Blake Announces $5.5 Million for Area Redevelopment Projects

SCRANTON, December 21, 2017 – State Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) today announced that five Lackawanna County redevelopment projects will receive $5.5 million in state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) grants.

“RACP funding awards reinvigorate communities throughout the state and leverage significant non-state investment to bolster regional economies,” Blake said. “I applaud Governor Tom Wolf for his commitment to the continued development of our region and for his continued dedication to driving state investments into critically important economic development projects across the Commonwealth.”

The RACP funding was announced earlier today by Governor Tom Wolf and included $1 million Lackawanna County to complete a large-scale consolidation of County agencies and operations at the former Globe Store on Wyoming Avenue in the City of Scranton. 

“This project, which has been in planning for years, will enable cost savings and greater efficiency by establishing what is essentially a one stop shop for county government services,” Blake said. “The consolidation in one convenient location in the heart of the City is not only good for the County’s bottom line but it is good for all residents of Lackawanna County who must access a wide variety of County services on a daily basis.” 

Carbondale Development Partners received $1.5 million to complete a large-scale redevelopment plan for multiple acres along Main Street in the heart of the city’s business district. 

“This project will finalize years of revitalization efforts and attract commercial investment between two major intersections along Main Street in downtown Carbondale,” Blake said. “The City’s central business district has benefited from past state investment and this RACP funding is integral to the city’s continued economic growth and success.”

The Scranton Counseling Center (SCC) project received $1 million to continue the work to relocate SCC into a new facility in South Scranton.

“The relocation of the Scranton Counseling Center will not only provide a 21st century working environment for hundreds of doctors, nurses, social workers and other health care professionals in South Scranton but it will free up for development the 300 block of Adams Avenue in Central City which is ripe for new private investment,” Blake added.

The Dickson City Revitalization Project received $1 million to construct new commercial office space and a warehouse facility in and around the rear 200-400 blocks of Main Street in the Borough.  The 11-acre site contains blighted warehouse structures that will be demolished and the new facility will contain the headquarters for TES, Inc. and Stonerun Trucking.

Lastly, the Just Believe Recovery Center in Carbondale received $1 million to add an additional 12 detox rooms and 12 rehab rooms to their existing operation. It will also help the facility fit out rooms for their Outpatient Clinic and CAN school as well as to add men’s sober living rooms.

“I have and I continue to support Governor Wolf’s efforts to invest in battling the opioid epidemic by placing significant emphasis on expanding access to treatment and diverting those suffering from substance use disorder away from the criminal justice system and into supportive programs,” Blake added. “This funding will allow Just Believe to continue the good work they are doing for NEPA families struggling with addiction.”

RACP is a commonwealth grant program administered by the Governor’s Office of the Budget for the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic and community development improvement projects.  The program requires a dollar for dollar match in non-state funding in the project and all project related expenses must be incurred and satisfied in advance of approved reimbursements from the state.

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Blake Announces Nearly $2 Million in Regional Grant Funding

HARRISBURG, November 14, 2017 – State Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) today announced nearly $2 million in state grants for 11 projects throughout the 22nd Senatorial District.

The grant funding was approved earlier today at a meeting of the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) and was awarded through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development under the Greenways, Trails and Recreation Program; Sewage Facilities Program and the Multimodal Transportation Fund.

“The investment of $2 million in our regional economy to support critically important infrastructure and safety projects as well as much-needed recreation projects is wonderful news for communities across Northeastern Pennsylvania,” Blake said. “I applaud our borough officials for their work to secure these competitive state investments and for their continued dedication to improving the quality of life and the safety of our transportation infrastructure for our residents.”

The largest area grants were awarded through the CFA Multimodal Transportation Fund which provides grants to encourage economic development and ensure that a safe and reliable system of transportation is available to the residents of the commonwealth.

The following NEPA projects received multimodal funding:

  • Lackawanna County received $505,367 to pave a 1.2-mile section of Stauffer Road at the Stauffer Industrial Park in Taylor Borough.
  • Pittston Township received $453,229 for improvements to Freeport Road.
  • Covington Township received $229,425 for the Langan Road bridge/culvert improvement project.
  • Archbald Borough received $205,000 to make pedestrian safety improvements along Kennedy Drive, Columbus Drive and Main Street in the borough.
  • Blakely Borough received $200,000 to fund a streetscape project in the Peckville business district.
  • The Lackawanna Heritage Valley Authority received $70,000 for preliminary and final engineering design associated with the downtown connector as part of the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail located in the City of Scranton.

Four projects in Lackawanna County received funding through the Greenways, Trails and Recreation Program.  This program was funded through the Marcellus Legacy Fund established by Act 13 of 2012 and allocates funds for planning, acquisition, development, rehabilitation and repair of greenways, recreational trails, open space, parks and beautification projects. A 15% match of the total project cost is required.

The following Lackawanna County projects received Greenways, Trails and Recreation Program grant funding:

  • The Lackawanna Heritage Valley Authority received $100,000 Scranton Marvine Connector project along the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail.
  • Taylor Borough received $95,245 for the construction of a splash park at Derenick Park off of Union Street in the borough.
  • Greenfield Township received $85,737 for the Greenfield Municipal Veterans Memorial Recreation Park.
  • The U.S. Ecological Advanced Research and Conservation Hub received $27,200 for the Riverwalk Amphitheater Planning Project in Mayfield.

Lastly, the Covington Township Sewer Authority received $18,147 through the Sewage Facilities Program for the expansion of the Covington Treatment Plant. The Sewage Facilities Program is also funded through the Marcellus Legacy Fund and requires a 50% match of the total project cost.

The Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) was established in 2004 as an independent agency of the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED).  The CFA consists of seven Board members: four legislative appointees and the secretaries of DCED, the Office of the Budget and Department of Banking and Securities. Project approval requires five affirmative votes, four of which must come from legislative appointees.

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Blake Announces $175K in PennDOT Grants for Two Local Traffic Signal Projects

SCRANTON, May 11, 2017 – State Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) today announced that two projects in the City of Scranton and Clarks Green Borough have received Green Light-Go grant funding.

The two local projects were among the 94 municipalities that will receive $33 million to support the costs of upgrading traffic signals under the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s “Green Light-Go” program.  

“The Green Light-Go program is another key source of funding for local municipalities that we were able to create in 2013 through Act 89,” Blake said. “I applaud PennDOT for recognizing the importance of these two traffic and safety projects in Scranton and Clarks Green and delivering this much-needed funding to Lackawanna County projects.”

The City of Scranton received $135,200 for traffic signal replacement along Green Ridge St. at Wyoming Ave. in a high traffic area of the City. Clarks Green Borough received a grant of $39,755 for traffic signal equipment upgrades along East Grove St. at South Abington Rd. in the borough.

The Green Light-Go Program, created through Act 89 of 2013, provides state funds for the operation and maintenance of traffic signals along critical and designated corridors on state highways. The program is designed to improve safety and mobility by reducing congestion and improving efficiency of existing traffic signals on state and local highways.

The Green Light-Go Program is a competitive application and reimbursement grant program requiring a 20% match for municipalities, counties, or planning organizations requesting financial assistance for existing traffic signal maintenance and operations activities.

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Blake Announces Nearly $5 Million State Funding for Local Projects

HARRISBURG, March 29, 2017 – State Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) today announced nearly $5 million dollars in state grants for important community and economic development projects throughout the 22nd Senatorial District.

The funding, approved earlier today by the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA), includes over $2.7 million in grants to projects in Lackawanna County from the state’s Local Share Account (LSA) program and Act 13 funding.

“I was proud to work with my colleagues in Harrisburg to assure this significant investment of state funding into communities throughout NortheasternPennsylvania.” Blake said. “These state dollars are vitally important to local municipalities; they support economic growth; and they provide positive, long-term impacts in the quality of life for our residents.”

Blake said that he worked closely with State Representatives Mike Carroll, Sid Michaels Kavulich, Marty Flynn and Kevin Haggerty to achieve the best possible outcome in the distribution of state funding in a highly competitive process.

The majority of the grants approved today were through the Monroe County Local Share Account program. Blake noted that these LSA funds may be used for eligible and fundable projects in Monroe County and its contiguous counties, which include Carbon, Lackawanna, Northampton, Pike and Wayne.

In Lackawanna County, the following projects received grant funding through the Monroe Local Share Account:

  • The City of Scranton will receive $195,000 for paving Oakwood and White Birch Drive in the Oakwood development in Scranton’s west side.
  • The Keyser Valley Neighborhood Association will receive $125,000 for paving and re-grading of the Keyser Valley Community Center parking lot.
  • Clarks Summit Fire Co. No. 1 will receive $15,000 for the purchase of an emergency response vehicle.
  • Scranton Tomorrow will receive $115,000 for curb appeal improvements in the downtown Scranton business district.
  • The Greater Scranton YMCA will receive $285,000 for the renovation of two pool facilities at the YMCA in Dunmore.
  • The Everhart Museum will receive $220,000 to address general renovations and safety at the Scranton museum.
  • Moscow Borough will receive $200,000 for the design and construction of a sanitary sewer extension along Church Street.
  • Madison Township will receive $166,064 to make improvements to Becks Crossing Road.
  • VFW Post 25 will receive $100,000 for the construction of Scranton Veterans Memorial Park to honor Scranton’s fallen soldiers.
  • Heritage Valley Partners, in partnership with the Lackawanna Heritage Valley Authority, will receive $90,000 to make pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements in the city of Scranton.
  • The Greenwood Hose Company in Moosic Borough will receive $88,000 for the purchase of one rescue vehicle.
  • Mayfield Borough will receive $81,000 for the construction of a community center dedicated to agriculture, civic activities, entertainment and environmental education to complement the new Life Sciences and Environmental Technology Incubator.
  • Archbald Borough will receive $63,080 for the purchase of a police vehicle.
  • The Archbald Athletic and Sportsmen’s Club will receive$60,000 for the renovation of the community athletic field.
  • Scott Township will receive $58,000 to construct a salt storage shed on recently purchased township land.
  • United Community Food Bank will receive $50,000 to renovate the food bank’s existing food storage warehouse in Blakely Borough.
  • Waverly Township will receive $47,500 for the purchase of a 2017 Ford Utility Interceptor police car and a 2016 Ford Super Duty F-550 municipal dump truck to maintain township roads.
  • Blakely Borough will receive $46,000 for the replacement of deteriorated sidewalks in the borough’s business district.
  • The City of Scranton will receive $44,000 to purchase a Fire Marshall vehicle equipped for a K-9 officer.
  • The North Scranton Neighborhood Association will receive $39,021 to renovate playground equipment at McLain Park.
  • West Scranton High School will receive $37,000 for the renovation of the school’s training facility.
  • South Abington Township will receive $35,000 for the purchase of two new police vehicles.
  • The Coal Miners Remembered Committee will receive $35,000 to erect a monument in honor of all coal miners from Blakely Borough.
  • Marywood University will receive $25,000 for the final phase of their Learning Commons project which includes the demolition of the existing library and construction of an outdoor amphitheater.
  • Taylor Borough will receive $24,021 for the purchase of adapters for the borough’s fire hydrants and police equipment.
  • The Lackawanna & Wyoming Valley Railway Historical Society will receive $22,500 to replace the roof on the passenger station.

Two municipalities in Lackawanna County were also awarded grants through the Pennsylvania Small Water and Sewer Program. The Scott Township Sewer and Water Authority will receive $200,000 for an upgrade to their sanitary sewer collection system. Clarks Summit Borough will receive $200,000 for sewer upgrades. Lastly, Dupont Borough in Luzerne County will receive $50,000 for renovations to the Quail Hill pump station.

In Luzerne County six projects in Senator Blake’s 22nd District received over $900,000 in grant funding through the Luzerne County Local Share Account:

  • Avoca Borough will receive $350,000 to perform renovations and recreational improvements at the existing Community Center on Main Street.
  • Pittston Township will receive $275,000 for the reconstruction of the township fire station.
  • Duryea Borough will receive $150,000 to construct an addition to the existing Street Department building.
  • Avoca Borough will receive $102,640 for the purchase of a new fire engine.
  • Duryea Borough will receive $24,000 for a remodel of the Germania Hose Company.
  • Dupont Borough will receive $20,000 for the Greater Pittston Regional Composting Facility.

Finally, in Monroe County four projects in Senator Blake’s 22nd District received grants through the Monroe Local Share Account program:

  • Pocono Services for Family and Children will receive $640,500 to replace the roof on the recently purchased Mountain Center facility in Coolbaugh Township.
  • The Pocono Mountain Municipal Airport Authority will receive $400,000 to construct a 6,000 square foot building to store its snow removal equipment.
  • Stroudsburg Borough will receive $130,670 for paving and drainage improvements along Sarah Street from Fifth to Ninth Streets.
  • KidsPeace Corporation will receive $130,000 to renovate a vacant space and expand its operations in Coolbaugh Township.

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Blake Discusses State Budget, Legislative Priorities at Annual Legislative Breakfast

SCRANTON, February 24, 2017 – State Sen. John Blake today hosted over 100 local and municipal officials at the Hilton Hotel and Conference Center in Scranton for his seventh annual legislative breakfast.

The wide-ranging discussion focused mostly on the $32.3 billion state budget proposed by Governor Tom Wolf earlier this month and how budget priorities and decisions will affect school districts and municipalities across northeastern Pennsylvania.

“The budget proposed by Governor Wolf is a function of dealing with both the fiscal and political realities facing the Commonwealth and represents a very strong starting position for our ongoing budget negotiations,” Blake said. “The Governor’s budget rightly proposes an increase in funding for all of our local school districts still feeling the pinch from the four years of insufficient funding under the previous administration. It is imperative that we continue working to increase the state’s share of funding a quality, public education.”

The Governor’s proposal includes new revenue from a new severance tax on natural gas extraction and proposes combined reporting for Pennsylvania businesses – both initiatives that have been supported by Senator Blake since taking office in 2011. Blake currently has legislation that would gradually reduce Pennsylvania’s Corporate Net Income Tax and provide for a phased closing of the so-called Delaware Loophole by implementing mandatory combined reporting.

Blake also discussed the Governor’s proposed $25 per capita fee for 2.5 million Pennsylvanians who live in municipalities receiving full-time state police coverage. In the 22nd Senatorial District, seven municipalities rely solely on the Pennsylvania State Police for police coverage and would be subject to the fee.


“Due to budget pressures over the last handful of years, we have been forced to pull money from the Motor License fund – money supposed to be used to improve our roads and bridges – to pay for state police coverage,” Blake said. “There is a lot of contention on this issue, and I am a cosponsor of an alternative solution that would provide for a direct dollar-for-dollar exchange in relation to the actual cost of providing police coverage.  We need to reduce reliance on the Motor License Fund while ensuring adequate support for our PA State Police to ensure public safety throughout the state.”

Blake noted that significant property tax reform was not discussed in the Governor’s budget address but it should be an important issue in our negotiations for a final state budget. Blake recently joined his colleagues in the Senate Democratic Caucus to call for a special session of the General Assembly to address property tax reform or elimination.

“Property taxes are a significant burden for a large number of Pennsylvania families and something needs to be done – but in any solution, we need to ensure that we can continue to adequately and predictably fund our public education system,” Blake added. “The tax shift under certain property tax elimination proposals would be near $14 billion dollars – and would also let casinos, retailers and businesses off the hook. We need to be sure that any tax shift does not disproportionately burden working class Pennsylvanians.”

Looking ahead, Blake is hopeful that he can get final passage of his Senate Bill 234, the Property Assessed Clean Energy bill, which would establish a financing mechanism that enables low-cost, long-term funding for energy efficiency and water conservation upgrades at commercial or industrial properties.

“The PACE bill presents a win-win situation – it is market-driven and does not cost the taxpayers a  dime,” Blake said. “Currently, 33 states authorize PACE financing for clean energy and energy efficiency projects and we are hopeful – that with nearly 25 cosponsors – our bill can reach the governor’s desk this session.”

Blake, who serves on the Senate Democratic Caucus leadership team in the role of Caucus Administrator of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said that he hopes to reach a bipartisan agreement on a balanced state budget, pension reform and property tax reform.

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