Mayor candidates comment on Gateway project

Two mayor candidates offered their views on a nearly $40 million proposed economic development project targeted for the East Third Street Gateway Revitalization area east of Market Street.

Republican Eric Beiter and Democrat Derek Slaughter agree that more should be permitted to be explained by Daniel A. Klingerman, president and CEO of The Liberty Group.

Klingerman recently said he would invest $22 to $27 million. He proposed a mixed-use of the buildings that would be erected at East Third and Mulberry streets with commercial use on the lower floors and residential or condominiums on the upper floors

A proposed parking garage would need to be built using leveraged money and federal highway transit grants and other transportation and economic development funds, said William E. Nichols Jr., city finance director.

When asked if public dollars should be used to make the project happen, Beiter said he appreciated Klingerman’s willingness to invest in the city.

Slaughter, who remains on council and is on the economic revitalization committee, which first heard about the proposal, was a bit more cautious at this time.

“Yes, we agreed at ERC to schedule another ERC meeting so more information can be presented,” Slaughter said.

Klingerman told the committee he hadn’t been given adequate notice to prepare more details for the group.

“We have to wait and see what the proposal is,” Slaughter said. “We haven’t been presented with any details yet other than a few renderings Dan gave us at that first ERC meeting. The next one should have more details, I’m assuming.”

Beiter said the public sector does not create jobs but private businesses do.

“Public-private partnerships are critical to the growth of cities like Williamsport,” Beiter said.

“All throughout the nation successful cities have found ways to strike the right balance on these types of projects,” he said, adding he supported the use of grant dollars to make it easier to see the development happen and by investing in public infrastructure.

One issue is for certain, as Slaughter noted, the committee intends to hear more about the project at an upcoming meeting.

It may not happen, as the next committee meeting is slated to go over Park Avenue Plan findings by the city Bureau of Codes.

Mayor Gabriel J. Campana, who is in his final months in office, said Nichols wanted to get direction to help Delta Development Group, the River Valley Transit and city consulting firm.

Delta has been 10-10 on helping the city and transit service to secure grants that are going to be used on streetscape and improvements in the Gateway project area, Nichols said.

“We definitely want to get some more details and narrow down the various building and financial components in order to make informed decisions,” said Councilman Randall J. Allison, committee chairman.

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