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Proposal for sports complex gets $2M assist from state

A $2 million state grant secured recently will be used toward creating a youth baseball and softball complex off Rose Street.

State lawmakers said Thursday that ?the state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) grant will go toward the Williamsport Ballpark project, a seven-field athletic complex organizers envision design and construction to begin on in 2021.

The grant will help to transform a blighted and abandoned brownfield commercial site into the multi-field ballparks, according to state Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township, and state Rep. Jeff Wheeland, R-Loyalsock Township.

The two legislators said they advocated for the grant, which is administered through the Office of Budget of Gov. Tom Wolf.

“Adding the youth sports complex is expected to bring $10 million into the economy,” said Jason Fink, president and CEO of the Williamsport/Lycoming County Chamber of Commerce.

Total investment of $16 million in the site, a former city trash dump and commercial location, is expected to create a regional draw for large-scale baseball and softball tournaments – events that will bring thousands of families and spectators to the county to boost its tourism and hospitality industry, Fink said.

This is coming during a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the economy and local travel and tourism in the region with the cancellation of the annual Little League World Series in 2020.

The grant is expected to play an integral role in enhancing Lycoming County’s existing foundation as an international home to youth baseball and softball.

Specific actions the grant will be used for include: Full excavation of the blighted, brownfield site; all steps needed to comply with Act 2 environmental clearances; assisting in the completion of all construction-related needs to transition the blighted site into the multi-field baseball/softball complex, including but not limited to turf installation; fencing and site enclosures and construction of site location buildings such as concession stand and field lighting.

A brownfield site is one that is abandoned as an industrial or commercial location and which may require cleaning up of any hazardous materials or contaminates, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The site in question was used for years as a city trash dump and more recently for commercial purposes.

“It’s a brownfield restoration project that will bring new life to our community,” Yaw said.

“We are fighting to ensure Lycoming County can be a larger part of that economic opportunity,” he said.

Fink said the legislators’ advocacy was key in securing the grant as was the vision of the governor.

“The chamber greatly appreciates the hard work and support we received of Sen. Yaw and Rep. Wheeland in advocating for the RACP grant to aid our ballpark project,” Fink said. “Both Gene and Jeff have been strong advocates for the greater Williamsport and Lycoming County community during their time serving us in Harrisburg. … We appreciate their diligence for not only the ballpark complex but for the many others they’ve assisted over the years.”

Fink also appreciated the governor’s support of the funding toward the complex development.

“Having the bipartisan support at the state level for this complex shows that economic development is one area that can bring all together as we work and grow and enhance the community,” Fink said.

The RACP grants are used for the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational and historical improvement projects.

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