3 local attractions share $237,500 in grant monies

More than $235,000 in grants from the Lycoming County Visitors Bureau to three city organizations was announced Monday afternoon at Bowman Field, the site where one of the grants will be used.

Jason Fink, executive director of the visitors bureau, which is an affiliate of the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce, said the grants were given to enhance specific tourism assets in the county.

The visitors bureau has committed $100,000 for improvements at city-owned Bowman Field, another $100,000 for improvements to Preservation Williamsport’s Rowley House at 707 W. Fourth St. and $37,500 for the Hiawatha paddle wheel riverboat.

The grants were not a part of the visitors bureau’s regular yearly tourism grant program, Fink said.

Part of the money to be used at Bowman Field is for new seating behind the third base dugout available to any ticket holder.

Mayor Gabriel J. Campana said the improvements will make the 87-year-old stadium “a much better place to watch and enjoy baseball games and other events as well.”

The other half of the Bowman Field money would be released when and if City Council approves a loan refinancing plan to pay for additional renovation projects at the stadium.

“$100,000 is a lot of money, but it’s well invested,” Campana said.

The mayor said additional future projects at Bowman Field may include new social seating areas and a revamped concourse area.

A new slate roof will be installed on the Rowley House with the visitors bureau funds, said Oscar Knade, a Preservation Williamsport board member.

Knade called the house museum a “gem” in the city’s historic district.

The original slate roof – built in 1888 – is in serious need of repair and replacement, according to Knade.

“Historic preservation is not inexpensive,” he said.

The organization will receive an immediate $50,000. The remaining $50,000 will be given when Preservation Williamsport raises another $95,000 for the project. Of that, $20,000 has previously been granted by the visitors bureau to count toward the project, Fink said.

Knade said the ongoing efforts of Preservation Williamsport’s volunteers “has made our historic district a very attractive tourist destination.”

Money for the Hiawatha will buy new engines. William E. Nichols Jr., River Valley Transit general manager and city finance director, said the engines will be the first new ones in 31 years.

The $37,500 grant will provide that the vessel meets U.S. Coast Guard regulations, he said.

Since the Hiawatha first launched on the Susquehanna River in 1982, about 750,000 passengers have been on board, Nichols said.

“This grant ensures the future operation of the Hiawatha for decades to come,” he said.