December 3, 2019

A street hockey rink at Coal Street Park and outfitting an emergency response center are among several projects for which Wilkes-Barre city council will consider authorizing the submission of grant applications totaling millions of dollars on Thursday.

Each fall, community organizations and businesses typically ask the city to apply for Local Share Account grants from the Commonwealth Financing Authority on their behalf, as applications for the gaming grants, which are funded by gambling, require the backing of a municipality.

Municipalities also can directly apply for these grants, which according to program guidelines must fund projects that improves the quality of life of citizens in the community.

LSA grant applications on council’s agenda for Thursday’s meeting include:

  • Mayor Tony George wants the city to apply for a $544,587 grant to renovate 4,249 square feet of the second floor of the public works garage to permanently house an emergency response center. Other city-owned buildings are in a flood zone, and the city has in the past had to move computer servers and other essential equipment related to emergency response operations in the event of a flood.
  • The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and the City of Wilkes-Barre are seeking $250,000 to build a community street hockey rink adjacent to the Toyota Sportsplex ice rink in Coal Street Park. Street hockey is a cost-effective way to get children and adults involved in physical activity that is similar to ice hockey, according to a resolution authorizing submission of the grant application.
  • The Wyoming Valley Challenger Baseball League wants to apply for $84,894 for renovations to the Bog public park on Dewy Lane that include replacement of antiquated fencing that does not meet safety standards or Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. The league enables special needs children to play baseball while developing socialization skills and camaraderie.
  • The Wyoming Valley Art League Circle Centre for the Arts is requesting a $650,000 grant to make building upgrades such as meeting ADA requirements with the addition of an elevator and accessible restrooms. The grant also would fund improvements to the heating and air conditioning system, gallery lighting and acoustics.
  • Children’s Service Center is seeking $175,000 to raze an unoccupied building at 350 S. Franklin St. and pave the property for use as a parking lot. Additional parking is needed based on the tremendous growth in clients served. Since 2015, the number of clients ages 18 and under has increased by 61%, and the number of adults served has increased by more than 500%. Since 2017, the number of clients using Drug & Alcohol Services has increased by 400%. By year’s end, CSC will have served more than 8,000 clients.
  • The Luzerne County Flood Protection Authority and the city are seeking $549,443 to build a storage facility in Kirby Park that would serve as the city’s recreation maintenance building and also house authority trailers that contain the Market Street Bridge floodgate closure structure components. The location of the facility in Kirby Park would reduce the authority’s flood fighting response time by several hours compared to trailer deployment from the authority’s Laird Street warehouse.
  • The Wilkes-Barre Family YMCA is seeking $75,000 for a safety and security project that includes installation of a new camera system, a new door at the lobby entrance, the addition of an external canopy and an upgraded swipe-entry access.
  • Volunteers of America Pennsylvania wants to apply for $300,000 to convert a vacant, blighted property on the 100 block of East Division Street into six units of one-bedroom and efficiency-style independent living spaces for low-income individuals. Also on the agenda is a resolution authorizing the city to apply for a $1.26 million H20 PA grant to fund the Mill Creek and Laurel Run Creek Flood Restoration Project. A work session preceding the council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. in council chambers on the fourth floor of City Hall, 40 E. Market St.