Levee grant passes initial hurdle

City Council’s finance committee Tuesday gave a positive recommendation for the city to join in a $500,000 grant application with South Williamsport to be submitted by Lycoming County for levee rehabilitation.

The authorization would be for the county to submit what’s known as an H20 PA grant application to the Commonwealth Financing Authority on behalf of the city, said Adam Winder, general manager with city streets and parks department.

There is about $1.1 million of rehabilitation and replacement needed in the city northwestern section of the Greater Williamsport Levee Project. South Williamsport is looking at costs of about $700,000, he said.

The cross pipes are part of the levee discharge system that was identified by engineers as having deficiencies and required to be repaired or replaced as part of the levee recertification, he said.

Penn Strategies Inc., the city economic development consultant, along with Fran McJunkin, county deputy planning director, got the ball started on the funding for the cross pipes project, said Councilwoman Bonnie Katz, chair of the city public works committee.

“When the natural gas impact fees were not available, the state suggested to apply for the grant,” she said.

The state Department of Community and Economic Development has earmarked $42 million for programs associated with this grant, said Jason Fitzgerald, president of Penn Strategies.

The recertification process has been a multi-year one. It is required for levees like this constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers under regulations changing through the Federal Emergency Management Agency following Hurricane Katrina’s impact on levees in the Gulf of Mexico and New Orleans, Louisiana.

The levee is estimated to protect about $2 to $4 billion of real estate in Lycoming County, and if the recertification is not done, those protected by it would be required to buy costly flood insurance, FEMA said.


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