A state leader from Harrisburg gets a first hand look at some of the obstacles Erie is facing.
The Secretary started today on a guided bus tour with local leaders and residents visiting several places on Erie's East Side that are the top concerns, including an abandoned business park and the Erie Coke plant.
An EMTA bus carrying the Department of Environmental Protection Secretary through Joyce Savocchio Business Park was filled with information from the President and CEO of the Urban Erie Development Corporation, Gary Horton. "We were seeking to show the county and the Secretary ways that we would like to help ourselves by urban farming, brick making and incubating entrepreneurial efforts on behalf of new American people."
Horton says he wanted to show the Secretary the Savocchio Business Park because he says it deserves better, and he wants to highlight the future plans of hope and housing for this abandoned business park."
Secretary Patrick McDonnell shared his thoughts, "I want to understand what's going on at those sites and talk with some of our folks and see what is possible, what's not, connect with some of my fellow agencies, etc. Just make sure we're figuring out what the best outcomes there are."
Horton said he desired to "have more transparency... There has to be some balance in their ability to make money and our ability to live a healthy, well life in the neighborhoods we live in."
Secretary McDonnell also explains, "One of the things we've talked with our staff about is we're going to get some better information out on our website. Some of the information that we've provided to some folks, make it available to everybody so people can see, 'here are the reports we're putting together'".
The site of a former mattress warehouse in the 1300 block of West 20th Street, filled with mattresses was also addressed by the Secretary. Though the owners were just ordered to clean up the site by the DEP, who gave them 30 days to do so and 45 days to turn in the paperwork, McDonnell says that's not fast enough. "We're going to be serving the owners of the site to make sure we get that cleaned up as expeditiously as we can; following the process we need to follow."
The Secretary also met with city and county officials while he was in town, and even stopped to see our local vineyards and speak to some farmers.
McDonnell says he's taking many things back to Harrisburg after this trip. The biggest thing? Passion from the Erie people.
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