EDDC looks to redirect RACP Grant

Local News

A unusual decision from an organization could potentially help the City of Erie gain a couple million dollars.

The Erie Downtown Development Corporation (EDDC) was awarded a $2.5 million state grant for the North Park Row Project, however, they are declining the money in hopes that is still stays in the area.

Erie City Council was scheduled to vote on a resolution that authorized the city to submit paperwork to the state to secure a $2.5 million grant for the EDDC’s North Park Row Project on Wednesday evening, but there has been a change of plans.

Instead of going directly to the corporation, the EDDC is hoping the money goes toward Erie City Hall.

“The $2.5 million will probably get used mainly for street type projects to make the area around the EDDC much better and more welcoming and much more vibrant and pleasant for people,” said Mayor Joe Schember, City of Erie.

If the Commonwealth decides to approve this change, one council member explained how she will rely on the Mayor’s administration to figure out what’s best for the city.

“They’re the experts on this, I am not an expert on streetscaping, I’m not an expert of grants, I’m not an expert on grant administration. I think my function as an elected official is to be a watchdog and see how money is being spent,” said Liz Allen, Erie City Councilwoman.

To qualify for the money, the city must show it is investing an equal amount. Although that is still unknown, the city is saying no to the money, sending Harrisburg the wrong message.

“One of the big concerns there is, will the state give us money in the future if we turn down money they’ve already offered us and we don’t put it to use like we should. That would be a big disappointment, but I can tell you my staff, the EDDC, we are all working hard to make sure we have a good opportunity to get this money,” said Mayor Schember.

According to Erie Downtown Development Corporation CEO John Persinger, the plans for North Park Row and what they’d like to see the city do with the grant money coincide with the 2010 downtown master plan.

At this time, it is unknown the state will approve the idea.

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