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Downtown Lewistown, Inc. secures development funds

As coordinator of the local Keystone Communities economic development initiative, Downtown Lewistown, Inc. has secured $142,155 through the PA Department of Community & Economic Development Keystone Communities Program. This funding will be used to improve sidewalk and pedestrian accessibility for a two-block section of West Water Street in Lewistown. Once the project is complete, the infrastructure project will provide a thematic connection of the Kish Riverwalk and by extension Recreation Park to Victory Park and its accompanying lead to the Juniata River/Rothermel Trail. Statewide, the Keystone Communities Program received 73 applications for a request of $8,977,806 but was only able to fund 42 projects with the $5,576,542 available.

Downtown Lewistown, Inc. is directing the project to finish a connection that has been in the works for decades with specific reference in “Coming Home: The Charter Plan for Downtown Lewistown.” This document described a linear public connection of the two major parks in town. With recent work by the County, Borough and Mifflin County Parks and Recreation Council to develop the Juniata River/Rothermel Trail, this development intensifies those efforts and new attempts measuring the feasibility of additional segments.

Jon Zimmerman, DLI President, said “We are appreciative of the Commonwealth’s support of this project, which is an extension of the County’s streetscape efforts in the Borough, allowing for greater pedestrian safety and accessibility while serving as a crucial link of the two Borough parks.”

Jim Zubler, DLI Executive Director noted, “this project has been on the drawing board for years and will finally allow for connecting Rec with Victory Park and extensions to the Juniata River/Rothermel Trail, a linear distance of 2.2 miles.”

Mark Sunderland, Commissioner Chair said “The Commissioners, through the efforts of the County Planning and Development Office have attempted to jump start initiatives regarding both streetscape and trail developments and were happy to assist offering a partial match of existing Monument Square Phase 5 streetscape funds addressing South Main and East Water Street enhancements that had not been expended at the time of application.”

Kevin O’Donnell, Jr., Recreation Council Chair said “this development is one more step toward realizing a critical web of public improvements that capitalize on our natural, historical and cultural features along these public routes.”

“Supporting initiatives that encourage revitalization and business development in our communities is critically important to the economic prosperity of Pennsylvania,” said DCED Secretary Dennis Davin. “The Keystone Communities Program is so vital to improving people’s lives, pushing our business sector forward, and growing Pennsylvania’s economy, and the Wolf Administration is proud to support projects like the Downtown Lewistown Connector.

Jon Zimmerman, DLI President, added “DLI has worked hard over the past two decades to improve the quality of life and promote economic development in Lewistown and Mifflin County. Becoming a designated Keystone Community was critical for positive economic development in our area, and this award is one more example of how the investment by many is paying off for the community as a whole. We have received tremendous support from our municipalities, businesses, County, MCIDC, Greater Lewistown Corporation, and many individuals to fund and sustain DLI’s existence. This is one more reward for the support and belief that together we can make Mifflin County better. We are fortunate to have outstanding leadership in key positions throughout our county that can make this happen. Thank you to everyone who have supported DLI. What a great feeling it is to successfully contribute to the continued enhancement of our community.”

He also acknowledged the support from PA Senator Jake Corman and PA Representatives Kerry Benninghoff, John Hershey and Rich Irvin in securing these competitive funds. Mr. Zimmerman thanked the Wolf Administration, the PA Downtown Center and PA Department of Community & Economic Development for this community award.

Senator Jake Corman commented, “The project will provide safe access to the downtown business district, address pedestrian safety issues along the corridor and improve walkability throughout the community. Downtown will benefit from this much-needed state funding for important public improvements to better serve area residents and employers. It’s a local project that helps to improve the quality of life and protects public safety for those who live here.”

The local Keystone designation is a collaborative area initiative between Derry and Granville Townships, Lewistown Borough, and Mifflin County. The designation is also supported through contributions from nearly 80 additional businesses, industries and individuals.

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