Lycoming County receives $180K toward gateway project

The Lycoming County commissioners are expected to accept a $180,000 grant Thursday from the state Department of Community and Economic Development toward the first phase of connecting Basin Street to the Susquehanna River Walk as part of the East Third Street Gateway/Old City Revitalization.

At that time, the county will be able to begin the design stage of the project, said Mark Murawski, transportation supervisor with county planning.

The county match for the grant will be $63,167 from its Growing Greener funds, not tax dollars, for a total cost of about $243,167 for phase one of the project.

That first phase will consist of constructing a new sidewalk system along Basin Street that goes under the beltway ramps. The grant funds will go toward that construction while the county match covers design cost, Murawski said.

Phase two, estimated to cost “at least” $500,000, includes building the ramp system up to the river walk as well as reinforcing the railroad wall, Murawski said. He said the Joint Rail Authority has pledged $25,000 to the project.

“There’s a number of grant programs that we could go after for phase two,” Murawski added.

In another matter, Williamsport resident Valerie Beggs asked the commissioners to comment on a severance tax bill coming up in the state Legislature. She said she has been speaking with as many local and state legislators as possible to see how they feel about the bill and whether it might be successful.

“As a voter and a taxpayer, a business person, I’m just interested to see that we make the most of what this might be,” she said.

Commissioner Rick Mirabito said the bill, overall, is meant to help fund the state budget, which currently is experiencing “fiscal difficulty.” He said he thinks Beggs’ sentiment is shared by many county residents.

“We need to talk to our representatives and our senators and ask them to move ahead,” Mirabito said.

Commissioner Jack McKernan said he hopes for more insight now that Gov. Tom Wolf has released his 2018-19 budget proposal.

Commissioner Tony Mussare said he is in favor of “some type of severance on that industry,” but he doesn’t want the state to view severance tax revenue as a reason not to tighten up spending.

“They’re not taking care of their fiscal house, and they haven’t been for a long time,” he said.

In other business, the commissioners also are expected to award contracts for vehicle rental equipment on a per item, as-needed basis, approve a $30,000 Emergency Solutions grant from the state Department of Community and Economic Development to the YWCA for its Rapid Housing Project and act on several personnel items.

The next meeting will be held at 10 a.m. on Thursday in Executive Plaza.