
Councilman Maurice Cashman told Eggleston at the commissioners’ meeting that the city welcomed any help from the County.
“We certainly will welcome any help and suggestion we can have,” Cashman said. “This is an important ingredient in getting started because it won’t be, in all likelihood, until 2025 that we actually get under construction because of all the environmental permits and so forth that you have to get. So, as we would find other funding to start finishing off this project that will be easier to move forward on. But this is such a key thing, sort of the anchor of this whole project, to get started. We recognize that fact there is more to do and there is more funding that has to be required.”
The project could help solve a problem that Councilman John Wortman, the mayor’s son, brought up at Monday’s meeting.
“I am extremely concerned we are losing our commercial district,” John 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 it, and I think most people in our community have similar ideas. This is a problem we have to solve before it becomes too late to solve.”
The City of Warren along with the county has already committed over $3 million towards the project in addition to $1.5 million from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
That includes a $1.5 million equal match to a Commonwealth grant and another $500,000 committed by the City in addition to the $750,000 committed by the county.