Scranton Parks Slated For $400,000 Boost From Community Development Block Grants And State Funds

Downtown Scranton, looking East from West Moun...

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Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty is a man on a mission in 2011.  His goal is to make improvements at two existing city parks and create a new pocket park.  Doherty hopes to use Community Development Block Grants and a $50,000 state grant from the governor’s office, which was verbally committed to by Ed Rendell.

1700 Perry Avenue was formerly the site of a school and is now a vacant lot.  Doherty thinks this site would be ideal for a pocket park.  Scranton City Council eliminated funding for the proposed park from the 2011 budget.  Undeterred, Doherty is seeking other funding as listed above and additional grants through Lowe’s, Home Depot and Kaboom.  The mayor estimates he needs $75,000 to complete the North Scranton pocket park, which will feature a swing set, playground area and bike path which will also include a small BMX trick park.  This vacant lot is a blighted property.  Creating the park will clean up blight, add more recreation and improve property values in the neighborhood.

The Clover Field Park is next on the agenda.  The Mayor hopes to add a playground area to a section of the park.  The playground area would serve neighborhood children and the children who take part in the West Side Jets junior football program. The West Side Jets use the park as their home base.  The cost for these improvements will be $135,000 and funded through the Community Development Block Grant program.

The third project will impact the Novembrino swim complex, 10th Avenue, also on Scranton’s West Side.  The deep water pool is going to be eliminated and a splash park added in its place.  Adding a splash park eliminates the need for lifeguards and cuts down on the city’s water bill.  The splash park is expected to cost $183,000.  The city is looking at their pools, which are all around 40 years old.

Doherty said “We have an obligation to reinvest in neighborhoods, stabilize them and maintain property values.”  Mr. Mayor, we could not agree more!

Scranton Falls Victim To Outdated Lackawanna County Property Assessments

The City of Scranton, Pennsylvania’s seventh largest city, is a distressed municipality under Act 47.  Further hampering Scranton’s recovery efforts are the 40-year-old property assessments being used by Lackawanna County.  These out-dated assessments are literally starving Scranton for cash.  Scranton is facing a $5.2 million dollar deficit in 2011 and $5+ million dollar deficits for several more years down the road.  In the last 16 years the assessment value of city properties has increased less than one percent while market values have risen 35%!

The other sad part of the story is the nobody has the $8 million dollars to pay for the reassessment implementation.  The reassessment has been completed and it will take about six months to get an acceptable range.  However, this is useless information until funding is secured. 

Scranton and Lackawanna County need to find a way to pay for the implementation.  As the largest city in Lackawanna County and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Area, Scranton can not be allowed to go under.  The burden of a failed city will fall on every taxpayer in Lackawanna County and beyond.  We all will have to pay through increased taxes and fees.

As a distressed city under Act 47, where is the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in all of this?  Some help is needed here if we ever want Scranton to recover and get off Act 47.  Our cities are vital to the prosperity of Pennsylvania.  Considering some of the crap in the state budget, I would think we could find money to fund or partially fund something as important as this.

Scranton Mayor Enters Race For PA Governor

Ed Rendell has served his two terms as our governor so now it is someone else’s turn to lead Pennsylvania.  This list of those seeking to be elected to Pennsylvania’s highest office continues to grow.

Chris Doherty plans to kick off his campaign at noon today in the Electric City.  Scranton has been undergoing a renaissance of sorts during Doherty’s tenure as mayor with millions of dollars in redevelopment money pouring into the city.  One example would be an urban renewal project in center city known as 500 Lackawanna Avenue.

Scranton has also come into the national spotlight as the setting for the very popular NBC sitcom “The Office”.  Scranton has been trying to capitalize on being the home of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company.  There is an Office Convention and fan tours are held in Scranton.

Along with Doherty, other democractic candidates include Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Hoeffel, Philadelphia businessman John Knox, PA Auditor General Jack Wagner and Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato. 

Republican candidates include PA Attorney General Tom Corbett and US Representative Jim Gerlach from the PA 6th District.

If anybody from the Scranton area has any insight on Chris Doherty, a comment to educate those of us not from the Wyoming Valley would be appreciated.

The primary election will be spring 2010.