Development, better traffic flow on table

Potential for economic development and improving traffic flow and access to Interstate 180 and Washington Boulevard east of Market Street exists.

That’s what City Councilman Randall J. Allison, chairman of the Economic Revitalization Committee, said Thursday during a council meeting on the first reading of a $21.8 million proposed budget that holds no tax increase.

Allison had council vote to move $1,250 from a legislative contingency fund in City Council’s budget to increase a special study under Mayor Gabriel J. Campana’s office budget up to $25,000.

“We want development to drive the study,” Allison said of plans to examine development opportunities in the corridor of the city, including West Third and West Fourth and side streets.

A consultant is being sought and efforts are under way to find a matching grant and other money. It would not be an academic exercise, but one to initiate and encourage development and investments among businesses and nonprofits, Allison said.

Councilwoman Liz Miele said such a study should incorporate neighborhood groups, nonprofits and businesses ideas.

“I’m on the same page,” said Mayor Gabriel J. Campana. The district was expanded eastward three years ago and there are multiple stakeholders interested in working with council and the administration in coming up with a comprehensive plan for that area that leads to Loyalsock Township where there is a lot of commercial development occurring, he said.

Also part of the proposed budget discussion, amendments were made on first reading. Councilman N. Clifford “Skip” Smith proposed increasing the information technology equipment department by $4,584, taking it from the legislative contingency fund.

Councilman Jonathan Williamson also cut $1,516 from that fund adding it to correct budgetary contractural costs related to the solicitor.

Councilman Don Noviello called for reducing the legislative contingency fund by $2,500 to restore brick streets, bringing it to $50,000.

Miele wanted to reduce the legislative contingency fund by $150 to increase the art grant program to $3,000.

The council also took action on increasing the city’s housing stock by authorizing the release of $46,824 of Home Program funds through the Community Development department and U.S. Housing and Urban Development going to the Lycoming County Neighborhood Development Corp. Ted Lyon, corporation executive director, said the plan is to see it go into a single family house at Walnut Street, adjacent to Memorial Avenue. The money can be used to assist an income eligible family with the mortgage payment.