Local lawmakers looking to build downtown project with public safety in mind

Local News

Two local lawmakers are looking to build a new downtown project all in the name of public safety.

Currently, a run down building sits in between French and Division Streets. State Rep. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins say it’s a good project and proposal to get behind and invest in. They propose using state and federal money from the American Rescue Plan.

“I just think for the good of the community and the good of the region, we owe it to our police and fire to give them the best equipment and facilities to work out of and I think the time is now to invest in this.” said Rep. Pat Harkins.

Harkins says talks of the upgrade have been in the works for years. The police station is in City Hall and was built in the 1960s. The building is in need of repair and modernization. The fire department’s headquarters are outdated, too.

“If the public saw what is contained there, they would be outraged. Modernization needs to take place and we’ve fallen behind the curve a lot.” Harkins said.

The proposal would give these first responders state of the art equipment as well as one location to work out of.

“To revitalize an area in the city and to invest in the city through public safety, which everyone wants a safe city.” said Rep. Bob Merski.

Erie Mayor Joe Schember’s office issued a statement Wednesday, reading:

Mayor Schember recognizes that the ARP funding represents a potential game-changer for the city to address many long-term infrastructure issues as well as the deleterious effects caused by the pandemic. In the coming weeks, the City will receive guidance from Treasury about the possible uses of ARP funds and the City will use that guidance to determine best possible uses for the funding.

We thank Representatives Merski and Harkins for their suggestion regarding the construction of a public safety building. That is a project that is only in the conceptual phases, and the City looks forward to future discussions about this potential project, including other sources of funding at the federal and state level that are already available for these types of projects. 

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